Above the Clouds: A Stunning Trip in the Trossachs

With a fantastic spell of weather due during the week, I found it impossible not to take some time off work to make the most of the clear blue skies, high temperatures and light winds across much of Scotland. Due to time constraints, I settled on a trip to the Trossachs to take in 4 Munros from a high-level camp. The hill round the following day turned out to be one of the most epic ones I’d enjoyed in this part of the country!

[June ’21]

It was a fairly busy drive after work through Callander and on to Inverlochlarig, but after turning off the A84 at Kingshouse, everything started to feel a little more wild. The narrow road went on for what felt like hours and having had fairly rotten luck with potholes and tyres in recent months, I was on high alert. I eventually reached the almost deserted car park at Inverlochlarig and had a quick bite to eat before readying myself for the short but steep effort required to reach my overnight spot.

A perfect evening

My plan was to find a spot to set up my bivvy on the long southern ridge from Stob Binnein, which would save me a fair chunk of work the following morning to tick off 4 Munros in a circuit before reaching Inverlochlarig again. The going was steep but I was able to keep up a reasonable pace knowing that there was only an hour or so of effort to reach some potential camp spots.

It might only have been a short jaunt for the evening, but the views around me were absolutely stunning and the weather was near perfect (not quite enough of a breeze to keep the airborne insects at bay). I stopped often to check out the views down Loch Voil and across to Stob a’Choin behind me.

Summer in Inverlochlarig
Lochs Doine and Voil

The gradient eased slightly around the 700m mark and from there it was an easy few hundred metres to reach a cairn that marked the beginning of the long ridge towards Stob Coire an Lochain and eventually Stob Binnein. Stretched in front of me was a fine grassy ridge with plenty of spots for camping, but there was a nice breeze close to the cairn to I opted to find a spot as close to that as possible. I set up my bivvy and enjoyed my dinner before settling down to watch the sun disappear behind the mountains in front of me.

Stob a’Choin, Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps
A perfect spot for a bivvy
The sun disappearing behind Stob Binnein

Being the 2nd trip in my bivvy, I’d say I slept a little better, but still not as good as I’d have done in a tent. I woke at 0330 and was greeted with an awesome inversion, with only the tops of most of the Munros and Corbetts around me above the cloud.

A beautiful inverted morning

I packed up quickly and was ready to go just after 0400, so headed off towards my first target of the day – Stob Binnein. This involved an easy walk along a grassy ridge before one last slightly steeper pull to reach the summit cairn. It was completely calm, there was no one to be seen and the cloud below me was barely moving – what an epic way to start the day!

Final pull up Stob Binnein
Looking west from Stob Binnein

With the first of 4 Munros ticked off, I headed for the aptly named Bealach eadar dha Bheinn (literally meaning ‘pass between 2 hills’) before working my way up Ben More. A few hundred metres later about 90 minutes after leaving my bivvy spot, I reached the summit of Ben More. If it was possible, the view north was even more Spectacular than from Stob Binnein, with everything as far as Ben Nevis easily recognisable in the morning light.

I was, however, very surprised to see someone else at the summit at 0540 in the morning! We never spoke – only exchanged friendly waves – and I headed on my way again, retracing my steps down to the bealach before blazing my own trail across to Cruach Ardrain, the penultimate Munro of the morning’s circuit.

Looking north from Ben More

After a fairly easy morning so far with good paths to follow, this section of the route was an entirely different proposition. The ground was wet, slippery and steep, not to mention being in the cloud that sat below the summits. After much swearing and muttering to myself about how annoying the down-and-up was, I finally climbed above the clouds on the other side of the valley and immediately forgot about the horrible trudge that had passed – it had been completely worth it!

Out of the cloud again

From the bealach between Ben More, I had chosen to aim for Stob Garbh, where I hoped to catch the path that leads up Cruach Ardrain from the Crianlarich side. I reached this path, following it along the bumpy ridge and after a very steep section, finally reached the summit of Cruach Ardrain at 0820, a little over 4 hours after setting off earlier in the morning.

Objectives 1 and 2 from Cruach Ardrain

I had a quick rest and was soon on my way again, heading for Beinn Tulaichean. This felt like little more than a formality en route back to the car, but a Munro it was, so it would be bagged! It took around 30 minutes to travel between the two summits and I was pleased to have 4 Munros summited before 0900!

Looking back on Cruach Ardrain from Beinn Tulaichean

I took some more photos and had the last of my snacks and water and set off down the south side of Beinn Tulaichean, slowly disappearing into the cloud. There was an obvious path initially, but this soon disappeared shortly before a gate around the 500m mark. Following this, there was one final pathless and slippery section through grass and ferns to reach a good track. A quick jaunt through the small settlement of Inverlochlarig and I was soon back at the car, almost exactly 6 hours after setting off just a few hundred metres above me.

Inverlochlarig appearing out of the cloud

Satisfied with my morning’s effort (11.2 miles, 1450m ascent, 6hrs), I got changed in a cloud of midges and headed home with a big smile on my face having ticked off another 4 Munros whilst enjoying an awesome cloud inversion for my whole circuit. On to the next one!

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