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Ben Vorlich (985m / 3232 ft) & Stuc a' Chroin (975m / 3199 ft), Perthshire, Scotland

SECOND STORY

The Story

 

Easy walking again

Impressive waterfalls of Edinample

Start of the walk up Glenample

Climbing Stuc a Chroin

A late lunch – then a parting of the ways

Climbing Ben Vorlich from the bealach

Return to Edinample – and a brief mention of the World Cup!

 

 

< Back to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin summary page

< Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin 1st story  

< Back to Scotland page with links to other walks

< Back to Crieff and Strathearn intro page

Glen Lednock Circular Walk >

The Knock >

 

 

Easy walking again

 

This was my first excursion with the Easy Walking Group since February (see Stuchd an Lochain) and although I’d climbed Ben Vorlich a couple of times before, it’s fairly close to Dundee  and was worth going again.  The last time must have been in the spring before the summer storm which swept away the bridge at Edinample along with other bridges, roads and cycleways in the area.

 

Both previous times I’d climbed from the usual starting point at Ardvorlich, on the South Loch Earn Road.  It was this road that was blocked, so we were due to climb from Edinample, a couple of miles (3km) to the west and not far from the junction with the AXX at Lochearnhead.  I’d arranged to share cars from Perth with Drew, and as he drove us along the north side of Loch Earn the cloudy skies began to release heavy rain.  The forecast, however, was for it to brighten up in the afternoon.

 

By the time we reached Edinample the rain had already eased off.  To the left we could see Edinample Castle, a well-maintained tower house close to the shore of the loch.  Not much further on, we turned round a bend to be confronted by a clutter of cars parked near the entrance gate for the castle, with a chapel of some sort ahead.  To the right were metal barriers fencing off the bridge which was being reconstructed. 

 

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Impressive waterfalls of Edinample

 

It was about 9.50, but there were already quite a number of Easy Walkers preparing themselves for a walk in the rain.  There didn’t seem to be much expectation of sunshine, but even in the rain I realised I should have brought some protection against that curse of the Highlands, the midge.  Very soon I began to feel the tell-tale sensation of tiny insects and tried to swat them away. 

 

We were due to set off at 10.30, which left time to explore Edinample!  Just through a gate at the side of the chapel (which was some sort of mausoleum) a grassy back sloped down among trees towards the top of the Falls of Edinample.  It was wet and slippery, so I didn’t get too close to the edge.  It looked as though there must be a better viewpoint down along the bank, past the gate to the castle drive.  I could get round the side of the gate, and found a good viewpoint through the trees enabling me to see a couple of sections of the falls close up.  There had been rain during the night, and it was an impressive sight. 

 

Further down the drive I spotted an old wooden fence behind the trees on the right, and this turned out to be a guard rail for an overgrown path leading to another viewpoint.  It was pretty neglected, and the overgrown grass and branches were themselves dripping with water, but I managed to get to the viewpoint, snap off a low branch obstructing the view, and get a reasonable picture of the full height of the falls.

 

Venturing further down the drive I reached Edinample Castle itself, and it appeared to be inhabited although there was no sign of anyone about.  Clearly the castle had been built to provide a perfect view upstream towards the waterfalls.  Even on a grey day it was a fine sight – with some sunshine it would have been better.

  

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Start of the walk up Glenample

 

Back at the cars, it was nearly 10.30 and people were ready to get moving.  One guy was still awaited – it seemed the road from Callander was blocked and he was having to take a detour.  But he appeared a couple of minutes later and we were able to set off. There were 16 of us, plus Allan’s small black Scottish terrier.   I only knew a couple of them – there was a big change in personnel from previous walks I’d taken part in.  Jim said there were now over 260 members on the Easy Walking circulation list, which would allow for quite a few complete changes of the cast.  Many had joined up through contacts with existing members – such as through skiing.

 

Sandy had walked this route before and was taking the lead.  It was a bit of a trudge along the wide track leading up Glen Ample.  The incline was slight, so not much effort was involved, but there was a light drizzle and not much of a view.  The burn rushed past on our left between banks lined with natural woodland, so on a fine day it would have been quite scenic.  We could just about see the grey shape of the hills beyond. 

 

After about half an hour the track bent to the left before crossing a concrete bridge over the burn.  We stopped briefly before the bridge, then crossed the fence on the right, which was signposted as the footpath.  The route wasn’t particularly clear, through grass and over dead branches, then up a steep section of the bank to find a better path a little higher up.  Half a mile on from the earlier bridge we were expecting to find a crossing over to the farm at Glenample, but it turned out to have been washed away as well.  There was nothing for it, we had to look carefully for the best point to cross and wade through the fast-flowing water.  At this point two streams of water converged, so we could cross one then the other, but most of us got wet feet.  That is, apart from the 6 people who decided it wouldn’t be much fun walking all day with soggy socks, and turned back the way they had come, to cross at the bridge.

 

The rest of us made our way up to the forest track to wait.  We realised it wasn’t a bright idea to stand under wet trees near the burn, as this was another spot popular with midges, and moved across another little burn towards the farm.  There were a couple of pigs free ranging around in the mud.  Sooner than we expected the dry-footers arrived, but not before the pigs had started to get friendly and I’d been introduced to the midge-repellent properties of Avon Skin So Soft lotion.

 

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Climbing Stuc a Chroin

 

It must have been well after 11.30 by this time, and only now were we able to start the climb proper.  A track led up fairly steeply at the edge of the forest.  There was tall green bracken on either side, and the smell reminded me of days as a scout 40 years ago.  It’s funny how particular smells recall memories of events long gone.  The group soon began to get strung out on the steep path which was now cutting through the forest, but the leaders stopped periodically to let everyone else catch up and recover. 

 

At the top of the thick belt of forest the track continued towards a high locked gate in a deer fence, and our path went slightly to the left through the bracken to reach a stile which we all clambered over.  As we gathered on the other side I noticed the profusion of small flowers across the track and the banks on either side – mostly mauve thyme and a yellow flower, vetch maybe.  Even in the overcast weather it provided a bright spot.  At least it was dry now, and we had been able to remove the wet weather gear to make the climbing easier.

flowers beside the path

 

Now the wide track continued less steeply but steadily uphill across open moorland, rising into the basin of Coire Fhuadaraich which lies west of Ben Vorlich and north-west of Stuc a Chroin.  The tall northern crags of Stuc a Chroin appeared, shrouded in cloud.  After a couple more rest breaks, we made our way round the head of the corrie, below the bealach between the two mountains.  There was a short downward stretch to pass under the buttress, although there is a walkers’ route which goes straight up it.  Possibly it would be no more difficult than our route – the narrow and (in places) slippery zig-zag track up the steep slope to the right of the crags.  It was a longer climb than I remembered from the wintry walk a couple of years ago, when I had edged across to here after trying to climb through snow on the slope further to the right.

 

We took our time and everyone made it safely to the top (with one or two slips), many with the help of a walking pole to provide some extra stability.  It’s on sections like this that you really appreciate the benefit of good hiking boots with a deep tread.  The contours indicate the climb was between 700 and 850 metres – so, about 150 metres or 500 feet for this most difficult section of the walk.  It’s OK if you’re used to hillwalking and take care, but not advisable for the novice.  Ben Vorlich, although higher, is easier walking.

 

Gathering again at the edge of the cliff, our heads were in the clouds now, and we set off again up a gentler climb over grass and rocks to the south.  There was a belt of larger boulders to cross, then it was straightforward again, with a final stony stagger to the summit.

 

It was 2.30 when we tapped our walking poles on the summit cairn.  It had taken us 4 hours to get here – including the extra time down at Glenample, but also with ample rests, so most experienced walkers would manage this climb in little over 3 hours.

 

 Return to the top

 A late lunch – then a parting of the ways

 

We found a sheltered slope just below the summit on the north-west side, with plenty of broad rocks to sit on whilst we were eating our lunch.  It was still mild, but after 5 or 10 minutes many of us began to feel a chill through our damp clothes and put on extra layers.  There was a brief break in the clouds, and the sun almost broke through, before the mists closed in again.

 

Allan had managed to get his wee dog up here OK, or maybe it was the dog that brought Allan to the top. 

 

Setting off again, we retraced our steps back down the gentle slope, to the top of the steep climb.  Just before we started the careful descent, the clouds broke apart again and the view opened up into the corrie below.  This was pretty much as forecast, and it continued to improve for the rest of the afternoon.

 

After going down the steep section we got together below the buttress and discussed who wanted to go on up Ben Vorlich, and who would prefer to return to Edinample.  Six (plus the dog) went back by the same route, and nine of us continued onto the bealach where we were greeted by a sudden view east across a broad boggy basin, the counterpart of the corrie we had climbed. 

 

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Climbing Ben Vorlich from the bealach

 

As we climbed up the steep but straightforward climb to the summit ridge of Ben Vorlich the views back down to the bealach and across to the face of the Stuc became more dramatic.

 

I had been hanging back, enjoying the change to take the first decent landscape photos of the day, and struggled to catch up with the others.  The pace was quicker now with the smaller group, and it didn’t take long for us to reach the cairn at the summit.  The group had split at about 3.25, and we were at the top of Ben Vorlich at 4.15. 

 

Patches of mist were still blowing around us, and in between them we could see the track coming up from Ardvorlich to the north.  After a few group photos we didn’t hang about – several people were anxious to get back in time to watch the World Cup final between Italy and France which was due to start at 7 p.m., and time was running out! 

 

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Return to Edinample – and a brief mention of the World Cup!

 

There was no clear path down the slope to the west, but it wasn’t too steep to present any real difficulty.  There was no mist to trouble us and the summit of Stuc a Chroin had cleared (see panorama below).  We soon found ourselves rejoining the path which we had taken from Glenample.  By then we were enjoying some real sunshine – the best weather of the day.  The buttress of the Stuc was clear now behind us, as well as the green expanses of plantation on the slopes of Glenample ahead.

 

The remainder of the walk was completed without incident – moving quickly with just a few breaks, but avoiding the wet river crossiing!  The track which we should have taken from Glenample farm was easy and short, with just a few places where care had to be taken either to avoid getting wet feet in the mud, or to avoid catching our boots on the wire from an old fence.  There was a new fence to the right of us, and the Burn of Ample rushed past on the left.  Then we were back to the bridge which we should have crossed in the morning, and we had just a mile or so to trudge back to the cars by 6.15.

 

Although the World Cup Final was imminent, we made time for a quick pint in a hotel bar in Locheanhead, looking out across the loch towards the hills which we had just climbed.  It was a sunny, peaceful sunny evening, just a couple of hours before the fateful head-butt which Zidane delivered to his Italian taunter, and the penalty shootout which ended in an Italian victory.

 

 

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< Back to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin summary page

< Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin 1st story

< Back to Scotland page with links to other walks

< Back to Crieff and Strathearn intro page

Glen Lednock Circular Walk >

The Knock >

Other Easywalking Group walks on the site:

 

Contributed by Andrew Llanwarne

 

 

Sarah and Jim

Sarah and Jim

Parking near the bridge under repair

Parking near the bridge under repair

Edinample Castle

Edinample Castle

The Falls of Edinample from the Castle

At the bridge which we should have crossed

At the bridge which we should have crossed - but the footpath is signposted to the right before the bridge

Oops, we seem to have lost half our party

Oops, we seem to have lost half our party!

A pig tries to join the group at Glenample

A pig tries to join the group at Glenample

Starting the real climbing

Starting the real climbing

Up through the forest

Up through the forest

Helping the dog over the stile

Helping the dog over the stile

Climbing over to Coire Fhuadaraich

Climbing over to Coire Fhuadaraich

Starting the steep climb on Stuc a Chroin

Starting the steep climb on Stuc a Chroin

Not much to be seen on the top

Not much to be seen on the top

Lunch in the mist

Lunch in the mist

Making our way down again

Making our way down again

Climbing up from the bealach, the summit of Ben Vorlich above us

Climbing up from the bealach, the summit of Ben Vorlich above us

On the climb up to Ben Vorlich

On the climb up to Ben Vorlich

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view of the Stuc

Summit meeting

Summit meeting

View of Ardvorlich and Loch Earn

View of Ardvorlich and Loch Earn

A break in the sunshine on the way down

A break in the sunshine on the way down, with

the buttress of Stuc a Chroin in the background

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Stuc a Chroin seen during the descent from Ben Vorlich, after the clouds cleared

Stuc a Chroin seen during the descent from Ben Vorlich, after the clouds cleared

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