walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin


Postby Bean » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:59 pm

Route description: Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin

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

Date walked: 11/08/2015

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 13.5 km

Ascent: 1145m

2 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Managed to prize my recently retired dad away from his new found love of DIY and gardening for a sneaky Munro.....only just mind!

I decided on Ben Vorlich +/- the menacing Stuc a Chroin as Alistair had done this the week before and I am trying to keep up as best I can. Though Stuc a Chroin did sound a bit scary, he told me there was a detour path for the more timid that avoided a steep scramble up the rock butress ( eek!) - no way i'd be going that way. After a quick google of the detour path, I wasnt sure I be going that way either.
So a meet up on the side of Loch Earn was arranged for 0800 hrs and we decided to give it a bash, at the very least we knew we would manage Ben Vorlich.

The day came and we parked up on the verge just before the old stone bridge and it was not long before a car load of students (rather young and fresh faced looking) pulled up behind us. They sprang into action and were out of sight and off up the hill in no time. I felt slightly better that there would be others up there I must admit.

We passed a grave just before the bridge which we couldn't make out. Turns out it marks the spot where the bones of seven members of the McDonald clan from Glen Coe were found. They were killed in 1620 whilst trying to rustle cattle from the Stewarts of Ardvorlich! Scotland at the time was a pretty high risk zone!
Despite noticing a helicopter in the garden of Ardvorlich house!? Our passage was safe and were soon on our way along the wide and obvious path up Ben Vorlich.

IMG_1472.JPG
Dad outside Ardvorlich house


Some interesting plants along the way, which walkhighlands helped me identify :D

IMG_1474.JPG
Yellow Saxifrage


IMG_1475.JPG
Coults foot


It was a quick ascent into cloud and mist. Had to get out the full waterproof works out just before the summit, Dad was reluctant, had never worn his waterproof trousers before and thought they would be a hindrance. Five minutes more of heavy rain and they were being dragged out from the depths of his rucksack, I'm saying nothing.
Another five minutes later, after nearly falling over the edge on several occasions whilst trying to get his boot through the legs, dad discovered (to his amazement) that they unzipped all the way up to allow for a smooth and safe transition. In the end he was more than slightly chuffed with them :lol: and they couldn't be parted for the rest of the day.

IMG_1476.JPG
Hiking up toward the summit of Ben Vorlich, clouds looking pretty heavy


IMG_1477.JPG
The summit - really cant see much


IMG_1478.JPG
A happy wet hiker and another Munro conquered for dad and I


The summit of Ben Vorlich is a surprisingly small platform, not too thin to be frightening but without being able to see anything of what surrounded us I felt slightly unnerved. I was going off the idea of Stuc a Chroin rapidly. We met the students again up here, now looking cold and slightly less spritely but their presence was a comfort.

Soon the conditions turned more favourable and a break in the clouds revealed a nice path leading off Ben Vorlich in the direction of Stuc A' Chroin. Feeling much more confident about the prospect we agreed to head down and 'take a look'. I had already informed dad that I was nervous, this rubbed of on him and we tentatively trundled on towards it.
I'm afraid pictures of this section are non existant, I was too preoccupied and now deeply regret this. Typical.
The path was easy down to the col and there we could see this scary rock butress shrouded in mist, and to the right of it the also scary looking detour route leading up a steep grassy slope. Hmmm.
Not wanting to admit defeat quite yet and allow yet another Munro to scare me off I suggested to dad that we could walk far over to the right where the hill tapered to a more inviting angle and then boost up the ridge that way. We couldn't really tell how long that would take or how far it was.

Dad then took the upper hand and rightly said that was a ridiculous suggestion. In his opinion 'option 1 was the butress, 2 the detour path, and 3 we leave it'. He then sensibly said we couldn't possibly write it off until we had gone closer to get a better idea of the angle. So off we went to take a look. From the base of the detour path we both were surprised by how much more benign it appeared and now agreed it looked easy! Up we went confident, happy, poles and all.

We got about 3/4 of the way up without any difficulty. At this point the path was getting quite a lot steeper, and our fully extended poles were really getting in the way but we were both a bit too scared to put them away (error). Our feet now clung (somehow very well) to a rather alarmingly steep path that was mostly devoid of rocks to safely lodge your feet behind and hand holds!
We both felt scared, I could tell. If Alistair had been there he would have got the blame, but with Dad being scared too I felt obliged to keep my head. We scrabbled up to a place where the incline eased off slightly and briefly, not fancying the way up or down much from there.
We only had about 10 metres left so I set off first. Our hands were out because of the poles so it was a question of a penguin type run to the top just to keep moving and get it over with. Dad I could see had adopted the same style. :o :?
Up on top adrenaline running riot we took a deep breath & got our centre of gravity back. This was then rapidly knocked off by strong winds, which I began to fear might blow us off the edge. Dad I think at that point realized he had decided to hike with a petrified, hyperanxious, pain in the neck.

IMG_1481.JPG
Face says it all, yes that was a bit hairy!


IMG_1480.JPG
Dad now enjoying the view


Both of us were well aware of the fact that this path would not be fun to return down, dad was afraid of ripping his now precious waterproof trousers (so he said) and so we started discussing whether or not a munro would count if you were unable to get down. We didn't come to a conclusion about this, and instead enjoyed our summit glory. Both of us very proud of over coming the path challenge despite the desperate scrabble.

IMG_1482.JPG
Pretty proud of this one + photographic evidence for Alistair.


IMG_1483.JPG
Dad on one of his possible tops


There were a few cairns up there so we had fun walking around on top and got some views as and when the clouds permitted us.

IMG_1484.JPG
Walking between the cairns on the summit


IMG_1485.JPG
Still smiling.....not sure how I got up, not sure how I'm getting down?


IMG_1486.JPG
Dad at the memorial cairn thinking the same


In order to get off Stuc a' Chroin we were both unanimously in favour of the previously 'ridiculous' idea of walking right off down the summit ridge to the point where the slope back down into the valley looked easy enough. :lol:
It was wet, ankle breaking territory and a slow going slog underfoot but we were just glad to be avoiding THAT path.
Having overcome Stuc a'Chroin were didn't mind a slightly longer walk back home and the weather was holding out. We found our place and descended easily down into the valley.
From here we made a bee line for the lowest point of the ridge on the slopes of Ben Vorlich and joined up with the normal descent path following the contours of Ben Vorlich back round to the main path.

IMG_1487.JPG
A nice view of Ben Vorlih from the slopes of the 'scaredy cat' detour


IMG_1488.JPG
Big bright juicy cloud berries!


IMG_1490.JPG
Having crossed the valley back on the lower slopes of Ben Vorlich, making our way back up to join the contour path and then the main path back out


Not exactly Liatach but a great challenge for us amateurs and a good bit of steep track practice, I think it pushed us both just the right amount outside our comfort zone :clap:
Last edited by Bean on Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:30 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Bean
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 52
Munros:65   Corbetts:7
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:7
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: May 31, 2015

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby spiderwebb » Thu Aug 20, 2015 6:53 am

Lovely report there bean, enjoyed reading that. Wind must be a feature of these two as I only got Vorlich done the first time, with winds of 78mph and Stuc took two goes, the first on a glorious blue sky winters day which hid the truth as I ascended Beinn Each and was stopped dead with winds of 89mph, least I now know when I cant walk :lol:

Popular hills these but loved them :D At least you got to do what you set out to do :D
User avatar
spiderwebb
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 1495
Munros:97   Corbetts:15
Grahams:3   Donalds:1
Hewitts:108
Wainwrights:68   
Joined: May 18, 2011
Location: Miltonduff, Elgin

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby Mal Grey » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:11 am

Nice report!

I was surprised by how steep the scramble was up S a' C, in similar conditions, using the winding path with the odd "hands on" bit, and some slightly loose gravelly bits, all a bit slimy in the rain. And we've done quite a lot of "harder" scrambling over the years. On the descent we got to the top of the "nose", looked down at what we'd come up, said "bugger this" and went down the way you did.
User avatar
Mal Grey
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2889
Munros:110   Corbetts:20
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby MunroMadMen » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:54 am

Looks like you had a great day, brill report and pics........... :)
User avatar
MunroMadMen
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 441
Munros:168   Corbetts:3
Grahams:1   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:1   
Joined: Jun 8, 2014
Location: Cumbernauld

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby ancancha » Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:08 am

Nice report, thought for a moment on seeing the first photo that you had arrived at the start by helecopter :lol:
I took the bypass when I did these two as well, now more experienced I'd probably do the scramble, the bypass wasn't all that tame as I remember :roll:
User avatar
ancancha
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 988
Munros:84   Corbetts:3
Grahams:1   Donalds:1
Joined: Jun 30, 2014
Location: Killadysert

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby teaandpies » Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:49 am

It's a shame you couldn't get the prow done. It would of cut your walk time right done and you feel pretty great afterwards. That bypass path is shocking, I'd chose the prow every time.

About your poles, you should shorten them for going up hill and have them a bit longer for coming down hill.

You have been a really busy with your walking. What will you be walking next?
teaandpies
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 925
Munros:94   Corbetts:16
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:7   Hewitts:6
Joined: Mar 19, 2014
Location: Glasgow

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby basscadet » Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:31 pm

Really enjoyable report.. I love walking with my dad :D
This was my 200th munro (can't remember which one of the two) and we had some very scary moments on the prow in a blizzard as I recall - All the rocks are covered in a most terrifying green slime as I recall.. :lol:
User avatar
basscadet
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 2779
Munros:84   Corbetts:52
Grahams:18   Donalds:8
Sub 2000:34   Hewitts:13
Wainwrights:17   Islands:21
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby Bean » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:15 am

Thanks Spiderweb! 89mph wow incredible, not sure I want to be testing out those kind of wind speeds up a mountain anytime soon, although part of me is curious! I'm estimating it was maybe more like 30 -35 that day, haha, good for the cob webs...........or maybe not in your case :wink:

It is really nice to know that others have found Stuc a bit tricky :D and that you took that option to get off too! Slimy and 'bugger that' were about the measure of it, haha!

I think arriving by helicopter is a great idea, I will try and factor that in for my next blog. If the detour path had been the only way down, I feel that at least one of us would have been departing that way. Lets hope those McDonald don't steal it!

Yes a big shame we didn't do the prow path, but the determined streak in me now feels i need to return one day soon with dad and give it a go.........seems these detours can be more dangerous than the real macoy given what everyone has said, a good lesson to consider in the future. Plus mountains are never as daunting after the first meeting! :crazy:

Definately good walking with dads yes :) as he will be reading this most likely I must add......when they are not being too annoying. We did quite a lot when i was small but then not much over the past 10 years.

I almost didn't write this one up as thought we didn't have enough photos to make it interesting, but wanted to remember this day in the hills as it is not often we get out together and because it scared us, it is definately one of our prouder munro's. Im so glad so many people enjoyed the report, it is great to hear everyone's tales from the 'path' and prow too.
Last edited by Bean on Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
Bean
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 52
Munros:65   Corbetts:7
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:7
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: May 31, 2015

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby Bean » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:17 am

ps very good tip about the poles too, thank you!! :D

Yes have been busy, needed a new focus to life and rediscovering how much I love being out in the hills has been just the ticket. The more I see the more I want to do, I love the fact that there are so many, a lifetimes work ahead of me :) All these ones in Knoydart look incredible, so perhaps that is next??
Bean
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 52
Munros:65   Corbetts:7
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:7
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: May 31, 2015

Re: Ben Vorlich and a pengiun dash up Stuc a' Chroin

Postby spiderwebb » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:55 pm

Bean wrote:ps very good tip about the poles too, thank you!! :D

Yes have been busy, needed a new focus to life and rediscovering how much I love being out in the hills has been just the ticket. The more I see the more I want to do, I love the fact that there are so many, a lifetimes work ahead of me :) All these ones in Knoydart look incredible, so perhaps that is next??


Well said, got that right :D Good choice for the next ones too :D
User avatar
spiderwebb
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 1495
Munros:97   Corbetts:15
Grahams:3   Donalds:1
Hewitts:108
Wainwrights:68   
Joined: May 18, 2011
Location: Miltonduff, Elgin

2 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: GreigM, Minibear93, Nominiman, Sam J 86 and 55 guests