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Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!


Postby mountain coward » Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:37 am

Route description: Carn Gorm, Meall Garbh, Carn Mairg and Creag Mhor

Munros included on this walk: Carn Gorm, Carn Mairg, Creag Mhor (Meall na Aighean), Meall Garbh (Carn Mairg)

Date walked: 20/10/2009

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During our October visit to the Lawers area, we (Richard & I) had two good days in total (weatherwise). The first we had to do the Tarmachans of course – no point in doing those in the clag – the second we decided to head for the Cairn Mairg round.

We set off reasonably early and drove round the corner into Glen Lyon. I’m fairly familiar with the road as I’ve ‘camped’ in my car further down the glen a couple of times – lovely place. Of course the road is a bit narrow and at one point we were stopped by a driver coming the other way who warned us that there was a sheep transporter coming along. I continued driving, wondering why it necessitated a warning when suddenly it appeared -it was huge – almost like one of those Australian road trains and articulated! I couldn’t see why anyone would want to drive something that size down Glen Lyon... but then people have sent artics up the Hard Knott Pass in the Lakes in winter for fun before now (took over a month to recover the last one!)

We drove up and down the glen past Invervar but couldn’t see where on earth the supposed parking was. We tried a few places, including a huge ‘works’ entrance as it was a Sunday so we assumed they wouldn’t be coming to work that morning. But I still didn’t feel comfortable parking there and had visions of some huge lorry coming and scraping past my poor ol’ Sunny. We decided to have one last pass of Invervar and suddenly Richard saw a vehicle down a track towards the river. I stopped and backed up for a look – yup, there was the parking and there was just one space left...

A guy had just arrived and was setting off at the same time as us and we reached the locked gate together. It had notices on saying things like we could go through the gate as it was a Sunday but any other day, forget it. The guy was a Scot and told us they were talking rubbish as they couldn’t prevent us going any other day of the week. I just thought that it was a good job it was a Sunday as I couldn’t do with the hassle. On my own, I’d just have sneaked in somehow but I’m sure Richard wouldn’t have! We set off through the forest together and stopped for a route discussion at the exit. The guy said he was going anti-clockwise on the round but that really that was forbidden by the estate – I couldn’t imagine how anyone could or would have a say which direction you did a round of mountains!

Just after we split up, I decided to have a quick check of the map – at which point I realised I didn’t have it. I told Richard and he just said ‘Run back and get it then’. ‘No, I don’t have it with us’ I said. He said did I mean it wasn’t in the car either and I said that it was back at the lodgings at Lawers. It being a good day visibility wise I decided it wasn’t worth giving up on our objective and that we should continue and hope the weather didn’t change. I had a vague idea of the route plan and directions in my head. The only problem was that I didn’t just want the Munros, I wanted to collect the ‘tops’ too – and I couldn’t remember exactly which they were, just that the second hill was a top, there was one somewhere along the long ‘back ridge’ and another past Carn Mairg. Of course, this meant that we had to visit every bump and pimple along the route – 11 in all – should just have been 7... Popular, I wasn’t!

Despite the guy we’d just left saying it was a barely noticeable climb to the first Munro, Carn Gorm, we found it a real grind – it seemed to go on forever... We passed a group on the way to the summit but strangely, although they made it to the summit, they didn’t continue on the walk – I thought everyone did the whole thing as a round.
Carn Gorm.jpg


It had been hot and sunny and sheltered from the wind on the way up and I was down to my t-shirt and feeling very hot. Suddenly we reached the summit and the fierce north wind hit. I couldn’t get my clothes on fast enough, piling every single garment on that I had. We left the summit as quick as we could, after noting there were the first snows on the Cairngorms. As soon as we set off down the back we hit ice and so had to go really slowly and carefully – not what you want when there’s a freezing wind-chill! It was icy all the way to the col.

The next summit, An Sgorr, a beautifully shaped top, I liked best of the day. It was really easy but far too attractive to miss out using the path which contoured behind it. We looked back from a sheltered spot in the sun and out of the wind and could see the other party were on Carn Gorm summit.
An Sgorr.jpg
Carn Gorm from An Sgorr.jpg


We continued onto Meall Liath – an extremely easy climb once again. We assumed the first top was the summit but I said I had to go onto the other summit as that might be the ‘top’ along the ridge. Richard set off for Meall a Bharr but then suddenly he was coming up the hill towards me just as I was descending again. He said he’d remembered that particular Munro had 2 summits and that there wasn’t much in it so was worried it might be the Munro. After that we stuck together as I visited everything which looked like it had a summit of any kind. We must have looked like 2 drunks zig-zagging along the ridge instead of following the path. We noted that the party behind were still on Carn Gorm’s summit – perhaps they’d frozen to the spot?
Carn Mairg&Meall a Bharr fm Meall Garbh.jpg
Schiehallion over Meall a Bharr.jpg


It was pretty quick progress with the cooling wind along the ridge and we were soon admiring Schiehallion from Meall a Bharr and looking forward to Cairn Mairg – the joint-most attractive hill on the round in my view.
Meall Garbh fm Meall a Bharr.jpg
Schiehallion fm Meall a Bharr.jpg
Cairn Mairg fm Meall a Bharr.jpg


From the top of Cairn Mairg, we could see a familiar hat below us on a lee slope – it was the guy we’d split up with outside the forest – he was using some kind of radio with a huge aerial (stop with the huge erection jokes!) – must have taken some carrying up there.
Carn Gorm fm Cairn Mairg.jpg
Looking back - been a long way so far...
Schiehallion fm Cairn Mairg.jpg
It was getting late in the day so we scooted off for the top to the east of Cairn Mairg – at this point I expected a revolt from Richard – I thought he’d refuse to do it and just head across for Meall na Aighean but he plodded up with me.
Cairn Mairg fm east(Meall Liath).jpg


At the summit we noticed bad weather heading our way quite rapidly so thought we’d better get a shift on, being mapless as we were. We shot off down the plain slope for the col and the path up to Meall na Aighean, stopping for a very quick coffee and a bite out of the wind near the col as it had been too cold to take any breaks before that.
We were soon on Meall na Aighean but didn’t linger.
Cairn Mairg fm Meall na Aighean.jpg
Meall na Aighean fm SW top.jpg
As we headed off down the steepening ridge, which surprised us by being a lot further to the north than we thought as we came over the edge of the second top, the weather hit us and it started to rain. Luckily it didn’t cloud right over and we could still see where we were headed. It seemed quite a long and arduous descent and I was pretty glad to get back to the forest as I was starting to feel it was a long day.
Glen Lyon fm Meall na Aighean descent.jpg
Weather closing in...
Last edited by mountain coward on Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby John Burgess » Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:19 am

Hi MC,

Nice report - brings back good memories. My avatar photo was taken up there last winter on a round with my son. I missed the car park the first time I was up there - only found it after walking back to Invervar from a spot I'd found half a mile further down the road.

All the best,

John
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby Alan S » Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:05 am

Another fine report MC 8)

Its so good to see what a view looks like from these hills,wish i had seen it

How long did it take you to do the whole lot it must have been a long day

Ive never understood how an estate can dictate which direction you can walk in i wonder what the reason is

Has anybody ever found the car park right away it seems so obvious once you find it, i think i parked at the same place as john :)

Cheers alan
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby mountain coward » Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:20 am

I can't remember how long it took us but think it was only something like 6 and a half hours. But by the final peak I was finding it tiring... Those and the Tarmachans were the only views we had in just over a week so don't feel too despondent! :)
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby malky_c » Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:44 am

Hmm, these actually look quite nice in the good weather! I did these as part of a fairly large group when I was at uni. The mist was down and afer the first summit, we decided to contour around An Sgorr. As the group wss large (8 or 9?) we drifted into two parties. My group managed to neatly contour right round the hill and end up back where we started. The slower group managed to find their way OK. And one guy went right over the summit!

We ended up chasing the 'slower' group round the rest of the circuit. They assumed we were still in front so picked up the pace. In the occasional break on the clouds, we could just about see them about 15 min ahead of us.

We did finally catch them up on the last descent to Glen Lyon, but we were knackered by that point.

I think the point of my story was that having a map and compass doesn't always help!
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby mountain coward » Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:48 am

:lol: Sounds hilarious - you should write it up as a walk report, especially if you all kept going wrong! Classic!
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby Dannyboy » Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:06 pm

I bet youre glad you didnt turn round after discovering your lack of a map! Cant really ask for better weather(well you can but often it gets worse!) Think i did these with my dad a while ago but we didnt go to every bump- you have to wonder why people do it- even yourself!? :crazy: :lol:
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby sloosh » Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:15 pm

Nice report. It brings back a few memories, mostly of squeezing myself into a gap beside the trig point of Carn Gorm and laying down flat to get out of the rain a bit.

No pics of the pretty cairn on the top of Meall Garbh? :)

No map? Are you sure you got to the top of Meall na Aighean? :lol: j/k
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby mountain coward » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:14 pm

We got to the top of absolutely everything in Glen Lyon I think! :lol:
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby Graeme D » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:03 am

Thanks for that MC - nice to see what this round actually looks like! I did it on a Bank Holiday Monday in May. I remembered my map (just as well) but forgot my camera which was no big deal really as it was a day when they redefined the meaning of "clagged in". :lol: However I did find the car park straight away - maybe having been past it a couple of times before on previous outings helped as I had it scouted out.
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby mountain coward » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:56 am

Dannyboy wrote:I bet youre glad you didnt turn round after discovering your lack of a map! Cant really ask for better weather(well you can but often it gets worse!) Think i did these with my dad a while ago but we didnt go to every bump- you have to wonder why people do it- even yourself!? :crazy: :lol:


Well I'm trying to do most of the tops and, on such an easy round, it seemed silly to miss them - even though we didn't know which they were... I was just surprised Richard joined me to all the bumps!
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby The Morgans » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:10 pm

Thanks for the advice, enjoyed the walk report, we have never forgotten a map :D but have had a few blow away :? We have forgotten to pack lunch which was a disater, had to munch our way thrrough a packet of jaffa cakes and a packet of love hearts our son had in his rucksack.
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Re: Mapless on the Cairn Mairg Round!

Postby mountain coward » Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:38 pm

There's a few people have written reports on here where they forgot to take food and drink! I've done it before too... but there's usually at least one 5 year old choccie bar hidden away in the depths of my bag somewhere! :lol:
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