Great Glen Meet: Tee before 2 at Loch Lochy.

Munros: Meall na Teanga, Sron a'Choire Ghairbh
Corbetts: Ben Tee

Date walked: 10/11/2017

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 25.4km

Ascent: 2036m

In the light of an iffy weather forecast...


... I’d been dithering about whether to go to the WH Highland meet or not: it’s a long drive for c**p weather. But the fact that, to judge from their reports, a number of folk had experienced very acceptable weather in the past few weeks, pessimistic forecasts notwithstanding, tipped the balance in favour of taking the risk. And boy am I glad I did: superb weather on all 3 days! :D

I decided to go up on the Thursday with a view to getting at least 3 days walking in as recompense for the long drive, and apart from a major detour around Loch Lomond due to the A82 being closed, I had a clear run up to South Laggan, arriving at about 17.00. A few other WHs had also arrived on the Thursday, so after getting my tent pitched and my walking gear ready for the morrow, I enjoyed a very pleasant evening meeting various folk whom I only "knew" from WH reports and posts.

For Friday I opted to go for Ben Tee and the 2 Loch Lochy munros, possibly including Meall na h-Eilde if time permitted.

I set the alarm for 6.30am with the idea of starting just before dawn at about 6.45am, but the usual hopeless faffing about means that I don’t actually get going ‘til about 7.15, when it is already fairly light.

Although there is no marked path behind the hostel, I’d planned simply to cut across the fields to the Great Glen Way which in that area runs alongside the Caledonian Canal. These fields turn out to be pretty boggy, and I am lucky to get away with crossing it without sinking up to my knees! Glad I have the head torch for these first few minutes!


But once on the GGW, progress is swift and I’m soon at Laggan Locks...

Image20171110_073104. ... where the view south west down the loch, with the long line of hills beginning with Meall nan Dearcag on the right, starts the adrenaline going.

The original plan had been to start with the ridge from Meall nan Dearcag, then continue to Sron a’Choire Ghairbh, Meall na Teanga, across to Meall na h-Eilde, then back via Ben Tee. But this would have taken at least 11 hours – so a fair bit of walking in the dark. But then if I omitted na h-Eilde, it would involve an out-and-back to Meall na Teanga. In weighing the various options on the Thursday night, I hadn’t really come to any conclusion, so I have set off without a fixed plan.

Image20171110_075842. Without thinking, I head directly for the ridge. On the Meall nan Dearcag side of the burn. Burn? I think maybe I mean: river. Or rather: river and gorge! This pic gives some inkling of the gorge hidden behind the greenery; but I wasn't really focused.

Image20171110_080627. Looking back early on during the initial ascent.

Ben Tee and the hills behind are initially shrouded in cloud, but then it starts to clear…
Image20171110_084152. YES! What a magical effect a dusting of the white stuff has!

But at this point I’m suddenly reminded of the fact that, in the probable event that there isn’t time to get to Meall na h-Eilde, I’ll have to do an “out-and-back” to Meall na Teanga. Which really does not appeal. Moreover, everywhere the summits are clearing, and they all look just as appealing as the Meall nan Dearcag ridge. => change direction, do the route anticlockwise, starting with Ben Tee. So I change direction, and head towards Ben Tee.

This is the route that I eventually take.

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Unfortunately, I haven’t weighed up adequately all the issues. Including how to cross the not insubstantial Kilfinnan Burn; and the gorge it flows through…


I arrive at the gorge and see that even to get from the edge of the gorge down to water level is something of a challenge. Moreover, it’s clear that it won’t be possible to ford the burn (= raging torrent!) by means of the rubble bag technique...


So there are only 2 options: to walk sufficiently far upstream that the burn is fordable (on the basis of the map, likely to be a horribly long way); or find a tree that has fallen across the burn, and use that as a makeshift bridge.

As it turns out, I find such a fallen tree fairly quickly.


But it’s quite a steep gorge…

Climbing down it ain’t easy, and I have to take my gloves off to be secure; with the result that I can barely feel my fingers by the time I get to the fallen tree. The tree looks pretty ancient, mouldy and slippery; so I don’t feel like attempting a Blondin-style tightrope walking approach. And hence go for a straddling technique, with the intention of bum-shuffling across.


The only problem is that there are a couple of branches on the upper surface of the tree trunk, one in particular oriented almost parallel to the trunk, and facing towards the direction of shuffle. In order to pass it, I’ll have to break it off; and if I do, I can expect a sharp split end facing my direction of shuffle, threatening to injure me in a particularly sensitive and delicate location :shock: .

But: Hobson’s choice.

So I start my shuffle.

The threatening branch breaks off in exactly the way I fear, and so I have to lift myself - like a gymnast on a pommel horse - over the sharp point of the splintered end… Fear somehow provides the necessary facility, and I just manage to clear it (I did, honest...).
Image20171110_090858. How did I get across that...???

While I’m engaged in this anatomically risky manoeuvre, it has started to snow, and by the time I arrive at the other side I’ve lost all sensation in my fingers. It takes about 15 minutes before reasonable temperature equilibrium returns. :roll:

The ascent of Ben Tee is quite long, but unproblematic; and by the time I reach the summit the sky has further cleared and the views are superb.

Ahead is Meall a' Choire Ghlas, the start of a fabulous looking horseshoe that circles around to Sron a'Choire Ghairbh (a mere 350m of ascent/descent away :roll: ).

It's somewhat breezy and cold, so I don't linger on the summit.

The descent to the belach separating Ben Tee from the next hill, Meall a'Choire Glas, is pretty steep (= good exercise for the knees).

Image20171110_110549. This pic is looking back up north east towards Ben Tee.

Image20171110_113106. View in more or less the same direction from close to the ridge... Loch Lochy in the background (Ben Beny unfortunately not visible :D ).

Image20171110_114730. Once on Meall a'Choire Ghlais, the vista that opens up is simply breathtaking... On the far LHS is Sron a'Choire Ghairbh, the first munro of the day. If you like panos, it's worth clicking on the image to get full screen size; and even then, it's only a pale shadow of the real thing.

Shortly after this pic, a snow flurry closes in, and it's just a whiteout. Fortunately the general horseshoe route I plan to follow is a ridge with steep cliffs to the LHS, so route-finding is manageable (albeit I'm taking bearings every hundred metres or so :roll: ).

The gently undulating terrain is quite disorienting in the whiteout, but eventually (and - surprisingly - without ever straying significantly off course) I arrive at my goal...

Image20171110_123606. It's now blowing quite hard - perhaps 40 mph. I put my map case down, and weight it under a large stone, so that I can take a couple of pics... ... yes, you can guess what's coming... :(

All of a sudden there's a really dramatic gust of wind. I'm so busy trying both to remain on my feet, and to photograph the flurry, that I pay no attention to the map case. But when the wind has dropped and I walk the few steps back to the cairn to retrieve the map, I discover that it is no longer there. It is no more. (It seems) it is a gone map...

Not good :( .

I'm contemplating how to deal with this, when the whiteout unexpectedly clears, and I see a number of walkers heading towards me from the south, one of them - which turns out to be Darren - only a couple of hundred metres away.

For some reason he is expecting me ("Are you alter Knacker???"). We chat for a very short while (it's VERY cold :roll: ). I tell him what's happened with my map, and he very kindly indeed offers to accompany me down to the bealach to the south, and then give me his map so I can continue my planned walk, while he heads back to pick up his missus in Fort William. Is that kindness, or what??? :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: A thousand thanks Darren - I owe you a beer or 5...

In the event, I take a few steps windward to get some views, and am very quickly out of the strong wind. So it occurs to me that perhaps the map case has landed a little further down the slope. To calls from Darren of, "Take care!", I descend 20 or 30 metres windward from the summit. And see my map case. Alleluia! :clap: :clap: :clap: I wasn't bothered about the map, but the case is by a million miles the best I've ever had: it's lasted aeons, is completely watertight, robust, and I really did not want to lose it.

The sky clears further, and we see further WHs heading up towards us. Darren and I head back down to the bealach, he to pick up his missus, I to ascend Meall na Teanga - the approach ridge to which looks utterly irresistable.


Image20171110_125614. The hill with the spindrift/cloud is Meall na Teanga - wild, or what??? :D :D :D .

Image]20171110_131649. This view is looking back from the ascent to Meall Dubh at the south shoulder of Sron a'Choire Ghairbh and the descent to the bealach between Meall na Teanga and Sron a'Choire Ghairbh. The stalkers' path is very evident, but in these conditions it is much quicker and easier simply to descend as the crow flies. The ascent to Meall na Teanga involves a part ascent towards Meall Dubh, and then countouring round to the right to hit the ridge up to Meall na Teanga.


Image20171110_134833. On the ascent to Meall na Teanga, looking back at Sron a'Choire Ghairbh (LHS) and Meall Dubh (RHS).

Image20171110_135850. Approaching the summit of Meall na Teanga, the views quite literally take the breath away. The spindrift/cloud shed off the edge of Meall Coire Lochan is reminiscent of those iconic Everest pics.

Image20171110_140421. Notwithstanding the chill, I linger on the summit as long as I can, imbibing the phenomenal views.


Image20171110_142002. It's all downhill from here, as they say. My main concern is to minimise the distance I have to negotiate forestry, which is normally very bad news indeed for effective progress.


In the event, even though I head for the shortest forestry section I can see, I end up spending something like an hour getting through a few hundred metres of dense forestry :( . So I can't recommend this part of the route. I'd originally planned to aim for what looked on the map like a fire break that started at 237926, but I'd overlooked the need to cross the Allt Glas-Dhoire Mor, which is a pretty sizeable watercourse. If one were to repeat this walk, I suspect that the most pleasant and speedy route would be to head round to Meall Coire Lochain and then descend south for about 500 metres before heading east to Sron Bhreac. From there, assuming negotiation of the cliffs is manageable, a couple of hundred metres travelling south east should get one to a fire break starting at 226910, from which one should be able to get down to the Great Glen Way.

ImageMeall na Teanga down to GGW.

In the event, after spending what seems like an eternity in the forestry, I emerge on to the Great Glen Way (my clothes full of uncomfortable bits of pine tree), and am able to get back to the campsite reasonably swiftly.

I'd tentatively recommend this route, especially in winter, the only real reservation being that I have not tested the way back down on to the GGW that I describe above.

Image3D of route.

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Comments: 2

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User avatar
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)
Activity: Scrambler
Pub: The Bell, Trysull
Mountain: Cuillin Ridge
Place: Glen Brittle
Gear: Compass
Member: None
Ideal day out: Heavy ridge walk with plenty of scrambling and height gain - eg Welsh 3000ers, Wastwater Circuit, Cuillin Ridge
Munro rounds: 50

Munros: 138
Corbetts: 17
Wainwrights: 46
Hewitts: 144

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