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1 post • Page 1 of 1
Cyclic Tetramealline Structures
by aaquater » Thu Jun 24, 2021 6:34 pm
Munros included on this walk: Meall a' Choire Lèith, Meall Corranaich, Meall nan Tarmachan
Corbetts included on this walk: Meall nam Maigheach
Date walked: 12/06/2021
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 20.5 km
Ascent: 1780m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Step 1: draw a feasible route connecting several hills I have yet to bag. Step 2: realise all the hills are called Meall... I just had to incorporate that into the title somehow! Initially, I wanted to make it work around the word four-Meall-dable, but since the walk itself wasn't particularly formidable at any point, I went for the organic chemistry approach instead.
On the topic of formidability, though, I have to mention the drive in. "Your satnav is evil," I've been told, and when it decided that the ideal way to reach Loch Tay from Dunkeld was over the narrow, windy road of Glen Quaich, I was very tempted to agree... Then, as I finally reached the Lochan an Lairige road, every possible and impossible place seemed to already have a car parked in it! In the main car park, by the dam, along the loch, even the Lairig an Lochan parking spots were bursting. Fortunately, the spot in front of the metal shack mentioned in the official Meall na Maigheach route was still empty, so I grabbed it without hesitation.
The walk began up the pathless N slopes of Creag an Lochain. I mean, initially, I started on a track, but left it some 3 minutes later to head up the grassy, bumpy, moderately boggy hillside. Perhaps I just hadn't slept that well but it was a bit of a struggle to get to the top, despite the ascent barely topping 300 metres. It was quite windy and the wind was pushing me in the back, though.
The electric fence I met on the 774 m top of Creag an Lochain made me a little wary - 'Please don't tell me I'll have to climb over that,' I thought as I found a stile and decided against using it - but there was no need. A faint path trailed by the fence - stronger at times, such as the section between Creag an Lochain's summit and the bealach below Meall nan Tarmachan - and I eventually arrived at another stile, to be used by those who had decided to cross over. But as the map shows, the fence turned left, heading down to Lochan na Lairige, and leaving the way up unbarred.
Unpathed, too, as the path trailed away in the bealach (which seemed to have the potential to get awfully boggy in wetter conditions). But aside from an initial, probably avoidable step right above the bealach that required some scrambling, the way up was simply over a steep, grassy slope, nothing tricky or difficult about it. And I was feeling better here than lower down!
Eventually, I hit a false summit. But the fact that I'd come across two of those had been obvious from the very beginning, so no harm befell my spirits. Besides, from the first false summit to the true one, there was an actual path to follow.
I wasn't going for the ridge, though. Maybe some other time, but I had 3 more hills to climb to get back to the car, so I set off down the main ascent path.
Since a circular route is suggested, this wasn't really a surprise: on the descent, I was facing a strong current of people, mostly families with kids and/or dogs, to the point where I spent quite a lot of time descending beside the path to make way for the people on it. With this being a June weekend, and most Munros further W in the clag, it made sense for Tarmachan to be the place to visit. Definitely explained the parking situation downstairs.
I followed the path all the way down to the main car park (welcoming the last bit that hadn't made it to the map as it saved me a bit of walking on the road), crossing the road and heading up the marked path on the other side towards Ben Lawers. For the time being, at least.
Well... in a sense. I'd walked the Lawers ridge 3 years before, between the first bus to Fearnan and the last bus from Killin, and had hoped to attach Meall Corranaich (and, if I was doing well, also Meall a' Choire Leith) at the end, but had had to scrap that plan long before I'd made it to Beinn Ghlas. It was redemption time now!
Still, I remembered the descent from Beinn Ghlas as a never-ending slog, and wasn't looking forward to a repeat. But on the way up, it became clear the reality was a little different. (Hard to rely on memories made in exhaustion! ) All the 'annoying' parts must've been way above the junction where I now turned left to ascend alongside the Burn of Edramucky, because the path now posed no problems whatsoever and was an absolute pleasure to walk, and that could be said all the way to the bealach. Besides, I'd probably descended E of the burn before while the current ascent was on the W, so bonus points for exploring a new path!
The random huge rock on the hillside reminded me of Clach Mhor Na h-Airighe Leithe, and I had to wonder if the two were connected in any way. Well, until I realised that the other one was in Glen Tarken, less than 10 miles away. Must be just a local specialty, then!
On the way up to the bealach, I'd wondered if there would be a path to follow for the rest of the way up. Meall Corranaich was a Munro, not an insubstantial one at that, and the bealach I was heading towards was convenient for the ascent and supplied by a good path, yet the official route described an ascent from the W. No worries, though, for there was a path, and although I had to get my hands ready a couple times, I was standing on the summit in 20 minutes.
From Meall Corranaich, I followed the ridge on a clear path. I recalled that I shouldn't head over the 984 m top but a little to the right of it, but probably hadn't paid much attention to just how far right, or perhaps how soon the distinction should be made. I was nearing the top, had a look to the right, went, 'Whoops, that's all the way there?' and took a few minutes to get back to the route I wanted to take.
Now, see the path branching to the right and leading along the crest of the ridge? I took it, even though the path continuing down the glen appeared clearer. Well, as soon as I reached the shoulder and the ground got steeper, the path conveniently disappeared so the real one had to be rejoined. I guess if you want to stay on a path, keep to the main one. It'll take you nicely to the bealach, not all the way down to Gleann Da-Eig.
The path was then nice and clear until the summit of Meall a' Choire Leith was reached. Not a bad viewpoint, it must be said, especially for the Lawers ridge, although the flat summit takes something away from the views.
On the way down to Allt Gleann Da-Eig, though, I had to say goodbye to any semblance of paths. It was grassy and wild all the way down. Well, wild in some manner, at least; the upper slopes were absolutely smooth with nothing to watch out for, it was only in the lower sections that the hill got tussocky and occasionally boggy, and the route I would walk started to matter.
I didn't really expect Allt Gleann Da-Eig to pose a problem, but a tributary ran nearby, so I veered a little to the left to cross it first. 'Divide and conquer' is how I prefer to deal with burn crossings. The tributary, though, was so dry that I wondered how long it would've taken me to fill a water bottle with it; the step I took over it didn't have to be any larger than normal. Crossing the main allt then went without issues as well.
The reascent, though, hurt a little. Either I was not as fit as I hoped, or it was the bad night's rest calling again - it's just weird that I'd struggled up the first hill, then was completely fine from that point until Meall a' Choire Leith, and now I was starting to struggle again.
The terrain wasn't that helpful either, though. Gleann Da-Eig is not symmetrical, the E side being more convex and the W more concave. The tussocky ground that I only reached shortly above the burn thus carried on much further on this side - in terms of distance, at least, as the altitude was only gained slowly. Another thing, or my eyes were just playing tricks on me, is that the upper slopes of Meall nam Maigheach had appeared to be quite steep (at least in comparison to the lower parts of the glen). No problems of this sort arose whatsoever, though, as a single look at the map would confirm; reaching the summit of the Corbett was a slow process, but that nothing to do with the gradient and everything with my fatigue.
On Meall nam Maigheach, I looked at the map, thinking that to get to the car, I just needed to head straight for the burn. Then, as I was taking pictures, I popped over to Meall Luaidhe in order to get a clearer view W. (Should I rename the walk to make it pentamealline? ) Once I was done, I located a burn, and started heading down.
A burn. See the picture? As I started to descend, I thought back to the start of the walk. Perhaps because it got windy again; seems like on that day, the wind showed clear favouritism towards Allt Baile a' Mhuilinn, not paying a visit to the surrounding areas. Anyway, it felt just like at the beginning, when I'd walked up Creag an Lochain and wondered if the plan was still on or I'd have to give up and turn back on Meall nan Tarmachan, and... Hold on. Where is Tarmachan?
...yep, I'd started descending towards Allt Breisleich. Fortunately, I realised my error pretty soon and altered my course towards the correct burn. It would've been a long slog back up the road otherwise!
My compass now reset, I saw that a) my car had company now, and b) it wouldn't be possible to keep descending the whole way. When a stone wall eventually crossed my way, I thus followed it down to the road. There was a convenient hole in the wall if I'd wanted to go on, but that looked like it would've meant an ascent through heather, so I opted for the road instead.
On the topic of roads, back in the car, the satnav tried to send me through Glen Quaich again, but remembering that, I carried on to Aberfeldy. There, it sent me left, to the windy road on the Tay's N bank, all the while a pefectly good A827 ran on its other side, and all that was needed would've been to not make the turn. Yeah, it's clear now, case closed, no emojis required. My satnav is evil.
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