Stay at home
Scotland is under national lockdown. People are asked to stay at home except for essential purposes.
Click for details
Two Corbetts a day keep the madness away!
by BlackPanther » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:14 pm
Route description: The Sow of Atholl, from Dalnaspidal
Corbetts included on this walk: Meall na Leitreach, The Sow of Atholl
Date walked: 02/12/2012
Time taken: 5 hours
Distance: 13.9 km
Ascent: 800m3 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).
I will not be the first person to post a story from Drumochter. The day was so lovely that I expected other Walkhighlanders to wander about the area! We didn't meet anybody on "our" hills but we noticed crowds of people on the surrounding mountains Some of them must have been WH members
The Sow of Atholl on its own is a rather short and a bit boring up-and-down exercise. Most walkers climb this outlier in combination with Beinn Udlamain and Sgairneach Mhor. Originally, we intended to do it, too, when we came to Drumochter Pass in March this year, but on the col between Sgairneach Mhor and the Sow, we were caught in a nasty snow shower, visibility dropped to a few metres and, having bagged the Munros, we gave up on the Corbett (TR here: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=19460). Back in the glen, Kevin gazed up at the steep slopes of the Sow and he concluded:
"We will come back here for this one in deep snow - looks perfect for some wintry fun!"
I had the appetite for Sow-bagging the previous weekend but we changed our minds with last-minute weather check and climbed Ben Wyvis, with no regrets whatsoever. Mountains are like good friends - they will always be there for you, so there's no need to hurry
Last weekend arrived with perfect crispy-wintry conditions and my mountain madness hit me with double strength, sure there was no force that could stop me from running up the snowy Sow now!
On Saturday we had to do the very much hated Christmas gift shopping I love Christmas, especially cooking, baking and eating , but choosing the right gifts is always a nightmare. Just as well Sunday was the better of the two days, at least my planned Sow-bagging could go on
Because the ascent route from Dalnaspidal takes only about 2-2.5 hours, we decided to add a second mountain to our little expedition, the neighbouring Corbett Meall na Leitreach:
The starting point for these two is a small car park on the road to Dalnaspidal Lodge, just before the level crossing over the railway. And here, one small warning: the track down to the parking place is steep. In icy conditions, it could be a nasty trap for a car, especially with summer tyres (as we came to experience later that day).
As we started walking, the sun was still hidden behind the hills and the lower ground was hiding in deep shadows - but it looked like the beginning of a wonderful day!
We crossed the first bridge, over the Allt Dubhaig.The gate was locked, but easy to climb over:
The Sow was a welcome sight:
Meall na Leitreach showing its darker side:
We turned to a dirt track just before the second bridge, over Allt Coire Luidhearnaidh. This track doesn't climb to the summit of the Corbett (ha ha wouldn't that be great!) but it follows the stream, Allt Coire Luidhearnaidh, for about 1 km:
There are some faint stalkers path cutting across the slope, but the easiest way to climb this Corbett is to simply push straight up the heathery slope:
As we started gaining height, we also gained some nice views, first towards Sgairneach Mhor...
...then back to the pass and the two Munros across the glen:
Every hill has its own secrets... On the Sow, it could be the scary shadows...
Climbing was generally easy. We located a small burn running down the slopes and followed its side. Snow was very soft and easy to walk on, just in places we encountered some icy patches, nothing bad enough to make crampons necessary, anyway. I was more than happy:
About 100m below the summit we fell into a heavy patch of snow... Ehm... I mean: Kevin did:
We had a good laugh about swimming in the snow...
... and walked across the slope, around the edge of this deep field, for a short distance, before picking a good line of vegetation, where the fluffy stuff wasn't knee deep. In next to no time, we were on the summit of the Sow of Atholl - and what a lovely viewpoint it is!
The orange sky is back!
On the summit cairn - Corbett no. 47 ticked off!
Beinn Udlamain and Sgairneach Mhor soooo white!
The distant Cairngorms:
As I mentioned, there was nobody else climbing our route, but the hills were definitely alive!
We spent about 30 minutes on the summit, even though there was nowhere to sit, the cairn was all covered with snow I simply couldn't bring myself to leave this fantastic, quiet winter wonderland - there was almost no wind, the cold didn't bother us too much. We even took the opportunity to record our Christmas wishes with the white background
Kevin was eager to pose as well:
A few more photies from the top - enjoy:
It was only half past eleven and we had more than enough time to bag the second Corbett. We retraced our steps down the slope:
Back in the glen:
Dalnaspidal Lodge empty at this time of the year...
We followed the branch of the track to the small dam, views still nice and even though we entered the shadow zone, we still enjoyed the crispy-snowy wander:
View back to the Sow:
The route up Meall na Leitreach is much less exciting than up the Sow, going up the obvious track all the way to the top of the wide ridge. Plus the constant shadow made it very colllld Still, nice views behind us:
The trudge up the slope - a bit boring, really. I couldn't wait to get back in the sun!
Is it far yet?...
Once on the plateau, the views opened up again:
After about 350m of steep ascent on much icy track, we were back in business Just in front of us, only a stroll away, the lower top (748m):
We quickly reached the lower top and stopped here for 5 minutes again, to enjoy the views and take even more winter-wonderland photos...
Drumochter Munros and the Sow from the south:
Beinn a'Ghlo group:
Schiehallion again, closer this time:
Meow! Could there be a better way to spend a few Sunday hours?
It was difficult to locate the track under tonnes of snow, but across the plateau, we could just about see the faint lines:
Looking back east, with the small top cairn on the left-hand side - a perfect winter photo:
Walking towards the sunset... It was only about 1 pm but the western sky had this lovely, sunset-like colour, a touch of pink and orange, exactly the same as the previous weekend on Wyvis - but the air was much clearer:
More winter wonderland...
We continued across the plateau, slightly down to the small col and finally, we ascended the last 50m to the very summit of Meall na Leitreach. When looking back, we could admire the beautiful panorama of Drumochter hills. Well, as these Corbetts aren't especially exciting to climb, in winter conditions they are well worth the day - just look at this...
Almost there - hey ho!
How many days like this are we going to have this winter?
Close-up to Beinn a'Ghlo:
The summit cairn, Corbett no. 48!
My eyes were drawn to the western sky...
Having reached the top, we took another longer break - not that we needed it But a hot cuppa and a muffin made a nice addition to the day.
Again, we returned the way we came. On the way back, we discovered that the icy track was not exactly the easiest descent route. Luckily, the vegetation alongside it was dense enough to provide a good alternative. We almost run down the slope At one point Kevin encountered a patch of ice and slipped on it - ouch! I ran to rescue him and performed exactly the same flying figure We ended up sitting on the snow next to each other, laughing our hearts off. Shame we didn't have a sledge with us
The sun was still an hour from setting, but the world has definitely turned grey...
Shame it's time to go home, but we can't stay here forever!
We returned to the car park and spent a while manoeuvring our car up the icy road... Many thanks to a fellow walker who helped us push our girl up the slope We managed to get out on the main road - and the next stop before another trip will be the garage to fit winter tyres.
All in all, a fan-tas-tic day, not a couple of hills one would consider on a good summer day (have to be honest, there are more attractive mountains to climb, even in this area), but a perfect pair for a December adventure Meow!
by Fudgie » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:44 pm
by The Rodmiester » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:12 pm
by ChrisW » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:52 am
by Lenore » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:00 am
by bobble_hat_kenny » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:51 pm
Like yourself, I'd initially intended to do the Sow of Atholl as a wee Bonus Piggy after the round of the four West Drumochter Munros, but landed a right dreich day in late September - after plodding round in the rain all day, it suddenly didn't seem so tempting after all...so I still have it to do sometime. Your report gives an alternative slant on it; I really like that idea of combining it with Meall na Leitreach in the winter .
Walkhighlands community forum is advert free
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?