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North Glen Lyon circuit
by malky_c » Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:50 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Dearg (Glen Lyon), Cam Chreag (Glen Lyon)
Grahams included on this walk: Meall a'Mhuic
Date walked: 18/02/2011
Time taken: 5.75 hours
Distance: 19 km
Ascent: 1380mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Grahams: Meall a' Mhuic
Date walked: 18/02/2011
Time: 5 hours 45 minutes
Weather: Cloud at 450m all day, no visibility/intermittent white out. Calm apart from most exposed areas.
I'd been looking forward to my friday off for some time, as being in Dundee, I'd have easy access to places I hadn't been for ages. Typically, the weather was forecast to be good in the NW but gloomy in the central highlands . Still, too much access to weather forecasts and walk reports can be a bad thing - sometimes it's better to just get out there and see what happens. I'd had my eyes on a nice looking Corbett/Graham combination in Glen Lyon for a couple of months now, and Kinley's recent circuit over 2/3 of these hills had upped the anticipation a bit.
An earlyish start from Dundee and I was heading down Glen Lyon just after 8am. The weather was living up to the weather forecast so far - calm, above freezing, and with cloud sitting just above 400m. There was talk of this lifting a bit north of Loch Tay, but it didn't come to anything. Anyway, I'd forgotten just how impressive Glen Lyon is. I've never had much luck with the weather on hills in this area, but the glen still looks impressive nonetheless. High hills, steep rocky slopes and impressive gorges. I'd say it's up there with the great glens like Affric, Strathfarrar and Strathconon.
I left the carpark at Innerwick at 8.45 and crossed back over the road bridge to pick up the Lairig Ghallabanaich track. Almost immediately I diverted right through a gate, and stated climbing the boggy side of Creag Ard, climbing a couple of fences on the way.
Innerwick and Glen Lyon from the slopes of Beinn Dearg:
There were brief views down Glen Lyon, before I was sucked up by the cloud (the snowline was at about the same level). At first it seemed like the snow would be quite patchy, but coverage got more consistent as I gained height. Sadly it didn't get any harder, and I was walking through soft, wet, sligtly melting snow for much of the day.
Typical view for the day (should save you looking at any of the other photos):
Creag Ard had originally been part of the plan, as I'd hoped for views up and down the glen from here, but there didn't seem much point in the conditions, so I took a bearing towards the Creag Ard/Beinn Dearg col. Athough I wasn't in a white-out, all I could see was a soggy snow/heather mixture. I may as well have been on some kind of wet conveyer belt!
I hit an old fence line on the final ascent, but this turned away just before the summit. A short stretch of nothing followed and I almost overshot the summit cairn, but it appeared as a greyish smudge 20 meters or so to the right. Not quite what I was after in the views department, but I decided that carrying on with the route would be good navigation practice.
Beinn Dearg summit:
A bearing NW took me over the pimple of Meall Glas and directly down to the summit of the Lairig Ghallabanaich. The snow was softer lower down, and I fell in a couple of boggy holes. A quick descent though.
Crossing the track, another bearing took me directly to the summit of the Graham, still with no views. I'm not a massive fan of posting up endless photos of summit cairns, but I need something to break the text up!
Meall a' Mhuic summit:
Another bearing to the Lairig a' Mhuic, this descent being steeper and rockier than the previous one. A bit of floundering in the deep heather and wet snow, then up next to a burn on the opposite slope. I passed a ruined shieling. Nice to know someone else had been here at some point in the past!
Shieling above the Allt a' Mhuic:
My original plan was to contour round the N side of Meall nam Maigheach, but the soft snow was knackering, and I found myself drifting towards the higher, more wind-scoured ground, as the snow was slightly firmer here. So it was I ended up at the summit cairn unintended.
A rough bearing from the summit took me slightly south of the col before Cam Creag, but it was rather nice to see the building marked on the map - looked like a garage for quad bikes or something. An ugly pile of corrugated iron, but it was the first time in ages that I had been 100% certain of my position. There's always a niggling doubt with cairns that they don't actually mark the summit.
Shed under Cam Creag:
Up behind the shed, I took on the eastern slope of Cam Creag. The actual summit looked to have some crags below it on the map, so I aimed south a bit to miss these. I was feeling pretty knackered by this point, and with visibility deteriorating even more, I wondered if I could be bothered with this one. Being less than a km away and only 200m above me, I decided to press on.
The slope steepened, and I wondered about avalanche risk. I'd usually decide based on what was above, depth of snow and gradient, but I was now in a complete white-out for short sections. The odd sprig of heather poking through occasionally convinced me that the snow wasn't that deep, so I decided nothing serious was likely to happen.
Rocks and bits of heather showing through the snow became more and more intermittent, and the only way I could tell I had reached the summit ridge was that the going became easier - I must've stopped going uphill. I took another bearing due north and headed (I supposed) towards the summit.
Shortly after passing a sawn-off wooden post, I appeared to be heading downhill slightly. This didn't seem right, although I didn't think the bit I had just crossed was the summit either. I was concious of the steeper slope to the right - I couldn't see anything but I had a feeling I was veering off in the opposite direction to avoid it. Even with the compass out the whole time, it can be surprisingly difficult to stick to a bearing. Retracing my steps to the high point, I had another go. This was more successful, and after 5 minutes I was at what appeared to be the summit cairn. Good enough for me!
Summit of Cam Creag:
I hadn't intended using the track back down Allt a' Choire Uidhre as a return route, as the ridge of Ben Meggernie looked much more scenic on the map. However with no views, and a desire to take the easiest route back, I retraced my steps to the shed. Although it had started to snow, my footprints were still clear, and what had taken 40 minutes on ascent took under 15 on return.
The fun was not yet over, as deep soft snow in the corrie obscured the track, and visibility was still poor. After smashing around in heather, falling into holes and crossing a few tributaries, I found the track. Snow was still up to a foot deep on this, but it was nice to have something to follow. There were some annoying re-ascents, but eventually I was on gravel. The track was in pretty poor condition with large parts scoured out. I doubt it would give very speedy cycling access.
Finally out of the cloud, there were views down the glen. Fatdogwalks had mentioned recent hydro works in this area, and it was clear that the estate had installed 2 or 3 run of river schemes in the glens which converge on Innerwick.
Allt a' Choire Uidhre:
Approaching the car, there was something approaching a glimmer of sunshine on Beinn Dearg, but it was probably just my imagination. A pretty hard day in the end, lacking in any of the decent views but providing a good challenge. Cam Creag is a hill I'd choose to come back to on a better day, as the Ben Meggernie route looks nice.
Back down to Glen Lyon:
I hadn't realised how cold it was until I was back in the car, at which point I found myself with the heating on full blast. Shorts probably weren't the most approriate clothing for the day! In retrospect, with the weather looking even worse for the weekend, I probably had it lucky.
by rockhopper » Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:27 pm
by ChrisW » Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:14 am
Thanks for posting
by yokehead » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:05 pm
Good to see your camera has the same feature as mine, photos taken using the 'whiteout' setting.
by dooterbang » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:32 pm
Good to get out no matter the weather.
Your mental going out in shorts
by andyfitz » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:55 pm
Shorts! Why not. It's good to get a bit of colour in the legs - even if that colour is purple or blue!
Don't know about the shorts though, hope you didn't shave them this morning!!
by malky_c » Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:00 am
andyfitz wrote:It's good to get a bit of colour in the legs - even if that colour is purple or blue!
I suppose the red was tending towards purple by the end...
My main concern at the start of the day was that after reading your Meall Buidhe report I wouldn't even get to the start of the walk. Luckily that wasn't a problem at all. I'm guessing the high road in by the Lawers visitor centre probably still had a bit of snow at the high point though.
yokehead wrote:Good to see your camera has the same feature as mine, photos taken using the 'whiteout' setting.
Took these on my phone as I couln't even be bothered to get my proper camera out of the bag. First time I've remembered to take spare batteries for ages as well
Cheers for all the responses - this was really the type of report I'd made a new year's resolution not to bother writing up, as it gives a pretty rubbish idea what to expect on these hills. Maybe I'll be able to stop myself next time . If you want to see what this lot actually look like, I'd suggest Kinley's and Graeme Dewar's reports - much better
by Merry-walker » Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:20 am
would appreciate the picture of a man in some skimpy shorts rather than the narrative...
by Klaasloopt » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:39 am
by Graeme D » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:34 am
by malky_c » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:34 pm
by kinley » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:38 pm
That looked interesting Malky - if lacking in views.
Nice route and impressive navigating.