It was meant to be a quintet. With 2 Corbetts. But there you go - sometimes one needs to adjust expectations to align with reality. We'd been out in the Crianlarich hills on Friday, a big day. Then I'd been through at my son's housewarming / meeting the future parent-in-laws on Saturday afternoon. A drive back to Greenock from Stirling, drop off my wife, have a hasty bite to eat, pick up Allison and head off....where??? By the time we got away it was gone 7pm, on a Saturday night in the midst of a holiday weekend. Darkness would fall about 8.30pm. I didn't trust any of the roadside-is camping spots that I could think of to be available... I had routed out a nice horseshoe walk from Kenknock which would take in Sgiath Chuil and Meall Glas from the Lochay side (new for us), then was supposed to traverse Beinn Challum and the Auch Corbett of Cam Chreag before ascending the MT of Stob nan Clach on Creag Mhor and heading over to Heasgarnich, with a little dally up Meall nan Subh to finish with. However, I'd edited the Challum/Cam Chreag part out before we left home as I suspected, rightly as it turned out, that would be a bit much for our tired legs.
Even on the drive up we weren't sure that the route was a good one - there was also the option to do Meall Corranach and Meall a'Choire Leith but where would we camp for that that might be free...Allison seemed disappointed as I turned into the narrow Glen Lochay road. A couple of miles in there seemed to be a pop up campsite in one of the fields. We drove past the lay-by west of Meall Ghaordaidh where we'd had our first ever camp (not a spot I'd suggest revisiting ) and got to the car park east of Kenknock. Proper dark by this time. Enough midges to annoy us as we got things together then we set off into the night. My plan was to hope there were spots we could camp in near the start of the little wood across the bridge from the farm. I didn't have a plan B. Headtorches were on for the first time this season and luckily there were a couple of just-about-adequate spots by the side of the track - stony but flat and pitchable. Other than some odd nocturnal bird noises we had a quiet night.
In the morning we continued up the zigzag track (there's a better place to pitch at the top of the track) and set off to find the path up Sgiath Chuil. Well, it's a WH proper route, so we expected a path. Hmmm. Clearly not many folk do these hills from this side - deer tracks were the order of the day. But it was still quite nice and a steady incline, rather than the steeper pull from the Glen Dochart side. We came up over the East MT of Sgiath Chuil, met a couple on the summit of the Munro, then headed down the steep grass towards Lairig a'Churain. I couldn't help but recall the time I sat at the top of the slope putting on my crampons, and my camera took off down 250m of steep snowy slope, never to be seen again. Put your camera on a cord attached to your rucksack, people Whilst we were descending, Allison came smartly down upon her rear end. Thankfully she didn't seem to damage anything. We lunched at the bealach, where a couple of young guys who'd just come down from Meall Glas asked us if there was a path up? Hopeful but nope
6E2285F8-DA64-400F-B5FC-43944A64CA57_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
It's that time of year...
B6582FB5-9C8A-47CC-9317-872C21B20969_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
6D0035A5-04B2-4D77-B686-CFC45EE387E6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
What is this? Looks like the stuff you squirt into holes in your walls
C1FBC32C-B106-45A6-8646-11532227A311_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
68664BFD-2390-4F12-BE30-42470D36C081_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
C5CA81B5-5EC1-41A3-90AE-4F8EBEFACB05_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
Creag Mhor & Heasgarnich - this is what they look like!
D1A4B0C1-11EE-44E3-BB62-70C3573F5E8D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
D3B423E0-7F08-4C6A-8735-8020A01389F1_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
7985E406-25EA-4CD8-983E-7F968B91F594_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
The climb up to Beinn Cheathaich was steep enough, and we did find something of a path to use on this one. Then over to the summit of Meall Glas where we spoke to a nice family out for the day. From here we were descending west down to the River Lochay, under the steep slopes of Challum, which I was glad we weren't adding on to the day - I was feeling really drained and tired and would have struggled with the extra ascent. We enjoyed the track that zigzags down from Meall Glas and the one that continues along the Lochay river - sadly we had to leave it at some old sheep pens and start up again over new plantings - long grass and many holes from the tree planting process. We discussed what to do - we could either find somewhere to pitch by the upper track, or we'd need to go up and over Creag Mhor - which neither of us had the legs for. So despite it being only half four, we decided to pitch on a questionable spot on the lower reaches of Sail Dhubh. We managed to have our tea before the rain started, and it rained for quite a few hours.
Beinn Cheathaich summit
A4C73EA4-80EB-44C0-BA00-3EB5914015C9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
412DF5F4-70EA-4312-A575-C18398B52F46_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
Meall Glas summit
407E7F65-3005-428E-8A7B-2CD4885F9AD9_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
95236212-DAFB-486F-8E4F-B2F710D0F163_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
8485D2D4-8045-44BA-82FF-9BD1AA4A2447_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
Challum in backdrop
83EBF345-6C7D-40FC-AE58-02803CD94D9D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
Monday morning was claggy outside the tent. Yet another day crossing these two hills in bad weather? Looked like it. Allison hadn't slept well due to the presence of a large tussock under her side of the tent (she had been responsible for ok'ing the pitch, so her fault ). The first section, still in the newly planted area, made for really slow progress as we tried to keep out of the road of the crags on the lower section of the shoulder. Matters improved on the other side of the deer fence - at least there were now deer tracks to follow. We got up to the MT of Stob nan Clach and continued easily round to the summit of Creag Mhor. On the descent, I wanted to do the Simm of Meall Tionail, a hill I'd first noticed in 2013 when we were going up Beinn Mhanaich - it's quite impressive from across the other side of Loch Lyon. Not that there was a lot of it to see today, as the mist swirled in low and mixed with the cloud higher up. A descent towards Sron Tairbh and lunch, as we watched the mist and cloud seeping up towards us from Fionn na Ghlinne like something from a dodgy horror film.
558A93C6-1DE7-49C3-8E9E-4F5BE837F70A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
B3A0EBA3-24E2-48A6-AE41-9AF1EB9C68DF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
Stob nan Clach
57D3F0AB-5663-41BE-B209-1C3A6792B11E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
9AAF3A8D-CD92-493B-8E35-4471DE12B457_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
Sron Tairbh was fine, not being in snow as it usually seems to have been for us but the sunshine failed to break through the clag, as I had been hoping for, and we were treated to a mist Heasgarnich. At the wind shelter/cairn, we surprised a man who was sitting on the other side from us - the only person we saw all day. Down the usual route to begin with, then a deviation to Creag nam Bodach - the final Simm of the day. Back at the road, I didn't have the heart to spend an hour going up Meall na Subh - I reasoned that I've several Corbetts to re-do at the west end of Glen Lyon, so can add it on to that. Back along the road in drizzle.
748AC6FD-9F74-4431-AFFF-047DC85AC0A2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
F8DED23D-804D-479C-A554-7D372BA10D12_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
6E8132ED-7DA9-4F12-96EA-D45FB3FC4021_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
0E758D51-E1B4-42CC-8A83-C28126665B8A_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.