Meall nan Eun from Loch Dochard

Munros: Meall nan Eun

Date walked: 28/05/2017

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 25km

Ascent: 750m

Having done most of the Etive Hills in ones and twos in Winter, I was left with Meall nan Eun to bag. Rather than returning to Glen Etive, which seems horrendously crowded in Summer nowadays, I decided to try the approach from Victoria Bridge. After reading weedavie's report at https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=67684, I thought I would take the route via the Mam nan Sac.

I drove up from London on the Saturday and camped at Tyndrum. Next morning I drove up to the car park at Victoria Bridge. I was last here in the 90s, and remembered you set off from the car park on the track to Clashgour, as per my 1989 OS map which I was using. What I hadn't realised was that the car park I had parked in was a new one, away from Forest Lodge. The bridge where people were camping was not in fact Victoria Bridge, which was slightly further up the road. I had therefore cycled off up the wrong track to the monument. This didn't seem right, and I soon ended up in a field of cows. At least there was a nice view back to Loch Tulla.

Image003 Loch Tulla by prwild, on Flickr

Returning to the car, I consulted the 2015 Memory Map on my iPad and realised my mistake. So I set off on my bike again up the road to Forest Lodge.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

A peacock was displaying at Forest Lodge, but the peahen didn't seem that interested. Or perhaps she was just playing hard to get.

Image004 Peacocks by prwild, on Flickr

I soon reached the point where the footpath by the Abhainn Shira branched away from the track to Clashgour Farm. Judging by the signs, the farmer preferred people take the path by the stream. I remembered weedavie had commented they were fed up with cyclists at Clashgour.

Image005 No Through Route to Clashgour by prwild, on Flickr

I had been planning to leave the bike at Clashgour, but maybe this wasn't such a good idea. I was pretty sure I had a right of way via the farm, but had no desire to upset anyone. So I took the path by the river thinking I could perhaps head up to the farm by the gate further on (which was the way we had gone some 20 years ago on a short walk when the weather was too vile for a winter hill walk).

The path wasn't cyclable, so I locked up the bike a few yards further on, just out of sight from the track. It was a pleasant walk by the river, with the light occasionally breaking through the clouds.

Image006 Light on Abhainn Shira by prwild, on Flickr

On reaching the gate, I found it closed and locked. Again, things had changed since I was last here.

Image007 Ford across Allt Ghabhar by prwild, on Flickr

I contemplated climbing over the gate and heading up via Clashgour. But the Mam nan Sac route looked shrouded in low clouds and the route by the Abhainn Shira was pleasant, so I decided to carry on and have a look at Loch Dochart and see if I could get up to Meall nan Eun that way. So I crossed the ford and carried on through a partly wooded section, where my foot went into the mud to my knee at one point. I was a bit confused to see a footbridge ahead, as I thought I had already forded the Abhainn Shira, but on checking the map I realised that I had taken the side path through the trees (some of which must have been cut down since my map was printed) and this footbridge was the true crossing over the Abhainn Shira.

Image008 Footbridge over Abhainn Shira by prwild, on Flickr

I carried on along what was now a better track towards Loch Dochart. This part would have been cyclable if I had got the bike this far (perhaps via Clashgour). There were some orchids along the way.

Image009 Orchid by prwild, on Flickr

Soon Loch Dochard came into view, with glimpses of Meall nan Eun in the low cloud.

Image010 Track to Loch Dochard by prwild, on Flickr

The sun began to come out as I reached the Loch, and I was pleased to have come this way as there were some good views across to Meall nan Eun and the Etive Hills.

Image011 Loch Dochard Panorama by prwild, on Flickr

Image012 Meall nan Eun from Loch Dochard 1 by prwild, on Flickr

Image013 Meall nan Eun from Loch Dochard 2 by prwild, on Flickr

From what I had read in Irvine Butterfield's 'The High Mountains' and weedavie's comment, the approach to Meall nan Eun across the flat ground west of Loch Dochard was likely to be a bogfest. But there had been a prolonged dry spell (albeit it had rained heavily after I got my tent up last night) so I carried on, looking for a possible way across. To my surprise I found what looked a viable track heading in the right direction (which can just be made out branching off to the right in the next picture - it was clearer on the ground).

Image014 A faint track across the bog by prwild, on Flickr

This started off well, and was quite dry (as Scottish tracks go).

Image015 Cloud lifting from Meall nan Eun by prwild, on Flickr

It forded a stream, with the views to Meall nan Eun improving all the time.

Image016 Fording a stream by prwild, on Flickr

From this point the track disappeared. There was a semblance of a path, but it was getting boggier and at one point I went in up to my knees for a second time. This would not be a sensible route in wet conditions, but it was perfectly passable in dry conditions. You can put your foot in a bog on most routes in Scotland if you're not careful.

Image017 Getting closer to Meall nan Eun by prwild, on Flickr

The next decision was whether I took weedavie's route up the obvious gully on the SE face of the hill or went up the valley of Coire Chaorach to the left. I decided the valley looked easier and there was a nice waterslide that way.

Image018 Waterslide in Coire Chaorach by prwild, on Flickr

Image019 Looking back to Loch Dochard by prwild, on Flickr

Image020 Coire Chaorach by prwild, on Flickr

The obvious route was to follow the stream all the way up to the bealach with Meall Tarsuinn. But it's difficult to resist the temptation to head up early. I climbed gradually away from the stream, looking for a way up past the crags to my right, even though the ground was rougher and I was making slower progress. Eventually the crags began to break up, and I thought I could see a way up.

Image021 My ascent route by prwild, on Flickr

I climbed steeply up, with the odd minor scramble over rocky bits, and good views back to the more sensible route.

Image022 Stob Coire an Albannaich and Meall Tarsuinn by prwild, on Flickr

As the gradient began to ease, some deer appeared on the skyline. As they often do, they looked surprised to see a human appearing in their territory.

Image023 Deer on the skyline by prwild, on Flickr

I cleared the crags and emerged onto the plateau. Soon the summit cairn appeared.

Image024 First sight of the summit cairn by prwild, on Flickr

An easy stroll took me to the summit. It had taken me just over 4 hours to get here (not counting the abortive start). It was now 12:15; time for lunch part 1.

Image025 Meall nan Eun summit by prwild, on Flickr

The earlier low cloud had cleared during my approach and moving away from the cairn gave good views
to the Stob Ghabhar group and back to Loch Dochard and Loch Tulla beyond.

Image026 Stob a'Bhruaich Leith Panorama by prwild, on Flickr

Image027 Lochs Dochard and Tulla Panorama by prwild, on Flickr

For the return route I headed down to the bealach.

Image028 Stob Coir an Albannaich and Meall Tarsuinn by prwild, on Flickr

My last (and 250th) Munro, Beinn Fhionnlaidh could be seen emerging from the clouds.

Image029 Towards Beinn Fhionnlaidh by prwild, on Flickr

I descended by a much easier route following the stream down into Coire Chaorach.

Image030 Meall nan Eun Panorama by prwild, on Flickr

Image031 Descent into Coire Chaorach by prwild, on Flickr

There were some more orchids here.

Image032 Orchids in Coire Chaorach by prwild, on Flickr

I stopped at the waterslide to wash my feet in the cool water.

Image033 Allt Coire Chaorach by prwild, on Flickr

It was then just a matter of picking up my outward route and following it back. But that wasn't so easy on the boggy flats west of Loch Dochard, and my foot went in up to the knee for the third time today.

Image034 A Bit Boggy by prwild, on Flickr

It had cleared up nicely by now, and I retook some of my photos from earlier plus a few from different angles.

Image035 Fording the stream again by prwild, on Flickr

Image036 Track by Loch Dochard by prwild, on Flickr

Image037 Meall nan Eun from Loch Dochard 3 by prwild, on Flickr

Image038 Loch Dochard Panorama 2 by prwild, on Flickr

Image039 Back across the Footbridge over Abhainn Shira by prwild, on Flickr

I saw a distant speck which looked like it might be an eagle above the ridge leading down from Stob a' Choire Odhair, but it was too far away to come out on a photo.

Image040 Stob a Choire Odhair by prwild, on Flickr

Image042 Ford across Allt Ghabhar 2 by prwild, on Flickr

Eventually I reached where I had left the bike.

Image043 Back to the bike by prwild, on Flickr

It was a good fast ride out down the track. Here I met my first other people of the day.

This is probably the most scenic approach to Meall nan Eun if doing it on its own, but only to be attempted in dry conditions.

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Comments: 1

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Phil the Hill

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Location: Wallington, Surrey
Occupation: Solicitor
Activity: Walker
Pub: Cluanie Inn
Mountain: Tryfan
Place: Knoydart
Gear: Gore Tex Jacket
Ideal day out: An expedition to a remote Munro from a well-planned wild camp
Ambition: to compleat the Munros

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