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Stob Breac, Stob a' Choin, and Meall Mor

Stob Breac, Stob a' Choin, and Meall Mor


Postby wjshaw2 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:20 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Stob a' Choin

Grahams included on this walk: Meall Mor (Loch Katrine), Stob Breac

Date walked: 24/04/2013

Time taken: 9.75 hours

Distance: 22.9 km

Ascent: 1855m

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These were the last three hills left undone from Inverlochlarig and the thought had been there to do them all in one go for a while. The weather forecast wasn't great - occasional heavy showers, which I'd interpreted to mean that I was unlikely to see anything from any of the tops. But as I get one day off a week and can't choose the weather then I decided to go for it. If I got wet and miserable then I'd just have to cut the walk a bit short.

But I didn't. The weather forecast was right in a way, there were indeed heavy (snow and hail) showers, about five of them, but in between was blue skies and fluffy clouds, the cloud base rising all through the day and giving views even reaching the tops of Ben More and Stob Binnein and all across the southern Highlands. So I was a very happy bunny. It was one of those four seasons in one day type days. Except that it was four seasons about five times in one day (five whole years in a day?).

These three hills don't make an obvious round, there's a lot of steep rise and fall between them. I was a wee bit concerned that it might get too steep for legs who'd wintered on gentler Borders slopes, but was pleasantly surprised by how possible the walk turned out to be. But it is steep, and not just on the sides, the tops and ridges have their own broken character.

The locked forestry gate magicdin pictures in his report on Stob Breac is now lying in a heap, so no problems for four-legged friends' access there anymore, but there are new fences between the hills which may cause problems later on.

The climb started straight from the off. I did consider going round the side of Stob Breac and doing a rising ascent as some previous reports described, but decided a proper traverse north to south needed a proper straight-up ascent. I went up the first fire break I came to. Apart from the steepness, the ground underfoot wasn't too bad (a low tussock rating). I could imagine the firebreaks filled up with bracken later on in the year would not be quite so easy going.

Steepness.jpg
The steepness of the forestry break

A deer wondering who'd be stupid enough to climb up this way.jpg
A deer wondering who'd be stupid enough to climb up this way. The first of many deer seen on the walk (it really made me want to buy something from the tasty venison shop at Inverlochlarig - much recommended. Today, I resisted, mostly because it was dark by the time I got there).

Over Inverlochlarig Glen.jpg
North over Inverlochlarig Glen

The first of several rainbows.jpg
Several rainbows today, always below me.

At the top of the firebreak I had to work around a few wee crags, ascending more gradually to the east, before a break in the crags let me make a beeline for the summit ridge and the top. This top was clear, with every other nearby top caught up in cloud. In bad weather on the summit ridge, and on Stob a' Choin and Meall Mor, it could be quite tricky keeping tabs on which of the many lumps you're standing on and it would be quite easy to miss the actual tops of any of them. No problems today, though. I traversed all the lumps and bumps along to An Stuchd with increasing views to the south across Loch Katrine and clearing skies all round.

n.jpg
S over Stob Breac tops from the top

Looking N back over the Stob Breac tops.jpg
And S again from a little bit further on after the first shower.

The first glimpse of Loch Katrine and Ben Venue.jpg
The first glimpse of Loch Katrine and Ben Venue

The other neighbouring Corbett of Ceann na Baintighearna (Beinn Stacath).jpg
The other neighbouring Corbett of Ceann na Baintighearna (Beinn Stacath)
The west top of Stob a'Choin looking a bit more impregnable.jpg
The west top of Stob a' Choin looking a bit more impregnable


Between An Stuchd and the south-west shoulder of Stob a' Choin there's new fencing, but it has a gate just where you need it to be. This descent would prove to be the gentlest of the day down to the wee lump of Cnoc na Nathrach on the watershed between the River Larig glen and Loch Katrine. In fact the rest of the walk to Meall Mor pretty much follows that watershed mark. The descent is followed by another steep slog up the other side, following a wee stream. After a bog with some surprisingly deep, wet peaty spots I tackled the eastern top of Stob a' Choin up to the 836m spot height. From this side it gets very steep towards the top and I nearly got blown away on the top. Along with sporadic snow, were some pretty strong gusts.

New fencing between An Stuchd and SW spur of Stob a' Choin.jpg
New fencing between An Stuchd and SW spur of Stob a' Choin

Helicopter over Ben Ledi.jpg
Helicopter over Ben Ledi

Over Stob Breac, Ceann na Baintighearna, to Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorlich.jpg
Over Stob Breac, Ceann na Baintighearna, to Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorlich from the 836m top

N to Beinn Tulaichean, Cruach Ardrain, and Ben More & Stob Binnein.jpg
N to Beinn Tuilachean & Cruach Ardrain and Ben More & Stob Binnein


The fence line was roughly followed along to the actual top, but there were some steep lumps and bumps on the way. In general the rule seemed to be that if you stick next to the fence, the route will be passable, except when it isn't. It was on the very top of Stob a' Choin that the snow descended at its heaviest (hence no pictures). If it had carried on like that for longer than the ten minutes it fell for I would probably have picked a route home from here, but it abated and by the time I was descending the western slopes, the sun had come out again. I had originally planned to follow the ruined fence line to the south of the summit in the hope of finding slightly less steep slopes to descend to the hanging valley between Stob a' Choin and Stob an Duibhe, but on balance decided that it wasn't worth the extra kilometre or so as it never really got any less steep. So I picked my way carefully down the slippy wet grass, steering well clear of any rocky drops. Looking back on the slope from Stob an Duibhe, it looked like I'd actually picked one of the best ways down, basically due west of Stob a' Choin's summit. It looked like there was a potentially better line running diagonally down the slope following a line of crags, but essentially, just get down whatever way you can, it'll still be steep. I wouldn't try this if you're unsure about steep ground and in snow I suspect it'd be a bit of an avalanche risk.

The gentle western slopes of Stob a' Choin.jpg
The gentle western slopes of Stob a' Choin taken from the spur of Stob an Duibhe. I came down the left edge of this picture, but you can see the potential better line running from the middle top down to the middle right and off the edge of the picture.


In the valley, along the line of the stream, there's a new fence being built. Hopefully it'll have easy access over it in future, but it may not. There was more new fencing around new forestry at the NE foot of Stob an Duibhe which was surrounded by impassable deer fence. On the return walk it became apparent that this new forestry stretches from the north side of Stob an Duibhe east along to half of the northern foot of Stob a' Choin. I don't think this would create access problems as it won't block any popular routes. However, if you wanted to get from the River Larig glen to traverse Meall Mor taking in its southernmost top at An Garadh and Stob an Duibhe then it could get in your way.

Sunshine behind Stob an Duibhe.jpg
Sunshine behind Stob an Duibhe

From E slopes of Stob an Duibhe looking NNE.jpg
From E slopes of Stob an Duibhe looking NNE with new deer fences


Stob an Duibhe itself was a surprisingly gentle climb in comparison to previous slopes in the day, going up to Bealach na Cloiche before following the old fence line to the top. I was entertained on the way by a raven having aerial combat with a buzzard. Again, the lumps and bumps on the ridges are quite significant and you need to pick your way round them, not just head the apparently straightest route.

So up and down and up and down to the top of Meall Mor. The shadows were starting to lengthen by this time so I didn't spend too much time at the top. My camera phone was also dying so I didn't get many shots off before it went caput. However, the views here were the best of the day - the cloud had lifted and you could see from Glasgow to the Forth, beyond Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps, and great views of the Munros on the north side of the glen.

From top of Meall Mor, over the other Beinn a' Choin to Ben Lomond.jpg
From top of Meall Mor, over the other Beinn a' Choin (the Corbett) to Ben Lomond


Again, I'd originally planned to descend the ridge to the west a bit before striking straight down slightly less steep slopes. However, standing on a northern lump I spied Corrie nan Eilid to the north-east of the summit which gives a gentler slope for at least some of the way. My thought process was: well, if I can make it down the western slopes of Stob a' Choin, then this can't be any worse. And it wasn't and it cut a few more km off the total, which was just as well as I was rapidly heading towards tiredness.

Lengthening shadows while descending Meall Mor via Coire nan Eilid.jpg
Lengthening shadows while descending Meall Mor via Coire nan Eilid.


I got down to the River Larig where my 2001 1:25000 map indicates a fence used to be. It was about half a km further down the glen where the new forestry with its deer fences starts. And then it was the long walk back in fading light to the Inverlochlarig car park. A very satisfying walk with three supposedly smaller hills all given a full traverse treatment (well, cut short a little bit in terms of Meall Mor) and they gave full value back.
Last edited by wjshaw2 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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wjshaw2
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Re: Stob Breac, Stob a' Choin, and Meall Mor

Postby Graeme D » Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:00 pm

Now, this is interesting. I've had a long standing plan to do a two day route taking in these hills but also Beinn a' Choin and Beinn a'Chabhair. This report has just pushed that back up the to-do list! :clap:
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Re: Stob Breac, Stob a' Choin, and Meall Mor

Postby gmr82 » Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:02 pm

Very impressive walk stringing them all together :thumbup:
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Re: Stob Breac, Stob a' Choin, and Meall Mor

Postby Johnny Corbett » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:15 am

Thats some effort doing the three in one outing. Stob Breac is a steep wee climb, as is Stob a' Choin, well done. Good thinking also to combine the three, saves doing the long drive to Inverlochlarig which seems to take forever. :crazy:
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Re: Stob Breac, Stob a' Choin, and Meall Mor

Postby wjshaw2 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:11 pm

It was a long day, but satisfyingly doable. I still feel it in my legs 3 days later. I've walked further in the Borders recently, over tougher tussocks, but the steepness up and down definitely made it harder work.

Where would you think of camping for you trip, Graeme D? I wouldn't fancy doing that walk with a heavy pack. Walk up the glen from Inverlochlarig, pitch a tent, do the three hills in reverse to my order, then walk back up the glen to the tent before heading to the other two over the bealach the next day? That'd be a mighty trip.
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Re: Stob Breac, Stob a' Choin, and Meall Mor

Postby wjshaw2 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:17 pm

Actually, which Beinn a' Choin do you mean, the Corbett or the Munro to the north of the Larig?

If you're doing the two Munros to the north of the glen, you can do An Caisteal as well on one trip. I don't suppose many people do the other Beinn a' Choin, the Corbett, from the north. That'd be fun.
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wjshaw2
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Re: Stob Breac, Stob a' Choin, and Meall Mor

Postby Graeme D » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:44 pm

wjshaw2 wrote:Actually, which Beinn a' Choin do you mean, the Corbett or the Munro to the north of the Larig?

If you're doing the two Munros to the north of the glen, you can do An Caisteal as well on one trip. I don't suppose many people do the other Beinn a' Choin, the Corbett, from the north. That'd be fun.


Meant the Corbett. As for where to camp, I dunno. It's been so long since I last actually studied the options for this route, that I can't remember. Watch this space! :lol:
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