The WX was looking to be reasonably good for Sunday 28th so it was time for another proper hill. Meall Ghaordaidh looked rather nice in the haze from Meall Buidhe last week so that was the target. This can be approached from Glen Lyon or Glen Lochay. Now whilst Glen Lyon is simply magnificent it’s a long drive up a bad road whereas Glen Lochay is a short drive up a bad road, so Glen Lochay won. Also the route from Glen Lochay is the main munro trade route and therefore easy to follow.
The road into Glen Lochay starts from Killin at the end of Loch Tay. My car can get to this part of Scotland on full auto-pilot now so the drive was uneventful. Of course this being Sunday and the WX being nice meant that PC Plod was standing in Lochearnhead with his hairdryer in hand. The road down into Lochearnhead from the south is an invitation to push the envelope but knowledgeable drivers know of the speed trap and so arrive at 30mph like I did. PC Plod had been busy with 6 cars waiting for tickets when I chugged past! Into Killin and road to Glen Lochay is hidden at the end of the village and is not signed. I missed it first time! The start of this road is very narrow and there was a distinct lack of passing places but luckily no traffic. I passed the Lochay hydro power station (44MW) fed with water from the dam I parked by last week. It’s really quite a pretty building the only ugliness being the pylons. But the hydro board did the best they could to minimise the visual impact. You can’t miss the water feed pipe though. It’s… big.
There aren’t many parking spaces for this summit (NN526362), probably 4 at the farm gate and another 3 on a wide bend a few hundred metres further on. At 9.45am I was the fifth car in. The path is obvious and across improved farmland. There are 2 gates and style to cross before you get to wild country. The path is a proper farm track that now starts to climb though lots of browning bracken. Near some old shielings there is an iron post about 20ft long stuck in the ground about 50 yds to the left (NN532373). This marks the path up the hill. In fact I discovered on the way down there are many paths leading to the same place as further up there is a cairn that marks another path (NN533734). Choose whichever you want.
The climb proper starts now. You start to climb up the SE ridge. Up, up and up. It’s a trudge but the view starts to improve. You climb about 390m in 1.5km, so if you’re chubby like me, you’ll feel it in your thighs! The ground gets progressively more boggy as you climb and with all the boots the ground is churned a lot. At around NN523385 the gradient eases considerably and there’s a km and a bit to the summit cone. This reasonably flat area is bogtastic but not as bad as Meall Buidhe was. The good thing about these bogs is they bear my weight with me only sinking up to my ankles in the wetter stuff. Borders hills are so soft I’d sink up to my neck!
By the time you reach the summit cone, the ground is lovely. The path is obvious as it winds up through the rocks and craggy bits. I was starting to flag a little now and the last section was a bore and drag. Especially as I had to GoreTex up for a heavy shower that came through. After several false summits I was at the trig point and sat in the nice wind shelter. I’d already decided that with all the people I could see following me, I couldn’t set up here, that’s just not fair. So I decided I drop back a bit to the south to get out of the strong wind. But as I was well ahead of time so I turned on the VX170 and had a leisurely lunch out of the wind.
On 2m Robin GM7PKT/p was first on WS-023 closely followed by Andy GM0UDL up in Forres and then Ian MM3WJZ/p on WS-009. All worked using 5W and the rubber duck. I finished lunch, dropped down a bit and set up for HF out of the wind. At the time the views were stunning, much less haze than last week. From my perch I had a great view up to the head of the glen with Ben Challum CS-023, Cam Chreag CS-055 and Creag Mhor CS-013 standing guard. The WX up that end of the glen was consistently worse than where I was. Ben Challum and Creag Mhor were in cloud most of the time with lots of showers coming in and travel up the glen and passing me by. Only towards the end did it rain briefly.
Conditions on 60m were great. I was able to work Terry G0VWP/p on TW-004 using only 0.5w for a 58 report. Most of the usual suspects were worked except Messrs. GW4BVE, GW0VMZ and GW7AAV. When the sun was out it was really warm but again once in cloud and when the wind blew I knew it was no longer summer. However, by the time I had packed up I had been on the summit for 2hrs and that was enough. This time I managed to keep track of all the tent pegs! I was surprised to find a toad at about 1000m. He was on the path and I was amazed with all the boots he hadn’t been squashed.
Return was back the way I’d come. If you have 2 cars you can do a traverse from Glen Lyon to Glen Lochay. The route from the north being described as better by many. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to do that. Anyway the descent was uneventful. Even the rain showers weren’t big enough to warrant me putting on waterproofs as they were only minutes long. The sun was hot though, I was too hot with my walking thickness woolly hat and feeling a bit frazzled in the sun without it.
I was pleased with my pace up. Anquet said 2h24m walking and I did it in an elapsed time of 2h33min from locking the car to touching the trig. Going down was hard work. Old knees and thighs supporting a considerable mass of lard meant it took 2hrs… 30 mins longer than Anquet said. Still it was a great day. This is a much bigger climb thnt Meall Buidhe. Whilst 1039m isn’t that high you do start quite low down.
Thanks to those who spotted me and to everyone who called. Everybody was polite and well disciplined when calling in. You know who you are and whilst it’s always a real buzz to be on the end of pile up, bad behaviour is a drag. I always try to work everyone I can hear and it was better than good that everyone calling simply gave their call once or twice in response to me. It made everything flow without drama!
All photos are at http://moosedata.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=4828 and a selection are on the Flickr group.
Distance walked: 10.5km, total ascent: 925m, distance driven: 165miles