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A two-egg omelette from leftovers: Maigheach & Choire Leith

A two-egg omelette from leftovers: Maigheach & Choire Leith

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:38 pm

Munros included on this walk: Meall a' Choire Lèith

Corbetts included on this walk: Meall nam Maigheach

Date walked: 07/01/2013

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 10 km

Ascent: 750m

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After the excesses of the festive period, a period of detox is of course traditional, when it’s back to old claes and porridge while ploughing through all that leftover turkey and steak pie :roll: . I had another kind of leftovers in mind too ... of the seven Munros in the Lawers group (eight if you count Meall nan Tarmachan), the only one I hadn’t done yet was Meall a’Choire Leith. I had the 5th January earmarked for a bit of walking, but as often happens an offer of company fell through at the last minute so I was off on my own again :( . I’m no expert winter walker – I do have the necessary gear (i.e. crampons & ice axe) but I’ve never done a Winter Skills course so couldn’t claim proficiency; my first thoughts were therefore to tackle a couple of Grahams or something. However, there was a Big Thaw on, and the weather forecast looked surprisingly promising :D . In fact, a glance at the mountain webcams on the www.mwis.org.uk site suggested virtually no snow, so I thought I’d grab the chance of an easy solo Munro, combined with an even easier bonus Corbett, without all the complications associated with the White Stuff. Yokehead’s nice walk report from 2009 on the website made the Meall nan Maigheach / Meall a’Choire Leith combo look straightforward enough, even for the likes of me in winter.

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I managed to get a proper early start for once, and was at the high point of the minor road from Loch Tay to Glen Lyon, at the cairn just north of Lochan na Lairige, just after 9 a.m. It was a murky start, with the Clag right down at the level of the road, but at least it was dry and the forecast was for conditions to improve steadily. Fingers crossed :? .

I started off on the obvious path from the parking area (the usual descent path for the Meall Corranaich / Meall a’Choire Leith combo) for about 150 metres, then headed off for Meall nan Maigheach on a NNW bearing when the path took a bend to the right. The pathless ascent up the minor hump of Meall nan Eun was straightforward despite the Clag: a line of three fenceposts (the first one festooned with strange and mysterious cogs :wtf: ) reassured me that I was on the right bearing.

At the Meall nan Eun / Maigheach bealach, the Clag started to lift a bit, giving a glimpse of Meall Corranaich and the head of Glenn Da-Eig to the east.

There was also a nice view of the northen tops of the Tarmachans to the west, with a bit more snow by the looks of it.

A bit higher up, I encountered the first snow of the day – however, remarkably for the time of year, there were only a few isolated drifts that were all easily avoidable.

It was a carefree, albeit pathless, stoat up to Maigheach’s rounded summit environs. The first cairn encountered is the true summit, I’m fairly sure. “Meall nan Maigheach” is “Hump of the Hares”: disappointingly there were no bunnies around today, though.

Maigheach’s NW top, Meall Luaidhe (“Lead Hump”) also sports a smaller cairn, on top of a wee rocky tor. It’s worth walking on to Meall Luaidhe for the views.

Maigheach doesn’t tend to get a great press – it’s a rounded whaleback of a thing and, given the high starting point on the road, it must be one of the easiest Corbetts in Scotland – however, it does enjoy some good summit views, particularly north to Glen Lyon.

From here, I backtracked down Maigheach’s easy south ridge for a bit, then took a curving route to the left down its lower slopes into Glenn Da-Eig, towards Coire Gorm between Meall Corranaich and Meall a’Coire Leith.

Gleann Da-Eig is “Two-Eggs Glen”, which is kind of cute. Apparently the origins of its name are obscure, but I like to think that the two eggs in question might be the rounded summits of Meall nan Maigeach and Meall a’Choire Leith, which are certainly prominent on either side of upper Gleann Da-Eig. It’s one of the prettiest of the glens hereabouts, being a classical U-shaped glacial trench complete with a meandering wee burn, the Allt Gleann Da-Eig. I was a bit worried that this might be tricky to cross, particularly when swollen with snow meltwater, but actually it turned out to be easy enough, with plenty of handy boulders to use as stepping stones :) .

The Clag was continuing to lift, and Meall a’Choire Leith nearly had its head out of the clouds by now. It looked to be a rather unrelentingly steep plod up from this approach; maybe there was a reason for that :( ...

I was certainly feeling all of those extra Christmas pounds as I plodded uphill :shock: … Ah well, at least there were some good views back across the glen to Meall nan Maigheach for distraction.

And Meall nan Tarmachan showing off its craggily good-looking profile over to the south-west:

All the same, it was a relief to reach Choire Leith’s summit cairn. Not a trace of snow: it’s hard to believe that this is a photo of a Munro summit in early January, but I promise it is :? ! There was even a summit view, albeit a rather hazy one, up to the (substantially higher) Meall Corranaich to the south.

However, it was early January nevertheless, and sunset wouldn’t wait for me: it was time to head home. To start with, I just headed back down the way I’d come up, via the north side of Coire Gorm, following the line of the burn. Coire Gorm is “the Blue Corrie” – no idea why; it looked to be the standard yellowy-green colour to me :? , although it was grand enough scenery in a green-and-rolling kind of way.

At some point I was going to have to cross that fast-flowing burn, and its steep snow-lined gully, to get to the south side of Coire Gorm and start a traverse southward to the head of Gleann Da-Eig. Fortunately, an easy crossing point eventually materialised at a brief levelling.

The traverse south on the northwestern slopes of Meall Corranaich was another pleasant stravaig, initially pathless but easy enough going. I encountered a sheep with ideas above its station: I just love it when they do that Monarch of the Glen pose :lol: . Has it just temporarily slipped their mind what species they are? “You’re a SHEEP, Flossie... a SHEEP.” “Yes, I know, Dolly, but I can dream, can’t I?”

A bit further south, I was glad to pick up a muddy and intermittent path, which made the long traverse across and down to the head of Gleann Da-Eig that wee bitty easier.

Eventually, the path makes its way down to a dam – not marked on the OS map – at the top end of the Allt Gleann Da-Eig. The dam is very handy, as it makes it very easy to cross the burn just below it: otherwise this could be tricky when in spate.

Unfortunately, the next section is an infamously vicious bit of God-Forsaken Boggy Morass :-x ... ah well, you can’t have everything. An ATV track painfully hauls its sorry ass up the 70 metres or so of re-ascent (it feels a lot more than that, though) through the sheep-infested swamps, and substantial peat hags, to the vague high ground where the south ridge of Meall nan Maigheach meets the end of the western spur of Meall Corranaich, in the vicinity of Meall nan Eun back where we started.
Actually, this turned out to be an entertaining shorter round, ideal for a winter day :D . I’d definitely recommend the Maigheach / Choire Leith combo: unlike the traditional but (by all accounts) rather dreary combination of Corranaich and Choire Leith from the cairn at the road highpoint, the Maigheach / Leith combo means that the truly nasty boggy bit only has to be savoured once rather than twice. This also allows Corranaich to be tackled separately, preferably from the NTS car park along with Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers – when climbed from its bealach with Beinn Ghlas, Meall “Fairly Interesting” Corranaich rather unexpectedly turns out to be an entertainingly steep hill after all, almost with minor aspirations towards rockiness. Even the defiantly rounded Choire Leith turns out to show its most attractive side to Gleann Da-Eig to the north and west; and old Two-Eggs Glen himself is surprisingly scenic. Sometimes leftovers can fair hit the spot after all :D .
Last edited by bobble_hat_kenny on Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A two-egg omelette from leftovers: Maigheach & Choire Le

Postby kevsbald » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:37 pm

Nice one Kenny. Sure you'll be svelte in February.
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Re: A two-egg omelette from leftovers: Maigheach & Choire Le

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:07 am

kevsbald wrote:Nice one Kenny. Sure you'll be svelte in February.

Well, here's hoping ... at least this wee round was a relatively gentle start to the year :) !
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Re: A two-egg omelette from leftovers: Maigheach & Choire Le

Postby Fudgie » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:05 am

No matter what way you do that hill from the road, that bog is always going to draw you in. Not the greatest start/finish to a walk.
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Re: A two-egg omelette from leftovers: Maigheach & Choire Le

Postby laconic surf » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:51 am

Nice report Kenny. I tried to do this in November but the road was impassable with the winter conditions we'd been having. I'd done Corranaich with Lawers and Ghlas so it had left me with Leith and it's corbett to do. A great irony of this hill is that its so boggy its best done in winter, yet in winter you can't get up the road to tackle the swine :? With the recent thaw I may have to bite the bullet, put the wetsuit on and head off into the bog to get it done :shock:
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