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The Eastern Lawers Three
by GeorgiePorgie » Thu Jul 28, 2016 7:27 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: 21/06/2016
Time taken: 9 hours
Distance: 17 km2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Home in Scotland for my customary summer holidays from the Middle East, I had a set plan to bag quite a few Munros on my few short weeks that I was home. I had planned getting in the three easterly Lawers Munros - Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh and finally An Stuc before dropping off the bealach to reach the lovely Lochan nan Cat then finally tackle the long walk out back to Machuim Farm and finally back to the Lawers Hotel.
Taking advantage of the long daylight hours, I was in no hurry to leave home for the relatively short drive to Lawers. A lovely quiet drive from Strathearn up through the Sma' Glen and Aberfeldy, saw me arrive at the Lawers Hotel around 9.30am.
I had read previous reports on WH about the accessible hotel car park to start and finish this walk and I was aware that there was a charge of £5 to use the car park. With little off-road parking anywhere around the Lawers area, I decide that this was a small price to pay for a trouble-free day on the hills. I sought out the hotel owner and then realised that I had exactly £4.21 in change on me. God knows what he thought of me but he kindly took this coinage off me and I promised I would repay the shortfall by purchasing a meal and drinks in the bar on my return. More on this later.
Looking up at the hills to be climbed, there was a heavy mist covering the tops so I hoped that this would clear before I got up onto the ridge. The weather at base was dry and mild.
Setting off at 10am, I had the short walk along the main road (thankfully quiet) to the horn carver/gift shop where I now left the road to follow a track leading up to Machuim Farm. I could hear the roar of water from the Lawers Burn to my left. Reaching a barn with a bright red roof, a wooden sign is here directing you around the farm and onto a single path which starts to climb up towards a lovely wood. This was a really pleasant stroll through this mixed woodland with the burn not too far away. A style is soon reached which is walker-friendly which takes you to the upper reaches of the woodland before suddenly emerging out onto the open hillside. Another style has to be crossed here. This is a good place to take a breather after the ascent from Machuim Farm. Good views ahead to the Lawers Burn as it cuts its channel through the landscape and the now clear view of the ascent to the first Munro, Meall Greigh. Looking back, the views were beginning to open up nicely across Loch Tay to the hills beyond. A blue wooden sign now informs you that you are now entering an area owned and maintained by the NTS - a reassuring touch.
I now continued to follow the good path above the Lawers Burn passing an area of stony ruins, obviously one of many old settlements here which dot this area (just look at the OS map to see). The ruins are now a sad demise to what they were and it is only a matter of time before they are lost completely. This area was well populated at one time and probably cleared of people during the Highland Clearances.
As you continue to walk along this good path looking for an easy way up the inevitable ascent, there comes a time when you just have to pull yourself away from the path and to just get on with the steep climb up towards the first mound - Sron Mhor. A small cairn was reached which told me that it was now time to leave the comfort of the path and to get on with the ascent. The going is good over firm ground, with the exception of a few boggy areas. The higher up you go, the drier it gets. A path of sorts is now seen but the climb is still hard (well for me it was!). The ever-increasing views the higher up you get give you an excuse to briefly stop to admire the views towards the next two Munros, Meall Garbh and An Stuc, the latter looking incredibly steep on its eastern face from this viewpoint.
The climb up to Sron Mhor also gave me an excuse to stop for a short rest and refreshment before I tackled the next climb which would take me eventually to the summit of Meall Greigh. One consolation of this final climb was the noticeable views (hidden up until now) of eastern Loch Tay, Kenmore and a distant Aberfeldy.
After a steady plod uphill, the summit cairn now came into view with only a brief window to admire the view before the rain and mist came down. Not wishing to get too cold and wet, I decided to keep walking along the ridge path to the next Munro - Meall Garbh. The drop down off Meall Greigh was uneventful as I fought off driving rain (or was it sleet). Unbelievable - mid summer and Scotland has weather reminiscent of winter! For a country that has possibly the best scenery in the world, we have disappointed thousands of visitors and tourists with our lousy weather. If it's not the weather it's the midges!
I now reached the bealach between the two hills and steadily plodded up a rather steep and boggy path following an old boundary fence line. I was now back in to mist again with only short breaks of what lay ahead. I eventually reached a cairn, however a glimpse to the GPS showed that this was not the final summit. Just then the mist cleared to show the true summit a short distance and climb away.
Within a few minutes, I had reached the summit of my second Munro of the day, Meall Garbh. Views from here yet again were limited but one view was clear - the steep rocky face of my third and final Munro of the day - An Stuc. Reading previous reports of this hill on WH filled me with a little apprehension and concern. Rock scrambling for a 55 year old man with the flexibility of a rusted army knife did not fill me with confidence. Looking at the face, I tried to find an easy way up but could find no such way.
Sitting admiring An Stuc for too long, putting off the inevitable, I plucked up the courage and just went for it like a gladiator in the coliseum awaiting his opponent. The descent from Meall Garbh was easy and I stopped to chat to a fellow walker who had recently come down from An Stuc. I asked him how tough the climb was and he reassured me that the hardest part was around the 2/3rds point where some scrambling is required but this was only brief. I wish I'd never asked him now as this did not boost my confidence.
Reaching the bottom of the descent off Meall Garbh, it was now make or break time. Following a recognisable path through the boulder field, the path then split into several paths! Not panicking, I took the easiest of paths avoiding the rocky outcrops where possible. From this point, I don't remember much of the remaining climb but suffice to say I didn't have any rock scrambling to do. I avoided a potential area by holding on to grassy slopes and skirting around boulders. By doing this, I've probably contributed to the erosion of the upward path (sorry). Just when I thought there was more difficulties to come, I now reached the final grassy slope which would take me to the summit. Approaching a walker descending from An Stuc's summit, I could have hugged and kissed him (probably much to his annoyance!) as he told me that the summit now lay over the brow.. I felt like I had just got to the summit of Everest. I was so elated and relieved that this was over. I speak from my inexperience here but suffice to say there is nothing to this obstacle. If I can do it anyone can do it. There are worse technical difficulties on other Munros than this one.
From the summit of An Stuc, I was fortunate to get good views across to the massive bulk of Ben Lawers and north down the impressive long broad ridge to Glen Lyon, an alternative, and easier route to this Munro. The west slope of An Stuc is an easy angled slope with no obstacles to be overcome.
Still on a high, I bounded down the easier western slope of An Stuc's to the bealach where I would now leave the ridge to descend to the fine Lochan nan Cat seen away below. A faint path now leaves the ridge but soon peters out. The descent to the lochan is very tricky and steep. Care is required as you attempt to find the best way down. Good views to Lochan nan Cat and the 'gash' of the Lawers Burn can be seen ahead, but don't look at the view while you descend as you may lose your footing! I fell onto my behind a couple of times but no major injuries occurred. A large section of snow was passed on the way down - a stark reminder how harsh the winter was here.
On reaching the lochan, I was so relieved to get that descent finished. Looking back up, it suddenly hits you how steep the ground is. A series of paths take you along the southern side of Lochan nan Cat, a lovely place to stop if you have time. It had been a long day's walk for me so I didn't take advantage of the offer to stop, preferring to press on to the finish.
I eventually came across a dam where a good track is met. Follow this track briefly before turning left onto an old grassy track which keeps you high above the Lawers Burn before zig-zagging down to cross the burn onto the northern side. You shortly meet the junction you left a long time ago this morning for the steep climb up to Meall Greigh. All that remains from here is the return route to Machuim Farm and the Lawers Hotel following the same outward route from this morning.
I was quite glad to reach the Lawers Hotel as this had been a long walk for me. I of course was extremely elated to have 'bagged' the 3 Munros in one day's walking on the hills. After changing into drier clothes, I really wasn't in the mood for visiting the Lawers Hotel but decided to go replenish the fluids lost on the hill today. Entering the bar, I re-met the hotel proprietor who returned my £4.21 to me which was a nice gesture. As a thank you, I ordered a gallon of drinks (softies as I was driving) and decided to order a meal in the comfort of a roaring fire. The hearty and plentiful meal, including a lovely crumble and custard for dessert, did not disappoint and was just what you wanted after a long day on the hill. I would recommend a meal here and the £5 car park charge is fully justified. After this great meal with nodding dog syndrome and the heat off the fire, I had to force myself out of the bar as I made my way out to the car park and the nice drive home. A great but long day in the Lawers area taking my 'bagging' total now to 55. I now only have 1 more Munro, Meall a Choire Leith to 'bag' in this range to complete the Lawers Munros which hopefully I will do on my next trip back to Scotland in the autumn.
- Mountain Walker
- Posts: 23
- Joined: Sep 24, 2015
- Location: Auchterarder
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