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Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin Walking

Rising on the southeast fringe of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, these twin Munros are prominently seen from much of the Central Belt - a distinctive steep-sided skyline that promises great things. For anyone living south of the Highlands they are among the most accessible Scottish mountains. Surprisingly, approach from the nearer south or east sides gives you a long, boggy and unexpectedly remote ridge circuit; but the shorter, easier route from Loch Earn in the north is by far the more popular way. This is described here.

Ben Vorlich (left) and Stuc a' Chroin from Stob Binnein  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
Ben Vorlich (left) and Stuc a' Chroin from Stob Binnein
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Detailed description

1
NN6331323204 Take the east entrance to Ardvorlich estate, a stone gateway. Follow the drive, passing through the grounds of the big house as directed by signposts. Beyond the house the track climbs steadily through sheep pastures on the west side of the wooded burn cutting, site of a recent micro hydro project. At a track junction go right (the left branch is a long through-route to Callander).

2
NN6304920561 The track climbs to a little dam, where the burn is crossed on a footbridge. Beyond this the route continues as an engineered footpath, climbing almost due south across the lower slopes of Coire Buidhe to pick up the broad north ridge of Ben Vorlich. This gives a straightforward ascent, steepening towards the top where care will be needed in winter conditions. The summit trig point overlooks Ben Vorlich's steep south face and the remote corrie that the hill shares with Stuc a' Chroin.

3
NN6290218895 A less-trodden path descends west, soon curving southwest, with a line of old fenceposts as a guide. Some steep moderately craggy ground leads onto the knobbly Bealach an Dubh Choirein, the low point between the two hills. Above rises the rocky and intimidating northeast buttress of Stuc a' Chroin. Climb to an area of boulders and scree under the crags. Note: Stage 4 as described here can be avoided by looping wide on either side, either west under the crags to pick up the northwest ridge of Stuc a' Chroin or south beneath the crags to find a grassy gully leading almost directly to the mountain's summit. Neither way is that obvious in poor visibility.

4
NN6195918023 Cross the scree.The northeast buttress can be climbed more or less direct as an entertaining scramble with some exposure, vegetation and occasional loose blocks. A line at about grade 1 can be followed by weaving through the steeper rock steps; take them direct if you want more of a challenge. Alternatively an easier ascent can be had by bearing slightly further right - it's a well-worn line with steep loose ground but only moderate hands-on difficulty. A cairn marks the north top, and the end of any scrambling. Follow the ridge south (another line of rusting fence posts shows the way) to the cairn on the main summit.

5
NN6168617442 Retrace your steps towards the north top. You might have doubts about descending the northeast buttress, particularly in snow or poor weather. It is easily avoided. Just before regaining the north top there's a slight col. Go left here, descending roughly northwest on grassy ground to pick up Stuc a' Chroin's northwest ridge. It's possible to regain the Bealach an Dubh Choirein from here, but easier to stick with this ridge for about 1km. Once you've outflanked any craggy ground make your way down into Coire Fhuadaraich. Cross pathless bogs, then hop the burn some way above a prominent cascade. Climb the far flank of the corrie to the wide peaty col between Ben Vorlich and Ben Our.

6
NN6184919597 Coire Buidhe is now the obvious way home. The estate has requested walkers avoid taking a direct line through the base of the corrie so that heather can regenerate (a new one on me, but fair enough). Instead they've marked a preferred route with an intermittent line of wooden posts. This sketchy, soggy path loops around the east flank of the corrie, soon rejoining the engineered trail back to Ardvorlich.

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