Corral the horses, put the wagons in a circle, it's officially an Indian Summer - ice on the windscreen at the BnB and two lashings of Factor 30 once on the hill, beautiful weather for the time of year..
After a walk of blissful social deprivation on An Caisteal / Beinn a'Chroin the day before, and a beautiful sunset over Rannoch Moor....
- it was time to rejoin the land of the living, and I drove through the cloud inversion / fog up to the old visitor centre car park - where I was immediately mobbed by a gang of midges who no one had informed that summer was over, and that cold nights meant their tiny little hairy swingers should be well frozen off by now. Never a brass monkey around when you need one. FFS.
The plan was to do Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers, then take stock and consider the two western outliers, Meall Corranaich and Meall a'Choire Leith.
Standard stuff up through the nature reserve, great path, well hidden from view when gazing up the hill.
Beinn Ghlas, from the reserve
Behind were stunning views of the inversion over Loch Tay - it was only 2 deg C in that lot a few minutes earlier as I drove through.
After bog trotting yesterday the well engineered path was a treat, and the summits of Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers were quickly reached.
The path up, looking back to the west ...
Beinn Ghlas summit, looking to Ben Lawers:
Meall Corranaich and Meall a'Choire Leith, from Beinn Ghlas...
Ascent to Ben Lawers...
Across to An Stuc from Lawers summit..
I'd been on Ben Lawers many years ago as a student, doing it from the Glen Lyon side, but hadn't included it in my current tally as I didn't know the date or which other hills we'd also done (although I'm sure we did those two eastern M's).
Today the views were just fabulous, according to a local Ben More on Mull was visible. Air clarity was excellent.
Back to Beinn Ghlas, Meall nan Tarmachean & Meall Corranaich, and all sorts of goodies behind...
Big fella and grey Corries in the distance above slopes of Meall a'Choire Leith ...
A quick descent then back round the Beinn Ghlas bypass path to the bealach and it was an easy decision to crack on up to Meall Corranaich. Although not a long climb, it's a steep pull up, initially on a muddy path, but quickly becoming a much firmer, well-made affair. The top is a little disappointing with the cairn being a mixture of stones and rusting fence post parts... not a place to linger too long, so I set off northwards to Meall a'Choire Leith, about 2.5 km away.
Summit of Meall Corranaich... looking back to Ben Lawers ...
Across a broad ridge initially:
It's easy to drift off this route initially (I did, even in excellent visibility... ), it's important to keep to the right (North) and not get too interested in the ridge that heads NW.
Drop down into a small valley before dropping down to the start of the final summit approach...
Looking back up the slope to Meall Corranaich:
The summit of Meall a'Choire Leith is a flat affair with a small cairn tucked away in the middle. No spectacular airy perches, but it was time for a decent long linger, and to enjoy some food in total quiet, just enjoying the views to the Ben and out to the west.
And on the other side, the day's three previous Munros, Ben Lawers, Beinn Ghlas and Meall Corranaich ...
I'd china-graphed the WH route onto my OS map, but there was no obvious path off in direction required. I took a bearing off the map, about 225 I think, and walking on that actually landed me directly on a faint track - not really a path as such, bit of a fluke IMO.
In good weather all you have to do is point yourself in the direction of Meall nan Tarmachan across the way and that will get the job done....
A steep descent over grassy then boggy slopes takes you to the crossing of a burn, then more bog and mud to traverse en route to a second river crossing, 100m upstream from a small dam sort of thing. After this the path/track appears occasionally, taking you uphill and then down again to the road.
Looking back up the descent off Meall a'Choire Leith, you get the general idea of feature-lessness A tricky job in cloud I reckon
The road walk was going to be a bit of a pain, but the views were still excellent. However, about a third of the way down the Lochan na Lairige reservoir a kind Northumbrian gentleman gave me lift back to the car park, saving about 3 km of shoe rubber.
All in all a fine walk on a fine day. Mixed terrain, easy at first, harder going later on through bog. I managed it with walking shoes (Scarpa Zen) rather than boots, felt much easier, and even ok in the bog, a tad moist but soon dried off.
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