Hill: Meall Garbh
Date: Friday 8th September 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 22.8km, Ascent: 1500m
Time: 9Hrs


On Thursday afternoon, I drove from home to Dalmally, parking-up for the night at the start of the walk. During the night it rained, and it rained, and it rained. In the morning, the incessant rain continued as I lay in bed listening to the sound of it battering off the van roof. I was not keen to venture out. By 8.30, I knew I had to get myself out of bed and set off walking regardless of the rain. I had driven nearly five hours to get there and it would be a wasted journey if I didn't ascend the hill. I therefore got booted and suited in full waterproofs and set off walking. I didn't take my DSLR for this walk as the risk of it getting soaked was too high and it really wasn't a day for standing about taking photographs.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

A short distance along the track I was met by an estate walker on a quad bike. In a friendly manner he enquired as to where I was heading and asked if I had map and compass and whether or not I would be staying out overnight. On advising that I was just out for a day trip, and not to worry that I was experienced, he said that if the van was still parked-up overnight he would know that something had went wrong with my plan. We also exchanged pleasantries about the awful weather.

On the track towards Duiletter:


On progressing along the track I passed through a gate with signs stating "Conservation area" and "Keep dogs on leads". I am not exactly sure what kind of "conservation" as it seemed to be an area with butts, possibly for wild foul shooting, and literally dozens of pheasant.

Mannequin with gun at small lochan:


Following numerous pheasant:


I soon passed through another gate taking me out of the "Conservation area" and I continued along the track towards the start of the Lairig Dhoireann.

Sheiling:


With all the recent rain, and ongoing rain, as expected the burns were in spate. Would this present me with difficulties?

Allt Dhoireann in spate:
 

The first small burn I had to cross was made easier thanks to a quality bridge. I had to balance exactly on the middle of the cross sections as some were very loose.

Nice bridge:


I then progressed about 1.5km up the Lairig Dhoireann before twice being stopped in my tracks by impassable burns. I spent around twenty minutes looking for a way across without success and reluctantly had to admit defeat.

Impassable tributary of the Allt Dhoireann:
 

As I made my way back along the 1.5km of the Lairig Dhoireann, my spirits were not high. Despite only having four Grahams remaining, this would be the decision-maker as to whether or not I would complete them as I had decided I was not coming back for a second attempt. I therefore decided to have another go at getting up the hill by ascending via the south-west ridge of Beinn Lurachan.

Following the east side of the Allt Dhoireann was much simpler than following the Lairig Dhoireann on the west side. I was soon making good progress up the hill albeit my feet were already squelching with every step due to my boots being full of water.

Following the Allt Dhoireann:


As I progressed uphill, the rain finally stopped and the cloud began to lift. This lifted my spirits as I was able to remove my waterproofs and progress more quickly.

Looking back to Glen Strae and Duiletter:


It was originally my intention to ascend to the summit of Beinn Lurachan. However, it turned out to be possible to walk along the flank of Beinn Lurachan to arrive at the Lairig Dhoireann high-point. I also found and followed a deer track which made the traverse simpler.

Ascending Beinn Lurachan:


Traversing the flanks of Beinn Lurachan:


As I approached the col, I met the Lairig Dhoireann track which I followed up to the col.

Onto the Lairig Dhoireann:


On reaching the col, I stopped to take a few photographs of a small unnamed lochan. All photos were taken with my iPhone.

Lochan at col between Meall Copagach and Beinn Lurachan:


In order to avoid unneccesary height gain, I again skirted round the hill to reach the next col instead of gaining and then losing height.

Skirting round to reach col between Meall Beithe and Beinn Lurachan:


The best view of the day was a momentary glimpse of some blue sky as I looked towards nearby Corbett, Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh.

Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh:


Instead of ascending Meall Beithe, again to avoid unnecessary height gain, I skirted round and down Meall Beithe.

Skirting round Meall Beithe:


At long last, after what seemed like an eternity of trackless, wet terrain, I got my first views of Meall Garbh. To ascend it, I would need to lose quite a bit of height and then ascend quite steeply to its summit.

Meall Garbh:


After stepping over a fence at the col between Meall Beithe and Meall Garbh I began my ascent of Meall Garbh. I struggled a bit with the steepness having to stop numerous times during the ascent.

Ascending Meall Garbh:


During one of my stops, on looking down I spotted a Common Lizard. It was in no hurry to escape probably because it was as cold as I was.

Common Lizard on Meall Garbh:


Unfortunately, I was soon up into the clag and thus got no views from the summit. It was disappointing not to see nearby Beinn nan Luss which I ascended earlier this year with a wild camp at Loch Etive. At the summit area I visited both cairns and several rocks which all looked to be about the same height.

At the summit of Meall Garbh:


I now had to descend around 250m back to the col and then re-ascend Meall Beithe. Despite much traversing to avoid unnecessary height gain, this walk still entailed an ascent of circa 1500m to ascend a 701m Graham (1300m had I not initially set off along the lairig and turned back).

Looking across to Meall Beithe:


Cruachan hills:


Due to the steepness and wetness, I took my time during the descent of Meall Garbh in order to avoid slipping, tripping and tumbling.

Looking back to Meall Garbh:


Next I made my way back up Meall Beithe, taking a slightly higher line than in descent.

Looking back to Meall Garbh:


During the walk back out along the flanks of Beinn Lurachan, I again faced incessant heavy rain.

More approaching rain during descent:


It was great to reach the van and get my wet boots and clothes off. This was a tough day given the conditions. One day on, I feel the pain . Three Grahams now remaining - all long ones! Stob Mhic Bheathain, Meith Bheinn and An Stac.

There is definitely something to be said for fair-weather walking