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Mountains and glens around Killin.
by simon-b » Sun May 12, 2013 9:37 pm
Munros included on this walk: Beinn Tulaichean, Ben Challum, Carn Gorm, Carn Mairg, Creag Mhor (Meall na Aighean), Cruach Ardrain, Meall Buidhe (Glen Lyon), Meall Garbh (Carn Mairg), Meall Glas, Schiehallion, Sgiath Chuil, Stuchd an Lochain
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Saturday 04/05/2013: Schiehallion
Time: 3.75 hours
Very early in the morning, I set off driving through a wet Northern England. At about 8:00 am I was crossing the border, and the journey through Southern Scotland was pleasant and sunny. Around the middle of the day, I approached Aberfeldy, and Schiehallion came into view. The sky was clouding over, but the summit was still in view. On arriving at Braes of Foss, the weather was grey and drizzly, but nothing too bad. So I set off walking towards the mountain at the centre of Scotland.
On the easy section of the path, things started to get wetter and windier. By the time I reached the boulders, I was in the mist, with wind-driven light snow. A few snowfields were crossed before I reached the summit, a pleasant enough place but with no view on this occasion. As might be expected on a bank holiday Saturday, Plenty of other people were also climbing Schiehallion, and I was never far from company in what might have been quite intimidating conditions for solo hiking. On the descent, I dropped out of the cloud and snow, and into rain.
Back down at the car park, it was still raining, and I drove to Killin for the first of 7 nights at Dunlochay B and B.
Sunday 05/05/2013: Carn Mairg 4
Time: 7.25 hours
After parking at Invervar, it wasn't easy to find the start of the route as shown on the WH map, but a signposted track leaving the road a little further west soon joined the path alongside Invervar Burn. Conditions were warm and sunny, and the forecast hadn't sounded bad, maybe a few clouds and showers later. I reached Carn Gorm's east ridge and ascended, with fine views south of the Lawers group.
Before long I could see deteriorating weather approaching from the SW. I reached the top of Carn Gorm just in time for something of a view along Glen Lyon, before disappearing into the mist. After setting off towards Meall Garbh, things began to turn misty and drizzly. Finding the line of old fenceposts, I made my way to the summit cairn of the day's second Munro, 'decorated' with old iron fenceposts. There wasn't much else to see.
The rambling route which led to Carn Mairg probably seemed longer than it would have done in better weather. Rain became persistent, the wind grew stronger, and there was lying snow to cross. Visibility was poor when I reached the summit of the day's highest Munro. This meant that getting off Carn Mairg was tricky, through thick mist across snow. I was glad I'd read the WH route description, with its advice on how to avoid hazards here. In time I navigated my way onto easy, if now very wet, ground.
As I plodded toward Meall na Aighean (Creag Mhor), conditons were still rough and there was no dropping out of the cloud. After crossing the bealach and some snowdrifts, I finally climbed onto the rocky little summit of the last Munro, and interesting spot which must be pleasant on a fine day.
I made my way west onto the ridge for the final descent, and finally dropped out of the clag, looking down to Glen Lyon.
Monday 06/05/2013: Stuchd an Lochain, Meall Buidhe
Time: 6.5 hours
Again, the weather didn't look good in the morning, but the forecast promised a better afternoon. So I made a later start than usual, driving via Lochan na Lairige to Bridge of Balgie, then parking near the Giorra Dam. First I climbed Stuchd an Lochain. The weather continued to be damp and misty, and the steep, eroded early section of the path was very wet underfoot. Despite being in cloud, the walk around the rim of the corrie to the summit was a pleasant enough one. The glimpses of snow cornices gave the feel of being on the edge above Lochan nan Cat, even if nothing of it could be seen.
Then it was back down the same way to Loch an Daimh. Next it was on up towards Meall Buidhe, looking back at the loch.
I'd met a few people on Stuchd an Lochain, but there seemed to be no-one else on the second Munro. The improvement in the weather never came, and the journey became a lonely and desolate one. Cloud seemed to get lower and thicker, the wind stronger, and the rain heavier. The notoriously boggy route was just that. It was a relief the reach the easier section of path which led to the summit. With the Munro visited, I was quickly heading back downhill, just about managing not to plunge into the peat hags. Before long I came out of the mist, and back to the car. The day finished with an interesting drive through the mist back over past Lochan na Lairige.
Tuesday 07/05/2013: Sgiath Chuil, Meall Glas
Time: 7 hours
At last, a sunny day! I parked by the A85 near Auchessan, Glen Dochart, and walked up alongside the Allt Riobain. Wet ground has been the norm for hillwalking in both Scotland and England over the last few months, so the bogs on sections of this route didn't spoil anything on a day like this. Sgiath Chuil was in view ahead.
I left the burn and headed up fairly steep, pathless slopes to the pleasant rocky summit. Another solo hillwalker was up there enjoying the view. He'd already climbed Meall Glas, and implied that the steep section between Sgiath Chuil and Lairig a' Chulain was nothing to worry about. This descent did look formidable on the map, but I made it without too much difficulty.
En route to Meall Glas, I visited the trig column on Beinn Cheathaich, an excellent viewpoint. The panorama included Ben More:
Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich:
a rather hazy Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin in the distance:
and Meall Glas, with Ben Challum behind to the right:
The route continued along an easy ridge path, and Meall Glas was soon reached, and again there were great views. The first part of the descent was across pathless and often boggy terrain. Lower down, alongside a burn, a path materialised. This was a beautiful section of the descent in the fine weather.
As I drove back into Killin, the sun was still shining, and there were great views of the Tarmachan Ridge and Ben Lawers beyond the village.
Wednesday 08/05/2013: Beinn Tulaichean, Crach Ardrain
Time: 6 hours
Of course, the good weather didn't last. I parked at Inverlochlarig, with dry conditions and fairly high cloud. The first part of the walk included a signposted diversion, due to some work being carried out on the hydro system:
As I set off, both Beinn Tulaichean and Cruach Ardrain were visible.
After the diversion, I followed the track NNW, then left it at NN 433 189 to head west uphill, as per WH route map. This involved climbing over a barbed wire fence (not shown on the map) soon after starting to climb the slope. Further up, another fence was crossed at NN 427 189, this one did appear on the map and had no barbs. By the time I reached the ridge climbing to Beinn Tulaichean's summit, the rain had started and I was in the clouds again. Soon a gale was blowing. I made it to the summit cairn, then moved on to the bealach between the two Munros. This provided a potential escape route, and conditions were wild. I made the decision to carry on to Cruach Ardrain.
Ascending towards the second Munro, the wind continued to howl, mobility was quite difficult and the rain kept pouring. I moved towards the top of the mountain, the gradient eased, and I reached a cairn which could easily be mistaken for the summit in these conditions. There followed a short but quite sharp drop (you couldn't see it was only a short descent from the cairn in the mist), then a final rise to the true summit. As is sometimes the case, the wind at the summit was considerably less fierce than during the journey to get there. But on the return to the bealach, the gales seemed to get even stronger. At one point a headwind sopped me from being able to walk forwards, even downhill. Somehow I forced myself onwards and downwards, and eventually reached the bealach. The following descent of the hillside eastward required care on slippery grass, and it was a relief to reach the track leading back to Inverlochlarig, now out of the clag. But the rain continued, and the diversion en route to the car park crossed very boggy ground.
That night, I was pleased to be back in Killin, and ready for a meal and a couple of pints at the Old Coach House. There I met a couple from Forfar, who told me they enjoy walking in the Yorkshire Dales, a much easier hillwalking area for me to visit!
Thursday 09/05/2013: Ben Challum
Time: 5 hours
Two other walkers were setting off for Ben Challum as I pulled up at the lay-by on the A82 near Kirkton Farm. I was following their footsteps after I'd got my boots on. Soon I approached Kirkton Farm.
Before long I was making the boggy trudge uphill. The weather had started rather grey but dry, then once again the rain started, and was going to last all day. It also became apparent that a view from Ben Challum's summit was highly unlikely.
I left the most boggy part of the path behind, and ascended into the clag. Higher up there was quite a bit of lying snow. After reaching the south top, the cleft which divides the ridge was confusing, with poor visibility and snow obscuring some of the path. Again, thanks to the WH route description, I was ready for this, but navigation here was still tricky. In time I found the path leading north to the summit, and soon encountered the other two walkers, now on their way down. We agreed that descent by the same route was going to be fun, with all the rain that had fallen on the bogs in the meantime. The substantial summit cairn was reached, but obviously there was little else to see. So I set off back downhill, and eventually caught up with the other two men near Kirkton Farm. The three of us headed back to the cars, ready to take off our soaking waterproofs and boots.
Friday 10/05/13: Falls of Dochart and Glen Ogle
Time: 7 hours
Distance: 26.5 km
Ascent: 660 m
On this day I'd been hoping to climb Ben More and Stob Binnein, but again the forecast was poor. There was a threat of thunder, and it sounded as if conditions might not be very good for being high up on the two Crianlarich giants. So I decided on a low level walk, starting and finishing at my B and B, which turned out to be very enjoyable.
I set off from Killin, with a view in retrospect of the Tarmachan ridge.
I followed the course of National Cycle route 7 (on foot!), this involved a temporary diversion between NN 569 321 and NN 561 302. In front of me, I could see that if I'd been up on the hills I'd wanted to climb, I'd have had no view again.
After crossing the A85 I passed by Lochan Lairig Cheile and headed SE. I followed the old military road along Glen Ogle.
I crossed the A85 again, and continued to the outskirts of Lochearnhead. Turning right, I crossed a bridge over a burn, crossed the main road again, and ascended west on a slight slope, looking back to Loch Earn.
On reaching the course of the old railway, I headed back NW along the Glen.
After passing Lochan Lairig Cheile again, I crossed back over the A85, and followed the Rob Roy Way NE through the plantations. There were some glimpses between the trees down to Killin from here. At NN 587 305 I reached a junction where the Rob Roy Way turned right. I turned left to head back to Killin. Further down this track, I approached a sign from the rear. Passing the sign, I looked back to read the notice, forbidding public access beyond that point due to forestry operations. There'd been no such information given at the end of the track from where I'd come! Eventually I reached the south Loch Tay road, and walked back to Killin and the Falls or Dochart.
Then it was back to Dunlochay B and B for my last night in the Southern Highlands.
On a previous visit to Killin, I'd done the Tarmachan Ridge on the last day, before driving back to West Yorkshire in the afternoon. So there would have been time for one last walk on Saturday 11. But the weather was bad again, and the forecast was very poor for the Southern Highlands. With that I decided to drive straight home.
All the views I'd missed due to cloud, and all the walking in rain and wind, are things I accept; they come with the territory when climbing mountains. I can also live with having to postpone some other hills for a later visit; An Caisteal, Beinn a' Chroin and Beinn Chabhair had been on the agenda, and could have been fitted in with better conditions. The biggest disappointment was missing out on Ben More and Stob Binnein, I'd really wanted to climb those two on this trip, but they too will have to wait. But it will have to go down as a successful week overall, and the most important thing is to be back home safe.
by jamesjones » Mon May 13, 2013 1:44 pm
Good report and nice to see you back among the hills. Myself and Ben are planning a trip up to Killin area last weekend of May. How was the Glen Lyon 4? hoping to put the crampons away for a while, did you see much need for them on this round. I'll look out for you on the forum and also might see you out on the hills this summer.
Jimmy and Ben
by gammy leg walker » Mon May 13, 2013 5:13 pm
by malky_c » Mon May 13, 2013 7:37 pm
I didn't realise that the old railway up Glen Ogle had Tarmac on it.
by simon-b » Mon May 13, 2013 8:52 pm
Cheers, GLW. It was great to be back in Scotland, despite all the challenges nature imposed. I agree it will be nice if summer does arrive at last.
Thanks, Malky. Plans do need to be flexible, I agree. It seems we both saw a bit of sun in the Southern Highlands that week, in between all the clouds and rain.
by SAVAGEALICE » Mon May 13, 2013 9:49 pm
by L-Hiking » Sun May 19, 2013 5:27 pm
Fingers crossed for the weather
by simon-b » Sun May 19, 2013 6:16 pm