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A Day to Remember on Meall Ghaordaidh

A Day to Remember on Meall Ghaordaidh


Postby Jeremiah Johnson » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:43 pm

Munros included on this walk: Meall Ghaordaidh

Date walked: 11/03/2016

Time taken: 4 hours

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As my good friend The Rodmeister travelled from the bright east coast to a cloudy and dreary west I readied myself for a climb of Meall Ghaordaidh, which Ralph Storer, with some justification, described as a “plodmeister’s dream”. At the small car park west of Duncroisk in Glen Lochay close to the foot of the hill I made final checks before making a start. As I left the car I felt a few spots of rain dropping from the low cloud which clung to the hills enclosing the glen. A short distance east of the car park I went through a fence confident, for once, I was on the right track, thanks to a helpful sign which points the way.

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To the hill!!


Initially the route climbed through a field of scattered sheep and sparse but shapely oak trees waiting for the warmer days of spring to end their winter sleep and burst them into life.

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Higher up I passed the bulk of the flock feeding on a large round hay bale. Further on a style easily allowed me to cross a stone wall which marks the upper boundary of the field.

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Feed time.


From there a good path climbs alongside the Allt Dhuin Croisg allowing height to be gained with minimal effort.

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Further up a small cairn indicates it is time to leave the path and take to the hill, stretching away and up to the cloud.

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Beyond a large metal pole two paths make their way up through the bracken which dominates the lower slopes of the hill.

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Before continuing I paused and looked back down to Glen Lochay and the grey roof of the Duncroisk, far below. On the hills above the farm and in several other locations in Glen Lochay there are many cup and ring marked rocks, a form of prehistoric art found widely throughout the world, suggestive of human settlement in this area from early times. Near to where I stood the desolate remains of shielings and sheep folds are a reminder of the importance sheep farming has been to this area in more recent years.

As I walked up the path to the right a light but chilly wind blew in from the west bringing with it rain, but, despite the dreary weather I enjoyed the limited view. South west, beyond the grey waters of the River Lochay, cloud concealed the upper slopes of Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil. To my right the snow streaked slopes of the Corbett Beinn Nan Oighreag, connected to Meall Ghaordhaidh by a fine ridge, the upper slopes and summit of the smaller mountain sadly, also in cloud.

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Beinn Nan Oighreag in cloud.


Now off the path I continued the climb up the rough slopes which were boggy, as a result of snow melt. The skull of a sheep lying on the boggy ground was a reminder that not all are lucky enough to survive the harsh winters the area experiences.

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Higher up I reached patchy remnants of the recent snow which had recently covered the hill, still holding footprints of a recent journey up the hill. Suddenly, the clag dropped significantly and I lost my view both upwards towards the summit, some distance ahead, and down towards Glen Lochay. There was nothing for it but to plod on into the cloud. Hot from the effort only the feel of my feet on hard frozen ground and the occasional crunch of my boot on hard frozen bog indicated the drop in temperature. The effort seemed easier on the gentler frozen slopes and I began to lope across the ground with ease. As I went into my head popped a tune, thankfully, not the annoying radio friendly pop ditty that often plays, uninvited, in my head. Strangely, it was a song by “Antimatter”, a group I only recently discovered, despite them being formed nearly 20 years ago, that was playing in my ear. Ironically for a group making melancholic, moody ambient music given the grandiose description “experimental / post metal” rock it was a song with the very ordinary title “Little Piggy” that swam in my head as my feet crunched on the frozen tundra like landscape.

Higher up the patchy snow made way for heavier damp snow which rose towards the summit still concealed in heavy grey cloud. In the murk the changing colour of the slopes beginning with the bleached green lower slopes to darker russet slopes finally finishing with deep white snow broadly marked my height gain.

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Slowly gaining height.


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Periodic checks of my GPS provided a precise height from which I could determine just how slowly I was climbing. The lack of view on the relentless slopes tested my resolve, however, numerous footprints including a dogs, heading up and down indicated I was on the right line. I continued slowly up the snow covered slopes and suddenly out of the mist the summit trig point appeared.

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Summit at last!!


Meall Ghaordaidh is a link in a chain of mountains beginning with Ben Challum to the west and stretching east to Meall nan Tarmachan and beyond to the Ben Lawers group. Even on a good day, when seen at its best, it lacks the grandeur of Ladhar Bheinn or the majestic views of A’ Mhaighdean, but it does have much going for it. It is a Munro and that alone is a reason for many to climb it. With no route finding complications, particularly when climbed from Glen Lochay, it is an ideal hill to climb in bad weather and with its conclave slopes climbing steadily to its summit at over 1000 metres it is a substantial hill which provides a perfect mountain walk to gain or gauge fitness.
Too cold to linger long I left the summit and made my way down. Further down, out of the worst of the bitter wind, I sheltered in the lee of a large rock and had a hot drink and sandwich before continuing my descent. I dropped down slopes further east holding large snow fields which gave a speedy descent and I made good time. Back at the boundary wall I looked up expecting the Mountain Gods to tease by clearing the cloud from the top. Today, the top remained in cloud, it would need more than the lungs of Aeolus to clear the heavy grey cloud which hung low and concealed the upper slopes of Meall Ghaordaidh.

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Meall Ghaordaidh in cloud.


For me, a joy of hillwalking is that a grim, dreary and seemingly forgettable day on an unremarkable mountain will still provide positive memories. At some time in the future a random thought or a revisit to the music of “Antimatter”, perhaps, will trigger a memory of this day. Only time will tell what. It may be my joy and relief at finally glimpsing the summit trig point in the gloom, or the raw pleasure derived from sitting alone at the summit in the eerie grey cloud listening to the wind whistle as it pummelled the snow covered stone shelter in which I huddled. Turning I climbed over the wall into the field and began the last section of the walk back to the car.
Last edited by Jeremiah Johnson on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
Jeremiah Johnson
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 63
Munros:150   Corbetts:44
Grahams:12   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:5   
Joined: Jun 2, 2015

Re: A Day to Remember on Meall Ghaordaidh

Postby The Rodmiester » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:58 pm

Excellent read Martin, think I'll go over it again. Guess we hillwalkers make the most of the weather we find ourselves in. The next day on the hill will be a completely different experience.
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The Rodmiester
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Joined: Aug 15, 2012
Location: Carnoustie

Re: A Day to Remember on Meall Ghaordaidh

Postby Jeremiah Johnson » Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:31 am

The Rodmiester wrote:Excellent read Martin, think I'll go over it again. Guess we hillwalkers make the most of the weather we find ourselves in. The next day on the hill will be a completely different experience.

Thanks Rod. Yes must make the best of the day whatever the weather brings. Would get boring if it was always blue sky and sun :D
Jeremiah Johnson
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 63
Munros:150   Corbetts:44
Grahams:12   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:5   
Joined: Jun 2, 2015

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