Updated: Sep 7
Hiking has a unique way of bringing people together, forging bonds over shared challenges and offering unforgettable vistas. On the 1st of September 2023, our hiking group, "Get On Yer Hike," led by the fearless Aaron Dowds, embarked on an unforgettable wild camp hiking adventure in the heart of Scotland. Our destination? The towering Ben More, a colossal green pyramid that dominates the Crianlarich landscape, and its graceful neighbor, Stob Binnein.
Ben More and Stob Binnein are no walk in the park. The terrain is rugged and challenging, characterized by a very steep ascent and descent throughout most of the hike. There are pathless sections with boggy ground and some treacherous terrain if you stray from the route. As you ascend higher, the ridges widen, with a single, avoidable scramble on Ben More. This was a hike that demanded our best, both physically and mentally.
The Wild Camp Hiking Adventure Begins
Our adventure started at 7 PM on the tranquil banks of Loch Lubhair, with weather conditions that were nothing short of perfect: excellent visibility, gentle winds, and clear skies. Fully geared up for a wild camp on the mountain, our group consisted of Aaron, Neil, and Callum. With our spirits high, we began the tough ascent of Ben More, our eyes peeled for an ideal camping spot with breathtaking views.
As the sun dipped below the horizon around 500 meters up, we knew we had to find shelter quickly. Consulting our maps, we spotted a promising flat area around 550 meters, and we made our way there. Head torches illuminated our path as we swiftly pitched our tents and prepared a hot chocolate using our trusty Jetboil. As darkness enveloped us, we sat in awe of the ever-changing night sky.
"Massive sense of adventure not knowing where we're going to end up sleeping. Watching the sunset as we're pitching our tents then waking up early to catch the first light was incredible." Neil Greenhorn
A Mountain Morning
Despite an uneasy night's sleep, we awoke at the crack of dawn, eager for the adventures of the day ahead. A hearty breakfast of sausages and porridge was savoured as we marvelled at the beauty of the sunrise painting the sky with vivid colours. The morning mist clung lovingly over the village below and the serene loch, creating a magical atmosphere.
After breakfast, we packed up and descended to around 300 meters, carefully hiding our tents and excess gear behind rocks, hoping they would be waiting for us upon our return. At 7 AM, we welcomed Steven, who had arrived at our designated meeting point, and together, we began the relentless ascent of Ben More.
Ben More and Stob Binnein: The Challenge and the Reward
Neil Greenhorn's words resonate as we tackle Ben More:
"Great sense of accomplishment getting to the first Munro around 09:30am and the 2nd just before lunchtime. Loved hearing everyone's stories and having some great conversations. The mountains allow for uninterrupted chats that flow really well."
Ben More's ascent was as challenging as its reputation suggests, with the slope seeming much taller when viewed from below. However, the climb was not as steep as feared, and the views back towards the valley were simply breathtaking. We followed the path to the left of the ill-defined lower section of the Sloc Curraidh, a corrie high on Ben More.
The summit of Ben More offered us sweeping vistas of the Scottish landscape. To the east, Crianlarich was spread out like a miniature model town, nestled among rolling hills. To the west, the shimmering Loch Lomond sparkled in the sunlight. To the north, the peaks of the Trossachs National Park stretched as far as the eye could see, a tapestry of greens and blues. The views were "nothing short of stunning."
A Surprise Awaits
Returning to our hidden camp, we were delighted to find our tents and gear exactly where we had left them, tucked behind the protective embrace of the rocks.
But our adventure didn't end there. After a challenging day on the mountains, we rewarded ourselves with a brisk swim in Loch Lubhair. The water was undeniably cold, but it refreshed and invigorated our weary bodies.
"Getting back to the cars and having a dip in the loch was the best way to finish off a fantastic 24 hours in the hills with great company!" Neil Greenhorn
Neil, our group's coffee connoisseur, brewed us some espresso using his fancy travel coffee press before our journey home.
Culinary Highlights and Camaraderie
Before concluding our journey, we must give a special mention to Steven's hiking cuisine skills. He surprised and impressed us all with a delicious lentil curry he had prepared in his slow cooker the day before. It was a culinary masterpiece, and he generously shared the recipe with us, ensuring that the taste of the hike would linger long after we had left the mountains.
Our conversations during the hike were as invigorating as the adventure itself. We exchanged life stories, ideas, and tips on how to face the challenges life throws our way. Laughter echoed through the hills as we enjoyed each other's company, making this hike a highlight of the year. Neil said:
"Loved hearing everyones stories and having some great conversations. The mountains allow for uninterupted chats that flow really well."
Our hike to Ben More and Stob Binnein with "Get On Yer Hike" was a testament to the enduring power of nature to inspire and unite. With challenging terrain, stunning vistas, and the camaraderie of fellow hikers, this adventure will remain etched in our memories as a day well spent in the rugged beauty of Scotland.
For more information on Wild Camping in Scotland visit "Wild camping in Scotland: the essentials by Mountaineering Scotland."