7 Lawers, 1 day
by kermillar » Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:24 pm
Munros included on this walk: An Stuc, Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers, Meall a'Choire Leith, Meall Corranaich, Meall Garbh (Ben Lawers), Meall Greigh
Date walked: 25/07/2017
Time taken: 10.5 hours8 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).
This is the story of the best/worst day of my life in the hills. I was on a mission to boost the numbers last year, and decided that after bagging all of the Glen Shee munros the week before that it was a good idea to tackle the Lawers range.
I set off with the plan of ditching my car at the Lawers hotel, and starting at the end of the loch towards the foot of Meall a'Choire Leith. I managed to convince my mother to drive along in the morning to drop me off at the start point. It was a relatively foggy start, and after leaving the car, they drove off, leaving me on my own to finish the day. I had to do it now, I was alone and the car was at the end. I started the walk, making a pretty slow, but steady start. After getting over the first lumps, I was starting the see the first peak in the distance, but I knew I had to double back on myself a little so I never got my hopes up just yet.
I tried my best mountain goat impression and opted for a long gradual traverse along the side of the hill on my way up, seemed a good idea, and it got me up. I made it to the fork in the road, left for Meall a'Choire Leith, or right for Meall Corranaich. "I'll go right, save a bit of time, nobody will know" was what went through my mind. But I'll know. Left it was. Having made it to the path, it was deceptive in appearance, looked about a hundred miles to the first peak, but it took no time at all once on the path. Made it to the first summit, and a quick look at the watch showed me it took 2 hours to get here. Desperately behind schedule, I quickly took some photographs and a nip of Whisky and I was off towards number 2.
The walk towards Meall Corranaich was the easiest part of the day, and it wasn't long before I was near the summit, and my first encounter with other walkers on the way. Told them of my plan to bag all 7, and the walked off laughing. Needed to do it now to show them up! A quick stop on the ridge to take in the views and have a sandwich, then set off for the final push towards the summit. 2 down and the rest was on route to the car, I had this in the bag.
The climb down the south face of Meall Corranaich was one of the most difficult parts of the day. Trying to keep my feet steady on the steep descent was eased by the views of the rest of the Lawers range. The targets in sight focussed my mind and kept me going. Once I reached the bottom I came across a group of kids and their guide for the day. Did not envy them as they were about to climb what I had just come down. Took a little bit of a water rest and continued round to northern path towards Ben Lawers.
Beinn Ghlas was teasing me the whole way up, and I could hear people on the summit, so I knew I was close. But this was a hard slog after bagging the first 2. The path here is nice and steady, but seemed to go on forever. I was getting really demotivated seeing so many people pass me on their way down, but had to focus, had to stay positive, and stop talking to myself, it was a lonely day in the hills. I made it eventually to the fork in the road, and had to double back on myself to get to the summit of Beinn Ghlas. This stretch was much the same gradient as what I'd just done to get to this point, so it wasn't too demanding physically, it just seemed to last forever. The family that were walking close by in the same direction were doing their best to overtake me, to get to the summit. I lost count how many times we passed each other in total! but we made it and enjoyed the 3rd summit whisky of the day. This walk is going to get me drunk!!
A longer than planned stop at the summit here before heading towards the highest of the day. This walk was the most enjoyable part, seeing the summit teasing me the whole way, and it wasn't actually that bad. The tourists were everywhere though, other than Ben Lomond, this has been the busiest summit approach I've witnessed. I must have looked like a dying man at this stage, judging by the number of people that stopped me to ask how I'm doing. Once again the responses I was getting to my declaration of bagging all 7 today, were all of laughter and pity. Was it really that bad what I was attempting to do? About 50m from the summit is when I realised what I had started. The tank was almost empty. I had enough. I parked my backside on the grass at the side of the path, downed a bottle of water and choked down a sandwich, and sat pondering my existence. I couldn't stop this close to number four, so I forced myself to scramble up to the top and claim Ben Lawers as my own. "4 in a day is still good" I told myself. "lets try and bag a lift back from the car park".
Then my saviours arrived. I got chatting the 2 incredible lads that were on their 4th peak of the 7 today! result, I wasn't the only clown attempting this!! They told me that they were parked at the beginning and not looking forward to the walk along the road back to the start point. Time to negotiate. "if you let me slow you down a bit, I will give you a lift back from the hotel". A deal was made. I set off towards An Stuc on my own as I knew that I was slow, and didn't want to be too much of a burden on them.
I got about halfway to An Stuc and turned round to see them heading off in my direction. Needed to pick up the pace. I knew that I would probably hit the summit at the same time as them, they were much slimmer and fitter than I was. But I got the head down and soldiered on as best I could. True to form, and as suspected the two lads caught up with me and we landed on the summit at the same time. I started to believe that I might actually be able to do this. My body was broken at this point, but I was there with a new found motivation and company to keep me going. This was the worst part of the day. The descent from An Stuc. It is steep, it is unrelenting, it is dangerous. I contemplated ending it all there and then, I even spotted the rock I wanted to land on to end it quickly. But I managed. The lads were at the bottom shouting encouragement and keeping me going.
The ascent to the 6th Summit, Meall Garbh, was relatively unremarkable. The same height as what I just came down from An Stuc, but not as steep, and it seemed to go by really quickly. Once I reached this summit, I got the chance to look back on everything that I had done so far today, and the view was breath-taking. Hitting number 6 made the thought of finishing it seem easy. We had a short stop for food and a chat, then made our way to the final munro.
This stretch was long, and boring, and I wanted it to end quickly. The weather was changing and fog was starting to cover everything around. The ground underfoot was boggy, but we had the long deer fence to follow to keep us on route. They lads were geocachers so kept us right with their gps, until the "summit". There is a little mound a couple of hundred metres from Meall Greigh. We thought we were at the summit, had our whisky etc, then they went hunting for the Geocache and left me to look after the bags. I was on deaths door at this stage, lying on my bag trying to survive when they came back. "Bad news Kerr, this isn't the summit". Although it wasn't far away, I just about burst into tears at the thought of moving again!!! But we got there over the summit and didn't even stop for it, we just wanted to get back to the car.
The route down was interesting, down the grassy slopes all the way. The temptation was to roll like a kid all the way to the bottom, but the thought of hitting a rock on the way down put that idea to rest. Its pretty tough going on the knees at this point, for someone of my size anyway, the lads seemed a little unfazed by it. Then I found out the were both wearing knee supports. Cant believe I've never though about that before!! Definitely one for the future! Eventually we made it to a more gentle slope down towards the road, and through a small patch of woodland before hitting the tarmac. Walking on solid ground is usually my downfall, but it felt like walking on a cloud at this point, maybe my legs were just too numb to feel anything underfoot. After arriving at the hotel, I bought the lads a pint, and downed a pint each of water, cola, orange juice and milk to replenish all the fluids lost on the day. True to my word, I gave the lads a lift back to their car, and headed off to recover in the longest bath I've ever had.
The day was a complete emotional rollercoaster. It is the hardest and most physically and mentally demanding challenge of my life, even almost a year on. I would definitely do this route again, but never start out on my own. The solitude is one of the reasons I started hill walking, but this is too much of an undertaking to do on your own. If I hadn't met the 2 strangers who kept me going, I would have stopped at number 4 and regret not having pushed myself to breaking point. I'm proud of myself for getting through it and finding the strength to continue, especially when every part of me wanted to give up.
by arjh » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:52 pm
by snowdonia7 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:53 pm
by andygunn23 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:09 pm
We did this but in the opposite direction and only managed the 5 spending a night at the top of An Stuc - I remember discussing if we could add in the 2 outliers to get all 7 in one outing but we concluded it would be too much with overnight bags, so hats off for doing them all in one day.
by bar72 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:54 pm
by Backpacker » Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:01 pm
I remember feeling similar when I did all 7 (was supposed to be 5 but was talked into doing the 7 ) Think it was only the 3rd or 4th time I'd been out on the Munros
by Ancient Traveller » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:05 am
Is there anywhere to download it as a full walk?
- Ancient Traveller
- Munro compleatist
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- Joined: Apr 26, 2018
by Phil the Hill » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:27 pm
When I was a bit younger I did the round of 6 (minus Meall Greigh) from the North, running the downhill bits. Made an early start, back to the car by 2 and home to London before midnight. Don't think I'd manage that nowadays!