Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Tuesday 19 April Mor Bheinn (Graham) 640m NN716211 Map 57 and Ben Halton 621m Graham Top

The day started well. It was as beautiful a spring morning as you could hope for and yet again the kirk car park in Glen Artney was deserted.

A large pile of neeps was piled by the steadings at Dalchruin, no doubt for the ewes waiting to lamb in the fields opposite. It was cool in the shade of the trees by the Water of Ruchill, but once across the bridge we were in warm sunshine as we took to the pastures and long rough grasses.

The initial slopes of Mor Bheinn
Southwards across the glen the fine rounded hills of the Graham Uamh Bheag along with three Donalds were noted for another day's circuit. A large wind farm lies on the south slopes of Beinn Odhar, the blades being visible from hills on this side of the glen once some height has been gained. This is the awful Braes of Doune Windfarm.

Uamh Bheag hills
A new barbed wire fence with no stile that we could find had to be climbed but once over, a gate allowed us through the deer fence. Here the route takes an atv track uphill but we opted to use the the quarry track for a short while before beginning our climb.

Once on the slopes, banks of celandines and primroses brightened up the bleached grasses which covered deep moss. It was like walking through soft snow and made for heavy going. 

We were looking forward to getting off this stuff and onto the ridge but instead we found ourselves surrounded by slopes of  long heather which went on forever it seemed. Perhaps we should have kept further west nearer the deer fence, but we'd expected to quickly emerge onto high ground with our way clear ahead and with good views to keep us company. Instead we found hollows, peat hags, deep heather and rocky outcrops. There was little sense of progress as we ploughed upwards. 

The photographs don't really capture the nature of the terrain (nor did our out of date OS map) but we agreed that we'd seldom encountered so much toilsome ground on on a hill before. Attempts to find alternative routes usually took us on tedious detours.

Ben Halton
Then at last a lovely lochan and Ben Halton appeared, raising both smiles and spirits. A short detour on a pleasant path led to its cairn and views down to Comrie, to Ben Vorlich and to a previously climbed Graham, Beinn Dearg. It was just the place for a cuppa. 'We'll halt on Ben Halton'

Ben Halton with view to Beinn Dearg and Ben Vorlich
Mor Bheinn, its white trig pillar visible, looked distant beyond an intervening long drop. In fact it was only around 130m loss of height followed by 150m ascent but it was probably going to be more of the same - heather, holes and mire on the descent, then peat hags to negotiate before the final pull to the trig point.

Mor Bheinn from near Ben Halton
Off we went and once in the broad col another deer fence had to be climbed, fortunately by a stile. Then another fence. What's with all these fences?  Various 'animal tracks' as the guide called them, led round and over little outcrops, then suddenly we emerged by the trig point. A welcome sight. Happy 80th birthday to you!

Loch Earn and St Fillans lay below us and it was wonderful to have an open view at last.

Loch Earn and St Fillans

Descending by a broken ridge and picking up narrow paths we aimed for a grassy rake.

The grassy rake on the right
The rake gave an easy, if wet, way up and back to the lochans - an altogether much more pleasant return journey.

It was hot lower down by the quarry track and we relaxed for a while, finishing off our remaining food and tea. Then it was over the barbed wire fence again. We watched a beautiful red kite for a while as it sailed above us. Wonderful.

Back at Dalchruin, the shepherd was out on his quad bike, collie aboard, checking his ewes and lambs, one newly born. If ever a scene spoke of spring, it was this one.

Glen Artney is becoming a favourite place and worth exploring further but we won't be venturing in here:

Note: I can't offer any explanation as to why we felt as we did about Mor Bheinn. After all, it's not as if we are unfamiliar with Scottish hills! Best not to analyse perhaps. Anyway, in retrospect it wasn't all that bad...


  1. That kind of going is reminiscent of the hills in Northumbria which I did enjoy for their remoteness and tranquility, worth the effort of struggling through the pathless heather and tussocks.

    1. It was certainly tranquil and although not in the least remote, we did feel like we were in the wilds at times. It is much easier to climb Mor Bheinn from Comrie but of course that's no help if you want Ben Halton as well.

  2. Saps the energy that kind of ground but you certainly enjoyed good views.

    1. Hi Alan - the last two days I've been laid low with some sort of bug so I'm wondering if that was part of the reason for finding the going harder than usual. It's a good excuse anyway.

  3. Notwithstanding 'some sort of bug' you do seem to be cracking on with some good hills. Good luck with your remaining Corbetts - they shouldn't take long!

  4. Thanks Martin - for the most part our remaining Corbetts are awkward being either on islands (Rum and Jura) or remote and we want fine weather to enjoy them. Not a lot of that about at the moment!

    You'll be off on the Challenge soon so good luck with the weather.

  5. The Rum and Jura Corbetts are both a delight, I hope you get the chance to savour them soon.

    Yes, the Challenge looms. Sue is joining me this year so a number of B&Bs have been booked, and my reserve rucksack, the ancient Jaguar 65, has returned to the cupboard as I bought a new one this afternoon. Hopefully the new Deuter sack will last longer than its predecessor Go-Lite and Lowe-Alpine products that both proved lacking in durability.