Getting out of the car, the cold breeze suggested there could be some snow higher up and a quick glance up to the visible peaks showed there to be a light dusting that I mistakenly thought would be gone by the time I got up there! A very quiet walk on a very fine October day, the only other people were planting young Rowan and Birch saplings in the nature reserve, leaving the slopes just to me, the sheep and a very surprised grouse that flew off noisily on my approach.
As I got higher and the wind got colder (and stronger) I came to realise my ideas about the snow melting were going to be way off the mark. I was carefully observed by two sheep making my way to the top of the first peak, only for them to finally bolt and run in to the distance with an impressive thundering, once again allowing me to feel totally alone.
After this peak I was confronted by the wall of the final climb to the summit of the Meall nan Tarmachan which, although daunting in appearance, did at least protect me (and some speedwells tucked into the rocks and sending out their final flowers of the year) from the freezing wind. As I came out of the lee of the slope I was hit by the full force of the wind which caused me to crouch low and ease myself forward as standing up straight would have been a bit riskier than I would have been comfortable with. Knowing that the next 50 metres or so would be into this wind I wrapped up and got on with it only to spot during the process two Ptarmigan casually strutting across the shallow snow field at the peak - Ptarmigans on Tarmachan indeed.
Once the summit cairn had been reached I could shelter on the south side and take in the fantastic view all the way from Ben Lawers, across Loch Tay, Killin nestled in its valley, over to Ben More in the west. This relative comfort gave me a brief chance to recollect on not only the spectacular view but also the contrast between the noisy, flappy grouse and the apparently serene silent strutting of the Ptarmigan.
Having thought the view from Tarmachan was spectacular I decided to follow the route to the summit of Meall Garbh to confirm whether or not the view was indeed better as it is said to be. Coming down from Tarmachan the wind eased (just about taking the edge of the wind chill), making it easier to appreciate the view. Once the Meall Garbh was reached it was easier to take in the full 360 degree view and somehow yes, it was even more impressive from here and the perfect location to re-energize.
From here I decided to come back down off the ridge as the wind began to strengthen and cut across the marshy moors (although due to the slope it wasn't uncomfortably wet) back down to the road I had originally left. Accompanied by the view on the way down, as well as being warily eyed by the local sheep population dotted all over the hillside, the warmth of the sun finally got through and it was time to stroll in the sunshine and reflect on what had been a wonderful walk and easily one of the finest hills I have walked!
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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.