I have looked upon Ben Shee in the Ochil Hills many a time from other hills, but I've never made it there. I've always wondered what the view down Glen Eagles would be like - it might be good!
So Saturday afternoon I set off from Dollar, past Castle Campbell and up the Glen of Sorrow, which despite the name is a joy to visit with its rough paths and solitude. The one problem I had was the 15kg pack on my back so the glen of Sorrow was a good route to avoid the 2,000ft (600m) high hills that otherwise stand in the way to my destination.
Eventually, I reached the top of the glen and after faffing about to get past deer fencing, I eventually spied my destination, Ben Shee, a little known 1700 ft hill in the boring (but deserted) middle of the Ochil Hills.
Approaching Ben SheeA lump in the middle of the Ochil Hills that stands at the end of Glen Eagles I eventually reached the top of Ben Shee with an hour of daylight to spare and the easterly wind was fierce at the top and it was cold too. I decided that tarping on the summit, although the most logical thing with its short grass, was a bad idea, so I headed to the sheltered side of the hill to see if I could find a place to pitch my tarp. I did find a small shelf of flat ground underneath a crag and decided to set up camp there.
I started off trying to wedge pegs into the rock cracks but realised that I would be loosening the rock and I could end up with a bit landing on my head overnight. So I put in pegs around the crag and used paracord to fix it over the rock - I was quite pleased with how it turned out. I'd used half the tarp and draped the unused half down over the rock face and pegged it under my groundsheet. There was only just enough room for me, but it was great for taking pictures from. The sunset was OK, but I think I missed the best of it from my faffing about getting comfortable. I also had a problem with the soft spongy ground and my tripod staying still so I could stack shots - there was too much movement, even with image alignment to get a good result. At least I tried.
Sunset from Ben SheeLooking west to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin from the Ochil Hills I'd woken up around 1 am and the half moon was bright - you could have walked in it. I sat for a while watching the occasional car going down the Glen and the bright lights of Crieff twinkled in the distance in the cold night air.
Looking down Glen Eagles at nightThe street lights of Crieff can be seen in the distance, taken with a phone. In the morning I'd set my alarm for 5 am, but was on the wrong side for the sunrise and it wasn't really happening anyway due to clouds on the horizon. There was frost on the tarp and I was glad I'd bought extra gear as I had managed to stay warm wearing it all.
I packed up my camp, leaving no trace and had left by 8 am. I decided to return over the 2,000ft peaks of Tarmangie and Whitewhisp hills this time because it was quicker. The weight on my back slowed me down and reminded me of my lack of fitness - I need to do this more! The steep descent from Whitewisp and Saddle hill also reminded me how old my knees were as the additional weight reminded me of my kneecaps, which I usually don't think about much.
I was glad to reach my car in Dollar and enjoyed the floaty feeling once I removed the rucksack, it was a relief to finally sit down.