Beinn Each accessed from Loch Lubnaig with a detour up to the Munro of Stuc a' Chroin
Date: 06 July 2020
Hills: Beinn Each (Corbett), Stuc a' Chroin (Munro)
Weather: Sunny, strong cool wind all day
Route: View on OS Maps
On the 23rd March the country went into lockdown due to the rapid spread of COVID19. In the fifteen or so weeks since then I have stuck to walks from my door. During the full lockdown this was limited to a daily dog walk through the local woods. As lockdown eased I started to venture into the lower Ochils immediately above my house and then further into the Ochils, exploring new routes and appreciating what I had available to me.
On 3rd July the “five mile” limit on non-essential trips was finally lifted and so the Highlands beckoned. After sitting frustratedly through a great spring of beautiful weather the forecast for the first weekend in July was typically apocalyptic with rain and high winds the order of the day. However, I also had the Monday off and though the forecast was still iffy, the day itself dawned bright and clear with a cool breeze.
After a quick gear faff Cob and I headed off, leaving the county in the car for only the second time since late March (the other time was a quick essential errand to Stirling). The world felt reasonably normal through the hillfoots, Bridge of Allan and Doune. Callander was a ghost town. A few sets of roadworks slowed me down but soon we were alongside Loch Lubnaig and pulling into the large layby where the start of the Right of Way to Loch Earn via Glen Ample is clearly signed.
The first section is a delightful path that runs between the burn and a construction site at Ardchullerie More. Then it is up through a gloomy stretch of forestry which gradually turns greener and mossy as you climb before putting you out on a land rover track now high above the Ardchullerie Burn.
Following this track north we were soon out of the trees and enjoying this narrow glen with views developing back to Loch Lubnaig and ahead to the lower slopes of Beinn Each. After a few days of rain the side burns were all chattering merrily but there were no problems with getting across any of them.
The narrow footpath to Beinn Each itself is clearly signed from the top of the pass and after a quick break to watch a construction helicopter countering up the pass we headed up it, a delightful line through green bracken with the Eas an Eoin burn off to our right.
Soon enough the burn is left behind and a series of rising traverses gain the west side of Beinn Each’s southern ridge. The path rises and falls along the edge of the ridge for some distance before turning up and over a couple of intermediate summits.
The views across to Ben Ledi were developing nicely and in the distance I could see the Crianlarich hills stubbornly holding onto some morning cloud. The conditions on Beinn Each were good though with bright sunshine occasionally broken by a cloud moving through. There was fierce northwesterly wind which had me searching for my gloves buried somewhere in the rucksack.
There were a few more rising shoulders to get up and over but each of these brought increasingly impressive views, first down Glen Ample towards Lochearnhead and the Lawers range, and then to the pointed summit of Stuc a' Chroin.
The final climb is a little steep and scrabbly but we were rewarded with an empty summit and stunning views across to Stuc a’ Chroin and down the length of Glen Ample to the distant Lawers hills beyond Loch Earn.
Away to the southeast we could see down the length of Gleann a’ Chroin and away off to the Ochils and Stirling. We found a hollow tucked out of the wind and sat down for a rest and some snacks.
The plan from here was to descend down north to the Bealach nan Cabar and then, either continue up to Stuc a' Chroin via the lumpy interconnecting ridge, or drop down into Glen Ample.
The initial descent north from Beinn Each is steep but on a clear path and after negotiating a couple of scrabbly steps I followed a series of zig zags down to the bealach.
The land here is a series of rocky escarpments that are gentle on the south side but drop precipitously to the north. It was fun picking our way along these, occasionally saving to double back when we found ourselves at a steep drop. There is a path that we followed occasionally though this mostly seems to bypass the steps on their east side.
At the far end the ridge then turns east to wind its way up to Stuc a' Chroin. After briefly checking that the descent from here into Glen Ample looked feasible we turned east and headed uphill again.
There were excellent views as we climbed down Glen Ample to Lochearnhead and beyond it the dark shapes of the Lawers range. As the morning had progressed there cloud had lifted from the nearby Munros and everything was looking very summery.
The path mostly follows a line of rusted fenceposts. We made life difficult for ourselves by dropping into a boggy hollow that led to a very craggy section. We had to turn north for a while where we picked up the main path again and we soon up to the final shoulder. From here it was just a short climb up to the summit plateau of Stuc a' Chroin.
After the very quiet journey along the ridge it was something of a shock to find a half dozen groups of people on the Munro summit with more people heading up from Ben Vorlich. I took the opportunity in a lull to visit the summit cairn, enjoying the views across the glen to neighbouring Ben Vorlich.
Then we had an amble around the summit area until we found a quiet spot to sit down and have lunch looking out over Lochan a' Chroin and across to Beinn Each and Ben Ledi.
After lunch it was back the way we had come, dropping down the slopes to the low point above Glen Ample. I passed a group of people coming up from Beinn Each but otherwise it was a return to solitude. I followed the clear path which stuck to the high point rather than dropping into the boggy bowl and this proved much better.
At the point I had checked out early we left the ridge and dropped steeply down the grassy slopes into Glen Ample. Although I had to pick my way down carefully there were no major issues. The worst part was when one of my trail shoes decided to come apart at the seam which made for some interesting moments on the slippery grass.
Eventually we reached the track in Glen Ample where it was warm and sunny. After a cooling splash in the burn we turned south and followed the track up to the watershed. Looking up to Beinn Each I was happy with my choice of descent as the slopes here were covered in bracken.
Up at the watershed we met back with our outward route, following the track back down to Ardchullerie. It was a delight to amble down here in the warm afternoon sunshine. The descent back to the road was straightforward and made for a very pleasant end to the walk.
The drive home was remarkable only for the fact that in the afternoon Callander had come alive and looked very touristy, crowds of people around and folk sitting in beer gardens and enjoying takeaway from cafes along the high street.