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Hat Trick Friday

Hat Trick Friday


Postby roscoT » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:45 pm

Route description: Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh and An Stuc

Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers), Meall Greigh

Date walked: 22/04/2016

Time taken: 5.75 hours

Distance: 17.2 km

Ascent: 1333m

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coire nan cat circuit.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Mother Nature and I need to work on our synchronicity - 3 days glorious sunshine, then it clouds over on my day off!! Having spent the previous weekend at Ardeonaig with work, I could only longingly look over Loch Tay at the snow-topped Lawers Range and wonder what adventures lay waiting for me there. Needless to say, when Friday came, there was only one place I was heading. Having bagged the big ben and Beinn Ghlas last summer, I decided to attempt the circuit of Coire nan Cat, knowing the ascent of An Stuc in particular would be a good challenge.

A wee bit chilly at the start at the Ben Lawers Hotel with some low cloud, but very calm, starting at 9.30 after an ill-advised rush hour drive from Weedjie Toon. Had plenty of food packed as I had decided to take it easy on the pace, allowing myself to enjoy the walk and take time on the difficult sections. Turning left off the road past the strange 'Bone Carver Showroom', a farm is passed and obvious signs followed to a pleasant path through the woods. The slight inclined got me warm pretty quickly

ImageSron Mhor and Meall Greigh from the Hotel by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020003 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBack to Loch Tay by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Once out of the trees, you emerge into the open plain of the Ben Lawers nature reserve, with Meall Greigh straight ahead. Passing some sheilings alongside the Lawers Burn, eventually you must take a diagonal right off the path and make a featureless slog of an ascent up Sron Mhor. Trying to add a bit of interest, I walked a bit further north than the direct route to a stream lined by some rocky outcrops, and ascended directly from here. The slog, however, was rewarded by views back to Loch Tay and, more ominously, the sprawling Meall Garbh and the pointed forehead of An Stuc, the angle of ascent looking practically unimpeachable.

ImageP1020010 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLawers Burn by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageMeall Garbh and An Stuc by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBack to Loch Tay by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageMeall Garbh, An Stuc and Ben Lawers by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageArdeonaig by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020033 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

After reaching Sron Mhor, a path miraculously appeared, and lead to a more pleasant climb from here to the summit of Meall Greigh, the majority of the day's climbing already done after 2 and a bit hours. The summit exposed, for the first time, the icy blast of a north wind, which saw me wrapping up post haste!

ImageP1020039 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageMeall Greigh summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageSummit 2 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020054 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

A wee break here to get some fluid and appreciate the situation, before beginning the (longer than it looks) saunter to Meall Garbh, hard to stop my eyes wandering to Ben Lawers, dwarfing Lochan nan Cat far below. Much more snow here than on Meall Greigh, and a climb, loosely following a wire fence, not to be underestimated. The final little summit ridge is a delight. Visibility was excellent, with views to Carn Gorm and neighbours, the unmistakeable Ben Nevis, Buachaille Etive Mor and Aonach Eagach, and to the west Ben More and Stob Binnein. Wonderful :D For the first time, a full appreciation of the face of An Stuc, lies ahead. Must admit to a few butterflies (both nerves and excitement) as I sat here and had a bite to eat.

ImageTowards Meall Garbh by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLawers and Lochan nan Cat by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBen Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageMeall Garbh ascent by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBen Lawers by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBuachaille and Glen Coe by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBen Nevis by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageMeall Garbh unnamed top by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageMeall Garbh summit and An Stuc by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBliss by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Pleasantries and preamble over, it was time for the main event. I had met a guy going the other way on my way up Meall Garbh, and when i'd asked how An Stuc was, his only reply was 'it's not the best'. Dropping down to the bealach, with each step the face becomes more ominous, and I was constantly looking (and failing) to pick out a discernible route up.

ImageAn Stuc by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBen More and Stob Binnein by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020104 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

At the bottom, a final swig of water and attached my rubber snow grips. The first wee bit is ok, then a right turn is taken on to the face itself. With some snow still lying, this was very nervy, with quite a few big step-ups, rocks falling around my feet as I tried to figure out the best route up. At one point, I went too far off-piste, to a point where I could no longer go up. Some dodgy descent, followed by some traversing, and I was back on to some decent, but still loose, scrambling. Made sure I took my time and concentrated, and before I knew it, the ground was flattening out and I was nearly at the summit. Great to reach the summit, 3rd munro of the day, and a well-deserved lunch, if I do say so myself.

ImageStart of ascent by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageGetting steeper by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageBack to Meall Garbh by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageSerious bit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageSqueeky bum time by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020116 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageAn Stuc summit by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Maybe it was the adrenaline, or just the fresh wind, but I still felt pretty energised upon leaving the summit. The descent to the bealach, however (still steep but not nearly as much as the ascent), put paid to that and started to take it out of my knees. Reaching the bealach, a left is taken into the gully leading all the way down to Coire and Lochan nan Cat. More snow here than anywhere else on the walk - slushy and deep, so needed to take care, wet feet unavoidable.

ImageBen Nevis again by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageStuc an Lochan and co by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageAn Stuc descent by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLochan from the bealach by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageSnowy slide by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020139 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

Once at the bottom, there was no path to be made out, so followed along the side of the Lochan. It's pretty boggy here, but the grand situation, with the flanks of Meall Garbh and An Stuc rising high into the air, makes this a true highlight, reminiscent, although not quite as grand, as Coire Mhic Fhearchair on Beinn Eighe. Can imagine this would be a cracking place for an overnight camp.

ImageP1020141 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020143 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020146 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr

From here, it is a long, though not unpleasant, walk-in, following the Lawers Burn to a dam, then a track, then back onto a path to cross the burn and rejoin the outward route through the woods to the road. Absolute cracker of a circuit with a sense of grandeur that you would struggle to get anywhere further south :clap:

ImageLawers Bun and Meall Garbh by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImagePath above the ravine by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageP1020157 by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageLawers and the hotel by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
ImageStats by Ross Thomson, on Flickr
Last edited by roscoT on Sat Apr 23, 2016 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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roscoT
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Re: Hat Trick Friday

Postby teaandpies » Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:41 pm

I've been saving this walk for a while. I need decent weather as Samantha deserves a chance to complete this area too. An Stuc is a worry but I'm sure she'll bo ok.
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Re: Hat Trick Friday

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Apr 23, 2016 5:31 pm

Hi Ross

I see you finished at 3.10pm - if you had left the hotel car park and taken the Ben Lawers road over to Glen Lyon you could have picked me up and driven me into a phone reception area. It was at that time I had just finished a Corbett and was walking along that road trying to get reception so I could phone the AA for my poorly car.

I was looking at An Stuc from the Glen Lyon side and thinking I didn't fancy it as it looked like it was completely covered in snow but I see now that the track side of the hill was clear.

Good group of hills these.
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Re: Hat Trick Friday

Postby Jaxter » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:35 pm

Nice effort, not sure I'd have fancied Cat gully in the snow :shock: :clap:

Nice to see these guys with a bit of snow left, I did them on a very summer-like October day :lol:
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Re: Hat Trick Friday

Postby roscoT » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:48 am

teaandpies wrote:I've been saving this walk for a while. I need decent weather as Samantha deserves a chance to complete this area too. An Stuc is a worry but I'm sure she'll bo ok.


Sure you and your lady will love it! An Stuc looks very intimidating from the bottom, but is actually pretty fun, and I was surprised how quickly I got up, even taking my time and going off-piste at one point :lol:

Gordie12 wrote:Hi Ross

I see you finished at 3.10pm - if you had left the hotel car park and taken the Ben Lawers road over to Glen Lyon you could have picked me up and driven me into a phone reception area. It was at that time I had just finished a Corbett and was walking along that road trying to get reception so I could phone the AA for my poorly car.

I was looking at An Stuc from the Glen Lyon side and thinking I didn't fancy it as it looked like it was completely covered in snow but I see now that the track side of the hill was clear.

Good group of hills these.


Good to hear from you Gordie. Saw both your reports recently, nae luck with the tyre, what a disaster! We will need to work on our communication in subsequent days out - I'm thinking either flares or carrier pigeons?!

And aye, you can see from my pictures that the North Face on An Stuc, was completely covered in snow, wouldn't be going near that with a barge pole! Luckily, the route up approaches from the east, so it's all good.

Jaxter wrote:Nice effort, not sure I'd have fancied Cat gully in the snow :shock: :clap:

Nice to see these guys with a bit of snow left, I did them on a very summer-like October day :lol:


Cheers Jaxter! Cat gully was a wee bit slidy and the melting snow meant it was really boggy at the bottom.

Read your report on the Lawers 5 from last year, amazing :clap: don't know if my legs would've managed another 2 ascents!
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Re: Hat Trick Friday

Postby DSUK » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:50 am

Great report - if you don't mind me asking, what app is that a screenshot of at the end?
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