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The Lubchurran Two from Kenknock
by bobble_hat_kenny » Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:54 pm
Munros included on this walk: Meall Glas, Sgiath Chuil
Date walked: 06/04/2012
Time taken: 8.5 hours
Distance: 16.5 km
Ascent: 1220mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
After locating the minor road up from Killin to Glen Lochay and the new car park just before Kenknock Farm, the hills were looking very scenic despite a worrying low lid of Clag:
On walking a bit further up the private track on up Glen Lochay, however, the cloud momentarily cleared to reveal Meall a'Churain and (hazily) Beinn Cheathaich. I didn't realise that this was probably the best view of these two that I'd have all day !
And so, on to that famous River Crossing where the side track branches off to the Lubchurran cottage:
I'd been prepared for the river being fairly high with meltwater from the recent snow, but in fact it turned out to be a very easy paddle. All the same, I was glad that I'd brought along my old trainers and my very macho beach towel to dry my feet off afterwards.
I always have the cool gear, me .
I'd elected to go for Meall Glas first, as recommended in Ralph Storer's "Ultimate Guide to the Munros". Right enough, as described in his book, the landrover track up from Lubchurran has now been extended (track extension not shown on the OS map) and now handily curves right up west to end well up on the north ridge of Beinn Cheathaich.
Over to the east, the Lairig a'Churain, that notoriously deep, boggy bealach between the two Munros, was indeed opening up and looking ominously deep and boggy:
When the landrover track comes to an end on Beinn Cheathaich's north ridge, a faint wee path continues up south for a couple of hundred metres then fades away. However, it is just a matter of heading on uphill until you run out of up, to the top of Beinn Cheathaich.
About a hundred metres short of the summit, I was getting some surprisingly nice views off north-east across Glen Lochay to (I think) the distant Tarmachan ridge:
Unfortunately, this was the last decent view I was to get for a while, as I hit the Clag about 20 metres higher up. Sadly it would stay for me for a good bit of the day .
However, the summit of Beinn Cheathaich was more impressive than I'd expected, being quite pointy with a trig point and everything. Interestingly enough, I understand that Sir Hugh had originally listed this one as the Munro rather than Meall Glas. Bizarrely, it's also the only one of this group of two Munros and two Tops that is named on my road atlas .
It's nice when a hill lives up to its name - Beinn Cheathaich is Misty Mountain; very Tolkein. Misty it certainly was; thankfully no Orcs though.
I did however meet a very friendly father-and-daughter team who had come up the other way, and who kindly took a photie of me at the top:
On descending southwest from Misty Mountain in the direction of Grey Lump (or Meall Glas, if one prefers it in Gaelic), I was relieved to find a very nice path, avoiding any routefinding difficulties through the Clag. And so on, over the intervening hump of Wee Grey Lump (Meall Glas Beag) and onwards to the first Munro of the day.
And now on to the vexed question of Proxy Objects In Summit Photographs. If you're out walking on your tod, it's nice to put something in your picture of the summit cairn to give it that personal touch. From the walk reports of others, I note that ice axes are popular: they give an air of seriousness, that Hardened Man / Woman of the Hills look ... However, I could never make such a claim (as you can probably tell from the beach towel) and an ice axe would just look daft in April anyway. Water bottles and rucksacks are understandably popular, but a bit impersonal. Well, when I was packing the rucksack in the kitchen before setting off, I spied some bushy-top carrots on the worktop (the rabbit likes them). Carrots seem to be a Big Deal in this area (Lairig a'Churain = Pass of the Carrot; Meall a'Churain = Carrot Top), so I took one along as a Proxy Object. Here she is at the summit:
And a nice close-up:
Decision time: I had made a bit of a meal of the Meall, and was behind schedule already. Ralph Storer's book advises backtracking over Beinn Cheathaich and then cutting across from about a hundred metres back down its northern ridge over to Meall a'Churain and thence to Sgiath Chuill. However, that seemed a long road for a short cut (Meall Glas is well out west from the other hills) and also involved quite a bit of re-ascent. Other books, and walk reports, had mentioned being able to cut down from the bealach between Meall Glas and Meall Glas Beag, so I though I'd give it a go.
It did prove to be possible, although perhaps inadvisable in the Clag: there a lot of rather big crags down the southeast side of Meall Glas, and the only (relatively) safe way down I could find was a rather exposed scramble down the south side of a burn which I think may have been the Allt Coire nam Moine . I probably wouldn't recommend this as a sensible way down: I should have stuck with Ralph's advice after all .
However, it probably did save a bit of time. All the same, even after emerging from the Clag and heading off east, it is still a long way across the carrot-infested swamps of Lairig a'Churain to Sgiath Chuill. I stopped for a quick bite to eat while I pondered the best way up the other side. Much steepness!
Closer up, it turned out not to be quite so steep as it looked from a distance and I eventually settled for a directissima approach up the south-west slopes of Sgiath Chuill straight to the summit. Although undeniably a slog, this was never scarily steep and proved to be surprisingly possible. Approaching Sgiath Chuill's summit from the southwest, it looked more impressive than I'd expected; actually quite craggy from this angle:
So here is my vegetable pal at the next summit. She seemed quite excited to have achieved her second Munro, waving her fronds in the air excitedly.
"She"? "Her"? Don't ask me how I knew, but it was just unquestionably a Girl Carrot, okay?
Anyway, I was well behind schedule now what with all the vegetable photography plus the tough slog up Sgiath Chuill, so onwards north up the pleasing ridge walk over a minor intervening hump and on to Meall a'Churain. And so here is a picture of Carrot on top of Carrot Top:
She looked so contented, here in what was presumably her spiritual homeland, that I just had to leave her there. I feel it is what she would have wanted.
From here, it is initially a pleasant walk down the well-defined north ridge of Meall a'Churain. However, lower down it degenerates into a bit of a hummocky morass, with only a faint and intermittent path. As I emerged from the Clag, however, there were at least some nice views across Glen Lochay to the hills on the north side:
The "official" way down goes over the last top at the north end of the ridge, Creag an t-Searraich, to pick up the path through the trees to the Hydro-Electric Board bridge over the River Lochay just west of Kenknock. However, Creag an t-Searraich didn't look too tempting at the end of a long day, and I decided to bypass it on the left (west) side. A bit further down, the cottage at Lubchurran came into view, and it seemed altogether easier just to plod down the grassy slopes to the Lubchurran Burn, cross the burn just south of the cottage and then join the landrover track to ford the River Lochay again. This all proved to be surprisingly straightforward - however, wet feet again for the second time of the day. I was frankly past caring by this point - in fact, the river crossing was quite refreshing. After that it was just a pleasant plod eastwards along the private road through Glen Lochay, back to Kenknock Farm, some Hielan' Coos and the carpark.
This pair of hills turned out to be more enjoyable than I'd expected, despite that low cloud cover for much of the day . All the same, I'd agree with Redrock's recent walk report: this pair are not to be underestimated and may well take you longer than you expect. Maybe it was carrying that carrot...
by gammy leg walker » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:30 pm
by kevsbald » Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:29 pm
loved the report. You seem to have a real taste for it now.
Looking forward to the next instalment.
by bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:23 am
gammy leg walker wrote:Very witty & amusing report you have there bobble hat kenny,still have these two on my list to tick off,so an interesting choice of route for me to contemplate.............................................however on the down side leaving a carrot to decompose at the summit or anywhere else for that matter is a no/no in my book.
You probably have a point there, and I promise not to do it again - all the same, I'm not going back up to retrieve her. At least she's biodegradable...