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Between the bum and a fence ;)

Between the bum and a fence ;)


Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:12 pm

Route description: Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil from Glen Dochart

Munros included on this walk: Meall Glas, Sgiath Chuil

Date walked: 22/06/2017

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 17.3 km

Ascent: 1198m

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We're running out of Munros in close proximity of Inverness. Now, with less than 70 M's left on our list, most of them are located in central/southern Scotland, which means long car journeys, more money spent on petrol and for me, more cinnarizine pills swallowed with a morning meal. They make me feel drowsy and lethargic, but it's that or a puke bag :? Easy choice.
In case of Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil, two hills in Glen Dochart, it was the usual scenario. I took the pill, got in the car, fastened my seat belt... and the next 3 hours are only a blurred memory of the views we passed on the way down along the Great Glen. I came back to my senses eventually when we passed Bridge of Orchy. It's a long drive from Inverness... One would ask, are the hills worth it? Well, on a good summer day any mountain is worth the climb if only for the views. We didn't have the best of conditions, it was windy and quite cold as for summer, but managed to get nice panoramas from the first of the two mountains. Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil are not particularly outstanding hills, but we had a decent day, met an interesting local and ticked off two more Munros!
Our route followed the WH instructions. Parking in Auchessan is restricted, some space by the bins at the start of the track leading to the village. There is a proper car park by Loch Iubhair, but it adds 2.5km of walking along the A85 each way. The ascent path along Allt Riobain is a boggy nightmare, but once up on the higher ground, it's easy going on grassy slopes.

Track_SGIATH CHUIL 22-06-17.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


I was still feeling a bit like a zombi when we started walking towards Auchessan, but at least weather looked decent. Forecast said it would become cloudier in the afternoon with a chance of an odd shower, but so far, we had the blue sky and some friendly, fluffy cloud:
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Past the farm buildings and the first gate, we had the first taste of what was to come later... Bog! :? :? :?
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We followed the farm track along a fence - and suddenly, we were stopped in our tracks by a dangerous - looking beast, blocking our way :shock:
THOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!
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Thankfully, the beast turned out to be a friendly local in disguise. We walked past him/her (didn't check the gender - my curiosity doesn't go that far! :lol: :lol: :lol: ) and got barely a look. I love the way highland cows pose to look frightening, whereas they are so docile by nature. Last week, when driving back home from Glen Etive, we witnessed a group of young tourists petting one of these beasts. The cow looked more than happy to be scratched, stroked and even cuddled, while the excited teenagers took selfies with their phones :lol:
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Back to our route, we didn't have time to cuddle the cow, we had two Munros yet to climb!
We followed the track till it crossed the river. From now on, we had to leave the easy terrain and get ready for the worst :?
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We were fed up very quickly. As soon as we turned of the track, it was a muddy nightmare (I guess our friend from the previous photo had something to do with it!). We stopped at some point, I wasn't sure if we were going the right way? Kevin had the route description from WH printed, so he took it out and read aloud as follows:
"Do not cross this burn but instead leave the track and take the faint path which runs between the BUM and a fence."
"BUM"??? :shock: :shock:
Of course he meant BURN but in small print letters "rn" look like "m" :lol:
Soon we came to a conclusion, that Kevin's misread would be a perfect title for my report. It really felt like between bum and fence :roll: We quickly regretted not taking our canoes :lol:
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Higher up, it was even worse, more water and ankle-deep mud:
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At least views were decent, though Ben More across the glen was still in cloud:
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We continued on the wet path towards the edge of a small forest plantation. At least it was breezy and midges didn't bother us.
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Eventually, we gained enough height to see our target hills. Following the suggestions from WH route, we decided to tackle Sgiath Chuil first:
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The path disappeared higher up and we simply walked along the stream, enjoying the views:
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We crossed the burn below a small hydro dam (not much water in the stream anyway) and aimed straight for the steeper slopes of our first Munro. Going was a bit wet in places, but mostly grassy. I spotted a sundew and a few frogs.
Up Sgaith:
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Weather has improved if only for a short time, the hills behind us cleared:
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The climb to the summit ridge is straightforward, steep-ish but very grassy, easy going. It didn't take us long to gain the 300m to the col between Sgiath Chrom and Sgiath Chuil:
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Just below the summit, there are some rocky outcrops which make photos a bit more interesting:
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View south across Glen Dochart. We still haven't climbed Beinn More and Stob Binnein, they look good. Something to look forward to :D
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I'm not sure about these two bulky tops on the southern horizon, possibly Ben Vorlich and Stuc a'Chroin?
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By the time we reached the summit, it was lunch time so a longer break was ordered for all members of the group :D Munro no. 209 for me, 49 for wee Lucy...
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...and no new hill to tick for Kevin, 'cause he has already done this duo before :lol:
We could see the cloudy weather front pushing in from the west and we knew, we had no chance to reach the second summit before it arrived, so we spent some more time on Sgaith Chuil, photographing the views.
Looking north:
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Our second target, Meall Glass and the upcoming front:
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Glen Dochart and Loch Iubhair:
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Eastern pano:
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Summit cairn and view due south:
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Time to go!
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The descent is steep for about 200m, but on grassy terrain, we took our time:
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Looking down the slope... some peat hags on the bealach, reminding us about the wet character of this walk:
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We crossed the bealach, hopping over peat hags and began the ascent to Beinn Cheathaich. It's best to aim a bit to the right, to avoid the steepest section. At some point we discovered, that we had run out of water and we felt dehydrated... We slowed down to snail's pace. Of course, there was water in the bogs, but I wasn't sure how safe it was to drink :lol: Thankfully, about half way up the slope to Beinn Cheathaich, we came across a small, but fast running stream. We filled up our bottles and our stomachs. Boaaah!
Looking back to Sgiath Chuil, steep indeed:
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Weather coming in:
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With water supply renewed, I felt much better!
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We didn't bother going to the summit of Beinn Cheathaich. There is an obvious detour path, contouring around the grassy slopes. From there, we could see our second target Munro:
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The clag was coming so we stopped on the col to take the last opportunity for photos and to put on warmer layers as it felt much colder now:
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A well worn path follows the ridge to the summit:
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Sadly, the cloud got there first...
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...but it didn't discourage us at all. The summit of Meall Glass is rather flat, with a small cairn. No views for us :( Lucy celebrated her half ton! Kevin celebrated surviving the bog :lol:
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There wasn't much point waiting for the cloud to disperse, so after a short snack break, we started the descent. We aimed for a cluster of wee lochans on Meall Glass Beag, then traversed to the right, where slopes were less steep:
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We knew there was a Corbett nearby (seen here in the photo behind me) and that the hard souls add it to the circular route, but it looked a very boggy traverse and we were honestly fed up with bog, mud and peat hags, so we gave Beinn nan Imirean a miss this time.
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On the way down, we met more locals watching us curiously:
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After about 200m of steeper descent, the ground eased off... But to our disappointment, it wasn't possible to walk in a straight line! More bog, more peat hags, welcome to Scotland, wear your gaiters! :lol:
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I took more time than we expected to find the way in the labirynth of hags, muddy puddles, water canals and boggy stretches. I was glad my boots didn't leak :crazy:
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Eventually, we crossed Allt Glass and picked a faint path, heading down to the village. As we descended, the path became better and the ground was more grassy, less boggy:
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We followed another small stream to the height of about 350m where we spotted another small hydro dam. It is possible to descend the track that leads from the dam to the village but we decided to stay on the original path, which was dry and good underfoot by now.
The dam and the new track (not marked on the map):
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To stay on the path, we had to step over a fence (not barb wired) and the rest of the descent was straightforward. I wondered how we would feel, if we did this route in opposite direction, descending the muddy path between the bum and a fence :? :? :? Another thought that stayed with us after returning to the car, was about the hydro dams. They are now everywhere!!! I'm afraid to open my fridge, there might be a hydro scheme in there, too :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Summing up, despite the quagmire on the lower slopes, these are docile hills. Maybe don't have the WOW factor of the west coast mountains, but they provided us with another pleasant day of hillwalking.

My next story will be about a Graham so obscure that hardly anyone climbs it, despite it being a good viewpoint and having a good track most of the way. Of course there is always a catch, and in this case, its wind turbines. More details in the following TR.
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BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3024
Munros:246   Corbetts:147
Grahams:107   
Sub 2000:37   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Between the bum and a fence ;)

Postby Driftwood » Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:02 pm

The wildest Highland coos that I've seen have all been down here in darkest Norfolk. They're used to graze wildlife areas, with wet rough ground unsuitable for softer cattle. One time, a herd came thundering past a group walk around some Ice-age ponds. And another, unrelated bunch went on the run recently and were only recovered 12 miles away some days later. Maybe being near the hills keeps them calm? I know the feeling ...

I remember that boggy path uphill, wet even after dry weather (sometimes that happens during June, or it used to). Still, it helps things look lush and green. Including boots, perhaps.

The two hills you mention are definitely Ben Vorlich (the Loch Earn one) and Stuc a'Chroin, the scrambly bit goes up the steep slope on the right-hand side between them.

You were probably wise to leave off Beinn nan Imirean if the rest of the walk felt boggy. The peat hags were dry back when I included this, but there's a lot of them and they would want to swallow a boot or two after they'd had a drink.

That little hydro dam was already there in 2013, maybe for a while before, but they do seem to have sprung up like mushrooms in a lot of places.
User avatar
Driftwood
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 286
Munros:192   Corbetts:33
Grahams:14   Donalds:19
Sub 2000:19   
Joined: Jun 9, 2011

Re: Between the bum and a fence ;)

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:03 pm

Driftwood wrote:The wildest Highland coos that I've seen have all been down here in darkest Norfolk. They're used to graze wildlife areas, with wet rough ground unsuitable for softer cattle. One time, a herd came thundering past a group walk around some Ice-age ponds. And another, unrelated bunch went on the run recently and were only recovered 12 miles away some days later. Maybe being near the hills keeps them calm? I know the feeling ...

I remember that boggy path uphill, wet even after dry weather (sometimes that happens during June, or it used to). Still, it helps things look lush and green. Including boots, perhaps.

The two hills you mention are definitely Ben Vorlich (the Loch Earn one) and Stuc a'Chroin, the scrambly bit goes up the steep slope on the right-hand side between them.

You were probably wise to leave off Beinn nan Imirean if the rest of the walk felt boggy. The peat hags were dry back when I included this, but there's a lot of them and they would want to swallow a boot or two after they'd had a drink.

That little hydro dam was already there in 2013, maybe for a while before, but they do seem to have sprung up like mushrooms in a lot of places.


I'm still getting used to hydro schemes... Might take a while. The havoc they caused in Glen Affric is unbelievable.

Vorlich and friend look interesting - we haven't ventured that far south yet, probably next year...

As for highland cows, we meet them everywhere and never witnessed even a hint of aggression from them. Once we walked right through a large herd grazing in Glen Elchag. Sometimes they come near to have a better look (I wonder how can they see anything with so much facial hair :lol: ) but that's just peaceful curiosity. I guess a female cow with a young calf could attack if she felt a human walking too close was a threat to the young one. But they never bothered us. Maybe down south they miss the hills and go on a rampage to express their dissatisfaction :wink:
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3024
Munros:246   Corbetts:147
Grahams:107   
Sub 2000:37   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

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