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Freewheelin' down to Lochearnhead

Freewheelin' down to Lochearnhead

Postby joenorris » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:33 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Creag Mac Ranaich, Meall an t-Seallaidh

Date walked: 13/04/2012

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 21.1 km

Ascent: 1200m

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This tale begins on Thursday night at 1am, when, having just returned from a late-night curry, I had a sudden urge to pack the car and set an early alarm, aiming to tackle the two Corbetts at the western end of Loch Earn. Four hours later, feeling somewhat below par, I was up and setting off for Lochearnhead.

The plan was to cycle up to the bealach between Meall an t-Seallaidh and Creag Mac Ranaich, from where I would tackle the two summits before freewheeling the 7km of downhill back to Lochearnhead. Things weren't quite as simple as I'd hoped, however.

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I set off around 7am from the carpark on the A85, but as soon as I turned off the main road I encountered a problem. The chain on my bike had rusted horrendously since its last use and, as a result, was jamming every time I put it under any real strain (i.e. on any upward slope!). Uh oh.

I hadn't had the foresight to check my chain, or to chuck any WD40 in the car, so I was stuck with a dilemma - do I: a) take the bike back to the car and walk the entire route; b) push the bike for a while until I can hide it away and walk the rest of the route; or c) push the bike all the way to the bealach and have the pleasure of freewheeling all the way back down to Lochearnhead.

You can probably guess from the report's title which of those options I went for.

After negotiating the various twists and turns (and after correcting my wrong turnings) on the tracks in the forest above Lochearnhead, I eventually found myself on the Glen Kendrum track. The views towards Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin opened up quickly, although Loch Earn was hidden behind the bulk of Meall Reamhar for much of the ascent. The crags of Creag Mac Ranaich dominated the view ahead, despite that being the smaller of the two Corbetts.

Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin

Towards Creag Mac Ranaich

As it turned out, pushing the bike wasn't as difficult or as slow as I had anticipated - the track was steep in more than a few places and cycling wouldn't have really benefited me on the ascent. I reckon I would have only saved 10-15 minutes on the bike on the way up.

I reached the bealach in around 1h45m and dropped the bike there. Creag Mac Ranaich still appeared the more intimidating of the two hills, but Meall an t-Seallaidh was my first target.

Meall an t-Seallaidh from the bealach

A path of sorts emerges from the initial peat hags to wind its way up onto the northern ridge of the hill. From here, an obvious path and line of fence posts heads along the ridge to the summit. It was a wonderful ridge actually - a few wee subsidiary tops and lochans sitting nicely in the patchy snow.

Stuc a' Chroin from the summit ridge

The summit from a subsidiary top

The summit itself has two cairns, the eastern of the two also having a trig point. Determined to make sure I went to the true summit, I wandered over to the western cairn, where there is the most well-crafted lunch seat I have ever found on a summit - a throne perched perfectly on a little ledge above some crags, sheltered from the wind by the rocks above. The views from the summit were great - the Loch Earn hills, the Trossachs, the Crianlarich hills and the Loch Tay/Glen Lochay hills being the dominant views.

Towards Loch Earn from the summit

Creag Mac Ranaich and the Ben Lawers range

Ben Lawers


Ben More and Stob Binnein

Ben Ledi and Ben Vane

Ben Lomond

The view from the throne

I retraced my steps to the bealach, where the crags of Creag Mac Ranaich towered up above. The ascent route was obvious, despite the craggy nature of the hill - a wide, grassy and not very steep gully led up to just below the S top, from where a path led directly the true summit (only 1m higher). From here the views were largely the same as from the earlier summit, although Ben Lui had now appeared, with a very distant Black Mount also visible. Killin seemed remarkably close from the summit.

The S top and Meall an t-Seallaidh from the true summit

Looking down Glen Kendrum back to Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin

Killin and the Lawers range

Ben More and Stob Binnein, Ben Lui and a distant Black Mount

After another spot of lunch in a much less well-crafted seat, I trotted back down to the bealach, being careful to avoid the temptation to veer too far east onto the craggy corner of the hill. The return journey is often the most uninteresting part of the trip but, today, I was brimming with excitement. 7km of almost continuous downhill lay ahead of me and, with the sun still beating down, I set off.

I soon discovered that my rear brake doesn't work at all. So some of the steeper hills were taken at a snail's pace to avoid being catapulted over my handlebars. Those moments aside, the descent was great fun - pushing the bike had certainly being worth it.

I was back at Lochearnhead in 40 minutes from the bealach feeling mighty refreshed. It's a great trip this one - a unique viewpoint and a wonderful little glen on the approach, with the big crags of Creag Mac Ranaich dominating the entire way up. I'd recommend really studying the map of the tracks above Lochearnhead before tackling this walk - it's a slightly confusing mesh of tracks and it's easy to take a wrong turning, as I did.

Home by 1.15pm, I conked out on the sofa for a few hours to make up for the 3.5 hours sleep the previous night.

N.B. I have since fixed the various problems with my bike, so next time (fingers crossed) I won't end up pushing it all the way!
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Re: Freewheelin' down to Lochearnhead

Postby ScottishLeaf » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:01 pm

A proper mini-adventure!
Nice trip :)
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