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Ben Lawers 7: the good, the bad and the ugly...
by sarahejones » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:00 pm
Route description: Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas
Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Meall a'Choire Leith, Meall Corranaich, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers), Meall Greigh
Date walked: 11/10/2014
Time taken: 10.3 hours
Distance: 22 km
Ascent: 2074m19 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 had originally hoped to do all seven munros in the Ben Lawers range doing this route:
However, here's the route I finally ended up taking...
As I was hoping to bag the whole range on my own, I thought the best option would be to walk from the Glen Lyon side, and do the horse shoe of munros, tagging on Meall Greigh and basically double bagging Meall Garbh on the way across. I'd intended to do the clockwise route, as suggested by helpful munro-ing folk I met in various places.
Unfortunately, I bumped into the farmer who works on that side of the valley at the homestead (beginning of the valley lane) at 7.45am, and he requested I go anti-clockwise as he would be working on that side (glad I was wearing my brightly coloured 'I'm-not-a-deer-headband')... 'anyway, it's easier that way,' he said... to my gaffaws, 11 hours later. Or I would have gaffawed, if I'd had the energy to open my mouth...
It took 2 and a half hours to slog through the boggy, murky grimness of what I like to call 'lower Scottish mountainside, in Autumn' made slightly more bearable by the vole, deer and of course sheep sightings, which my trusty sidekick, Peggy tried to eat for the rest of the day.
I emerged through some fairly dimming cloudy fog to discover a plateau, on which I eventually located a cairn, and ceremoniously bagged Meall a' Chorie Leith with the standard selfie that is the way of the lone wolf (or anyone with a sidekick that doesn't have opposable thumbs)...
It was then a fairly pleasant walk across to Meall Corranaich, mostly on path, with a few patches of grassy stuff and quite a lot of sheep poo. Clouds were still very low, and I hadn't yet seen the other side of the horse shoe, probably for the best...
From here, I finally started seeing other people. Rather embarrassingly the first lot came into view just after I was pulling my pants up from going for a wee. Whoops! To be honest, I don't remember much of the walk from Meall Coraniach to Beinn Ghlas, more path following, and drizzly mist... On arriving at Beinn Ghlas I had my only non-selfie photo taken by a couple of chaps carrying a Brazilian flag.
It was like Piccadilly Circus all the way from Beinn Ghlas to Ben Lawers, with that polite British way about us as we got out of each others way with a 'Good afternoon' or 'Hard going?' I found this part quite vile - I loathe steps and walking up them just adds insult to injury. However, the cloud was lifting at last, and a good view of the valley could be had.
I'd yet to pass anyone going the same way as me, and didn't for the entire route, but a lot of people did give me rather pitying looks when they saw that it was already early afternoon and I still had as much distance or more to walk again. They didn't think I would make it... they were basically right.
Still, I was in good spirits on finally reaching the pair of Ben Lawers cairns, and despite lots of people eating their sandwiches, I took a selfie. You shouldn't interrupt that all great past-time of picnic eating.
I headed onwards, eating a sandwich on the go, well aware that time was limited, though got some good views back towards Ben Lawers and across the valley.
I accidentally went up Creag an Fhithich rather than around it which was rather an irritation at the time, for both my mind and my knees... Still, I finally made it to the top of An Stuc.
Now for the bit I dreaded the most, the rock scramble... As luck would have it, a lone chap was coming up the other way. So I kept and eye on him as he came up, and he seemed to keep a vague eye on me going down, though I think he was more impressed with my billy goat dog skipping down than whether I was going to crack my head open. Either way, I felt more comfortable knowing I could shout for help should it all go pear shaped.
The climb ahead up Meall Garbh looked thoroughly awful, though didn't hurt as much as I thought it would - less of the steps, and more of the grabbing tufts of grass and heaving myself up... I made it from An Stuc to Meall Garbh in about half an hour so took a quick picture whilst making my next decision.
I had the choice to cut out Meall Greigh and head straight back down the other side of the valley back to the car, or risk the long walk across to the seventh munro which might be tough to complete and return from before darkness fell. I checked my OS map and thought that at worst, I could walk down the other side and catch a taxi back... So off I went...
No-one has ever mentioned that Meall Greigh is actually gaelic for 'a boggy b@stard of a munro' or I might have given this a miss. It was an awful slog across, and my white terrier was starting to look like a black lab... Still, 45 tiring and draining minutes later I made it to summit number seven.
As I was on my lonesome, I looked at my timings and felt it would be safer to head back to Ben Lawers Hotel and beg a taxi number, rather than go off the path and be eaten by deer and voles, and probably Peggy, should I get caught out after dark. So down the never ending path of doom I trekked, my knees creaking, my water now run out and I was seriously considering eating some of the dogs biscuits. I was also cussing myself for having parked on the Glen Lyon side when I wasn't going to make it. It didn't feel like a total success, and I was about to be £40 poorer from having to taxi it back.
Still, half a pint and a chat to a couple who didn't even know what a munro was, and I was back at the car by 8 or so, and finally in the hotel around 8.30pm. I had to carry the dog to bed from the car, and I followed her into sleep soon after.
It's two days later and I still can't walk... but, this is only my second lot of munros after Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm, so I'm glad I completed (more or less) the challenge I set myself.
On that note, I'm off to find some new knees...
by SecretSquirrel » Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:27 am
by The Rodmiester » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:05 am
by kaye.cantlay » Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:15 pm
I did the Lawers 5 a couple of weeks ago with my bike strategically left at Ben Lawers Hotel for the cycle back to the Ben Lawers car park.
That ride nearly killed me!!
by jepsonscotland » Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:23 pm
It is definitely easier that way round and a good time for completion too.
It does seem at this time of year 'bog' and 'sheep poo' are pretty much 75% of a Scottish Munro!!
by dooterbang » Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:39 pm
Big walk in not so great weather, nice one
by prog99 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:16 pm
SecretSquirrel wrote:Absolutely cracking report. Well done on bagging all 7! (Even if it wasn't by your original plan). That was a good read, but the real sting in the tail is £40 to get from Lawers Hotel to Glen Lyon?!? ouch. Thieving beggars lol
Not really, its 20quid for me to get to Edinburgh airport from where i live and thats half the distance on decent roads. And a tenner to get back to the start of the Aonach Eagach.
Quite fancy the round of 7 myself, good effort for you and the dug! Only done the 5 in a oner before and left a bike up the hill at the old visitor centre leaving a nice roll back to the hotel.
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by JimboJim » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:54 pm
by Fife Flyer » Tue Oct 14, 2014 7:06 pm
As stated by others, you did very well to manage all 7 at this time of year
by Silverhill » Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:15 pm
Don’t forget to turn those balloons blue on your munro map!
by Huff_n_Puff » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:22 pm
Many years ago we set out to do the same route, only to get to number 6 and decide to ditch Meall Greigh for that day - went back and did it on a beautiful spring day and missed the bogs (Never thought of your cunning plan with a taxi )
by Handknittedbagger » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:44 pm
As you will see from my report, I agree fully with your description of Meill Greigh, a b@stardly b@stard of a hill! ... lol
by sarahejones » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:36 pm
I do wish I lived closer, so I could do this every weekend. It's just such a stunning country, and I'm missing it! Though I live in South Devon which isn't exactly ugly!
I'm off to write my other report. Which I already wrote once, and then the whole thing deleted when I pressed submit. Bum. I shall write them in Word from now on.
by Bruno » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:22 pm
Love the wee dog - what a wee cracker!
by meangarry » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:41 pm