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Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:16 pm
by retrogear

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Having missed the Roybridge meet I was determined to get on the hills before I went back to work. I decided on Ben Lawers from Lawers in an anti-clockwise circuit. I’d read the guide books and all the trip reports, and the one big theme that recurs is the ascent of An Stuc. I don’t mind a bit of scrambling but I usually walk with a partner and this time I knew that being an early mid-week start, there would be no-one to follow or give advice.

I got up very early on Tuesday morning and decided to take a leisurely breakfast before heading for the hills. The hope was that my porridge would have time to digest before the strenuous work began. I arrived at the Ben Lawers Hotel and set off at 6.40.

The walk up the farm track at Machuim led to some pleasant mixed woodland with birdsong bursting from it. After the wood ended the sun blistered in a cloudless sky, so I put my hat on and plodded along the track. The guide books say that the ascent of Meall Greigh is up the broad ridge of Sron Mhor. Well, with my aptitude of getting lost on the lower slopes of almost every hill I do, I wandered along some sheep tracks until I got to the long SW-NE line of crags, where I decided that I’d better get up the hill. It was great to be in the shade, but the first long drag of the day had my heart pounding and my porridge violently recurring on me.

long morning shadows

Once up on the ridge, the views of Loch Tay were splendid, but a line of clouds were coming in from the west.
Loch Tay

Looking towards Ben Lawers, the prominent features of An Stuc stuck out on the skyline, giving me little peace of mind. At one point I noticed the shimmering surface of Lochan nan Cat. I like seeing hill lochs as you know that you are gaining some height. A quick glance at the ridge soured my initial joy as there was so much more height to gain.

An Stuc looming

first view of the lochan

More slogging followed and I reached the top of Meall Greigh. Taking a quick snap, I realised that this was my first solo Munro.
Off down the grassy slopes to the Lairig Innein with a real spring in my step. Meall Garbh was good to climb as by this time I’d got a rhythm to my walking. I took a prolonged stop at the top to refuel. I was going noticeably slower now taking any opportunity to delay the inevitable.
from the top of Meall Garbh

At the bealach I went over my plan of action. In Stretch’s trip report he says that if there had been no-one else around he might have turned back. This had been playing on my mind. (Thanks Stretch!) So – three points on/do not look down/do NOT look down – that was my plan. I had been wearing my bright yellow top all day so that the helicopter could spot my crumpled remains if I fell off.
under An Stuc

A ewe and her lamb were sitting down watching my progress. The first part of the climb is nice – then it goes straight up. The holds are good, but my heart was still pounding. My brain was screaming the three parts to my plan all the way up. At one point, while I was adjusting my feet, I came to a halt. It can only have been for about five seconds but the voice in my head was shouting “Don’t stop, or you’ll never start again! 3 points on! Don’t look down!” I got to the top with a big grin on my face. The whole scramble can only be 60 seconds at most – but it was good fun – in retrospect.
From An Stuc there is a good view of Beinn Ghlas. From the visitor centre side it just looks like a bug lump and I’d always wondered why it was classified as a hill in its own right rather than a top, but from the other side you can really see its mountainous aspect. At this point I was feeling quite fresh and I thought about doing Beinn Ghlas and the other mountains in the Lawers range. At this point it I’d been walking for about 4 hours. The slog up Ben Lawers changed my mind. The wind was getting up and it was becoming cold. At the top I managed to use the cairn and trig point to my advantage and use the timer on my camera. The views were great and I wandered round the eastern ridge of the hill.
Ben Lawers

There were some odd, well-made stone constructions up here- too high for shielings, surely.
stone structure

Lochan nan Cat with An Stuc & Meall Garbh

I picked my way down the steep slopes of this ridge and through the bog to the dam and then the path back to the road. At the hotel I explained that I’d used their car park. Not knowing whether to pay the £5 or have a soft drink in the bar, the barman explained that the bit about a £5 charge for non-hotel users was only to ensure that people came into the hotel, and that £5 wasn’t to be seen as a minimum spend. A fizzy drink and a bag of crisps later I was ready to get in the car and drive home after a fantastic day.

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:39 pm
by stevemillar
Nice report.

I did this walk a few months ago, and it's a far better route to take rather than starting at the carpark end, (in my opinion).
Also, if you get tired, you can descend to the lochan after doing An Stuc and track back to the Lawers Hotel that way and save Ben Lawers for another day.

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:11 pm
by Stretch
Nicely done! I remember the feeling I had that day, it was still very early in my hillwalking 'career' and I was a bit skittish to say the least. Now I'd probably fly up the steep face of An Stuc. Good to see you posting a few reports again.

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:26 pm
by L-Hiking
I can only say well done!! I tried this route last September but due to thick mist and wet conditions I decided against it. I doubled back after topping Meall Garbh in deteriorating conditions. The view from the top of Meall Garbh is great and is what I was hoping for, but there you go.
Stretch also offered me advice last year just the same as you, it seems to have worked fine well done again. The couple of pints of Loch Ossian in the Lawyers Hotel helped to brighten the day up

I will be back!!!!! :D

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:57 pm
by SouthernUplandKing
A fine traverse :) I done one nigh on exactly the same but cut down at the Col between An Stuc and Lawers as I had already done it and followed the burn out to the dam, was a great day out. One which I would love to do again. An Stuc is really a great looking mountain in its own right from the first view you get of it to the last before you start scrambling. Lawers Hotel was also great and would reccomend anyone to go in after this round, although im not sure you would be able to finish their steak pies :lol: :lol:

Also, there is a trail on the other side of Lawers Burn which means you dont need to trudge through bog :lol:

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:44 pm
by spiderman
I really enjoyed your report. The photos were excellent. I have done these hills from the National Trust car park but your round looks much better.

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:58 pm
by Paula Hubens
retrogear wrote:
Taking a quick snap, I realised that this was my first solo Munro.
I took a prolonged stop at the top to refuel. I was going noticeably slower now taking any opportunity to delay the inevitable.

Congratulations on your first solo munro! :thumbup:
Ha, ha, I recognise that, dawdling to delay the moment you've got to face a tricky ascent. I usually start taking lots of pictures.
The Ben Lawers range is on the programme for my next holiday. I have already been reading up on it. Really like your report.

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:38 am
by tina bonar
Very useful report Retrogear.We followed your route yesterday,including the direct approach to meall greigh!,which took us just over 8hrs in the snow

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:21 pm
by mrssanta
like the yellow T shirt idea. I used to go walking with a DofE group when I was at school. the teacher insisted we wore red socks for the same reason. Maybe that's why I like red gear.

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:53 pm
by RobRoy13
Great report bud,we did exactly the same route yesterday and did the 4 starting from Lawers hotel,Meall Greigh-Meall Garbh-An Stuc-Ben Lawers,had the 3 hour drive home afterwards though bummer :(

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:32 pm
by Horsforth Hiker
Nice report on the Lawers 5. I did the same route on Wednesday in similar conditions. It was my first solo Munro's too! An Stuc is not as scary as I imagined it would be but it does get the heart racing until you reach the top. I left my push bike at the nature reserve car park and cycled back to my car at the Lawers Hotel. Good photos of the route.

Re: Ben Lawers anti-clockwise

PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 5:29 pm
by Meandering Man
Good one. Nice description. My friend and I plan to do this without Ben lawyers as we had done it along with Beinn Glass already. I hope the weather is ok when we do.