Friday, 2 January 2015

Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh & An Stuc then Ben Lawers

Following my last trip I took on Ben More and Stob Binnein I went with the same vein with my next plan, Munro's I haven't summitted (yet). There are a few of these, what I look for though is interesting routes and summits, not to complete the checklist. I found the three Munro route on Walk Highlands.
The start is from the Ben Lawers Hotel, then along the road until you reach a little art gallery. This is where the incline starts, a track that runs by a farm. The farm must've experienced some foot traffic from walkers as they have installed some clear signage.
The sign below was my favourite, using one of BSB's Squarials as the canvas. Brilliant case of up-cycling.
Once directed by the farm and across a stile you are in to a small wood. Lawers burn runs through the wood, alongside the path. Later the burns source will guide me back down into the wood. The stile on the other end reveals the days route, into the Nature Reserve and the initial plan of Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh and An Stuc.
The weather proved to be better than was forecast. Once I was in the play park the weather, views and summits opened up and the day properly began.

The climb to the top of Meall Greigh is slow and steady, looking back over Loch Tay helped the breather stops. As I climbed up, looking across towards my other two goals and Ben Lawers right then I knew I had to include the biggest hump. It would be rude not to do the fourth.
At the first summit I got a bit snap happy but I couldn't help it as the view was too good. From here the route doesn't loose a lot of altitude. So I cracked on.
As I wandered along the track, taking in the surroundings I noticed the cloud moving in from the north. I've seen this before but you never know how long the blanket will last. Along with this there was a lot deer making a lot of noise.
As the path went on I noticed down below a herd of the fine looking beasts bound towards the incoming cloud. They disappeared then I was engulfed.
And then it was gone, it passed as quick as it blew in. The views opened up again. There'a a couple of points where it gets a bit boggy. There is a point where you cross a particularly moist area.  Make sure you use the boards that have been thrown down and not allow your leg to go calf deep in the mud. I don't know what idiot would do that. So onwards...
More cloud crept by but it didn't hang about for long and didn't hinder my views. I continued along the route to the next peak, Meall Garbh. It could be quite easily walked by, there's a small cairn that distinguishes the peak on the path. It gets the cursory touch as I summit and pass through.
As I dropped in to the col between Garbh and An Stuc I decided this would be a good spot for lunch. The rocky face that stood tempting me whilst I ate was too much of a lure for me. So when I packed up I decided that instead of taking the track left hand side of the peak as you look at it on the picture above I went for the scramble right up the middle. 

On reflection it wasn't my best move. I got up it but the rocks were loose and the shrubbery surrounding the geology wasn't keen on being pulled on.

Once on to the summit of An Stuc I made way down in the bealach below that was to be my exit in to the lochan and the return path.
But the earlier thoughts didn't disappear and the fourth Munro had to be included in todays outing. The path up did look like it was going to be tough on the weary legs I had dangling from my waist but up I went.
On the way up the trig point seemed so far away.
Once on the top there was more signs of life coming towards Lawers via Beinn Ghlas. It felt a bit crowded compared to the other three summits so I made my way off with no hanging about.
There is a clear path for a couple of hundred yards down towards a water treatment plant back down in the glen. The views back across the 4 summits was stunning and I was happy to have pushed myself to extend the plan.
As the ground gets a little less angled it also gets a bit more marshy. It was manageable but choosing the right place to let your foot fall was important.
I couldn't decide if the picture looked better in black and white or if it should stay in colour, so I included both.
The contrast of the concrete grey and metal railings is evident all over the Scottish landscape. It always intrigues me and adds an industrial twist to it's brown and green surroundings. It's almost accepted and absorbs into the view but is also alien and ugly. I'm sure there is a clever word to describe this but I don't think I need to know it.
From the greyness there is a clear path alongside the river and a funny wee bridge, that you can just see in the image above, that allows a dry crossing and back to the path at that I left what feels like many hours before. Over the stile and back down through the small woodline.
Some more crude signs directing me back down the path the local land owner has deemed acceptable, all the away to the house holding the art studio on the road side.
Back along the road to the car. There is a small sign stating that walkers can use the car park as long as they purchase something before they leave. Keeping my part of the bargain I had a bowl of soup and a large re-hydrating beverage and made my way back home.

The whole route took me about 7 hours 30 mins, which I'm quite happy about. It was a fantastic day out and the weather behaving itself helped immensely. My GPS didn't start tracking until a couple of hours in so it would look like I beamed in if I used the data on a Social Hiking map. If you get the chance do this route, there is a lot to it and it's worth the soup at the end.