Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Cary’s Final Munro, or two – plus a Corbett


Friday 21 September 2018

Claire from SWOG arrived on time at 1 pm for her lift up to Callander with me and Sue. Luckily the Skoda’s coolant remained where it should be. We refuelled at Tesco in Carlisle, where two pots of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge cost about the same as a Swiss cup of coffee.

Arriving at the Trossachs Tryst bunkhouse at 6 pm, we dumped our bags and set out for dinner at the nearby Lode Inn at Kilmahog. Luckily Sue and I were the only people stupid enough to walk to the pub, where an immediate choice of food was needed as they were expecting a group of 30 a bit later and they couldn’t accommodate a further nine at the same time. So Nigel kindly zoomed back down the road and picked us up. But not before we had savoured the delightful evening light in the direction of Ben Ledi.


The fish and chips were great, and others enjoyed their haggis. (Haggi!)

Meanwhile, back at base, a selection of folk were arriving to celebrate Cary’s final Munro, to be tackled the following day.

Saturday 22 September 2018

It soon became apparent that this was not to be a ‘normal’ (in my experience) final Munro outing. For a start, Cary was starting with another hill, the Corbett – Beinn Each (813 metres) – by way of a warm up for climbing Stuc a’Chroin, a Munro. That was to be Cary’s penultimate Munro. His final Munro was to be Ben Vorlich, a hill that towers above Lochearnhead.

‘Normal’ would comprise everyone accompanying Cary on a fairly easy walk to the top of the final Munro, whence a party involving champagne and cake and lots more would take place. Today just 13 of Cary’s guests saw fit to set out with him, a further 8 taking their own easy route up Ben Vorlich. Others seemed unaware of the etiquette and failed to take part in very much at all, though Sue and Jeff did find a parkrun.

It was a lovely day spiced with occasional rainbow illuminated showers. Had we not been driving in convoy to start the walk at NN 582 136 at around 8.50, we would have been tempted to pause at the head of Loch Lubnaig to admire some magical reflections in the loch.

Eyebright and Tormentil were hanging on with Buttercups and Lady’s Mantle to provide a bit of colour to supplement the various shades of brown adopted by the season’s fungi.

Mark chose a fine position on the summit of Beinn Each from which to savour his customary snooze.


After the easy path up Beinn Each, the route got rougher. Had Phil continued, the planned rendezvous on Ben Vorlich would have been delayed. So he headed down with Shirley, leaving their boys in Cary’s tender care.

So just 12 of us made our way to the summit of Stuc a’Chroin (975 metres), where Mark enjoyed another brief snooze. Others present were Sue, Helen and Harvey, Graham B, the boys – Jonathan and Michael, and Cary’s friends Andrew, Arthur and Pete. We lazed here for some time as we were ahead of schedule. A large herd of red deer was observed far below, but no ptarmigan were seen today, although a hare or two may have been glimpsed, and there were plenty of crows/ravens in attendance.

With Ben Vorlich lurking in the distance beyond a precipitous drop, there was still some way to go.


In view of the potentially tricky descent from this summit towards Ben Vorlich, Cary dutifully looked after the boys by following me around an alternative and much less exposed route to the north. Six of the party took the exposed path, which would be easy in ascent, and the six of us who took the alternative longer but quicker path arrived back at the ridge just as the others reached the same point.

The final ascent to Ben Vorlich was straightforward. Nigel, a Munroist himself, had successfully guided his team of eight to the summit well in advance of the 2.45 rendezvous, and everyone was in position with their walking poles raised in honour of Cary as he lumbered into view at around 2.30.


There was a fine view back to Stuc a’Chroin, from which the precipitous descent is shown just to the left of Sue’s head in the next picture.


We spent some time in a sheltered spot below the subsidiary summit, but eventually the sound of clinking wine glasses in Callander drew us towards the easy stroll back down to Loch Earn.


Sue and I had provided shortbread and cake, but apart from that this was a bizarrely teetotal and scantly catered party despite conditions being more suited to a summit party than on many of the ‘final Munro’ bashes I’ve had the honour of attending.

Pleasant woodland accompanied us at the end of the day.


No worries though. Cary had organised a party at the bunkhouse later, so once we got back we could imbibe to our heart’s content in the warmth of our home for the weekend. Tea, beer, wine, and lots of tasty food and desserts. The cake, sadly not captured on film by me, was a luxurious affair courtesy of Cary’s daughter, Clara, who wasn’t present to receive the accolades attributed to said monstrosity magnificent construction.

The evening concluded with bizarre party ‘games?’ suited to infantile children. This bemused a minority who looked on in puzzlement.

Today’s walk turned out to be about 16 km in length, with around 1300 metres ascent, taking about 8 hours. A fine route. Well done, Cary.


Sunday 23 September 2018


Ground mist soon cleared. There would have been great early morning inversions from higher up. It was a lovely day for a walk, so something of a puzzle that so far as I’m aware only nine of the thirty of us actually went for a proper walk. Graham and Anne headed up a Corbett, and seven of us, me, Sue, Helen, Claire, Harvey, Arthur and Pete parked up at Lochearnhead and headed up Glen Kendrum towards the two Corbetts – Meall an t-Seallaidh and Creag MacRanaich. The plan had been to go up both of them, but I’d underestimated the time that would take. By the time we reached the col between the two hills, all on a good track, we had already covered 8 km.


Another 2 km took us over rough ground with a vague path, to the summit of Meall an t-Seallaidh (852 metres). The summit is at the far end of a broad ridge.

A leisurely stop for lunch in the lee of the cool breeze, with fine views towards the previous day’s route, was savoured by all of us. Had Mark been there he might even have admired the view from his position of slumber.

The trig point formed a good ‘tripod’ from which to record everyone in today’s team.


Cloud formations enhanced the view to Loch Earn, where sailing boats were enjoying the breeze.


By the time we got going again and regained the col between the two hills, after meeting the only two people we encountered all day, a lone greybeard and a young lady in yellow, it was 2 pm. Arthur and Pete had to be down by 5 pm in order to get their lift to Glasgow Airport. Going up Creag MacRanaich and getting back to Lochearnhead by 5 was possible, but may be excessively energetic, and Sue, Claire and I would get home late. So we all took the sensible decision to leave the second hill for another time and descend at a leisurely pace. The views would have been similar, and our approach meant that we could enjoy a half hour break a couple of kilometres down the track, which we retraced all the way back to the car park.


There were superb views across the Glen to yesterday’s three hills, seen here lined up on the horizon.


Harvey, Claire and Helen also stopped to collect fruit from a tree laden with sloes.

We were back in Lochearnhead, absorbing the aroma of freshly cut grass on a fine late summer’s day, at about 4.30, where Arthur and Pete’s lift was waiting for them. We had walked over 19 km, with 800 metres ascent, in about 6.5 hours, rather further than the previous day. There were no recriminations about missing out the second hill.


Helen and Harvey were reunited with their bicycles at the bunkhouse, from where they were to move to a B&B before cycling back to Glasgow the following day to get the train home. Then Sue, Claire and I admired the harvest moon as it rose whilst we travelled south in the gathering gloom, stopping at Annandale services for a McDonalds supper whilst watching the local swans, ducks and heron prepare for a cool night outside.

We were home soon after 10 pm after taking the Warburton Bridge (no toll at this time of night) route as the M60 was shut.

Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Thanks go to Cary, and his able assistants – Penny and Rowena – for organising it so efficiently.

There’s a slideshow, 85 images, here. It’s the first time I’ve used Flickr for this purpose and I can’t work out how to display captions. Maybe I will have done so by the time you read this…(I can’t currently get this to work at all.)
[Some guidance on how to display a full screen, with captions, would be appreciated. Or even how to produce a slideshow of any sort now Picasa is defunct.]


Sir Hugh said...

I climbed Ben Vorlich along with Stuc a Chroi on 11th April 2004. I did most of my Munros alone, but these two were done with a good friend Malcolm Lomas during the Easter meet of the Yorkshire Mountaineering Club. Looks like you had a good party. My last was Sgurr Mor overlooking Loch Quoich on 28th June 2009. II came from the south via Glendessarry - no great celebrations, I was on my own, but it was a superb mountain day.

Phreerunner said...

Good memories, Conrad, and Cary is not alone in his unconventional 'compleation' method. Though obviously I'll only remember the final Munro events I've attended, and not those to which nobody was invited!

And I do apologise to Cary for my highly personal observations on the party games that most attendees seemed to enjoy. In fact, for a group from St Albans who didn't seem too keen on walking, the games were possibly the highlight of their trip.

afootinthehills said...

Our final Munro was Sgurr Dubh Mor on 29 June 1991. We were alone on the top at 8.30 am with the mist clearing dramatically to give views to Coruisk. A perfect way to finish, for us at any rate.

Phreerunner said...

Happy Days, Gibson. You must have quite a low number...
I'll have to compose an entry about my own final Munro sometime. It was a dreich day and I can't find the photos!

afootinthehills said...

Happy days indeed Martin. We are 885 and 886 my brother and his wife being 234 and 235, 1980. They did the Furths as well and Corbetts. Goodness knows when we’ll get our last few Corbetts done - they’ve found another one!

Phreerunner said...

I don't expect to 'compleat' any more lists, apart perhaps the Wainwrights, though I tick off both Corbetts and a second round of Munros, being about half way through both lists. I've been up just 9 new Marilyns in the past two years, so it could take some time!

My Munroist number is one of those things that will tell me when I can't remember it that I'm in need of a mental health review. 3333.