Ben More & Stob Binnein

Date walked: 25/06/2011

Time taken: 8 hours

This report is taken from my geocaching blog / diary that I have started keeping with the hope that I can turn it into a wee book for the family to keep.

Ben More and More and More and More Mutant Black Slugs ... and Stob Binnein
Saturday 25th June

It has been the worst week...well the worst week in a long, long time for both Dotscot and myself for different but upsetting reasons. So what does one do when faced with upset and trauma? Well we climbed a mountain... or two, now that'll make you forget anything!

We'd planned to do this geocaching event for a while. There were two good events on this day and team Biffo decided that Mr.Biff and Baby Biff would take Rose & Thistle's AYRSHIRE MEET 2011 and Mrs.Biff would hoof it up the mountain with Dotscot for Simply Paul's (Ben) More? I'm Spoiling You! The added bonus of course for the Ben More event is claiming Scotland's First en route. So a busy day planned for all.
Wild Bean coffee to kick start the day.

Us girls headed off at 6am, this is truly an unGodly hour for Mrs.B, I really don't do mornings. Still we were in fine fettle and looking forward to the walk ( I use this word lightly). The roads were clear and we reached our destination just east of Crianlarich at 8.05am. Here we met Scotsbob (Bobby) becoming slightly concerned that he was the only walker.
We shot the breeze and at 8.20 Simply Paul (our host as it were) came striding up the road from the official carpark. Paul had been partaking of a marathon of events in Scotland and Ben More was to be his last before heading down to Birmingham, his main goal was the cache rather than the event and we all agreed that we'd see how the weather held for the summit.

So rucksacks on backs and myself with my new trusty poles (can't imagine how I managed walking without them) off we set. It makes me laugh to think of how gingerly I stepped over the wee seuch so as not to get my boots wet HA! Off up the farm track we went a happy wee bunch, we discussed some Scots words and had a richt guid blether. Before long Scotsbob initiated the way up the mountain, there is no arrow to guide you and we followed his lead as he had attempted Scotland's First in the winter but had been unable to dig it out of the snow and ice. Dotscot had downloaded the waypoints into her gps from WalkHighlands but this wasn't the route to the cache only the summit and on to Stob Binnein.

I had read up on Ben More and had voiced concerns about the steepness of terrain,as I find it tough going if it's very steep, I wasn't to know what was about to hit me. After only 10mins walking Dotscot felt that her lungs were going to explode and I thought I was going to pass out or throw up or high chance of both! We knew Paul had a strict time restraint and we didn't want to hold them up so we told them to go on ahead. I think they thought we would be turning back the state we were in! Off they disappeared into the mist. Dotscot and myself sat on a rock for 5mins, had some water and waited for the shock to subside! As always Dotscot gives me the medical terminology for what is happening to my body. I love this, she is very clever. But I will tell you what was happening to my body in layman's terms ...... it was buggered. Too much, too soon and it wanted to heave the contents of it's stomach because then I would have to stop, the dizziness? Well it was just trying to locate my brain for climbing up this bloody mountain. As I said Dotscot describes it 'Grey's Anatomy' style.

We were on our own now but feeling that if we just took things at our own pace we'd do okay and so that's what we did. Somehow we had managed to come off the ridge and were following the arrow to the cache, the hill fog was so thick we couldn't see much in front of us and thankfully very little behind us. If we had I doubt very much that we would have gone on!
I do not jest about the steepness. She's only got wee legs bless her.
It was STEEP baby! 45 degree angle for the majority of the way on slippy grass and moss, our boots were soaked through very early on despite waterproofing the night before. Suddenly a shriek from behind! Oh God no! Dotscot has fallen down the hill!
"Are you ok?!!!!!" I shout with alarm.
"It's the slugs!!!! The BIG, BLACK SLUGS!!!!!!" she cries fearfully "I don't want them to get me!!!!!!!!!"
Now, I don't like them either and in truth they were fairly mutant, they probably dine on the rubber of hiking boots ... glad I didn't suggest that to Dotscot at the time! So I left her to worry about the slugs rather than alert her to the fact that we were much more at risk of falling back down the steep incline to our death. Future shrieks and cries I knew were of more slug sightings.
The Silky Black Terror that lurks in the moss......or just a slug to most folks.

At 10.30am, 2 hours into our walk, we found the cache. We had wandered far east of location but the gps had been bouncing about a bit.
Dotscot signing the log of Scotland's First ever cache.
We were exhilarated and had a celebratory coffee and chunk of chocolate, oh yes we are girls who know how to live it up! Bizarrely this is when my mother-in-law phoned me for a chat. I was screaming down the phone that I was half way up a mountain but she blethered on regardless. Don't think she understands my accent yet (or ever will!).

It was at this point that we read the previous entry in the log by Simply Paul and Scotsbob stating that they were heading back down to look for us. Fortunately Dotscot had Paul's mobile number and called him. He seemed really surprised that we were at the cache and had seemingly reached it just a short time after they had headed back down. We assured them that we were feeling fit and fab we had just needed to find our mountain goat legs. We hate to think that they really went back down looking for us, this would have been like finding a needle in a haystack. Perhaps it was their conscience that took them back down but we are inclined to think that we were an excuse for not heading to the top. Whatever reason the boys had headed back down. Scotsbob left a really nice note on my windscreen saying he'd waited till 2.15 before heading home ..... we were still 1165m high at that time.

Now we had two options.
1) Cross the burn and head to the distant ridge that we could see bodies walking up.
2) Keep going north from our current location.

We had a look at our map and figured that we would head due north as the contour lines looked packed together whatever way we headed! This, in hindsight, was perhaps the wrong choice........ oh isn't it always!

'Take great care to avoid veering into the hanging valley of Sloc Curraidh, scattered rock and grass on a high gradient make it exceptionally dangerous and in winter it is a well known avalanche blackspot.'

Guess where we were....................................
There's no going back down on Sloc Curraidh.
I do remember singing at this point and receiving a look from Dotscot that told me in no uncertain terms that if I didn't shut up she would harpoon me with her walking sticks, Ha! Yeah! You try digging them out of the mountain bud! Coz they are the only thing holding you on to it!
We think this is the skeletal remains of a mountain bike. We hate to think what it's owner looked like...slugs probably got him.
At 12.20 we reached a final rocky wasteland and just through a gap in the rocks I let up a cry, 'a man made rock!'. I was sure it was the trig. As it disappeared from view I made a last valiant push (unaware that this totally freaked Dotscot out as I disappeared from her view) and there it was the summit. We'd made it half an hour late for the hostless event and up the hard way! Three lads were approaching the trig as our heads popped up from the Corrie route and they looked astounded at the way we had come....well no bloody wonder!
The best view of the day... sorry Mr.Biff ;)

Again, the feeling of accomplishment at reaching the summit and feeling on top of the world is immense.
Mrs.Biffo at the summit of Ben More

I'd had a really awful week and it didn't matter anymore, because I am awesome, I can climb mountains (note: I don't really feel like that once I'm back in front of the telly, my ego isn't that robust). Yet when you are up among the clouds, and I've yet to see a view from a Munro, it just makes me feel so alive and vital and special. It gives me perspective of all the crap that I allow to bog me down day to day. Actually I should just live up a mountain ... well Heidi did it and look at the Von Trapp family fleeing from Nazi persecution, still singing bloody Edelweiss as they ran through the Swiss Alps. Julie Andrews, what a woman!

I digress somewhat.........
Dotscot at the summit of Ben More
Yes back to the event, or lack of it! Only to be expected that the event went a little awry, the weather was poor, folks had all headed off at different times, we had broke company and I later read logs to say that one family's seven year old was struggling (no kidding!) and they had to head back down. Ben More is no place for children in my opinion, some Munros yes, but not this evil pyramid of deadly slug habitation. Still we had made it and still felt enthusiastic to take on it's sister Stob Binnein.

A nice descent to a very exposed Bealach- eader-dha Bheinn with a huge rock to mark what would be our final descent after Stob Binnein. The wind really picked up here, we'd obviously been really sheltered before and it felt now as though we could be blown off the mountain. The great swirls of mist pushing up and over the saddle was something we could have watched for ages, it was so dramatic.
Dotscot with Bealach-eader-dha Bheinn below.
Stob Binnein has a really obvious path, which meanders its way to the top. Still steep it was easier going than our ascent to Ben More. We met the three boys from earlier as they descended Stob Binnein, they were very encouraging and I think were surprised at our resilience... in truth so was I and I think Dotscot was simply in a state of shock; she will have a full medical explanation for what her body was experiencing, but I'll just call it feckin' knackered.

Stob Binnein has a rock cluster cairn at the summit and we reached it without any trouble at 2.30pm, an hour and a half since we'd left Ben More, yet it seemed quicker, which is no bad thing. It's a pity there isn't a cache up here but c'est la vie. We didn't linger for long at the top, we found a little sheltered spot and had some more coffee and a Melton Mowbray pork pie, oh yes! Dotscot had a fully stocked Tesco Express in her rucksack.
Mrs.Biffo at the summit of Stob Binnein

Dotscot at the summit of Stob Binnein
I really thought we'd skip down the mountain in about ten minutes because the going is at a much faster pace however it took us nearly three hours to return to the car. The terrain under foot was just so so boggy, we'd had wet feet now for 7 hours YUCK!!!!!!!! Gaiters wouldn't even have kept the wet out and we questioned whether our toes would in fact be webbed once we took our boots off. Eventually we picked up the track I was singing 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road' by the Munchkins but Dotscot thought the mood more 'Long and Winding Road' by The Beatles. And after a while, she won out with this one.

We got back to the car a little after 5pm. Exhausted and soggy we positively stripped off at the side of the road, we really couldn't care less at this point who saw us! You have no idea the luxury of experiencing fresh socks and a fresh cosy fleece. Health spas be damned!

We had a fabulous day, just what we both needed. Decision made however never to climb Ben More again. Well done to Dotscot claiming her first and second Munro in one day! Okay bud where to next?

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