A wander below Salamander

Date walked: 21/02/2021

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 15km

Ascent: 248m

Having lived in Beauly for nearly two decades, strangely, we never wandered into Gleann Meinich, despite it having a good track for over 6km. Somehow we always found what we thought were more interesting areas to investigate. Only last year when we repeated Meall na Faochaig, sitting on the summit, we noticed this glen and thought it would be worth exploring.

Today, all I can say is WOW. Not only we loved the experience but also invented two new routes for the future explorations. Creag Dubh, an outlying top of Sgurr a'Mhuilinn, looks an absolute cracker (we're not tackling it via the rock climbing route, we are not that crazy!) also, Gleann Meinich provides an interesting alternative approach to the above mentioned Graham, Meall na Faochaig. Let's say, today's walk was just a bit of sniffing around, checking out the area before the bigger, braver days of spring and summer.

There is a good layby for several cars at the entrance to the glen (next to Glenmeanich farm) so we could just park up and go!

Track_GLEANN MEINICH 15KM.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The day was windy with passing showers so not good conditions for going too high, but Gleann Meinich provided us with enough fun for one short wander!
Meall na Faochaig from the start of the walk:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 003.JPG

Despite high winds, it was warm and sunny at the moment so we used two cameras to photograph the glen in good morning light. Just from the beginning, Creag Dubh is a dominant feature (seen behind me in the photo below):
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 009.JPG

River Meinich was in huuuge spate today, but we both agreed that in the summer it would be possible to cross it (saw several good spots en route) and tackle Meall na Faochaig from this side. There are gaps in the forest and one could sneak up the Graham following the slopes just north of the crags called Creag na Saile. But that's an idea for dry days.
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 165.JPG

It seems that deer in this glen ale well cared for, we counted three feeders full of fresh hay and salt for licking, too. No wonder they stick around rather than venturing higher up the slopes:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 029.JPG

Speaking of venturing higher up, I was very excited to see Creag Dubh from closer proximity. This is something I'd love to explore!
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 030.JPG

The upper part of the cliffs of Creag Dubh is called Salamander and is well known in the rock climbing circles, graded a HVS 5b climb. We're going nowhere near this vertical schist wall, but I'd love to reach the summit of Creag Dubh and look down from the top :lol:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 202.JPG

Back to our wander in the glen, the track crosses several pine plantations:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 184.JPG

Old ruins in the forest:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 037.JPG

I was worried we might struggle to cross Allt a 'Chair, but discovered soon that there was a bridge over the stream:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 192.JPG

I thought, if we walked along Allt a 'Chair, we could climb above the forest and follow the SE shoulder of Creag Dubh. It looks steep-ish and overgrown by heather, but this line avoids all the crags and would take us to the top. We just need a nice day with low winds for it!
Panther investigating:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 039.JPG

The crags of Creag Dubh in their full glory:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 197.JPG

2021-02-21 gleann meinich 213.JPG

Having spent enough time studying the Salamander cliffs from below, we continued up the glen. At the moment, the top of the valley was "somewhere over the rainbow":
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 053.JPG

We were surprised, how quickly the snow was malting from even the highest tops of Strathconon:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 207.JPG

The river was still frozen in several spots, but it felt like the last remnants of the dying winter...
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 057.JPG

Have I mentioned rivers in spate? :lol: :lol: :lol: Allt a'Droighin proved quite a headache:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 071.JPG

We managed to cross it somehow and continued up the glen, admiring the steep slopes on both sides. Climbing out of Gleann Meinich at this point would be tricky to say the least!
Allt na h-Eilig waterfalls:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 073.JPG

Another stream, this one with no name on 25k map, coming down the northern side of the valley:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 083.JPG

One more river crossing, this time easy to tackle:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 080.JPG

After the last crossing, the track deteriorated a bit, became more boggy, but it was still following River Meinich. We kept walking, decided to go as far as the track would take us:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 228.JPG

Even up here, the river looked uncrossable and we had no intention of trying!
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 095.JPG

We found a good sheltered spot for our tea and cookies break. A 15 min shower came and went, leaving behind blue sky and sunshine. Walking up the glen was now pure pleasure!
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 119.JPG

The upper Gleann Meinich is stunning. We only reached as far as the end of the obvious track, but one could easily walk out much further onto the moorland, even climb the western tops of Strathconon Corbetts from here (we had visited them one time when repeating the Corbetts via the traditional route, but we could re-do the tops from this side, just for fun!).
The possible route up Sgurr a'Ghlas Leathaid to the left, above the forest line:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 134.JPG

Looking into Gleann Meinich from the end of the track, Creag Dubh dominates the view:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 137.JPG

More waterfalls:
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 242.JPG

2021-02-21 gleann meinich 152.JPG

If it wasn't so windy... We never planned going higher than the top of the glen today and didn't even have proper hillwalking equipment, so despite weather improving, we had to turn back here, but I'm desperate to return to this glen and use it as an approach to Meall na Faochaig. We had been to Cnap na Feola (the 579m N top of the Graham) before and it looks possible to reach this top from the upper end of Gleann Meinich. Not to mention climbing Creag Dubh!
2021-02-21 gleann meinich 252.JPG

I simply can't wait for another visit to this beautiful corner of Strathconon for more ambitious hillwalking, forest-trashing and heather-bashing. Spring is in the air and I feel so mountain-deprived... Yes, we did visit several easy Grahams in the depths of winter, but my brain needs heights to recharge. As if I was suffering from low altitude sickness :shock: :sick: At least my knee seems better, the injury is still not 100% healed but I rarely feel it at all. So glad that spring arrived early this year, hopefully the sunny weather stays with us for longer :D

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User avatar
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire
Interests: Hillwalking, cycling, jogging, mushroom picking and many other outdoor activities, meowing on mountain summits included :P
Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Beinn Eighe
Place: Isle of Skye
Gear: well... my husband ;)))
Camera: FujiFilm Finepix HS10
Ideal day out: Anything - from beach strolls to scrambling up icy slopes. Just bring it on!
Ambition: Tick off all Munros...

Munros: 260
Corbetts: 165
Grahams: 114
Sub 2000: 49
Long Distance routes: Dava Way    Moray Coastal Trail   

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Last visited: Feb 25, 2021
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