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The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Dochart

The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Dochart

Postby Mountainlove » Sun May 10, 2015 4:36 pm

Route description: Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil from Glen Dochart

Munros included on this walk: Meall Glas, Sgiath Chuil

Date walked: 10/05/2015

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 1233m

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A farm starting with A. Obviously not the best description, but while I was driving down Glen Dochart I kept my eyes peeled on a sign which would indicate the starting point to 2 Munros. A Police speed camera van distracted me and getting confused I stopped to check my GPS. I had driven past the starting point by 2 km and driving back in the other direction, I realized that the Police van parked on the lay by I was supposed to stop. Driving past the van once more, :roll: l reversed the car and drove back again. :roll: :roll: :roll: . I did not fancy parking right behind the Police van and instead found a tiny parking spot on the way down to Auchessan farm. :thumbup:

The start

Setting off I walked past the farm buildings and it was lovely to read the signs that Walkers were welcome. The path was well indicated and stopping for some photos my camera told me that I was shooting without a memory card. Noooooo :crazy: I shouted out. Note to self, downloading photos while having half a bottle of wine is a bad idea, as I just remembered that my memory card was still laying next to my empty wine glass in the living room. Doh! :roll: :crazy:
The only way to take pictures at all, would be to reduce the size and use the internal memory…it would not produce good photos, but at least photos to remember the day. :( :thumbup:
By the time I had my camera issue sorted I was on the way up hill. Alongside a deer fence and through that kind of bog, which lets you cling to the deer fence in order to avoid the worse bits. But the day was lovely and warm and I loved the wee signs which indicated that I was on track. Once past the forest plantation, I was once more back to featureless moorland that stretched as far as I could see. The path, barely visible at the start, had disappeared after a few hundred yards and what was left was the lump of a mountain ahead.

The path behind the farm alongside the burn

Looking back towards Ben More

and towards the west

The boggy path

Signs which will reassure you, that you are on the right path

The Munro comes into view

Looking back once more

Some mountains have natural paths up, but Sgiath Chuil looked rather uninviting with steep grassy slopes. Moving along I got to the wee bridge and saw the wee damn in the distance. A strange place for it and following the burn for a while I found a suitable place to cross it.
From then on it was an uphill climb of energy sapping grassy slopes. If there was a path I did not see it, but because of it, it felt that I was the first person ever setting foot on the mountain. Once up Sgiath Chrom it was another wee climb up the summit of Sgiath Chuil. 2.5 hours had passed since I left the car and feeling hungry I sat down for a lengthy lunch, while watching the clouds above Ben More across the valley ahead of me.

The bridge with Sgiath Chuil on the right

The damn

The summit

From the summit looking south

and towards the next Munro of the day

Amazing clouds

All the way down and then back up

Packing my gear I studied the map and decided to walk straight down to the bealach. It was a steep drop and a painful thought to lose all the height, before having to climb it up again on the other side. Once I reached the bealach I looked up towards Beinn Cheathaich. Big sheets of snow covered the right hand site of the mountain and it seemed that a straight up approach would be the best. The first half of the mountain was climbed easily and then the hard work started. What had looked like a rounded lump was a near vertical slope up grass. If there was a path, I certainly wasn’t on and having to use my hands, I crawled up the slope. I had always thought that the two of those mountains would make a great winter outing, but the steep slope down and steep slope of the other side, made me thank my luck, that I never attempted them in full snow cover.

From below up towards Beinn Cheathaich

From the way up, back towards Sgiath Chuil

The direct approach did not look bad

On the way up, before it got even steeper

With a last push I finally stood on Beinn Cheathaich and was surprised to see a cairn. On the plus site the real summit of Meall Glas was only a bit over a kilometre away. Once I had gathered my breath I saw another person approaching the summit in the distance- wow! I wasn’t alone after all. Moving along swiftly, great views towards the 2 Munros Beinn Sheasgarnaich and Creag Mhor and the Lawers range could be enjoyed. By the time I had reached the last summit to climb, I met up with the other hill walker who was on his return. He like me that taken the same steep approach to climb up Beinn Cheathaich and had cursed it just like me. After I brief chat I set off, walking through some large snow patches and finally stood on the summit of Meall Glas. The views were amazing and sitting down to have the remaining coffee I was glad that I did not had to rush home.

The summit cairn of Beinn Cheathaich

Towards Beinn Sheasgarnaich and Creag Mhor

The same two closer up

The ridge towards the summit

Lovely views

On the last push towards the summit

Summit cairn of Meall Glas

Views are there to be enjoyed

Ben Challum

Ben Lui

Getting up after another lengthy break, I walked down towards Meall Glas Beag. The downhill walk even though it was lumpy moorland was rather pleasant, as for the first time in ages, the decent was gentle. I enjoyed myself so much that by the time I had reached the damn again, made the decision to follow a track down the other site of the deer fence. BAD IDEA! The path started out in a gentle decent, which bypassed all that bog I had experienced on the way up. It was perfect until I got to a gate which lead into the plantation. As the path seemed to continue through the gate, I crossed the gate and made my way down. For a while it all worked out perfectly until the path stopped and I was surrounded by bog myrtle, bracken and young trees. Following a burn down the path turned from bad to nasty and by the time I stepped into a knee deed bog hole and had needed 5 attempts to free my legs, I felt like crying. :( :( With half of my leg covered in mud and god knows what else, I continued until after what seemed like ages saw the path again. Unfortunately between me and the path stood a 6 foot deer fence. Looking for a suitable place to climb over it (horrible things to climb) I managed and nearly burst out in a dance by the time I stood on the path back to the farm buildings again.

The gentle down hill walk

Looking back up

and towards Sgiath Chuil

The wrong side of the fence- it looked so innocent

The walk through the plantation

Finally through the gate and the deer fence I had to climb over to reach the gate

Close to the farm again
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby simon-b » Sun May 10, 2015 8:22 pm

A nice walk for a clear day ML, I agree the views are really good from this route.
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby JimboJim » Sun May 10, 2015 9:00 pm

That dam is damned, by the looks of it! :wink: At least you found it. I wandered off track and had a terrible time finding my way back to the farm and those slopes are as steep as you say, especially going the opposite direction.

Great pics despite your memory lapse! Sort of thing I am good at, too :D

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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby kaye.cantlay » Sun May 10, 2015 9:49 pm

I was there 2 days ago Mountainlove - and had a great day!
Like you - I was very relieved not to have decided to tackle this pair in Winter - I can't imagine trying to get down that steep side of Sgiath Chuill in ice and snow and bad visibility - eek!

went up the snowy right hand side of Beinn Cheathaidh and it was fine - Like you I thought I might tackle the steep snow-less way straight up from the Beallach instead, but decided against in the end.

I retraced my steps from the dam - sounds like the better option after reading your report
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby Silverhill » Sun May 10, 2015 9:49 pm

Judging by the pictures you had a great day! :wink: The approach from Glen Lochay involves less bog, but sadly does not avoid the height loss from Sgiath Chuil to Beinn Cheathaich.
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby PeteR » Sun May 10, 2015 11:31 pm

I'm glad I'm not the only one who likes alternative descent routes :lol:

Some nice photos you got despite the memory card issue too :clap:

I did Meall Glas from this side a few winters back.........hard work I seem to recall. Have since returned to the hills from the north. Still hard work but less boggy, but then there's the river crossing :shock:
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby J888ohn » Tue May 12, 2015 5:07 pm

These are two of my least favourite munros. I had planed to do two in one day a few years back but as I approached the summit of Sgiath Chuil the Mountain Mutt raced off after something and I lost sight of him. I had to end up calling my soon to be wife, tell her I'd lost the dog and get her to make her way up to retrace my steps whilst I stayed high. Fortunately after about 3/4 hr Mountain Mutt came back to me with his nose on the ground tracking my scent and we called it a day at that.

I then did Meall Glas a year later and found it to be an uninteresting slog, especially the final pull up the ever steepening grass slopes. But hey ho, they're done now and I don't need to go back to them.

PS for parking there is a parking area at the forest access approx 420m east of the entrance to the farm.

Farm and parking map
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby matt_outandabout » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:56 pm

It is worth considering using the old hydro roads and a bike for some of these hills. There is a road up from Auchlyne farm, that is a steep but cyclable path all the way to below the two hills. Leave the bike and head on. This avoids much of the barren ground below.
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby Backpacker » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:01 pm

These 2 bring back horrible memories, I lost count the number of times I sank to my knees crossing the glen between the 2 hills :lol:
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby jmarkb » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:13 pm

The approach from Glen Lochay is a lot less boggy......
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby nickadamgu » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:29 pm

Great report and great photos. I completed these two today. Spent the entire day absolutely pouring with sweat. The endless pathless slogs through moors and up grassy slopes certainly take their toll. I descended a different route through a very pleasant woodland, ending at the same farm. Also, handy 4G reception on the summits :lol:
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Re: The pathless Munros- a nightmare perfection in Glen Doch

Postby Graeme D » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:45 pm

Fantastic clouds! :shock: :shock: :shock: 8) 8) 8)
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