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The Dry Route to Meall Glas

The Dry Route to Meall Glas

Postby Anne C » Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:57 pm

Route description: Sgiath Chuil and Meal Glas from Glen Lochay

Munros included on this walk: Meall Glas

Date walked: 06/09/2020

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 18 km

Ascent: 824m

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The boggy descriptions of the route from Auchessan to the Meall Glas, the Grey/Green Hill, did put me off I must admit. The Glen Lochay route sounded more appealing because it was a much drier alternative. Anything with a great path up to 670m gets a tick in my book and as others have said, the views from this ‘undistinguished ‘ mountain as it's referred to, are fantastic and truly extensive (on our very clear day, Arran to the Pentlands to Cairngorm to Glencoe to Fife.)

ImageGlen Lochay and the road to Meall Glas by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Glen Lochay has a particularly narrow winding road with few passing places and in summer the bracken was very high making any chance of sightlines non-existent. Luckily no one was coming the other way as we tootled along on a bright sunny morning of already great clarity.

ImagePtarmigan Ridge above Glen Lochay by scotlandmac, on Flickr

It was 10am before we arrived at the designated small parking area at Glen Lochay and had a bit of a bun fight to get a parking space. Our fault for sleeping in a bit and not leaving an hour earlier! :roll: We’d hummed and hawed about doing a walk at all, with Chris going off to Islay next day but the forecast was great and I knew we’d regret not making the effort.

Managed to drive slightly back down the road again and find a wider grass verge without the car pitching off into a ditch and finally headed off on the walk at 10.15am.

From the parking, it took us 30 min to pass Kenknock Farm and finally reach the River Lochay and the crossing point. It had been a perfect track for bikes of which we had none (hmm…first idea for a Xmas present, if I’m allowed to mention that word in September without rocks being thrown.)

ImageCrossing point of River Lochay, benign today though still over the ankles by scotlandmac, on Flickr

There had been quite a bit of rain so the river was higher than we thought – easy to cross still but Chris had put his old boots on (given the path promise) and got wet feet from the off. I was ok with new boots and gaiters (why I bothered with these I don’t know, I usually hate them but I thought we’d check out Sgiath Chuil too and see if it appealed. I knew that would be a boggy crossing. Clearly Chris had already decided we were NOT doing it. :think:

The path from here on past pretty Lubchurran Cottage was excellent. Wide and often grassy/mossy – like an old pony track. All the hills around had steep sides but mostly our route took us very pleasantly, up, up, up with great views back to Creag Mhor, the Ptarmigan Ridge and Meall Ghaordaidh.

ImageGreat path - Sgiath Chuil ahead (big drop between) by scotlandmac, on Flickr

I must admit, I felt really tired even during the drive up in the car (2 hours from our home in Glasgow) and didn’t feel I was walking very quickly right from the off. So much of a hill is psychological and I was feeling lazy. We’d climbed Ben Nevis exactly a week ago but I’d felt like a different person on that much more strenuous, longer hill, full of energy and enthused.

Came to the track end an hour after crossing the river; with a 200m 'high' start the climb up had only been 470m or so. We were now at the bottom of the wide grassy shoulder which led up to Beinn Cheathaich. In fact, I could see the summit above us – or pretty close to it.
We sat here for 10 mins or so admiring rugged Creag Mhor and the emerald green glen below. Very remote feeling country. Meall Ghaordaidh looked good too. Some of the deer grass was already turning that gorgeous tawny/amber of autumn.

ImageCreag Mhor by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageMeall Ghaoraidh and Ptarmigan Ridge appearing by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImagePtarmigan Ridge by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Then Chris with his sharp eyesight spotted a small speck way up above Beinn Sheasgarnaich opposite and we both peered at it; buzzard or eagle? It had to be a Golden Eagle surely and as it came closer into focus there was no doubt about it - those great wings and the sheer scale of the bird overall. What a sight! And then as we watched, two other dots appeared higher up again, circling slowly in the up draught - three eagles in total! I was frantically zooming in with the camera to try to get a decent shot but they were a distance away. In no time they had disappeared, on the hunt.

ImageGolden Eagle by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Got packed up again - onwards and upwards, all very well this sitting about munching crisps and a Kit Kat – there was another Ikm and 250m of ascent to the top of Beinn Cheathaich.

ImageBig grassy slopes to Beinn Cheathaich by scotlandmac, on Flickr

At this height, though there was now no path at all, the ground was soft but easy enough and not boggy. Beinn Challum was beginning to appear....and Cruachan's twin peaks too.....

ImageBeinn Challum appearing and twin peaks of Cruachan by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Picked up a good path nearer the top and in half an hour, we were up at the Trig Point on Beinn Cheathaich and wow, what a view... :shock:

Ben More looked tremendous to the south, almost directly opposite with Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean close by.

ImageBeinn Cheathaich summit view to Ben More by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageBen More and Cruach Ardrain by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Clach Liath up in Glencoe was visible, with its distinctive shape...

ImageCreag Mhor with Clach Liath in distance by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Ben Alder's huge plateau summit was clear too, above Corrour.

ImageBen Alder zoomed by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Was that the Drumochter hills beyond that? Or even Cairngorm around Glen Feshie, something appearing as a long flat top? Not sure on that one. Directly opposite, Sgiath Chuill looked incredibly steep– almost impossibly so. Didn’t fancy that much! Very boggy ground below us and all around, the water glinting in the bright sunlight.

ImageSgiath Chuil , Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin behind far distance by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Where was Meall Glas though? I peered across to the right and was slightly shocked at how far away it still looked - and with a climb.

ImageTowards Meall Glas from Beinn Cheathaich by scotlandmac, on Flickr

It was deceptive though and actually only 1.5km away with 110m of ascent. The path was now excellent and in 30 mins we were on its lovely large summit. So – 2hrs 45 after setting out, we had made it.

ImageLast section to Meall Glas by scotlandmac, on Flickr

A wee mini lochan appeared with grasses already turning red (well, a boggy bit really but it was nice...)

ImageBen More,Cruach Ardrain and other hills near Crianlarich by scotlandmac, on Flickr

It really is a tremendous viewpoint for sheer range of vistas. Ben More of course, but now also Ben Lui and Arran appeared through a gap too.

ImageArran on horizon left, beyond The Cobbler and Beinn Narnain by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Behind us, the great wedge of Ben Nevis was crystal clear, as was the long ridge that makes up the Aonachs from this angle and which we’d climbed a month ago. Carn Mor Dearg was clear too and Bidean nam Bian. Was that Ben Starav also? It looked like it and the sharp pyramid top of Stob Coir' an Albannaich.

ImageBen Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg and Aonachs in distance zoomed by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageFar distance Ben Starav (towards centre), Bidean nam Bian right of centre, Ben Nevis far right by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageMeikle Bin right and Tinto left far horizon by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Arran zoomed a bit more....

ImageArran by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Meikle Bin’s tiny triangular top peered above the Campsies, always well seen from around Glasgow and beyond that, Tinto in South Lanarkshire. To the east, the distinctive twin tops of the Lomond Hills in Fife were visible. Stuc a Chroin and Ben Vorlich looked great though I always shudder a bit when I see the former – years ago, I was part of a group of 12 that scrambled up its steep nose and remember thinking if one of us fell we'd be like dominoes, each knocking the other over and tumbling down the face in turns :shock:

Neither of us could stop just constantly looking around, identifying mountains we’d climbed and those we hadn’t (probably more of the latter unfortunately :( ) Ben Lui looked its full height, very majestic beyond Beinn Challum.

ImageBen Lui left of Beinn Challum by scotlandmac, on Flickr

ImageBen Lui zoomed by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Chatted to a couple from Ayrshire who had competed 30 Munros during their unplanned Staycation. Very impressive, especially since the chap had a lung condition. I always thinks its really interesting who you get to meet on a hill walk and often humbling too. So much for my feeling 'lazy' and ‘a bit tired’ when here was someone battling a serious health challenge and cheery as anything on the top. :clap:

The wind wasn’t strong but it was cold after half an hour or so of sitting on a nice flat rock, drinking in the grandeur along with my tea. I was surprised too at how rugged and steep Beinn Challum ‘next door’ looked – climbing it from the south it had looked much softer.

ImageBeinn Challum by scotlandmac, on Flickr

A sudden high pitched whistling sound behind us made us turn around, to see a large flock of Snow Buntings flying over the moorland beyond the summit cairn. In fact, the last 4 or so Munros we've done recently we've seen Snow Buntings, not sure if the are particularly active just now or perhaps, hopefully, becoming more common.

Chris enjoyed his beer (I don't think I'd get down in on piece if I had anything alcoholic.) I drank Chris's flask of tea too as he was, he said 'onto better things' but we both demolished the chicken sandwiches. Actually I could have done with more to eat on this walk; I don't always feel that hungry on a walk but have learned to just eat anyway. But I hadn’t packed enough and felt famished on the way down. Odd and part of the general tiredness no doubt.

Feeling hungry despite all the sandwiches but now in my Nanook of the North jacket...

ImageMyself on Meall Glas.Beinn Challum behind and Ben Lui (left) by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Zoom to Bidean nam Bian which seemed to be getting clearer all the time as often happens as the afternoon wears on...

ImageBidean nam Bian by scotlandmac, on Flickr

The thought of descending ALL the way down off Meall Glas and then crossing that bog fest below, then the BIG steep climb up to Sgiath Chuill did not appeal one iota. So back we headed the way we came , off the summit and along the col where we met a young woman and her partner (everyone is young these days) :lol: who asked ‘how boggy’ the descent route off Meall Glas was. She meant the Glen Dochart side but we hadn’t been there so couldn’t re-assure (or horrify) her. She admitted how she had hated the walk to the other Munro AND the crossing to/ ascent up this one, up to mid calf in bog several times. I think she just needed to rant a bit and maybe saw the sympathy in my face .Now that a good path had appeared and the ascent was nearly over, she said it was the first time she’d had a smile on her face all day, yet conscious that everyone she’d met had been cheery and raving about the weather/the walk/ life in general.As people do on the hills mostly :D

I really had to laugh and said she was a girl after my own heart – my mood can go up and down on a walk (and to it) with as many dips and knolls as the hill itself. Cheered again with meeting another poor soul who lives life on an emotional rollercoaster (in contrast to Chris whose emotional mood if measured would be a long flat line) I felt an admiration for her pushing through the 2 Munros despite feeling rotten, while we'd chickened out.

On we went on the good path to Beinn Cheathaich before dropping off it before the summit to contour across its northern slopes as a wee short cut...

ImageTowards Beinn Cheathaich from Meall Glas.Ptarmigan Ridge behind by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Chris was determined to take another short cut lower down and suggested making our way down the hill's eastern slopes to pick up the path but I loved that path and had noticed, as I always do, plenty of crags lower down which would make it less than fun (for me at any rate.)

ImageHeading down from B.Cheathaich. by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Great views to enjoy on the descent once more to the north...

ImagePanorama opening up by scotlandmac, on Flickr

Then below us, running across the track, I noticed a small herd of Red Deer hinds, looking so beautiful in the autumn light, their coats coppery bronze. They'd caught our scent alright and briefly looked back at me as I watched them , before bounding off again. Lovely sight. I'm always thrilled to see Red Deer, even though they are a fairly common sight on the mountains.

ImageRed Deer hinds below by scotlandmac, on Flickr

We did cut the corner a little bit but not much and what a delightful path it was to return to, bringing us down easily to Lubchurran again and the river.

ImageTowards Beinn Sheasgarnaich, lower down by scotlandmac, on Flickr

What a day it had been for weather, clarity and views, the great shadows of the clouds sweeping across the hills dramatically and creating great light. 6 hours it had taken us in total, with plenty of photo stops and longer breaks to just sit and absorb the views. Not a speck on my gaiters either, as dry a route as I could have wished for :)
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Anne C
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Re: The Dry Route to Meall Glas

Postby Petr Dakota » Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:15 pm

Beautiful photos :thumbup: :clap: :clap:
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Re: The Dry Route to Meall Glas

Postby Anne C » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:28 am

Thank you Petr...it was one of those days with such great light, everything looked so dramatic and clear.
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Anne C
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Re: The Dry Route to Meall Glas

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:33 pm

You have some lovely photos and lol I am glad that I am not the only one which mood can change all the time during a hill walk. :lol:
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Re: The Dry Route to Meall Glas

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:10 am

What fantastic photos!

I think your route choice was great. The popular route from the south including Sgiath Chuil sounds like a boggy slog that leaves people with a negative impression of both hills.

I climbed Sgiath Chuil from the east and it was a brilliant walk. I will definitely be using your route if I ever go to Meall Glas!

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Re: The Dry Route to Meall Glas

Postby Anne C » Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:10 am

Many thanks Tim, glad you enjoyed the photos! It's certainly a longer route than from the southern side but the path really is a cracker.On the OS map, I was looking at a long track coming in from the east which looked an interesting (and drier) route than from Auchessan. But I've never seen it referred to at all anywhere.Was that the one you used yourself?
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Anne C
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Re: The Dry Route to Meall Glas

Postby Anne C » Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:27 am

Mountainlove wrote:You have some lovely photos and lol I am glad that I am not the only one which mood can change all the time during a hill walk. :lol:

Thanks for your kind comments re the photos Mountainlove, the clarity was so good.I really was amazed at the views - just where it is, so much opens up.
I can't believe you're moody on a hill :D - intrepid explorer more like it but glad to know I'm in such good company :thumbup:
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Anne C
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