In reply to MM0FMF:
Well it’s been a funny August and September. I was out of the country on business in mid-August and that wiped out 2 weekends. The activation of Sgiath a’ Chaise was a damp squib (literally) and the route up through the forest on a grey day was simply a way of getting 14kms of walking in. One weekend in September was lost to not feeling well, the next weekend was a family trip away so it wasn’t until 22nd I had a chance to do a proper summit. With the nights obviously getting darker much sooner it was time to do a proper hill rather than some of the molehills I’ve been climbing this summer!
Meall Buidhe CS-040 (there are many hills with this name) on the north side of Glen Lyon was the target. This is a fair old drive, Autoroute suggests 3hrs, it took 2hr40. The problem is not that it is 103miles from here but that so much of it is along rubbish roads. My route was up the M9 then A9 then off for Crieff. From there it was through Sma’ Glen to Aberfeldy. Sma’ Glen was glorious as usual but the great view you get of Schiehallion as you drop into Aberfeldy was lost in the haze. From there it’s a long drive on narrow B roads then very narrow single track roads for the best part of 25miles. From leaving the main road to stopping at the car park took 70 minutes. Words cannot describe the views in the glen, you MUST visit it on a nice day.
Anyway, access to Meal Buidhe (and Stuchd an Lochain CS-032) is from the same car park at the Giorra Dam. This enormous buttress dam holds back Loch an Daimh (lake of the stags) formed from Loch Giorra and Loch an Daimh in the 1950s by the hydro board. The water runs in a hidden tunnel to join other parts of the Breadalbane Hydro scheme. There’s space for well over 20 cars here and the estate owners have a helpful information board. Walkers are welcomed, unlike some estates, and the board politely asks for walkers to stick to the marked paths during stalking season. Seems fair to me, go where you like except when they are running the cull. By the time I arrived there were 8 cars in the car park and a trail of colourful ants could be see going North to Meall Buidhe and South to Stucd an Lochain.
The path is easy to follow, up the landrover track to the T junction, and the path can be seen on the grass across the track. Follow this to the summit. It’s that easy. Well not quite! Even though I’ve not been up many hills recently, I’ve been riding my bike to work since the refinery strike in April and that is starting to pay off as I can’t recall the slope being particularly anything! Now don’t think I’m super fit, I’m over 4 stone overweight. But the slope wasn’t much. The ground was good and well drained here. After you get to the summit of Coire nan Miseach the slopes of Meall a’ Phuill are very bogtastic. Having climbed up a ridge as you pop over the top you get to see the final slopes for the first time and the bogs and peat hags. The path is easy to see, a huge wide brown churned up stripe leading to the better drained higher ground. It’s not steep but there are some soft areas that need avoiding. In the mist it would be easy to lose the path as you avoid the softer bits, so concentrate if you are following a bearing.
Only at the beallach does the path turn back to something nice and solid. From there the ground steepens quite a bit and there’s a few hundred metres of effort needed. The best is saved till last. The summit is a huge and essentially flat plateau with just about all of it in the activation zone. It’s a kilomtre-ish from the end of the climb to the summit cairn. It was busy here, 4 walkers were outbound and 5 were on the return. A few minutes later I was at the cairn. Anquet said 1hr47 walking for the climb. It took me 1hr45 from locking the car to touching the cairn. In that I had a comfort break, tooks some photos, stopped for a satsuma, more photos, a Werther’s Original and another comfort break. Result!
The WX was excellent. Hazy but warm and sunny though the wind had a sharp edge. I must admit to not checking the drybag contents and they were my summer kit which meant I only had thin gloves and hat. The bag is now set for winter! The wind was cold enough to suggest a better hat was needed unless I got out of the wind. I was able to drop a little into the lee which gave a vista and half across the coire and the burn which drains out to Loch Rannoch in the distance. Spectacular.
I was hoping for a good view across Rannoch Moor but it was poor to the West and North. But I could see more SOTA summits that you could ever want. From the North-East around… Schiehallion, Carn Gorm, Carn Mairg, Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh, Ben Lawers, Meall a’ Choire Leith, Meall Corranaich, Meal nam Tarmachan, Stuchd an Lochain, Meall Ghaordhie. That’s 86 (proper) points worth in a 180 degree sweep.
Up with the gear whilst explaining to interested walkers. On with 60m and Robin was romping in. Excellent NVIS I thought. No, Robin was on Meall nam Tarmachan 12kms away and true LOS. I thought it was him calling on 2mFM but that was a GM8 in the Cairngorms. First 2 QSOs were S2S, followed by another S2S with G0MJG/P. One more S2S and it would be the 1st time I’ve qualified with 4x S2S. Thanks to Steve G1INK/p that goal was met. Steve left me FK to use and the stations rolled in thick, fast and strong. Only the long distance contacts were poor… Martyn M1MAJ and Don G0RQL were quite quiet and gave me poor reports. Caroline G6WRW was the strongest signal, she was as loud as Robin was and I could see him across the glen!
By the time I had started to pack up, the cloud was thickening and it was going quite cool. The haze was getting worse. Time to go. Damn, I mislaid a tent peg. If you do CS-040 and find it then I’d like it back as those pegs, so far, have been up 95 hills with me and most of them have come down 96. After a few minutes of searching I was too cold to care. So back the way I came up. It was just as hard crossing the bogs going down. You need to take care descending the ridge by Coire nam Miseach as the path splits. Only when I was nearly back to the track did I realise I was on the wrong path. This was very steep and I thought it strange I’d come up without moaning to myself. No great hardship, it meets the track about 500m west of the start of the track I went up. But it shows how easy it is to go wrong when following a track and not paying attention to the map and the bearing.
After a coffee and an orange I was ready to drive back. Sadly the herd of “hairy coos” shown in one of the photos were walking back up the road and so it took 25 mins to get past them and from the dam to the main Glen Lyon road. After that I savored the views as I chugged slowly back to Fortingall were I was going to take a photo of the 2000+ year old Yew tree. I was so blissed out with the walk, the views, the glen and Deep Purple’s Abandon on the CD player I drove past and didn’t realise it till I was at Aberfeldy. D’Oh!
A fantastic day, I saw a red squirrel and a herd of deer. Thanks to everyone who worked me and to Frank G3RMD for the spot. First proper hill for about 8 weeks and it was a stunner. This is an easy 6pt Munro in stunning country and well worth the awful roads.
Distance walked: 8.2kms, total ascent: 610m, distance driven: 207 miles.