Cracking weather for our annual trip; Tarmachan Ridge was our agreed target for the day. As others have noted, there is a new car park on the left of the road, close to where the old one was (but no sign of that remains). A good car park, with a small "artistic" installation and a voluntary charge of £2 (ticket dispensed) - well worth it.
We left the car park on the west side, past a vehicle barrier and followed the WH route up to the ridge. By now, the sun was out and we could look back over to Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas (where we had been the day before), Lawers now covered in a fine coating of snow (there had been none lying when we were up there, but it WAS cold). Great views to Ben Vorlich / Stuc a Croin to the South and Ben More over to West. We made the first summit in reasonable time, and passed a group of 3 lads who had stopped for refreshments. We descended into the bealach and then began steep climb up to the Munro summit. Very windy up here, stopped for only a few moments to take pictures and then headed for the more dramatic Meall Garbh - it looked quite distant, but the ground can be covered reasonably quickly. The wind was very strong and changing direction, sometimes it was from North, then round next rock, it was coming from South - bizarre!
Meall Garbh is a dramatic and very small summit, and thanks to clear weather, we got a fantastic 360 degree view - for miles. The other lads caught us up here, took a photo for us and went on while we had lunch. Jeff also left us to descend by the southern ridge at this point. Amazingly, there was barely a breath of wind right on the summit.
After a sandwich-based lunch, Steve and I headed off over the narrow ridge to the west where the wind was once again, whipping around us and making balance difficult. Then on to the very steep, rocky section. The other group were here, negotiating their way down, swapping rucksacks etc. We went half way down and then I started to get a bit concerned. There were few obvious safe foot positions or decent handholds and I could see a long drop just beyond the narrow path. At one point I decided to go back, to follow Jeff's route, but Steve persuaded me to go on. At that point, my water bottle was pushed out of my ruck sack by an irregular rock and plummeted down the face of the rock and off into oblivion at huge speed. This made us both visualise our potential exit route, but not deterred, I made an attempt to get my foot on one of the wider rocks, and despite sloping out and being wet, seemed to grip reasonably well. This was all I needed to make those last few feet with reasonable confidence (phew). I felt rather guilty that I could not recover my water bottle (littering does not sit easy) - but later found 2 other bottles, discarded as litter which I picked up and took back to Kilin for proper disposal - net impact = 1 bottle fewer on the hills.
The ascent to the next top, Beinn an Eachan, was fairly straight forward and did not take long, but the path disappears near the top. As per the WH directions, the path can be picked up again, off to right and we took this to go down to the next bealach. As time was advancing, and the weather was changing, we decided not to go for the last top (later regretted), and headed down the grassy slopes, avoiding the boggy sections as best we could, eventually heading across to the quarry (not marked on my OS Landranger). We picked up the Landrover track here, and met Jeff a few hundred yards further on to head back to the car together. Near the car park, Jeff and I decided to walk up to the dam, while Steve drove up.
Great day out and chalked down as one of my favourite walks yet.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.