I planned on saving the two Munros of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin for a rainy day as they were a bit out of the way compared to my usual jaunts up around the Loch Lomond area. And when I finally decided to make the trip up to Loch Earn, a rainy day is what I got!
The walk begins by the road next to the loch near Ardvorlich House. There were a few people milling about when I started as usual but didn't really see many others for the rest of the day. I think everyone else took the wise choice to stay at home considering the weather.
You pass through some gardens with a nice river flowing through it to start with, but that's about as pretty as it got for the whole day as things just got greyer and wetter as the walk went on.
A Nice Start by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Once past the boundaries of Ardvorlich House, you start rising up on the dirt track and finally get a decent view of the first Munro of the day; Ben Vorlich. I could tell this was going to be a wet one as the cloud was looming over the summit and didn't look like it was shifting at all. I did think this looked like a decent track for cycling on though which will be remembered for future in case I ever revisit the area for a walk. I do like a speedy descent on a dirt track at the end of a hard days walking!
Cloudy at the top of Ben Vorlich (985m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Loch Earn by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Low cloud over Glen Vorlich by Rossco 7, on Flickr
I had originally planned on making this walk a straight up and straight down effort but they can be boring sometimes in comparison to finding a different way back. It's always good to see things from a different perspective so when I saw this ridge leading away from the summit of Ben Vorlich I thought I might use that as a descent route for the return leg instead.
By this time I was pretty soaking and there wasn't much else to see so the only thing for it was to get my head down and power up the hill to my first summit of the day. It was by far the windiest day I've had on the hills by the time I reached the summit and the views were non-existent so I didn't bother to stop for food, just a quick couple of photos including the horrific as usual self portrait!
North West Ridge of Ben Vorlich (985m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) summit (985m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Almost getting blown over on Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) (985m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Once off the summit, I found some mediocre shelter and had the much needed stop for refuelling. You can't beat a hot flask of soup on a day like this to keep you going. But as usual, you don't want to stop for too long as you just begin to freeze with the wind and rain hitting you from all directions so it was time to tackle the second Munro of the day; Stuc a'Chroin.
Once moving again, I could finally see more than 20ft in front of myself for a change. The cloud gave me a glimmer of hope that it might clear but that was short lived and as I started to climb up the summit I was right back into the clouds and it stayed like that. Even though there were no views I did enjoy reaching this summit. There were patches of snow all around which was still a novelty for me even after my last outing in white out conditions up Ben Ime, so I felt the need to leave my mark in the snow. I left the path after this and managed to scramble up some steep rocks making for a more exciting route to the summit than normal and before I knew it, I was at the top and all that was left was to enjoy the fantastic grey panorama and decide on a way back to the car!
Heading back under the clouds by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Some fun rocks to scramble up by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Snow graffiti by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Me at the top of Stuc a' Chroin (975m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Instead of my initial change of plan to use the North West ridge of Ben Vorlich to descend, I changed it once more as I didn't want to have to ascend it again just to descend in a different direction. So after looking at the map for a route, I thought I'd cut out much of the return path and head straight towards Ben Our with some much needed diversions around rocks and steep drops. Some of this descent was slow progress as the ground was quite steep and very slippery. Slow and steady wins the race though, so I made it down to Coire Fhuadaraich safely in the end before the final ascent of the day, up the south side of Ben Our.
It was extremely boggy by this point and my Trespass "waterproof" trousers weren't living up to their waterproofness so I was soaked through and through! But I made the summit, didn't think the cairn there would be so large but obviously it's visited quite a lot which is good to see. I barely stopped though and just headed back down scaring many sheep on the way who probably weren't expecting a soaking Scotsman to be trampling through their patch that day.
Heading up Ben Our (730m) by Rossco 7, on Flickr
Almost finished, back next to Loch Earn by Rossco 7, on Flickr
A wet but enjoyable day in the hills. Changing my plans for the route back made it more interesting. Not that it actually needed to be, the conditions really kept me on my toes. One of those days where you have to constantly push yourself mentally to get through it, but when you look back, you’re glad you kept on going. Just a pity it was a typical cloudy day as I imagine the views over Loch Earn on a good day would make for a more enjoyable descent.
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