On 8th May, 1976, I climbed my first Munro – Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn) – little knowing at that time that I would go on to climb all the others over the next 35 years. So, having climbed my last (but not final!) Munro last year, I had in mind to complete the circle by returning to Ben Vorlich in 2012.
My sister Frances and daughter Fiona, who had accompanied me on Aonach Mor, were also keen to accompany me.
The opportunity came on Sunday 6th May, 2012. The forecast was reasonable, although the cloud was down on the hills as we drove up through Callander and up Loch Lubnaig. Two cars rendezvous’d at Ardvorlich at 11am: Anne, Fiona and I came up from Stirling; Frances and Douglas (my nephew) from Edinburgh.
The hill looked good, with a sprinkling of snow on the top, and the cloud breaking up. I didn’t remember much of the route from 36 years (less 2 days) ago!
From the lochside, we followed the tarred road to Ardvorlich house, then on up a good track on the west side of Glen Vorlich, steep at first, then easing through the wooded glen.
After a mile or so, we branched right, climbing again, and soon reached the bridge over the burn flowing out of Coire Buidhe.
Once again, the track (now a path) steepened as it climbed up the north ridge of the hill.
The sunshine disappeared and showers of snow and hail swept in on us from the west. Still, the path was good, so we battled on upwards.
There were quite a few others on the mountain, some going u, some coming back down. As we reached the crest of the ridge at 800m, the summit was coming and going in the cloud. Careful steps were required up the last 500m as the snow had been packed down on the path, so was a bit slippy.
Before long, we clambered up the final steep slope and found ourselves on the summit. Not absolutely sure which was the real summit, we continued along the ridge to the east top (actually 1m lower according to the map), and stopped there for a bite to eat.
The sky cleared a little, and we had dramatic views across to Stuc a’Chroin, and occasional glimpses further afield.
We were lucky to have a brief spell of blue sky and sunshine while we were on the top.
36 years before, we had continued on to Stuc a’Chroin, but this time decided that one summit was enough, so headed back down the way we had come. Lovely views to the north ….