Hill: Meall Ghaordaidh
Date: Saturday 17th January 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 10.3km, Ascent: 900m
Time: 5Hrs 55Mins

The weather forecast for today looked pretty-good and the early morning view from Killin was likewise. Plan A was therefore invoked, an ascent of Meall Ghaordaidh. I last ascended Meall Ghaordaidh in 1997.

Early morning view from Killin Hotel:

I only had to drive four miles to reach my starting point. It did however take fifteen minutes to drive this short distance as the Glen Lochay road had not been cleared of snow. It was -6C at the start of the walk, -4C at the end of the walk and much colder than this up top.

I parked in a lay-by just beyond the bridge at Duncroisk where there is room for four cars.

Lay-by parking in Glen Lochay, near Duncroisk:

I ascended via the "tourist" route up Meall Ghaordaidh albeit most of the track was not visible due to a covering of snow.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the road to the summit involved breaking trail through mostly unconsolidated snow. Breaking trail on my own for 900m of ascent was hard work.

The views from the outset were fairly special. It was nice to see Beinn nan Oighreag again.

Looking towards Beinn nan Oighreag from start of track:

Looking towards Beinn nan Oighreag:

I followed the track alongside the Allt Dhuin Croisg as far as the shielings.


Ascending lower slopes of Meall Ghaordaidh:

Looking back to Glen Lochay:

On reaching the shielings, I left the track and made my way up the South-East ridge of Meall Ghaordaidh. I found no trace of any track beyond the shielings.

I have read several reports advising that this is a boggy hill. It was not in the slightest bit boggy today.

Sheep and sheiling:

The ascent through soft snow was fairly arduous. I just took my time and plodded on. As I gained height more and more hills come into view.

Looking towards Ben Challum (zoom):

Mamlorn hills:

Looking back to Glen Lochay:

I stopped several times during the ascent to take photos.


Beinn nan Oighreag:

On reaching a height of 600m, I could hear lots of shouting coming from several hundred metres below. I could see two other walkers with a dog just below the shielings.

Summit of Meall Ghaordaidh capped in cloud:

Looking West:

By the time I reached 700m my legs were like jelly but I wasn't caring as the the weather and views were outstanding.

Ascending Meall Ghaordaidh (at c.750m):

Stob Binnein and Ben More (zoom):

Meall Ghaordaidh:

Looking back:

Breadalbane hills:

On reaching 800m, I got the ice axe out as I had several steep sections ahead. Before proceeding on, I stopped to pick out a good line of ascent through the crags and avoiding what looked to be the deepest drifts.

A sculpted drift:

Ascending Meall Ghaordaidh:

View during ascent:

Looking back during ascent:

Lawers hills and Meall nan Tarmachan:

There were numerous sections of rock-hard ice during the final couple of hundred metres ascent. I skirted round these sections, and cut a few steps, instead of bothering with crampons.

Ascending final rocky section of Meall Ghaordaidh:

On reaching the flat summit area I was treated to 360 degrees of outstanding views.

Loch Lyon dam:

Looking towards Ben Alder range:

I took a good number of photos at the summit and uploaded the panorama to Facebook. I was even treated to a Brocken Spectre.

At the summit of Meall Ghaordaidh:

View from the summit of Meall Ghaordaidh:

View from the summit of Meall Ghaordaidh:

Panorama from the summit of Meall Ghaordaidh:

I didn't spend too long at the summit as I reckon it was about -12C up there. I returned via exactly the same route following my in-bound footprints.

During the descent I stopped to chat with the two walkers that I had seen some distance below. I was thanked numerous times for breaking trail.

Two other walkers ascending Meall Ghaordaidh during descent:

Looking back to Meall Ghaordaidh during descent:

I made good time during the descent which was much easier than the ascent.

Today is up there with some of the best winter walking I have undertaken. Meall Ghaordaidh may not be the most interesting of hills but it provides spectacular views. Definitely worth keeping this one for winter.