A perfect day on Meall Ghaordaidh

Its still a long way off but the mountain with the snow on is where I’m heading. the path I’m following is rather squelchy.

Glen Lochay is an isolated valley which runs west from the Scottish village of Killin and in June 2015 I spent a week exploring this lonely valley in depth and managed to bag every Munro and all but one Corbett that surround this glen.
For most of the week, the weather was near on perfect with sunny days and a pleasant temperature and so after a strenuous day of bagging a number of peaks at the western end of the valley I opted for a day just to bag one Corbett and one Munro. So it’s just a twelve mile walk rather than the strenuous eighteen miles of the previous day.
By base is the Suie Lodge Hotel in Glen Dochart to the south and I’m starting out on this day with a drive via Killin and up the single track road through Glen Lochay to find a shady spot to park the car.

A bridge no more. At least is was easy enough to cross the stream known as Allt a’ Choire Ghlais.

A faint path leads up onto Beinn nan Oighreag.

My lunch stop on the summit of Beinn nan Oighreag. Meall Ghaordaidh rises to the west.

It’s already warm as I set off to follow a private hydro road which zigzags its way uphill with a good surface and soon I gain a good altitude and I am glad of any little breeze there is. The private road abruptly ends at an overgrown compound and so I decide to head around the upper side of it before contouring across to join the path which runs up into the hills towards the old shielings at the deserted hamlet of Riabhaich. When I do eventually join the path it is in a poor condition with missing bridges not that this is an issue but also that much of the path is a boggy watercourse. It is therefore easier walking parallel with it. A footbridge marked on the map over the Allt a’ Choire Ghlais has seen better days and is totally rotted but here the stream is easy to cross. As the path begins to fade a little beyond this point I decide to cut across to the Allt Dhuin Croisg, a more substantial stream. I reach it at a point where it runs in a ‘V’ – shaped valley and so opt to continue upstream to find a easier crossing point. Briefly on the far side I follow the track of a wheeled vehicle before veering right up a gradual and easy slope towards Carn Shonnach. An easy ridge walk follows with old metal fence stakes in the ground to gain the summit of Beinn nan Oighreag 909 metres and not quite a Munro, however it was once thought that this hill was a Munro and saw a flurry of activity in the thirties before the Ordnance Survey firmly classified it as being under three thousand feet. This is my lunch stop and a most pleasant spot it is in the warm sunshine. This summit is classified as a Corbett.

The final ascent to Meall Ghaordaidh and kicking steps in the snow on a warm June afternoon. Pure enjoyment! The snow overhang at the top is over twenty feet high.

The view from the top of Meall Ghaordaidh with Ben Nevis visible centre right in the far distance. Its hard to tear yourself away from a scene like this. The valley in the foreground is Glen Lyon leading up to Loch Lyon.

The main purpose of today’s walk is to bag the isolated Munro of Meall Ghaordaidh but first it means descending to a col at 638 metres. The western slope of Beinn nan Oighreag has a few crags and so I first opt to follow the line of metal fence stakes down until it runs down the steepest part of the hillside and here I decide to take a course a bit further south to reach the col. On the far side there are a few crags and so this time I opt to head slightly further north up a steep but smooth slope to a un-named spur at 815 metres. From here a ridge continues up over Cam Chreag before ascending further to Meall Ghaordaidh. It might be mid June but only problem now, is that there is a snowfield towards the top which can’t really be avoided without a detour well to the north. Near the summit of Meall Ghaordaidh I can see a snow overhang which is casting a shadow despite the sun being high in the sky. I press on uphill over Cam Chreag before making the final push towards Meall Ghaordaidh. Reaching the snowfield well to the right of the summit, I can see footprints in the snow and despite its initial steep gradient I am able to kick steps into the snow to gain the northern ridge. This feels more like alpine climbing and I am glad of my walking pole as an aid in case of a slide.

Back down in Glen Lochay on a perfect summer’s afternoon for the last stretch along this peaceful valley to the car.

Once on the summit of Meall Ghaoraidh I decide to take a longer break as I have made good time. I sit for a half hour admiring the view from the 1039 metre summit which stretches to beyond Ben Nevis to the north, Jura to the southwest and East and West Lomond to the southeast. When I do eventually set off it is a straightforward walk downhill in a fairly straight line and following for much of the way a path. Midway down the path does become a bit squelchy underfoot but is much firmer better as I near pasture land. One hour and twenty minutes brings me to the road through Glen Lochay and here it was a easy walk back down this road to the car stopping on the way to chat with some local residents at Duncroisk.
A perfect end to a day. If only more days were like this in Scotland.

The end of the afternoon at Killin with these colourful boats moored on the River Dochart.