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High winds (and a Ptarmigan) on the Tarmachan Ridge.

High winds (and a Ptarmigan) on the Tarmachan Ridge.

Postby budvarone » Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:45 am

Route description: The Tarmachan Ridge

Munros included on this walk: Meall nan Tarmachan

Date walked: 23/06/2013

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 768m

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We'd been wanting to do this walk since September last year when we'd hiked up Ben Lawers and (when the clag eventually lifted!) we could see across to Meall nan Tarmachan on our descent via Beinn Ghlas. The weather, work and other commitments meant we'd only had one outing this year so far, Ben Ime, in March, so when a window opened in our hectic schedules, Neil and I grabbed it, unfortunately the weather forecast was AWFUL, but "WTF" we thought "...we're going anyway, the forecast might be wrong!"...it wasn't!
When we arrived at the car park, it was really pouring, the wind was verging on gale force (not exactly sure when winds become gale force I have to say, but it was VERY windy!) and we did consider just turning round and heading back to the Borders but Michaels brother Sam was driving from Argyll to meet us, so we waited for him to arrive, a few other cars turned up in the car park and everyone got out, and headed off on their walks, although I didn't see anyone heading in the Tarmachan direction!
Sam eventually turned up and the rain had stopped although it was still windy, so we decided to head off anyway, we could always turn back if the conditions were too bad.
Setting off, this was the only time I was at the front!
Approaching the false summit.
Getting there!!

The path up was pretty straightforward, and we soon found ourselves on the wee scramble up to the summit, the cloud had really started closing in and the wind had picked up again...and how! We reached the summit, and I have to admit I was scared!
Summit pic, Michael texting his wife! It was quite windy!
After a couple of pics we headed back down, I'd have quite gladly gone back to the car, but the others wanted to press on!
We descended and headed towards Meall Garbh, the wind still throwing us about a bit, and the cloud still obscuring any views, but we stuck to the path and the four of us found ourselves huddled on the narrow top of Meall Garbh, looking over to the narrow ridge that would take us to the "bad step", the wind was howling around us and the cloud was so close we couldn't see either side of the ridge, we knew there was a bypass path but we couldn't see it so we decided against setting foot on the ridge, and choose instead to head back the way we came.
"The Ridge of Almost Certain Death"..from the summit of Meall Garbh
Once off the summit and away from the worst of the weather, we agreed we could skirt round Garbh and join the path a wee bit further on.
Skirting round Meall Garbh

This brought us back to the path between Meall Garbh and Beinn nan Eachan, and we made our way onwards to the third summit...
Looking back to the (avoided) bad step and the pointy summit of Meal Garbh
On the path to Beinn nan Eachan

My walking buddies had gone ahead...or I had lagged behind (taking too many pics is my excuse!) but they'd waited for me to catch up to let me know there was a Ptarmigan with young next to the path a few yards ahead (being a birdwatcher, I'd been hoping to see a Ptarmigan on one of our walks..a life tick for me!) I approached with care and managed to get good views of the adult but the fledglings had gone into hiding!
On then to the top of Beinn nan Eachan...
Narrow path, steep drop and high winds...never a good combination!

At the top we discussed whether to head down to the bealach and make our way to the quarry, I was quite happy now that I'd seen a Ptarmigan (I'm easily pleased!) so I was happy to do whatever the rest wanted! We made our way over to Creag na Caillich, and I was sure I'd read something about the path on this hill...couldn't quite remember what tho! The wind had picked up again although the cloud had lifted so we had some half decent views of the surrounding hills.
Creag na Caillich...lets go over there!
Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Croin with some dark clouds!
Sam and Neil braving the wind.

As usual, I was bringing up the rear, when I reached a part of the path that made me think "...hang on I remember now what I'd read...!!!" It was in bobble hat kennys report of this walk where he says this path warrants a "caution" as there is a steep drop to the left, "sheep thriller" is the expression he uses!
The path narrowing.

Part of the path has eroded way and means a small jump/scramble is required to cross it, I didn't give this much thought at the time, and just did it, although looking back up from the homeward trek, we could see what looked like a dead sheep below the eroded part obviously it didn't quite make the jump!
The eroded path.
Is that a dead sheep? The wee white dot in the middle of the pic!?

After a coffee and a sandwich we headed down the hill to join the track at the wee dam, and head back to the cars.
Neil at the wee dam!
Beinn Ghlas from the return track.

A great walk, glad we didn't head back after Meall nan Tarmachan, and carried on to the end, shame the weather wasn't as good as it could've been but that's all part of the experienceI suppose!
User avatar
Posts: 45
Munros:12   Corbetts:3
Grahams:2   Donalds:5
Sub 2000:5   
Joined: May 2, 2012
Location: Scottish Borders

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