Why I write my first walk report about Meall Ghaordaidh, I really can't say. Certainly, there had been other munros more impressive and other options for this day, f.e. Ben More and Stob Binnein or the last Munros of the Lawers' group I have not yet climbed: Meall a'Choire Lèith and Meall Corranaich. But after a long and great circular walk over Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh and An Stuc and back the lovely way along Loch nan Cat the day before, I only could convince myself for a short walk to seize the last day of my great summer holidays before going back to Germany the next day.
Meall Ghaordaidh, a single Munro, I wasn't too eager to do. Genrally I don't like walks going up and down the same path, the mention of quagmire in the description couldn't cheer me up neither, but that day seemed to be the best opportunity to tick it off. And it was not far away from the nice and friendly hotel at Lochearnhead where I spent my last days which was quite convenient. It was a quiet and peaceful morning at Lochearnhead and finally I was very content with my decision.
With the walk description of walkhighlands safed in a PDF-file on my mobile and apparalled with my usual walk-equipement, which I think is always too much, I made my way through Killin where I turned left into the road up Glen Lochay passing Moirlanich Longhouse and the power station. After the power station I had to turn left and got on a road with the traffic sign on both sides which indicates impasse and I was wondering and hoping that I will at least reach my destination.
When I arrived at the parking where "there is space for about four cars" as the description says, three cars already had been there and I was happy to squeeze my car into the remaining spot.
Since I started walking on my own, my main concern always is: Will I find the parking? Will I find the start of the walk? – I am often in trouble with this, because there is always something in the description which I misunderstand or simply can't figure out in the surroundings …
But with the sign at the gate, the start was easy to find. Soon I reached the "fine ash trees" with their impressive roots, stems and branches covered with moss and sheep grazing around. I took my time to enjoy this pastoral scenery and slowed down my pace for a while to revive the peaceful mood of the morning again.
Continuing up the larger field I passed the shielings, came to the stile and followed the track. It was very reassuring to find everything as I have read in the description which made me feel even more relaxed and confident.
Yet, I still was not quite sure which of the surrounding moutains was Meall Ghaordaidh. I got quite attracted by the structure of the Mountain to my right on the other side of the ravine, Meall Dhùin Croisg, I think it is called.
I still was on the track when I met a young man, already on his way back from his walk and I asked him for Meall Ghaordaidh and he showed to the left. And from where we stood I only saw a huge massive grassy hill and frowned: That is the munro? But he explained the way and mentioned some details I remembered from the description and said that it is a straight forward path, easy going, with good views and only very few people on the top.
Straight forward, easy going, I liked to hear that and we both resumed our walks each one in his and hers direction.
Very soon I found the cairn where I had to turn left and there was a pole and I remembered I have read about a pole, but I thought it was much closer to the cairn, and in my mind, actually, I had a picture with the pole sticking out of the cairn. "Nearby" the description said but for me it seemed quite a distance away. Tricky those little words which always cause me some confusion ...
However, for some time the walk was okay, but then I must have lost the path somehow and I was going through rough grassy ground and heather, only glad that it was dry at least, and not boggy.
From now on – actually only for the next two kilometers but it seemed endless to me – the walk became a bit exhausting. It was one of those parts of a walk when I look up, seeing the ground kissing the sky and thinking: well, can't be long anymore, but a few meters later I see a faintly different looking ground kissing the sky and very soon it becomes clear: this is one of these slogs which never seem to end, frustration --
And it was a little shock when eventually the real top of the munro came in sight, looming over the last bit of the grassy hill and I thought: Oh, no! still not there!
Actually I never was far apart from the path, but I didn't find my way back until I saw another walker in the distance, the second car driver, I thought. He came downhill in a good pace and I turned left and very quickly I finally resumed my walk on the right path.
Meanwhile it has become very windy and I had to put on my fleece, glad that I had it in my backpack despite the promissing sunshine and the warmth of the early morning in the valley.
Short before reaching the "final push" over the quartzite, I encountered the last two walkers on my walk, a couple, and I thougt, that by now, I probably have met the last of the early birds of the cars in the parking. We had a short chat about the wind and the man said that it was very stormy on the top and so it was! I was very glad that I had my páramo gilet with me because the stone circle around the trigpoint couldn't protect me against the chill coming with the stormy wind. Although some dark clouds were coming with the wind, it stayed dry and sunny and I was happy that I didn't need to put on my raining clothes too –
Despite the stormy wind and the chill I took my time to rest and to look around.
I don't know why, but the views didn't impressed me so much as usual. May be a result of a mixture of serveral reasons, but probably I was more tired than I had expected, after fourteen days of cycling form Land's End to John o' Groats with a nice group and yesterday's walk in the Lawers' - so my mood was a bit low and therefore I probably was not able to value the clear view. And not being able to recognize or identify any of the surrounding Mountains was a bit boring, too. But I am glad I took my pictures at least to remember now, what I have seen and missed when I was on the summit. And without the wind and the chill it looks really nice – in retrospect.
Concerning my descent I was quite confident that I would find the path. Usually I don't miss the traces when I go downhill. The path offered indeed an "easy going" and almost in no time - compared to the effort the ascent has taken - I was back at the parking.
Half way down, the wind had ceased and in the valley it was very warm, so that I hardly could imagine how windy and chilly it was on the summit only about an hour and a half ago.
Taking off my dry and fairly clean boots I remembered the mention of the quagmire, but thanks to the hot and dry period the weeks before the quagmire has nearly dried out. There had been only very few boggy parts which could have been avoided easyly.
I put on my Teva sandals and made my feet happy again and said goodbye to the Mountain about which I had not such a good opion, but which provided me another good walking day out in nature.
Now, thankful for the opportunity to get to know a bit of this area with its own charming atmosphere, I am glad I did this walk not only to tick off my 30th Munro – which I only realized later, when I checked my list on Walkhighlands.
I finished the day at Killin with a tasty soup, reflecting my walk impressions and enjoying the lovely scenery of the Falls of Dochart, knowing well, that I'll be back soon again.
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