Hill: Meall a’Chaorainn
Date: Saturday 2nd April 2011
Company: Just myself
Distance: 30km, Ascent: 960m
Time: 8 Hrs 5Mins

After a night spent at the Aultguish Inn bunkhouse, I set off on Saturday morning from Black Bridge to Meall a’Chaorainn.

Andrew Dempster’s book suggests this is an “extremely remote” Graham. It is certainly a tough one on the feet in that much of the walk is on tarmac and hard track. Yes, I know – using a bike would have made it easier .

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

The weather yesterday, and indeed this whole weekend, was changeable - wind, rain, sun, snow, hail, …

From Black Bridge, I followed the tarmac track towards Strathvaich Lodge. I last walked this track in April 2008, to ascend the Corbett Beinn a’Chaisteil. Thanks to Elsie for the lift to/from Black Bridge .

Tarmac track from Black Bridge towards Loch Vaich:

Approaching Lubriach:

The weir just beyond Lubraich showed the river was in spate.

Weir just beyond Lubriach:

On my last visit to this glen, I encountered numerous Highland cattle. I was pleased to see them again yesterday. The cattle seemed quite friendly and docile as I walked past them. They might not have been so friendly had Beinn been with me.

Highland Coo:

More Highland Coos:

Strathvaich Lodge still looks like a nice place to live.

Strathvaich Lodge (zoomed):

As I walked through Strath Vaich, it was disappointing that many of the hills were capped in cloud. However, I was thankful that the weather was better than MWIS had forecast.

Looking towards Meall a’Ghrianain and Beinn a’Chaisteil:

After walking several kilometres along the loch I reached the two cottages at Lubachlaggan.


I then continued on to the end of Loch Vaich and beyond. My feet were already hurting due to the hard surface and also the fact that this was only the second time I had worn the boots I was wearing - obviously not yet broken-in.

Meall a’Chuaille and Meall a’Chaorainn from end of Loch Vaich:

I continued along the track until reaching its high point and then made a direct steep ascent of Meall a’Chaorainn.

Meall a’Chaorainn:

Looking down from steep ascent of Meall a’Chaorainn:

The ascent was steep but easy enough in the lower section. As I gained height, it became even steeper and also quite slippery due to lots of wet lichen underfoot.

Looking back to Loch Vaich from steep ascent:

I continued on and up having already made up my mind that I would not be descending this way.

Looking back to Loch Vaich from steep ascent:

Was a relief to reach the flat summit area and reach the small summit cairn. Disappointing that a squally shower came in while I was at the summit. About five minutes after I left the summit, it started to brighten-up .

Limited view from summit of Meall a’Chaorainn:

From the summit, I descended towards the col between Meall a’Chuaille and Meall a’Chaorainn. I was really impressed on looking down into Gleann Beag – it looks a lovely very-remote glen. The Cail Mhor cliffs looked like they might have some rock climbs on them.

Looking down into Gleann Beag:

Carn Ban and Seana Bhraigh were not that far away, confirming the remoteness of this wee Graham.

Looking across to 823m top and summit of Carn Ban:

Seana Bhraigh (zoomed):

Loch Vaich (zoomed):

From the col, I descended into the coire and back towards the track.

Looking back at descent from col between Meall a’Chuaille and Meall a’Chaorainn:

On reaching the river, there was no way I could cross it. It was fast-flowing and several feet deep. I therefore had to skirt round the base of Meall a’Chaorainn to reach the point where the river crossed to the other side of the track.

Once back on the track I made my way back to the start in increasingly good weather. Was great to get some blue skies and sun .
Lubachlaggan looked much nicer than it had earlier in the day.


The walk out was really pleasant, apart from my aching feet.

I saw lots of different birds but had no success in photographing any of them. As soon as I reached for the camera they flew off – heron, golden plover, stonechat, lark, oystercatcher, and loads of little brown ones …

Looking back along Loch Vaich towards Meall a’Chuaille and Meall a’Chaorainn:

Looking back along Loch Vaich:

Dam at South end of Loch Vaich:

On reaching the cattle, I walked to within a few feet of them to take some photos. Nice coos .

Highland coos and calf:

Was a relief to see and reach Black Bridge. A good but long day out up an interesting glen.