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Jog on Brother! Meall na Fearna via the Doghouse Route
by Graeme D » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:27 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Meall na Fearna
Date walked: 31/07/2012
Time taken: 7.3 hours
Distance: 17.7 km
Ascent: 965m3 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Ever since reading Frogwell's report on this one from January of this year (the inspiration for which he attributed to malky_c), I had wanted to do Meall na Fearna via the same or similar route from the Glenartney side.
I had also checked the route out from my ascent of Uamh Bheag back in April so knew pretty much what was involved.
My little brother had a couple of weeks off work and was at a bit of a loose end on this particular Tuesday, which happened to coincide with a decent weather forecast. Having recently climbed his first Munro (Schiehallion, which coincidentally was also my first many moons ago) along with his partner (I think she has maybe done about a dozen or so), I was keen to introduce him to the ways of the Ronnies. However, we couldn't venture too far afield as my daughter was at nursery and my wife at work, so yours truly would have to be back in Perth in time to collect Ailsa from nursery absolutely no later than 6pm.
I ran a few ideas past my brother but he seemed nonplussed and simply said "Whatever you think", so I settled on Meall na Fearna and picked my brother up in Auchterarder on the way down.Then it was over the back road towards Braco before cutting over towards Comrie and then onto the narrow Glenartney road.
We were off along the road at 9.45 for the kilometre and a bit yomp to the bridge over the Water of Ruchill then past the cottage near Glenartney Lodge and onto the track that gently ascends onto the Monadh Odhar. Before it begins to turn north west and descend into Gleann an Dubh Choirein, we struck off onto the steep grassy ascent up towards the crags of Sron Aileach and then onwards to the 563m summit of Carn Labhruinn.
Little brother found this bit hard going - not surprisingly really. I think I'd have found this a tough introduction to the Corbetts. He must certainly have found it a very different prospect to the ascent of Schiehallion from Braes of Foss.
Anyway, we were soon onto the broad undulating ridge with views of our ultimate target away ahead and off to our left, with the massive bulks of Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorlich looming due west of Meall na Fearna. Other than the high hills ahead, the other striking feature up here was the sea of peat hags that dominated the terrain of the wide ridge. There really was no getting round them - they just had to be ploughed through, although fortunately, despite the soggy summer, they were all pretty firm underfoot.
Again, I think little brother found this a bit of a culture shock. Forget Schiehallion via the tourist route bro! This is right off the beaten track! This is Meall na Fearna from behind! The scorching sun didn't help any either and the sweat was pouring out of both of us, but we laboured on stoically towards lunch in the bealach below the southern slopes of Stob Chalum Mhic Griogair before skirting around on tricky terrain to the col between the 742m peak and Meall na Fearna, a kilometre or so to the west.
We had left or backpacks leaning up against a peat hag to the south of and below Mhic Griogair as I figured that every little reduction in weight being carried would make things a bit easier for my brother, and I was already beginning to get a bit nervous about the passage of time and my chances of getting back for my deadline. I even suggested at this point that if he had had enough and wanted to call it quits, that was fine by me, but he wanted to go on. Fine, I thought, but we're really going to have to move things along a bit.
We didn't dally long at the summit before heading back to our packs. Well, to the general area where we had left them anyway. Could we find them? Could we *****. 10 minutes or so it took before they were relocated. 10 minutes we could seriously have done without losing.
We headed east towards the steep slopes down into Strath a' Ghlinne, myself being torn between holding back with my brother and forging ahead in my battle with the clock. Neither of us were getting any reception and I knew my wife would probably be sitting at work watching the hands on the clock and wondering why I hadn't phoned to say I was back at the car/at nursery/at home e.t.c.......
I headed towards a little knoll on the edge of the steep drop off and waited for my brother to catch up. It seemed steep but doable (to me anyhow) and there didn't seem to be a much better descent visible on either side. I really didn't fancy faffing around and just wanted to be on that landrover track in the glen below, so I asked my brother if he was OK about the descent in front of him. "If that's what we've got to do, that's what we've got to do" he replied. Fair play bro!
That was really about as much as I got out of him for the next hour or so during which time he became increasingly monosyllabic and eventually practically incoherent. By the time we had reached the floor of the glen, he was shaking and making no sense whatsoever. I filled his bottle up from a stream and made him drink it which he said made him feel better, even if his legs felt like they were no longer his own.
The march back along the track to the Lodge and then along the road to the car park was a desperate affair, checking for reception, forging on ahead but then thinking why bother because I'm only going to have to wait anyway. Either my brother got his second wind and put on a spurt or I just lost the will to live, because approaching the Lodge he wasn't too far behind me. I waited for him to catch up and checked he knew the route back out onto the road. Then I raced ahead to get the car and drive back along the road to meet him, although by this stage I really knew the game was up and I was for the high jump.
I actually jogged most of the way back along the road with a bewildered looking Lucy trailing behind. When I met my brother about halfway back along the road, he said he had managed to get through to my wife who was currently on her way from work to home to pick up the buggy and then head to nursery to get our daughter! Oh s**t!
Anyway, despite knowing that I was now officially beyond all hope and effectively a dead man walking, I drove like a bat out of hell back to Perth while my brother helpfully read out a series of irate text messages being sent to my phone!
Oh well, not quite the vision I had in mind when I read Frogwell's report from January, but hey ho! Anyway, my little brother still insists to this day that he actually enjoyed it, although he hasn't yet asked when and where our next outing is to be!
by malky_c » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:08 pm
It's definitely a nice direction to approach from, but as you say, hardly the path up Shiehallion . I caught a glimpse of those peat hags from below and avoided that ridge altogether, using a route not dissimilar to your descent instead. Hope you haven't put your brother off for good!
by jonny616 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:41 pm
Great tale of two ronnies.
The hard work now begins trying to secure your next hill pass me thinks
by LeithySuburbs » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:57 pm
by Bod » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:47 pm
Hope your brother enjoyed his day
by ChrisW » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:06 am
is one of the most memorable I've seen on WH, I feel guilty just saying this but I laughed out loud, I could see it playing out as I read it...brilliant
by kevsbald » Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:07 pm
by gammy leg walker » Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:57 pm
PS.................nice pics by the way.