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Making a Meall of the Tarmachan Ridge
by denfinella » Fri May 03, 2019 3:01 pm
Route description: The Tarmachan Ridge
Munros included on this walk: Meall nan Tarmachan
Date walked: 11/04/2019
Time taken: 6.5 hours
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 850m3 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).
Hot on the heels of our quick trip up Culter Fell two days earlier, a full day off finally coincided with a full day of good weather, which allowed us to get up into the Highlands for our first proper day walk of 2019. The Tarmachan Ridge had been on the list for a while - we haven't done much walking in the central Highlands at all - but would remaining snow from the winter make it problematic?
The only Munro of the day, Meall nan Tarmachan, is at the very start of the ridge. There's a good path all the way up, and the high start height of over 400 metres makes the ascent even more straightforward. Big bags of boulders by the side of the path in places, so more improvements must be planned. Approaching the 923m false summit:
Ben Lawers beyond Lochan na Lairige:
Looking back over Loch Tay:
Summit cairn of Meall nan Tarmachan:
Looking west, we could see all three of the other summits on the ridge. The best part of the route is from here onwards.
A couple of lochans on the way across to Meall Garbh were still frozen and partly snow covered:
The second summit, Meall Garbh, takes the shape of a lovely little cone (it's "Meall" seemed a bit unfair):
Looking back from Meall Garbh:
This raven followed us from summit to summit, intent on getting some of our lunch:
The section of ridge immediately after Meall Garbh is the narrowest part with a nice feeling of exposure even though the slopes on either side are mostly grassy:
Looking north into Coire Riadhailt:
The route across Beinn nan Eachan and Creag na Caillich clear ahead:
Getting off Meall Garbh involves a short scramble off the ridge towards the bealach with Beinn nan Eachan. This was a bit trickier than I'd expected - definitely a place to lower yourself down facing the rock. I'd noticed this section faced west when looking over the route the day before, so I'd guessed the slope here would be free of snow. This was indeed the case, but it hadn't occurred to me that ice might be a problem. Almost all the rocks were covered in a thick film of clear water ice, offering no grip whatsoever. Fortunately there were just enough ice-free handholds to lower ourselves down safely. Another hour later in the day and the sun would probably have come onto the slope and melted the ice. Looking back with some relief, I realised I'd forgotten that the whole section was easily avoidable on grassy slopes to the side
View of the troublesome section:
Anyway, having made a Meall of our descent from Garbh ...time to continue up Beinn nan Eachan. On approach this appeared to have a section of snow covered, narrow ridge which might have been interesting, but we'd been looking at it side on and the slope was in fact nearly flat on the far side, so no issues.
Looking back from Beinn nan Eachan:
West to Meall Ghaordaidh:
Cloud had been bubbling up over the surrounding hills and finally obscured the sun as we began the descent off Beinn nan Eachan. Path to Creag na Caillich (this fourth summit is missed by the official WH route but we decided to include it) ahead:
Soon we were at the summit of Creag na Caillich - at 916 metres, substantially lower than the other three. Looking back to Beinn nan Eachan, the sun had returned:
View west up Glen Lochay:
Back to the last bealach, then heading right into Coire Fionn-Lairige for the return. The path for the first mile is very faint and intermittent - scout out the general route from above - before the track is reached, but the going was quite good underfoot with any bog avoidable. Way down, from below:
Once on the track, follow it all the way back to the start, with good views of Loch Tay and Ben Lawers:
An excellent introduction to the hills around Loch Tay and Glen Lyon - hopefully we'll be back here before 2019 is over!
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