We were due to visit family in Perth and so we thought we would stop en route to visit the summit of Meall Chuaich (Hill of the Quaich). I wonder how the hill received its name, "quaich" appears to be derived from the Gaelic Cuach (or Chuaich in its aspirated form) meaning cup, from which many a dram has been shared down the ages.
We set off about 09:30 with the weather promising a mixture of sunshine and occasional sleet showers atop the hills. By all descriptions of the hill we were expecting a fairly boring stroll by Highland standards, but we were pleasantly surprised. An informative board near layby 94 on the South bound A9 depicted the various wildlife on offer during the walk: from deer to red grouse and mountain hares.
The approach (~2km) to the hydroelectric power station would have been ideal for a cycle as this section is fairly flat and relatively featureless. However, as soon as the bothy was reached the wildlife promised on the board at the start came out in all their glory. We must have seen over 50 red grouse on the initial ascent and once on the plateau, mountain hare went speeding by us at break neck speed- gaining the interest of our Border Terrier (on his lead thankfully).
As we approached closer to the summit we were lucky enough to spot what I called "hybrid" Ptarmigans with their feathers displaying hints of Snow White winter and brown summer. Indeed, the weather could not make up its mind and a brief panorama of views, afforded by reaching the summit, was soon to be replaced with horizontal driving sleet which saw me feeling colder than I have done for a long time on the hills.
Overall a really enjoyable walk! The only thing I would do differently is approach the first 2-4km on bike and then enjoy the walk from there.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.