Start at Ben Lawers Hotel
Started at the Ben Lawers Hotel. The parking here costs £5, the hotel was all locked up when we arrived at 0900 but I popped in when we returned and gave the bloke behind the bar a fiver. He commented that most people bugger off without paying and thanked me for my honesty! Anyway, it is a short walk from here to the start which is at a horn carvers’ shop on the left. The path climbs gently up past a farm and is well signed posted. There is a gate and 2 stiles to cross, the gate opens, and the stiles are new and well maintained with dog gates for little 4 legged friends to go through.
Up the Lawers Burn to Lochan nan Cat
The area opens up now and the path is clear. It follows the Lawers Burn for about a couple of miles or maybe less before crossing over onto an old track on the southern side. The crossing point is very easy to miss and the track on the southern side is almost hidden from the northern side. Look for the rough outline of where the stones formed the edge of the track on the southern side. It doesn’t matter if you miss it as once you cross over and climb the steep side you will pick up the path. It is straight forward now up to the hydroelectric dam and then the path disintegrates into the muddy quagmire as you progress to the bottom of the Bealach Duh at Ravens Gully. This is where we stopped for a refuel and a cuppa.
Up to the Bealach Duh and onto An Stuc summit
Nothing really much to say about this apart from its not as steep as what it looks from the bottom. We went to the right of the scree slope and that route was fine. Once at the Bealach Duh then the path is really obvious and it’s a welcome respite from the mud and squelch of further down. A short it of effort and that’s An Stuc done. Ben Lawers looks amazing and the route over the two Mealls can be seen ahead. The next part off the summit of An Stuc is REALLY STEEP! However, with a bit of care its easily passible in summer conditions. In snow and ice I wouldn’t be happy unless I had all the gear and knew how to use it.
An Stuc to Meall Garbh and back down to the hydro dam and back to car
Once down the REALLY STEEP bit, it’s a short climb to the summit of Meall Garbh which in turn rewards you with spectacular views over the Lawers Range. The path follows the fence line and is well worn. We didn’t travel onto Meall Greigh as we had done that one before and headed back down to the hydro dam. There is a new deer fence around the burn and where the workers have been there is a nice wee path that leads straight to the hydro dam. We went around the northern side but it’s really six of one or half a dozen of the other on what way you go. Once at the hydro dam it’s an easy stroll back along the track, coming off it at the small cairn and onto the track that takes you back the way we came up. Keep on this older path all the way and if you missed it on the way up you will see where it comes out for future reference!
As this was the third attempt at An Stuc; first was over the two MGs but aborted because of white out (Feb 16), second from Ben Lawers but aborted because of zero visibility and no fun (Sep 16), I would say that this was probably the easiest way to conquer An Stuc. It is a steep descent from its summit to take in the two MGs, but once down those two are a gift from that direction. I wouldn’t want to have to go back over Lawers if coming in from that way, unless there is a bypass route?, and it is one almighty slog coming up over the two MGs first. The downside of doing it the way we did it is that the route passed the Lochan nan Cat is really boggy. We did it in the driest October since records began at it was still squishy. Not enough to put you off but I imagine that after any prolonged rain it would be bad. Waterproof boots and gaiters a must!
All in all, we had a great day and that is the Lawers group completed for me.
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