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Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh & an Stuc on a Scorcher
by Gordie12 » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:39 am
Route description: Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh and An Stuc
Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers), Meall Greigh
Date walked: 25/07/2014
Time taken: 7.5 hours
Distance: 18.8 km
Ascent: 1285m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I chose the three eastern Lawers Munros as having done the other two on the horseshoe about 15 years ago I felt it was probably time to head back and complete the circuit. I called the Lawers Hotel on Thursday night just to make sure I could use the car park and they confirmed it was fine as long as I came in for a pint when I had finished..........oh, okay then!.
As usual when the hill walking alarm goes off I'm up and on the go straight away. Quick look out the window, wow, no east coast harr and the distant hill tops are all clear so looks like a good day ahead.
Made good time on the journey over to Loch Tay so I was able to start at 7.40.
After a short walk east down the road I took the left turn beyond the antler carving place and headed up the track towards Machuim Farm. There are a couple of signs to point me in the right direction (away from the farm) and on to a narrow path that leads gently uphill through the woods. Giant head high bracken encroached on to the path and after picking up my first tick last month I was as careful as I could be in trying to avoid brushing in to the leaves.
I was looking forward to getting on to the hillside as it was really warm within the enclosed wood so it was great to arrive at the stile and be in the open.
As I headed towards Meall Greigh it became obvious that there was no breeze to be had and with the sun beating down it was boiling hot and it was only just after 8am.
Heading up the track I missed a cairn where I should have left the track and headed towards Sron Mhor but I could only have been about 50 yards further on when I realised it was time to head more directly for Sron Mhor and start the climb.
Within about 10 minutes of starting the climb my legs were cooked and had turned to jelly. Not good, I'd been walking for around an hour, was sweating buckets and the legs wanted to go home. I had been aware before that when I climb on a day where there is no breeze I can struggle but with the temperature being more Lisbon than Lawers the problem was compounded.
I'm not sure how many stops I had whilst climbing Sron Mohr and Meall Greigh but way more than any other hill I have ever climbed. To be honest I could have chucked it but decided to plod on and at least get one Munro bagged. The near views were crystal clear but there was a bit of a haze when looking towards the horizon.
After about 2 hrs I finally made it to the summit. In a split second the rucksack was removed and I flopped on to the grass and disturbed a few hundred midges so quickly moved off and sat on a rock.
After a break and a drink I decided to head on towards Meall Garbh. The drop down off Meall Greigh is very gentle and it was nice to give the legs a break as I slowly headed for my 2nd Munro.
I hoped the legs had recovered but as soon as I hit the climb they turned to jelly again and it was stop start all the way to the top.
Having made the summit of my second hill of the day there was now a noticeable breeze, not much, but something to keep me a little cooler. A combination of the breeze and the view over to An Stuc convinced me I had to complete my planned three Munros. There was also the fact that An Stuc looked so close it felt like it would only take a few minutes to get from one summit to the next one.
The drop off Meall Garbh was quick and easy and in only a few minutes I was climbing again.
The lower slopes are steep on a good narrow track then in the mid section there is a bit of scrambling but nothing of any real concern (he says on a clear warm July day with bone dry rock to climb over - probably wouldn't fancy this in poor conditions).
The scrambling mid section is over fairly quickly and it is then just a short distance on a good track to the top (glad I climbed An Stuc in this direction, wouldn't have fancied this bit on the descent). Whilst having a seat and checking my map a solo guy appeared from the Ben Lawers side and a couple of minutes later a solo lady appeared from the same direction so the three of us had a chat for 10 minutes before I decided to head off. They were both moaning about the heat, some people, never happy
I headed down to Bealach Dubh where I needed to decide whether to head on to Ben Lawers or to bail out and head down to Lochan nan Cat. The fact I was even considering Ben Lawers shows that I was feeling a lot better but a vision of a nice cold pint back at the hotel and the fact I was nearly out of juice (and had spotted a burn flowing in to Lochan nan Cat that seemed to have a decent flow to it) convinced me to stick to the route I had initially planned. I hadn't expected an obvious track down to the lochan but there is one certainly for the first part, I lost it further down but by sticking close to the burn I found my way down easily enough.
Wandered over to the burn which drops down from Ben Lawers. Two gulps of juice and my 2litres were drained so good timing and I filled up with 2 litres of water - more than enough o see me through to the finish.
Sticking to the Ben Lawers side (south side) of both Lochan nan Cat and the burn that flows out of it there was a decent outline of a track most of the way down to a small dam.
After the dam there is a wide track for the first few hundred yards then at a cairn I took the grassy track which meanders down to the river and a small bridge. It's good that there is a bridge crossing but personally had I designed it I'd have put a step in on the approach as you need to be a giant to be able to take this in your stride. Maybe whoever built it hid in the ferns and had a good giggle watching people like me trying to negotiate it.
After the bridge it's an easy walk down the east side of the Lawers Burn to arrive back at the entrance to the woods. I really didn't want to do this in the heat but I stopped to put a long sleeved top over my short sleeves to reduce the chances of picking up a tick at the end of the day.
As I readied myself I thought about how lucky I had been on such a warm flat calm day, a few flies, the odd midge and no clegs - result................ZAPP a cleg got me on my right knuckle.
I meandered down through the woods double layered and frying when I got to the worst section of ferns, somebody had cut them all down since I had started the walk so I walked down on a deep carpet of ferns not sure where I was putting my feet which explains the head on dive I took resulting in a soft landing on a carpet of ferns.
Once off the narrow track opposite the farm I stopped to take off the long sleeved top when two people wandered up the track and had a double take when they saw me a) with long sleeves on and b) layered up.
Ten minutes later I was back at the hotel car park, a quick change and I had a pint in front of me.,.......heaven!!
Looking at my times I was just under 7.5hrs but unusually for me I was stopped for over 2hrs.
I don't like to bemoan good weather, if there had been a breeze from the start and just a little bit cooler it would have been a wonderful day to be out in the hills. What I hadn't realised (but now do) is how dramatically my stamina drops in these temperatures (it was somewhere between 79 and 81 by the time I got back to the car). I say my stamina dropped due to the temperature but I think the lack of breeze was maybe more of a factor on the day.
by rockhopper » Sat Jul 26, 2014 11:28 pm
by litljortindan » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:50 pm
by Gordie12 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:47 pm
litljortindan wrote:Interesting to see these hills, no doubt relatively neglected. Been over Ben Lawers, Tarmachan and Glen Lyon hills so this could be an option for a return to the area. Driving long distances still difficult but hoping to go further afield next year than my current limit of about two hours' drive. Certainly looks like appealing landscape.
Well worth the trip if the back is up to it. An Stuc definitely the highlight for me, a really good fun hill to climb - made the trudge in extreme heat (for Scotland anyway) worthwhile.
by AnnieMacD » Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:21 pm
Wish we got just a little of the hot weather at a weekend this summer.
by Gordie12 » Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:32 pm
AnnieMacD wrote:That Lochan a Cat looks very inviting on a hot day! An Stuc looks like a great hill.
Wish we got just a little of the hot weather at a weekend this summer.
Hi Annie - the lochan was really inviting but the pint at the hotel beat it hands down
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