Hill: Meall Mor
Date: Friday 19th May 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 21.6km, Ascent: 1035m
Time: 7Hrs 5Mins

For an ascent of Meall Mor, Trossachs, I considered three potential starting points. Inverlochlarig (home of Rob Roy), Inverarnan (an old drover's inn established in 1705) and Stronachlachar. Of these three potential approaches, the Stronachlachar approach was the most appealing as it is arguably the most scenic.

On Thursday afternoon I set off from home on the five hour drive to Stronachlachar Pier.

Stronachlachar Pier on arrival:

On arrival in Stronachlachar, I parked up for the evening and visited the Pier Cafe for some coffee. If in the area, a visit to the Pier Cafe is a must. Nice friendly service, excellent coffee, good food and free wi-fi. The prices are pretty-good too.

Van life, nice spot for the evening:

The Pier Cafe:

Prior to settling down for the night, I spent a few hours walking around and checking out the local wildlife. It was a lovely evening.

Meall Mor from Stronachlachar Pier (zoom):

Red-breasted Merganser on Loch Katrine:

There are several signs at Stronachlachar, and on the road to Stronachlachar, advising, "No Camping". It is a real shame that the excellent access rights available via the Scottish Outdoor Access Code are being eroded away by the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. I think this really calls into question the running of this national park.

If you come to Scotland, you can camp almost anywhere except in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park!

Loch Katrine at sunset:

After a fairly good night's sleep, I got up around 5.45 and was off walking by 6.15. Prior to heading to Stronachlachar, I had checked out two weather forecasts each of which were very different. The MetOffice forecast has suggested it would be a good day while MWIS had suggested a day of rain with thundery showers. MetOffice was correct and MWIS was wrong (again).

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

Looking back to Stronachlachar:

Loch Katrine was fairly calm which was ideal for refections.

Morning reflections:

The road from Stronachlachar to the end of Loch Katrine is excellent quality tarmac. I therefore initially wore trail shoes with my hillwalking boots packed in my rucksack.

Early morning views of Loch Katrine:

Looking across Loch Katrine to Glengyle:

Loch Katrine:

From the end of Loch Katrine there are numerous options for heading up Meall Mor. The easiest ascent, via gentle grass slopes, can be found circa 1 - 2 kilometres further round the loch beyond Glengyle. Instead, I decided to make use of the pylon access track to gain around 150m of ascent on good track.

The first couple of kilometres of the pylon access track is currently a construction site. At 7.15, there was little vehicular activity on the track with the exception of one Vauxhall Corsa. The access track is unsurfaced but good enough quality for small cars to drive along. During the walk out it was a different story with lots of large vehicles going up and down the track.

The driver of the car stopped and we spoke for around fifteen minutes. The driver is also a hillwalker and he recognised me from previous reports and a final Munro walk that we both attended. Small world!

Looking back along the pylon access track:

The new SMC Grahams and Donalds book suggests leaving the pylon access track fairly early on. I opted to follow the track to near its end to gain extra height and make for a more gradual ascent onto the ridge.

I was pleasantly suprised to find an ATV track heading up the hill towards the ridge. Before heading uphill I changed out of my trail shoes and into my boots.

Following an ATV track towards the ridge:

View during ascent of ATV track:

I reached the ridge about half-way between Parlan Hill and Meall Mor and then followed a line of rusty fenceposts all the way to the summit. These fenceposts would be a useful navigatoional aid in the mist.

View towards Parlan hill:

I saw several small herds of deer as I progressed along the ridge.

A startled deer:

The ridge was rougher than expected with many ups and downs. This should not really have been a surprise as all hills in this area are rough.

Heading along the ridge towards Meall Mor:

Looking back at one of numerous knolls:

Looking back along the ridge:

Meall Mor still looked a long way off with more ups and downs to come.

Meall Mor in the distance:

Looking back:

On reaching the summit cairn, I stopped to take some photos and also to have a good drink and bite to eat.

At the summit of Meall Mor:

Seeing the Crianlarich Munros made me realise that I need to revisit these hills sometime in the not too distant future. It is around thirteen years since I last set foot on any of these hills.

Crianlarich Munros from the summit:

At the summit, I decided to return via roughly the same route in order to again take advantage of the ATV track and pylon access track. However, I got a bit fed up of all the ups and downs and so decided to head off a bit earlier than planned picking a route down through the various outcrops. I wouldn't recommend trying this in the mist.

Loch Katrine:

Looking back at descent through the crags:

Once beyond the crags the descent was easy enough that is until reaching the final steep section down to the pylon access track. The hillside here is covered in bracken, so while this was do-able in May, it would be much more unpleasant in July to October once the bracken is considerably higher.

Final steep section of descent back to the pylon access track:

On reaching the pylon access track, I put back on my trail shoes for the walk out. The walk back alongside Loch Katrine was pleasant. I was passed by numerous cyclists and a few birdwatchers who were watching the Mallard and Canada Geese down on the loch. On reaching Stronachlachar Pier, I revisited the cafe for some lunch before the long drive home.

Six Grahams remaining: An Stac, Meith Bheinn, Slat Bheinn, Meall Garbh, Stob Mhic Bheathain and Druim Fada.

Postscript: I am not giving away the location but during the walk I passed a tethered deer carcass with a solar/PIR wildlife camera set up next to it to capture photos of raptors. I gave the camera a wave, so whoever owns it will have some photos of myself . Hopefully it is not a BBC Springwatch/Autumnwatch one .

Wildlife camera (carcass cam):