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Full Tarmachan ridge

Full Tarmachan ridge


Postby Driftwood » Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:40 pm

Munros included on this walk: Meall nan Tarmachan

Date walked: 31/05/2011

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 900m

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I've left this a long time to write, in part from a reluctance to go over somewhere written of so often before, but eventually decided to dip a foot in and attempt a report. The map is also a little slipshod, but gives an idea of the route I took:

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



After arriving in Killin on Monday (30th) and seeing the Tarmachan ridge in the evening light, that was confirmed as my intended walk.
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Tarmachan from Sron a Chlachain

When the forecast promised fair walking weather (less wind than the weekend, should be dry, without low clouds), I settled on this as Tuesday's target. I gathered map, compass, camera, waterproofs (which were unneeded), water (too little, as it turned out) and lunch (oatcakes and peanut butter, flapjack and similar walking-fuel) and something else that looked handy ....
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Pine walking staff

I reached Lochan na Lairige dam by 10 am, briefly looked around and decided to park up a couple of hundred yards from the dam. This was snapped at the end of the walk, when there was a lot more blue evident between the clouds.
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Lochan na Lairige dam

The weather was mild, with clouds but those were above most of the tops. I booted up and headed back down the road half a km or so to where a track splits off (and only then noticed some parking closer to the Tarmachan route).
Made good time along the track, checking my Harvey map to keep to the right trail. I met a young couple trying to find the path up to Meall nan Tarmachan, which should have left the trail a couple of hundred metres back, and pointed them back (with some consulting of the map). I did spot the marker cairn for this on my walk out, much later. I followed the off-road vehicle track for about an hour, passing a number of small dams that also feed the hydroelectric station, until the paths ended at one dam near the Creag na Callich.
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End of the trail

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At the foot of Creag na Callich

I climbed the slightly-boggy slope between the Creag and adjoining shoulder, admiring views up along the tops of the ridge. When I say admiring views, that's also shorthand and an excuse for catching my breath. I was a grateful for having my walking staff, which had only been a diversion and weight along the level trail. After crossing a peat-hagged bealach then rounding the edge of the Creag I couldn't locate a path, so zig-zagged my own way up the grassy, though steepish, back, well away from the cliffs (from other reports, the path may run very close to these). The skies were still more clouded than clear, but with good visibility along the ridge, if not ideal for photos.
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South from Creag na Callich

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Tarmachan ridge from the west

I took plenty of breaks, with the views of surrounding tops, down to Loch Tay and the Tarmachan itself good excuses to rest my legs. The path offered views down into the hollow of Coire Fionn Lairige, which lived up to its name, though a breeze and my caution kept me well back from the edge of the crags. From the first Munro-height top I could admire a growing sequence of tops drawing my eye and anticipation on towards Meall nan Tarmachan itself.
There was a fairly clear trail (and the curving sequence of tops was very visible), leaving little need for my map except to check heights. Some of the tops were a little steep going up and down, in particular the penultimate, Meall Garbh, but the rock was dry and gave enough grip for careful steps.
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Tarmachan from Meall Garbh

The descending slope (which would be ascending if you traversed the ridge from east to west) also offered a view, though overcast, of the ascent to the last stretch of ridge. This looked (to me) arduously steep, with some worryingly bare and angled stretches of rock in the middle of what was otherwise a path.
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Meall Tarmachan southwest

There's enough of an ascent to reach this that I needed to catch my breath and consider beforehand. Carrying the staff - and my trepidation - it looked tricky to ascend; I would have been more confident with both hands free. I did venture up the first sloping slab, maybe a quarter of the way up, but didn't feel like doing a lot more of that. Rather than leave the staff, I opted for the still-steep but grassy slope off the "path" to the left, which felt far more grippy and secure (at least in these dry conditions).
Reaching the head of that slope, I met the short but fine final ridge, a little stretch of path with sides sloping down at roughly diagonal angles. In a moderate breeze, this was fine, though I waited to reach the top cairn (small, probably due to the lack of space to pile anything) before getting the camera out.
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The ridge top

The views back along the ridge and down were superb, as well as the Lawers range (over the lower slopes hiding the Lochan nan Lairige). After some time enjoying the view, I descended a steep, but easy, path to a lower top south-eastwards. The sun chose to put in an appearance, offering the Tarmachan ridge a great photo-opportunity which I snapped at.
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Tarmachan ridge panorama

I tried to take it easy for the descent, though had trouble following the path. As a result, I ended up continuing south, rather than turning east, from the shoulder of Meall nan Tarmachan. Picking around peat-hags and avoiding boggy areas (nothing too sticky at the time), I made for a fence and so met the off-road-trail near where that divides around Meall Liath.
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Walk out (view eastwards)

One consolation - aside from making the descent more gradual and the blue skies - was the prospect of Beinn Ghlas and others of the Lawers range in the now-generous sunlight. I finally reached my car at about 3:45 pm, to watch a farmer and collie at work with some of the sheep grazing in front of the dam. Then a relaxed drive back to Killin to rest my feet and refuel, though it took me longer to come back down to earth.
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Driftwood
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby pollyh33 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:12 am

That's a smashing report Driftwood. Really good, useful photos too :D

Can I ask.... do some people not just climb up to Meall nan Tarmachan first and then climb the ridge later? I'm inexperienced so I think I would be tempted to tackle this first.

Cheers
P x


PS Happy Birthday !!!! :)
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pollyh33
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby stevemillar » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:35 am

You did this walk the same way as I did. Most certainly a favourite route which I can see me doing again and again.
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby L-Hiking » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:47 am

Great report the reverse route sounds good too . There was too much wind and rain when I tried from the traditional end. I got as far as Meall Garbh and decide the wind was too strong to go any further. Well done and thank you for the detailed info
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby Jockstar » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:47 am

pollyh33 wrote:Can I ask.... do some people not just climb up to Meall nan Tarmachan first and then climb the ridge later? I'm inexperienced so I think I would be tempted to tackle this first.



Myself and my other half set of the other Saturday evening and made it up to Meall nan Tarmachan in 2 hours as there is a well defined path going up to the Munro. There is more detail in the walks section, or see my report. It was a super walk especially in that light you get at certain times of the evening.. :D
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby pollyh33 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:02 am

Jockstar wrote:
pollyh33 wrote:Can I ask.... do some people not just climb up to Meall nan Tarmachan first and then climb the ridge later? I'm inexperienced so I think I would be tempted to tackle this first.



Myself and my other half set of the other Saturday evening and made it up to Meall nan Tarmachan in 2 hours as there is a well defined path going up to the Munro. There is more detail in the walks section, or see my report. It was a super walk especially in that light you get at certain times of the evening.. :D



Thamks Jockstar, will do :)
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby lomondwalkers » Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:31 pm

I did Meall nan Tarmachan a couple of weeks ago with the intention of doing the ridge, but the clag had set in by time I got to summit, so decided to save it for a better day, I may try this approach now just to mix it up a bit. Handy report :)
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby Driftwood » Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:14 pm

pollyh33 wrote:
Can I ask.... do some people not just climb up to Meall nan Tarmachan first and then climb the ridge later? I'm inexperienced so I think I would be tempted to tackle this first.


From what I've read, I believe many people do climb just Meall nan Tarmachan, including the little ridge walk along its back; that would certainly spare the long walk in, or out. I had read up the route, especially here on Walkhighlands, which was a lot of help in deciding which direction to take and whether it might be hard going. Most guides seem to recommend east to west (so climbing Meall Tarmachan) but quite a few walkers - including me - enjoy the opposite, not that it wouldn't be a fine walk from the other way.

It's a route that I intend on returning to - though, to second others' comments here, it is definitely worth picking a good day for. Being a soft Sassenach, I'm wary about facing reach Scottish weather on the hills!
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby trailer » Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:23 pm

I did this a couple of days ago in fine weather using the main WH route. I descended the section where Driftwood decided on the grass route (photo 8, the descent down from Meall Garbh) and founded a bit more tricky than I imagined it would be. There seems to be a lot of washing away of the earth around the rocks coupled with a lot of water running over the rock, no doubt due to the recent rains, making this quite slippery indeed.
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Re: Full Tarmachan ridge

Postby Vick1 » Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:12 pm

Excellent report and pics :-)

I did the ridge last year and do remember some very steep and tricky descents but fortunately it was covered in snow so bumslides and ice axe steps made it a lot easier
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