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Meall a' Mhuic and a second Cam Chreag in July

Meall a' Mhuic and a second Cam Chreag in July

Postby Graeme D » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:27 pm

Route description: Cam Chreag, Innerwick, Glen Lyon

Corbetts included on this walk: Cam Chreag (Glen Lyon)

Grahams included on this walk: Meall a'Mhuic

Date walked: 22/07/2010

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 1060m

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The foul weather had kept me pretty much pinned down this week and so it was with some relief that I heard better things forecast for Thursday. Right enough, I awoke to clear blue skies and the promise of a cracking day. I'd spent the previous evening contemplating the various options open to me. We were still looking after Rosie the mental Boxer, so it would have to be another "off the beaten track" option. Munros were therefore ruled out (at least any that I fancied doing within reasonable driving range) even for a weekday. I was also getting a bit tired of the A85 and A93 roads, so I decided to hit the A9. I had been thinking about the two Gaick Corbetts but having just read kinley's very recent and very excellent report on these two, I thought they might still be a bit too fresh in the memory. Besides, I quite fancy these two for a winter walk.

I settled on Glen Lyon - one of my favourite glens and within easy striking distance of Perth. So I set off with the requisite maps but even as I passed through Fortingall and turned up into Glen Lyon itself, I had not fully decided on my destination. There were various options. Some involved unfinished business from my recent ultimately ill-fated Loch Lyon circuit - Meall nan Subh? Sron a' Choire Chnapanich? I could perhaps even combine this latter Corbett with a reascent of Stuchd an Lochain. I'd first done this on a real howler of a February day last year when pretty much all I saw all day were the drips constantly forming on the end of my nose. I'd forgotten my camera that day too - no big loss given the conditions, so today could be a good day to actually see something of it and capture the images. But no, any unfinished business from earlier in the month could remain unfinished and fester a little longer - that way it'll be all the sweeter when I finally get back round to them. I thought of Meall Ghaordaidh and Beinn na Oighreag as well, but I've long since had them down for a winter ascent. So it was either of the two Corbetts on the north side of the glen - Cam Chreag or Beinn Dearg. Having read John Burgess's report on Beinn Dearg from a few months ago, this had convinced me to wait until this one had it's white coat on before tackling it. There was also the temptation of the Graham Meall a' Mhuic sitting between the two Corbetts. I had consulted the appropriate literature and it claimed that Meall a' Mhuic was a fantastic viewpoint for the many surrounding Munros and Corbetts and that it could be potentially combined with either of the neighbouring Corbetts.

So, at 10am I pulled into the large parking and picnic area just beyond the church and the monument at Innerwick and availed myself of the excellent public convenience facilities. Ten minutes later, two excited dogs were scampering ahead of me up the track on the east side of the burn heading towards the southern nose of Meall a' Mhuic.

Rounded slopes of Meall an Fhuarain with Cam Chreag in the distance

Lucy attempts a re-enactment of Maradonna's infamous 1994 World Cup goal celebration against Greece

I had decided to tackle the Graham first, as this would inevitably avoid the possibility of me being foolishly tempted to attempt a full traverse from one Corbett to the other over the intervening Graham. I'm sure this would be an excellent undertaking, and very possible on a good summer day, but I wasn't up for anything quite so arduous today. I thought I really should get home at a reasonable time and start turning my attention towards packing for going away to the Yorkshire Dales on Saturday.

After about a kilometre or so of steady ascent, we reach a T-junction in the track. Consulting the map, it appears that the most straightforward route up the Graham would be to turn left and descend back down to the river before doubling back and heading up the track which the map shows climbing directly up the southern nose of the hill before ending after almost a kilometre. The alternative is to turn right and continue up the Lairig Ghallabhaich, the public right of way from Glen Lyon to the shores of Loch Rannoch, known as the Kirk Road. The eastern slopes of Meall a' Mhuic are fearsomely steep however, and seem to offer no easy ascent, so I'd have to walk a fair distance north along the track to find more accessible slopes. However, this strikes me as the best option anyway, as it should open up the views across Loch Rannoch and beyond and make the ascent much more enjoyable.

So we take the right turn and a short distance later, my attention is caught by a buzzing sound from somewhere. I look down to my left to see two bright green dragonflies in a courtship dance on the track. This is my chance to "do a kinley" and perhaps get a wildlife shot to rank alongside the great wildlife photography maestro himself. Fortunately the dogs are way up ahead, so the dragonflies are in no danger of being eaten or trampled to death, but as I faff about getting the camera to the zoom setting, they break off and fly away. Damnation! Foiled! I'll never be like kinley now!!!

Steep eastern slopes of Meall a' Mhuic across the Allt Ghallabhaich

I quickly put my disappointment behind me and continue up the track, with the views back towards the Lawers range and Meall Ghaordaidh opening up more with every step. After about a kilometre and a half, we pass a path heading uphill to our right onto the slopes of Meall Glas and Beinn Dearg beyond, and shortly after that we reach the end of the forestry and the deer fence.

View back down into Glen Lyon

We are now at the high point of the Lairig Ghallabhaich and the track now becomes less defined and more grassy (a well-used looking vehicular track doubles back on the Kirk Road and heads down towards the stream and the lower slopes of Meall a' Mhuic, presumably joining up with the other track near where the workmen were earlier). As we descend gradually, we start to get glimpses of Rannoch Forest below us in the distance, but no sign of the loch yet.

At about NN591513, just beyond the stream, a line of rusty old fence posts runs up the slopes of Meall a' Mhuic, and there is a very faint grassy track. It looks like a landrover has been up here at some point in the past but it must have been quite some time ago. We start to climb, keeping to the right edge of the broad ridge as it slowly climbs and curves round to the left - this looks like the easiest line of attack and will probably give the best views over Loch Rannoch as they develop.

Meall a' Mhuic from the north-east

Behind us, the pyramidal bulk of Schiehallion begins to reveal itself and before too long, the long ribbon of water that is Loch Rannoch comes into view to our right. The sun is glinting off the surface and all around the views are opening up in magical ways. I start to get quite excited about what this little hill is going to reveal next and I can just tell that this is shaping up to be a day to remember for all the right reasons.

Leagag and Loch Rannoch

We cross a little rocky knoll, disturbing a large herd of deer, before turning definitively south past a little lochan to climb to the 745 metre summit cairn.

Loch Rannoch and Beinn a' Chuallaich

A distant Buachaille Etive Mor and Glencoe across Rannoch Moor (zoomed)

The views from the summit plateau and from the cairn itself are absolutely stunning, taking in all the peaks of the Lawers range, around Loch Lyon, to the Crianlarich and Tyndrum hills, across Rannoch Moor towards Glencoe and beyond to the Ben and it's neighbours and over Loch Rannoch and up the A9 corridor toward Drumochter.

Lawers range from the summit cairn

Myself and the two girls at the summit, Meall Ghaordaidh in the distance

Summit cairn looking to the Tarmachan Ridge

Schiehallion and Beinn Dearg

It's now decision time - which Corbett to aim for? West to Cam Chreag or east to Beinn Dearg? I decide on the former, and start off down the heathery western slopes of Meall a' Mhuic on a direct bearing towards Cul Lochan to the north of the Cam Chreag ridge. It's pretty hard, knee-jarring and ankle-crunching going over rough, rocky terrain with a thick carpeting of heather, all the way down into the Lairig a' Mhuic where Lucy takes up her usual position in the narrow stream.

Lucy cools off

From here I decide to detour to the craggy little summit of Meall nan Sac, a nice looking spot for a bite of lunch. From the rocky summit, there are more stunning views down to the western end of Loch Rannoch, as well as the little lochs Finnart and Monaghan and Loch Eigheach beyond Cross Craigs and Leagag. It is also very obvious from this vantage point just what an unremarkable, dull mound Meall a' Mhuic really is, but then it's own shape and profile is not it's main selling point. Whoever put this hill here certainly knew what he was doing!

Leagag and Lochs Finnart and Monaghan from Meall nan Sac

Cam Chreag from Meall nan Sac

After a leisurely lunch perched atop a large rock out of begging range of Lucy and Rosie, I headed down more rough heathery slopes to pick up a rough track leading down to the river at NN552517. There is a lovely big, flat patch of short green grass on the other side which looks like it would make an excellent wild campsite, but before I can reach it, I have to perform some more river crossing jiggery-pokery for what seems like the umpteenth time this month to get across the river.

Safely across, I am faced with a flat expanse of fairly boggy terrain before the going becomes a bit less boggy as I am once again faced with an arduous heather slope leading up towards Cul Lochan. The sun is now beating down fiercely and my legs are beginning to feel the effects of the days efforts, and I have to take several breaks to catch my breath and gulp some water down. I emerge onto the bealach between Cross Craigs and the end of the northern ridge of Cam Chreag just above Cul Lochan, and begin the slow haul up towards the long, winding summit plateau of the Corbett.

Cul Lochan and Cross Craigs

Almost onto the plateau

I take another lengthy break after topping out onto the plateau, and by this stage, the two dogs look like they're feeling the effects as well. The long ridge snakes ahead, with the Corbett summit visible about a kilometre due south.

Looking south along the summit plateau

Two tired dogs

Cam Chreag summit in the distance

Lawers summits now completely cloud-free

The walk along the undulating ridge is a pleasant relief after the tough ascent. From the summit cairn, the views are again extensive, with the Munro Meall Buidhe most prominent across Coire Odhar to the west.

Meall Ghaordaidh and the Crianlarich hills from the summit cairn

The road home down into Glen Lyon

Meall Buidhe to the west

From the summit, we skirt around some steep crags and drop down more deep heather clad slopes to pick up the top of the track by the hut at NN547487. This leads downhill beside the Allt a Choire Uidhre (although there are a few scary, steep albeit brief uphill sections before we finally emerge at the point where the workmen were labouring this morning, although they have long since knocked-off for the day.

I arrive back at the car at 3.40pm exactly, five and a half hours precisely after setting out, with aching legs and screaming knees but memories of a classic day in the hills of Glen Lyon that will live with me for a very long time to come.

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Graeme D
Posts: 3689
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Re: Meall a' Mhuic and a second Cam Chreag in July

Postby monty » Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:37 pm

Thats a good read there Graeme,
Looks like you had excellent weather too. And some realy good pictures. Don't be fooled by the dogs looking tired. They were probably saying "when is he going to get a move on " :lol: :lol: :lol:

Re: Meall a' Mhuic and a second Cam Chreag in July

Postby kevsbald » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:45 pm

Seriously can't believe you got good weather in July. it seems like you've had Rosie for more than the prescribed time - has she been abandonned?
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Re: Meall a' Mhuic and a second Cam Chreag in July

Postby malky_c » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:01 pm

Ah, the joys of being able to get out midweek. I remember these days being lovely, but from the inside of the office!

You seem to be making big inroads into the Perthshire Corbetts here, something I'm having trouble doing. Still, can't complain when all the far NW hills are so close!
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Re: Meall a' Mhuic and a second Cam Chreag in July

Postby kinley » Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:21 pm

Great looking day - what a difference a few months makes:


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