Scotland is packed full of wonderful scenery that we hope to explore and visit whilst we are up here working on a Helpx stay. The general rule is that we do around 4 to 5 hours a day for five days a week so that obviously leaves us a couple of days off with which to get out and about.
Pitlochry and Ben Vrackie
This week we had been staying in the main house just outside Pitlochry on the banks of the River Tummel. It’s a picturesque location with lots of local walks but on our day off we fancied tackling something a little more challenging. Just to the north of the town is a mountain called Ben Vrackie with good hiking paths to the top so we decided to give it a go.
Ben Vrackie, the Speckled Mountain
At a height of 2,759 feet Ben Vrackie is known as a Corbett. The Scots have a system of grouping their peaks into categories to differentiate heights, in fact each country in the UK has it’s own set of names describing how tall a mountain of hill is. The Scottish ones seem to be more famous especially the biggest which are the Munro’s.
- Munro – over 3000 feet
- Corbett – between 2500 and 3000 feet
- Graham – between 2000 and 2499 feet (with a 150 metre drop all round)
- Donald – over 2000 feet (with a 30 metre drop all round)
So Ben Vrackie is a Corbett, and also known as ‘Speckled Mountain‘ due to white quartz being historically found on its slopes. On a good day it is said that you can see Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh but I’m not sure how true that is as it’s over 76 miles away. Seems slightly far-fetched to me.
Moulin and the start of the climb
Blue skies and rising temperatures greeted our arrival in the tiny town of Moulin where we dropped the car and set off on the seven mile round trip to the summit and back. Although it was a glorious day we went with supplies of water and food along with wet weather gear just in case. You never know what the Scottish weather will do.
The first part of the walk was along a sand path rising up through woodland before opening up onto the open hillside and a spectacular view of Ben Vrackie ahead.
The path slowly climbed between the ridge of Creag Bhreac on our right and Stac an Fheidh on our left. We couldn’t pronounce either of these two places however hard we tried. Ben Vrackie was tricky enough for us southerners!
Winding up through meadows of heather we approached Loch a’Choire where we crossed the end dam on our approach to the base of the seemingly steep climb up Ben Vrackie. You can see part of the path just to the right of the summit below.
We’d hardly seen a soul so far apart from a seemingly crazy woman sprinting down the hill but looking back we saw three or four other hikers in the distance on the sandy path. Ahead of us the path changed from a gentle slope to a much more challenging climb as steep steps led the way up. Now we like to think that we are fairly fit and healthy, especially with all of this Helpx work we’ve been doing, but this part of the climb was tough and took its toll on our poor little legs. Regular stops for water and extra breathing were essential but we didn’t stop.
Incredible scenery all around and glorious sunshine made it a wonderful climb but unfortunately we couldn’t enjoy the views unless we stopped as the steps were so steep that we seriously had to concentrate on each and every one. Before we realised the peak sprung into view and we were there.
Top of the Mountain
At the summit there is the usual trigpoint plus a viewpoint cairn that gives the names and distances of towns and mountains in every direction. It was a bit windier at the top which was lovely after the hot and sweaty climb and after the standard selfies and a bit of a look at the viewpoint cairn we found a spot for some much needed lunch.
Annoyingly, as soon as we had sat down a couple of groups of hikers appeared and proceeded to shout around and show off about everything they knew regarding the highlands. Jumping up onto the cairn and generally destroying the peace and quiet of this amazing place. We grumbled together as we ate and quietly cheered as they all wandered off returning the previous tranquility and calm.
The walk down was much easier than the ascent although it did play murder with my knees. Still having to concentrate on every step we took time to take in the incredible views across Perthshire and the Cairngorms. We had been unbelievably lucky with the weather and it just seemed to be getting hotter and hotter as we hiked back down towards Moulin.
The whole walk probably took us around four hours and was well worth every minute and every step. We felt the need to celebrate our little achievement though so just had to stop in Moulin to visit the Moulin Inn for a couple of well deserved beers. A perfect end to a perfect day.
Our first Corbett
Delighted to have bagged our first Corbett to go with last years first, and only, Munro when we climbed nearby Schiehallion. That’s two in the virtual bag I suppose. Perhaps we should try to find a Graham and a Donald for next time. Let’s see how my knees recover first.