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The Rounded Heap of the Ceremonial Drinking Vessel...

The Rounded Heap of the Ceremonial Drinking Vessel...


Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:09 pm

Route description: Meall Chuaich, Drumochter

Munros included on this walk: Meall Chuaich

Grahams included on this walk: Creag Ruadh (Dalwhinnie)

Date walked: 18/04/2015

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 927m

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...Well, I think that's how this one's Gaelic name translates, anyway :? !
Out on my own again and I was keen to get a Munro done, but it was still early in the year with a bit of snow on the hills, so I picked an easy one - Meall Chuaich up at Drumochter. By all accounts it is a bit of a rounded lump of a thing and makes for a relatively short day, so to make a bit more of a walk of it, I thought I'd have a look at its wee Graham pal too, Creag Ruadh, which lies just on the opposite side of wee Loch Chuaich to make a straightforward circuit.

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I got an early start, ran the gauntlet of the average speed cameras up the A9 (no ticket yet, so I must have done something right :wink: ), and got parked in Lay-By 93 on the northbound side of the road. Couldn't believe my luck with the weather :D ! The walk starts from Lay-By 94, which is only 50 metres or so to the north, off the southbound side of the A9, just across the road. Thankfully there wasn't that much traffic yet, so it was easy to cross.
WR1.jpg
Just immediately north of Lay-By 94, a gated track sets off directly towards Meall Chuaich.
WR2.jpg
After a couple of hundred metres, this joins a waterway on the right. This is the Chuaich Aqueduct no less, an impressive bit of engineering that is part of the Tummel Hydro-Electric Scheme, and apparently carries water from Loch Chuaich all the way to Loch Ericht - a fair wee way. There was a grand view of the day's two objectives, Creag Ruadh on the left and Meall Chuaich on the right.
WR3.jpg
About halfway along the track towards Loch Chuaich, I passed the Chuaich Power Station. Is this Scotland's most scenic hydroelectric plant? It's a fine old stone-built structure, situated in a small grove of pines, with the electricity-related paraphernalia towards the back looking a bit incongruous.
WR4.jpg
The track soon forks, with the left-hand fork heading towards the outflow dam, and the right-hand fork running south-east past the foot of Meall Chuaich.
WR5.jpg
Just after the track crosses the bridge over the Allt Coire Chuaich, an obvious path leaves it on the left at a cairn, aiming fairly directly towards the summit of Meall Chuaich.
WR6.jpg
The path was a bit muddy at first, but it improved on the way up. There were a whole lot of grouse (I'm always disappointed that the plural isn't "grice" :( ) amid the Bonny Blooming Heather, and one of them even stopped for a brief photo-shoot, with Creag Ruadh in the background.
WR7.jpg
There was an interesting view across to the south, towards the surprisingly shapely north-western escarpment of the East Drumochter plateau - I think that's Carn na Caim to the right. Now, it's not often that you see "Carn na Caim" and "surprisingly shapely" in the same sentence, but there you go :lol: !
WR8.jpg
There was a brief squelchy bit at a levelling, then it was just a relatively short pull up to the summit plateau.
WR9.jpg
The inevitable Summit Selfie. I think that blob at the end of my nose is a bit of sun cream that I hadn't rubbed in properly, rather than a Bogie. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
WR10.jpg
I have a new iPhone 5 (can you tell?) and I had a bit of fun playing with the 'Panorama' setting. They're rather cool, these iPhone panorama shots - I suspect we will be seeing a lot of them in everybody's WRs over the next few years now :lol: . Anyway, here's my attempt:
WR11.jpg
It may be something of a shapeless lump, but Meall Chuaich is a fine viewpoint. The most striking view was right down the length of Loch Ericht towards Ben Alder and the Geal-Charn group. Here's a zoomed shot: I think that's the Long Leachas of Ben Alder to the extreme left, with Sgor an Iutharn of Geal-Charn looking very dramatic to its right. Hills that I'm longing to climb someday.
WR12.jpg
And the unzoomed view:
WR13.jpg
On the way back down, there was a nice sweeping vista out over Creag Ruadh (looking less impressive from above) and on down the Allt Chuaich towards the River Truim.
WR14.jpg
I saw some alpine hare on the way down, and one of them stopped long enough for a photo. Say "Fluffy Bunnies"!
WR15.jpg
As I got back down nearer the track, I started to ponder my best line of attack on Creag Ruadh. There are various possibilities, but it looked as though the most straightforward option would just be to make use of the network of tracks to get over to the other side of Loch Chuaich, and then just make a directissima attack on the Graham's steepish east face.
WR16.jpg
I got back down to the track, crossed the Allt Coire Chuaich bridge, then back down to the fork in the path, but now I took the other branch towards the Loch Chuaich outflow dam.
WR17.jpg
A grand view of Loch Chuaich on the way across, with Meall Chuaich on the right and Creag Ruadh on the left:
WR18.jpg
The track crosses the top of the dam and continues down the northwestern side of the loch. It reaches the foot of Creag Ruadh just after a gate, and I left the track here to make a frontal assault on the Graham. Fortunately it wasn't nearly as steep as it had looked from a distance, although it did feel a fairly relentless slog in what had turned into a right scorcher of a day :shock: .
WR19.jpg
This is probably Meall Chuaich's best angle - it gets a wee bit craggy on its western flanks, and it was doing a fair job of looking all dark and brooding across the loch.
WR20.jpg
Just before the summit, there were a few wee snowfields: the only snow I encountered on this whole outing, somewhat to my surprise.
WR21.jpg
Creag Ruadh's summit is surprisingly well endowed as Grahams go, with both a big cairn and one of those stone shelter thingamajigs. Again, the best views from the cairn are probably down Loch Ericht towards the remote group of hills around Ben Alder. This time, Ben Alder itself was stealing the show from this subtly rotated viewpoint.
WR22.jpg
Yet another inevitable Summit Selfie!
WR23.JPG
And a last shot of Meall Chuaich across the loch, with the East Drumochter plateau behind:
WR24.jpg
To get back down, I just started off down Creag Ruadh's gentle southwest ridge, and then bended left towards the Allt Chuaich. More wildlife on the way down: there seems to be a thriving colony of palmate newts on Creag Ruadh's southern flanks, but they move faster than you'd expect from an amphibian :shock: , and I didn't manage to get any photos. A shame, since a Newt is Always Cute. There was a fence to cross down at the bottom, and there was also the Allt Chuaich to ford: I had been a bit worried about this, but in fact there is an easy crossing on big boulders at a relatively shallow section just east of the dam at the power station, and this got me back onto the main track to Lay-By 94.
A surprisingly enjoyable outing this - the Graham was a real bonus; a fine wee hill :D .
User avatar
bobble_hat_kenny
Walker
 
Posts: 328
Munros:187   Corbetts:33
Grahams:34   Donalds:19
Sub 2000:23   Hewitts:2
Joined: Sep 3, 2011

Re: The Rounded Heap of the Ceremonial Drinking Vessel...

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:45 am

Might be an easy duo by Munro baggers standards, but I think it's the most interesting route in Drummochter area (maybe except from the Fara across the glen).
The Graham is a good winter outing on its own, we walked the whole length of the ridge and returned on the track along the loch.

PS. I usually have a running nose when climbing, so bogies don't scare me :lol:
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3174
Munros:260   Corbetts:163
Grahams:112   
Sub 2000:40   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: The Rounded Heap of the Ceremonial Drinking Vessel...

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:02 pm

BlackPanther wrote:Might be an easy duo by Munro baggers standards, but I think it's the most interesting route in Drummochter area (maybe except from the Fara across the glen).
The Graham is a good winter outing on its own, we walked the whole length of the ridge and returned on the track along the loch.

PS. I usually have a running nose when climbing, so bogies don't scare me :lol:

Cheers! I agree - I think these are my favourite Drumochter hills too. They're definitely a lot more scenic than poor Carn na Caim and A'Bhuidheanach Bheag, anyway :lol: - although that may not be hard...
The Graham in particular is a good wee hill - much better than its rep.
User avatar
bobble_hat_kenny
Walker
 
Posts: 328
Munros:187   Corbetts:33
Grahams:34   Donalds:19
Sub 2000:23   Hewitts:2
Joined: Sep 3, 2011

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