Following the start of my walking season at the end of August after a 6 month rest the past 7 weeks had seen a steady progress up longer and higher summits and I now felt ready for a real challenge. A hill that had been on my to do list for last year but never walked was Ben Lawers. At 1214 metres it is the highest in the Central Scotland region being just 27 feet shy of 4000 feet however with the car park at 450 metres you already have a good head start. A study of the map suggested that for a small detour on the return journey the summit Meall Corranaich CS-010 could also be activated if time and the legs allowed. So the plan was set with an early start to give me the full advantage of the daylight.
The day got off to a bad start when the 4am alarm was ignored and I didn’t wake till 5.20 with a kick from the XYL. Left the house an hour late at 6am for the uneventful drive to the National Trust for Scotland car park 5 miles east of Killin arriving at 7.15 just as the sun was rising to find that there were already two cars parked up. Kitted up I was heading over the duck boards out of the car park for 7.30. The plan was to take the tourist route up Beinn Ghlas then along the ridge to Ben Lawers. There is an alternate route if you are just planning to do Ben Lawers which takes you up Coire Odhar to the cull between Beinn Ghlas and Meall Corranaich and saves the ascent and descent of Beinn Ghlas; it is also a gentler slope. My choice was based on the fact that I wanted to ‘bag’ Beinn Ghlas and use the view to assess a route up Meall Corranaich.
You can’t get lost on the route from the car park to Ben Lawers (famous last words) just follow the sign posts and the ruddy great scare that is the badly eroded footpath. A brief stop over on the summit of Beinn Ghlas and after 2.45 hours I was on the summit of Ben Lawers 4 mins ahead of the software predicted time. 2-fm from the trig point brought in the usual cluster of locals who keep me company on most of my activations and then a slight descent to a good grassy area clear of the snow – oh did I mention the 3” of snow on the summit, the low cloud base and the strong wind with a chill factor below zero (When does winter bonus kick in !!! maybe time to review that one as well especially as I activated Meall nan Tarmachan CS-015 last Thursday in a blizzard). In 30 minutes managed 9 QSO’s on 5Mhz and 9 on 7Mhz SSB including Germany, Czech Republic and Belgium. By this time the rest of the world had woken up and decided to climb Ben Lawers as well, I must have seen 20 plus people head past me to the summit. A few stopped to chat as I packed up my kit including a couple who confused me for Andy MM0FMF whom they had seen on Ben Vrackie on Sunday.
By the time everything was packed up I was about an hour and a half ahead of my schedule and feeling remarkably fresh so the assault on Meall Corranaich was now on. The route to Meall Corranaich takes you back down Ben Lawers to the cull between it and Beinn Ghlas where there is a path descending to the north of the ridge heading west. This path, mentioned earlier is the easier route to Ben Lawers, leads to the cull between Beinn Ghlas and Meall Corranaich at the top of Coire Odhar where a faint but obvious path climbs very steeply up the east face of the hill winding its way through the rocky crags until you reach the summit after about 40 mins of screaming legs. 2-fm brought in 5 quick OSO’s followed by 10 on 5Mhz and 4 on 7Mhz SSB.
A careful descent off of Meall Corranaich returns to the gentler track back to the car park and an hour later another great day out drew to a close. What more could I have asked for after a later than expected start I had ‘bagged’ 3 Munros and activated two great summits for 18 points. Thanks to every one for the contacts and the spots always much appreciated. Quite fancy doing the Ben Lawers ridge taking in An Stuc, Meall Garbh and Meall Greigh for 38 points but will need a second walker so that a car can be pre-positioned at the Ben Lawers Hotel at the end of the ridge walk – maybe next spring.