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The Tarmachan Ridge

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:06 am
by Ben Hill
After having undergone major surgery back in April I have been building myself back to fitness by undertaking some easy walks and some small hills over the last 3 months. However the time had come to get back to the big hills and I started off with Ben Vorlich at Lochearnhead which I thoroughly enjoyed. I then felt confident enough to go for the Tarmachan Ridge, a walk I had been considering for about 8 years since I started hillwalking. I had been put off by a couple of factors.....was a bit wary of the narrow ridge section when coming off Meall Garbh and the scrambling downhill section at the end of the same ridge. I should have feared not and I would like to emphasise to anybody with doubts to put these fears aside and go for it, you will love it. The narrow ridge is fine and only lasts for a few seconds and the scrambling downhill section can be avoided !

The day started about 10.00 across the road from the old Ben Lawers Visitor Centre Car Park (Parking charge about £2). The path from here is obvious as is Meall nan Tarmachan, there is also a small sign indicating the way to the Munro. Follow this path all the way to the summit, passing a top at about 900 metres which leads on to a small drop and then a steepish part for a while. From the end of the steepish section the path levels for a while before a short uphill climb takes you to the summit. The path you have taken is then almost entirely laid out in front of you....
View from Meall nan Tarmachan summit

From here the path is easy to follow to Meall Garbh and passes two nice little lochans. The summit is very small and airy and is a tremendous viewpoint. It is from here that the interesting bits occur....when I looked at the narrow ridge which lay ahead I felt a bit nervous, however when you are on the ridge itself you are fine and it only lasts a few seconds.....
The Ridge from Meall Garbh

A minute or so later and you come to the "Bad Step" as it is called in some books. I cannot comment on it as I sensibly took the bypass route following my recent surgery ! The bypass starts just before the start of the bad step, look out for it as it starts faintly to your right. (A small cairn should be placed here to indicate the bypass route perhaps ?) It is a good path and is fairly easy. It only took a minute or so to take this route. In the picture that follows you can just see the route from the top right of my head !
Path down Meall Garbh

From here continue along the obvious path, taking time to look back at the drop from Meall Garbh. There are a few small drops and climbs along the way to the next top, Beinn nan Eachan which gives you a good view along the Munro and top you have climbed so far...
View from Beinn na Eachan

Most of the people we had met en route had decided to stop at this point and there is a path downhill at the col between Beinn na Eachan and Creag na Caillich. However we decided to complete the whole ridge and kept to the well trodden path to the the summits of Creag na Caillich. These summits seem a long way away but you reach the main top quickly from which you can clearly see your way ahead....
Creag na Caillich path

The path on the faraway summit overlooks a sharp drop to your left, as one of the books says this is for curious sheep and can be easily avoided by going over the summit and rejoining the path at its other end.

From here the going is all downhill and follows an indistinct path at first for a while. If you are struggling head for a small dam from where a good path and then a land rover track will take you all the way back to your starting point....
The wee dam !

I was delighted to have completed this walk in 7 hours considering my recent surgery and fulfill a target I had in mind for a good few years. It also has to be said that this is one of the best paths I have walked on, navigation is easy apart from the final walk from the final top down to the small dam. An excellent day's walking and is possibly my favourite outing !