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Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm


Postby mrssanta » Sun Aug 19, 2012 11:29 pm

Route description: Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

Munros included on this walk: Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn), Stuc a'Chroin

Date walked: 04/08/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

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We were due to pick up our daughter from friends in Perth at noon on sunday 5th in order to catch the evening ferry to Islay. That would mean far too early a start from Yorkshire, so we thought we could sneak a couple of Munros in on the Saturday and camp high up on Saturday night. The forecast was for sun and nice and warm with occasional patches of heavy but slow-moving rain so we thought we were in for a good day.
We had our first lunch on the beach at Ardvorlich. We set off up the path at about 1.30pm.
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the path through the lovely woods above Ardvorlich

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looking up glen vorlich and foxgloves

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view back to Loch Earn with the Lawers hills appearing on the right and Tarmachans on the left

It was a hot and muggy afternoon and we met lots of people coming down and passed a few going up - one family with a toddler who was in a backpack part of the way and walking a good bit too, and a large party of Americans who had run out of water by about halfway up and were trying to collect some from a tiny wee drip of a burn which was more like a ditch.
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pretty yellow flowers

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Ben Our in the foreground and distant view of Ben Nevis

It's a good path all the way up and fortunately the midges weren't out as there was just enough breeze. We hit the top just before four o'clock. It gets steeper and steeper as you go up but the top is visible all the way so no unpleasant false summits at all.
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Veiw from nearly at the top all the way back down to ardvorlich

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Rudolph at summit trig point

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me at summit trig point

We went to the trig point and the cairn just for completeness and then had a wee stop for a rest and something to eat. There were a few wee drops of rain at this point but they soon passed. We decided to pitch the tent at the bealach and leave the sleeping bags and cooking gear in the tent, this would ensure that we did not have to pitch up after the midges were out but could just dive into the tent after climbing Stuc a'Chroin.
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looking over to Stuc a'Chroin from the path from ben Vorlich, with a few rain clouds looking like they might just pass!?!

Ha Ha that isn't quite how it turned out. We pitched the tent quite easily and set off, and just at this point the heavens opened. the rain was so heavy that the midges couldnt possibly stand up in it let alone fly! It was bouncing off the ground and by the time we got our waterproofs out and on the paths were all running with water. It was so wet I put my walking poles away as the rain was soaking my gloves and running up my sleeves!
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not very flattering picture of Rudolph setting off up the scramble

We reached the bottom of the scrambly part on the prow and this was when we saw the first flash of lightning - one, two three four five six seconds to the thunder. It sounded like it was to the south of us. Och well we are thinking, we should be safe enough on the prow, and it should have stopped by the time we reach the ridge. Anyway we have come a long way and invested a lot of mental energy into this trip, and we havent 't anywhere else to go, so we may as well continue. I think if we had taken any of the kids with us we would have gone back at this point.
We reached the ridge and the thunder was still continuing, always about six to eight seconds away. the rain was still coming down like stair rods but the wierdest thing was we were still under the cloud level and could see views in every direction.
On reaching the ridge we decided we'd just make a dash for the top, which sadly was just into the cloud. We tried not to walk too close to the metal fence posts dotted along the path, and we didn't hang about on the summit.
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not summit picture of Rudolph

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and myself

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although still very heavy rain, there is still a view, here to Ben Mor and Stob Binnein

We decided not to down-climb the scrambly bit on the prow and picked ourselves out a nice easy looking route down the north-west ridge and then contouring below the prow, when there was a great crash of thunder only about three seconds away, so we thought it best to come off the ridge as soon as possible. We came down a horrible loose muddy scree gully marked by a cairn at the top, and were glad not to have come up this way. we got off it as soon as we could and found our way back to the tent by about six-thirty pm.
By the time we got back to our tent, everything was saturated that wasnt in a drybag including my spare socks and the microfibre cloth I had brought for drying things off. We wrung it out as best we could and used it to soak up excess water from socks, gloves and wet hair. this was surprisingly effective even though it was already wet.
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view from the tent - still raining

My Grandpa told me many years ago that when he was in the Army they were told to take their wet clothes to bed with them or just keep them on. With my legs inside my down sleeping bag and my down jacket on I was lovely and warm and we just got on with making a brew and then cooking our tea inside the tent. The only bit of me that was really wet was my feet and my neck but Rudolph was soaked all down his front.
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and again

the rain gradually eased off and finally stopped about 8.30pm. we got out of the tent briefly for ablution purposes - wetting my socks all over again in my soaking boots - I think I can justify a new pair - then went to bed.
In the morning there was quite a fog but as we packed up and got going it began to lift and turned into a lovely misty still morning.
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from campsite 7.30am

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wet grass and Loch Earn

There was a lot of bogginess compared to the previous day, and we noticed that the little drip where the American was trying to get water was a substantial little burn!
We got back to the car in good time to change into dry clothes, have a cup of tea and pick up daughter. and a final picture of the Islay ferry arriving at Kennacraig.
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mrssanta
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby basscadet » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:05 am

Oh you wont forget that trip in a hurry I'll bet :lol:
Thanks for posting, that was great read :D I've been caught on a hill in a thunderstorm too, with lightening striking close, so I know how scary it can be..
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby dogplodder » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:30 am

Did you follow Grandpa's advice and take wet clothes to bed with you? Gizmgirl and I were caught in thunder storm on Carn a' Mhaim. Tess dog was spooked and walked so close she was touching my leg which would have been fine for Crufts but felt a bit unnecessary with the wide expanse of the Cairngorms all around! :angel:
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby quoman » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:35 am

Nice report mrssanta.

Its a pitty the weather changed for the two of you, the prow must have been slippy to climb on good thing came out of the bad weather was no midges to eat you alive :lol:
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby SusieThePensioner » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:18 pm

Enjoyed your report and some fantastic photos from the tent! :thumbup:
Glad you survived the thunderstorm ok; was stuck on Great Gable in a thunderstorm once and was there for over 2 hours waiting for it to go away :lol:
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby robertphillips » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:21 pm

Good report mrs s pity about the weather. :)
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby mrssanta » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:57 pm

dogplodder wrote:Did you follow Grandpa's advice and take wet clothes to bed with you? Gizmgirl and I were caught in thunder storm on Carn a' Mhaim. Tess dog was spooked and walked so close she was touching my leg which would have been fine for Crufts but felt a bit unnecessary with the wide expanse of the Cairngorms all around! :angel:

yes I did, I kept my socks on all night and they were still pretty damp in the morning but at least they were warm. my hat and buff were nearly dry but my woolly gloves stayed soaked.
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby mrssanta » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:58 pm

robertphillips wrote:Good report mrs s pity about the weather. :)
basscadet wrote:Oh you wont forget that trip in a hurry I'll bet :lol:
Thanks for posting, that was great read :D I've been caught on a hill in a thunderstorm too, with lightening striking close, so I know how scary it can be..

it was very exciting!
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby ChrisW » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:41 pm

Kudos to you Mrs Santa (and Rudolf of course) for carrying on in that rain with thunder and lightning overhead :shock:, it must have made for an exciting time up top though in all honesty it didn't sound like much fun :? love the cloudburst photo from the tent :D
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:32 pm

What an adventure - and great atmospheric photos from the tent :D :D

When I lived in Tayside Ben Vorlich was a favourite and I walked it in many weather conditions - but nothing as dramatic as this. Congrats on keeping going :clap: :clap:
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby jonnoh » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:53 pm

I've not experienced the pleasure of a thunderstorm while hill-walking. I imagine it must be quite hair-raising - literally!
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby Lenore » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:54 pm

An engaging read, mrssanta! You built up the tension well; glad you were just wet and nothing else happened in the end. I am scared to death of lightning storms, and hope never to encounter one while walking... You seem much more level-headed! Some lovely photos as well, especially the view from the tent with the beam of sunlight, and the last one of the loch.
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby Oldman » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:37 pm

Some nice pics and an interesting report there. I'm certain that it was an exciting experience at the time but not one to be repeated. To calculate the distance a thunderstorm is away you simply count the time in seconds between flash and bang and divide this by five - the result is in miles.
In July 2009 I was caught in a violent thunderstorm on An Caisteal. The time between flash and bang was zero and lightning bolts were hitting all around us - we got rid of our walking poles and crouched down as low as possible in a hollow with feet together - the best way to protect yourself from lightning when caught in the open but not fullproof by any means. It was very frightening at the time but quite interesting to look back on. However I now avoid walking when there is the slightest chance of a storm.
Great to read your report because it brought back those interesting memories.

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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby jonny616 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:18 pm

Shame you got dumped on so to speak but well done for getting a couple of sneaky peaks in whilst taxiing the familly :clap:
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Re: Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin in a thunderstorm

Postby Rudolph » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:20 pm

Oldman wrote:To calculate the distance a thunderstorm is away you simply count the time in seconds between flash and bang and divide this by five - the result is in miles.


It's amazing how many people reckon 1s = 1mile!

My trick is to count fast which can put the storm further away. And starting with the "1" immediately after the flash can get you another 200m of safety. Mrs Santa says that's nonsense but you can't argue with maths!

The scaredest(?) I've been in lightning was heading to the start of a dinghy race with an apporaching storm. Everyone was waiting for someone else to turn back - and in the end no one had the confidence to do so - so we all raced!

After all the talk about favourite foods on the 'food' thread, we both managed to forget key parts of our perfect hiking breakfasts-OJ and eccles cakes, so we had to make do with oatcake porridge - which is not something I'd want to repeat.

On another note, my condemnation of my paramo 'waterproofs' in the 'gear forum' may have something to do with my not having zipped them up properly - only became apparent in the photos. Ooops.
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