To Lurg or not to Lurg

Sub 2000s: Meallan Odhar Doire nan Gillean

Date walked: 28/06/2013

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 63km

Ascent: 1600m

Indeed, to Lurg or not to Lurg.

The plan: cycling up Strathfarrar to somewhere near Loch Monar, climbing Lurg Mor and Bidean a Choire Sheasgaich, heading down to Maol Bhuidhe and spending the night there. Then going South through the hills to Iron Lodge and up to the head of Loch Mullardoch to meet up with some partners in crime doing the Mullardoch 12 over the weekend, camping there, and finally climbing the the Mullardoch 4, dropping North back to Strathfarrar and cycling out.

Aware of the forecast, and viewing it with optimism (as MWIS are so often pessimistic), I set off on my bike from the locked gate at Inchmore at 7.30 expecting to have a morning getting wet, but a clear and breezy afternoon to dry out, and my plan was to reach Pait just in time to see the clouds lift from Meall Mor.

Glen Strathfarrar is truly beautiful, and despite the steady stream of power station workers passing me and the stinging headwind lashing the face, this seemed irrelevant when following the red deer up the glen and spying the mountainsides mysteriously shrouded in mist further up the glen.

After a while, I forded the river and followed a rough track towards the Uisge Misgeach power station, after a while rejoining the tarmac road coming from the Monar dams. Arriving at the power station, I ditched the bike and sat for a while enjoying the setting and observing the mammoth water jet emerging from the power station. Eventually I headed up the glen, bearing right up the first side glen, and up to the bealach above, expecting to get my first view of Loch Monar. It wasn't there!


The Uisge Misgeach power station

OK, I thought, as my feet squelched in their soaked socks, and I realised that every part of me (yes every) had been breached by the rain: it's still the morning, there is still time for the forecast to come true! I trudged across the miles of bog, eventually catching sight of Pait through the mist, and seeing the foot of Meall Mor dissappearing into the clag. Arriving at the Allt Riabhachain, which was in spate, I sat for a while and looked at the darkening sky with sadness. Then it started to clear. Right, I thought, that means I'm supposed to carry on. I'll dry out nicely in the wind once this rain stops. I headed upstream towards the footbridge, arriving I turned to look across at Meall Mor again only to see that the respite had definitely only been a temporary thing. No, I thought, I'm never going to dry out, and my partners in crime will probably cancel their mullardoch round in this weather anyway. Lets turn around.

Pait with Meall Mor behind on the left
Loch Monar

With sadness, I headed back up the bog, this time thinking as a compromise I would pop up over Meallan Odhar Doire nan Gillean, just so I felt I would have SOMETHING to show for my trip. It was on the way anyway, so I battled through the peat hags, following some Dunlins who thought they were showing me the way, finally the wind behind me, and reached the top of Meallan Odhar to find no cairn, but a boulder.

Pait from the approach to Meallan Odhar
Meallan Odhar in the distance (centre)
Summit of Meallan Odhar

Down the NE ridge and back to the power station I went. As I reached the bike, I stopped for a snack and realised that, despite the weather and my imminent exhaustion (I've not been out in the hills since November due to work and therefore am rather unfit) this is a really really gorgeous spot. I think I might do the Mullardoch 4 from this side when that day comes. And there were NO MIDGES!!!!

Looking back up to Meallan Odhar

I cycled back down Strathfarrar, this time going over the two dams just to be different (and the road is better, despite more uphill), arriving at the car some 90 minutes later. It's not really just a case of freewheeling back down, there are a lot of ups and downs here. As I got further down the Glen I kept looking back, the clouds still not lifting from the hills.

And it was sunny in Inchmore...

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Location: Stirling
Occupation: Musician
Mountain: Slioch
Place: Loch Quoich

Munros: 198
Corbetts: 13
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Sub 2000: 15


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