We did this walk one week before WH Meet in Applecross, just before the brief return of winter conditions on higher ground. It was the last weekend of March (the day after Brexit that never was). Since the start of 2019 we were mostly repeating mountains we had already visited, so a perspective of adding two new Corbetts to the tally was a temptation we couldn't resist. And it didn't matter that we had to spend over 2 hours in the car to even get to the starting point. Is it just pure dedication or are we on the edge of madness?
We picked Creag Mac Ranaich and Meall an t-Seallaidh simply because they had been on to-do list for a long time and the route didn't look particularly difficult, with a decent estate track to the col at 500m. One would say, there is nothing special about this duo, but we really enjoyed them. It was the first time this year when we really felt the touch of spring.
The walk starts in Lochearnhead, there is a good car park with toilets in the village. We followed WH instructions and turned off A84 by the church, then walked up the zig-zagging path (part of Rob Roy's Way). Views were partially obstructed by trees, but we saw a glimpse of Loch Earn:
The next stage follows the old dismantled railway:
The first view of Meall an t-Seallaidh ridge, I felt the excitement of facing something new and unexplored!
But first, we have to cross this viaduct:
The track is excellent, offers very fast going. A few clouds bubbled up in the sky but with general forecast good (if a bit windy) we didn't have any worries of getting soaked
Panther marching up the track, with Ben Vorlich/Stuc a'Chroin behind. We realized then, that we could easily do these two Munros in a day-trip from home. After all, they were only 5 min down the road from where we were now!
The track leads to a wide col between the two Corbetts. I bet that more adventurous walkers explore alternatives routes of ascent, but we decided to stick to well-worn paths this time.
Is this the way up???
Fortunately, no! We followed the track to the highest point on the col, where we discovered much easier slopes, still steep but grassy:
About 200m of steep ascent is rewarded with fantastic views in all directions, as soon as one hits the ridge. To the west, Ben More and Stob Binnein are very prominent:
A glimpse down into the col:
The ridge of Creag Mac Ranaich has two summits, the true one being the northern top, but both have small cairns and big vistas. Panoramic snap in western direction from the lower top:
To the north, Lawers group and Tarmachan Ridge:
The true summit from the southern top:
I couldn't resist spending some time recording the views. Spring has arrived! At last! it was now hard to believe that only the weekend before, we were clambering up Ben Stack in the far north in ankle-deep snow at Graham height. A few warm days turned wintry landscape into more welcome, spring-and-sunshine world!
Ben Vorlich and Stuc'a Chroin... So tempting... We knew then, we were going to come back and tackle them soon. We didn't realize then, admiring the graceful shapes of the two Munros, that they would give us an unforgettable experience only two weeks later. But that story deserves a trip report on its own
We traversed to the true summit:
...where I posed with Lucy, happy as a bunny, first new Corbett this year, no. 148 for us, no. 85 for the mountain lamb!
Ben More and Stob Binnein from the summit:
The very summit was windy and the wind still had a pinching chill, so after a short photo session we descended a bit and found a good place to sit behind a large boulder, where we could now sip our tea and stretch legs, enjoying the break before tackling the second hill.
Meall an t-Seallaidh from Creag Mac Ranaich:
To climb the second Corbett, we retraced our steps down the steep slopes to the track on the col, then crossed a few peat hags, before climbing a wide, grassy gully to the ridge just north of Cam Chreag, a subsidiary top. We stopped for a few breaths next to a small lochan:
Creag Mac Ranaich from the ridge of Meall an t-Seallaidh:
Purists would take in Cam Chreag but we didn't bother and simply contoured around it, heading straight for the main summit. Views from the second Corbett were even better, with Ben More and Stob Binnein still prominent features on the western horizon (They look great for our final Munros, but we might get tempted and climb them this year!)
View back to the western end of the ridge:
Yuppie! Corbett no. 149! And Lucy took off her winter hat, which can only men one thing: spring is finally here!
Views from the summit:
How could you stay home on a day like that??? Yes, it was a bit blowy and chilly, but that's what gloves and bodywarmers are for!
After another relaxing break by the cairn, we we headed down. Instead of retracing our steps back to the col, we aimed straight down for the track about 100m lower. There is no path and the ground is in places overgrown with heather, but it's not too steep and views are splendid:
Is this the beginning of another jolly good year on the hills for us?
Oh, I hope it is. It's been nearly a month since that visit to Creag Mac Ranaich and Meall an t-Seallaidh, and we have successfully climbed 15 hills (12 new ones). So a great start, hopefully summer will be as good as spring!
My next story will take us to the beautiful and wild Glen Etive. TR coming soon
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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.