Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Crieff and Loch Earn Hills: Ben Vorlich (165) and Stuc a' Chroin (182)

Walk date: 17/05/05
My Munro #'s: 22 and 23

The summit ridge of Ben Vorlich:

Stuc a' Chroin from Ben Vorlich:

Loch Earn:

(6 hours) These hills are to the south of Loch Earn and so travelling west a sharp left is needed before the Loch starts at St. Fillans. Park around Ardvorlich and start climbing the path as it passes attractive gardens. This is a traditional straight up ascent; very different from the long introductions of the Cairngorms. The spacious ridge of Ben Vorlich is soon reached and the effort is rewarded with grand views of Loch Earn, the surrounding glens and the next target, Stuc a' Chroin. This hill is steeper than Ben Vorlich. I took a route to the east of the main buttress, which was basically a scramble over steep grassy slopes. My descent took me over heathery slopes across Ben Our but a route returning to Vorlich and rejoining the main path would likely have been much better than my sporadic stumbling progress. This was a very hot day and I took my time. Very enjoyable though!

This day was also the debut of my GPS (a Garmin eTrex Vista C!). I had happily taken in many a walk without such an item and would have continued, except for my parents insisting that if I was going on solo bagging expeditions I was having one of these. And I have to say I have since come to like it. You do have to be careful not to rely on them too much (and to take spare batteries), and to keep your actual navigation skills in check, but they can be a handy reassurance and they can save you a lot of time, which is especially handy if daylight is an issue. My initial thoughts on this day included the realisation that the plotted route is only an estimation! Even with Ordance Survey maps via Memory Map on my PC, there's no way to exactly know the features of the hill when you're sat safely at home (especially as to start with I only had 1:50,000 scale mapping). For instance on this day my plotted route up Stuc a' Chroin included scaling sheer sections of its rock face. I declined the leyline option and used intuition instead - beware of the purple route line!

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