Hills: Meall a' Churain, Sgiath Chuil, Beinn Cheathaich and Meall Glas
Date: Wednesday 3rd March 2021
Distance: 23.4km, Ascent: 1310m
Time: 8Hrs 30Mins

Local authority based lockdown travel restrictions are grossly unfair; a real postcode lottery of how far you can travel based on where you live. If you live in the Highlands you are permitted to travel literally hundreds of miles to hills as far north as Durness, to hills around Fort William and even to the Cuillin on Skye. Now compare such freedom to that of those living in a city such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow where individuals are restricted to the confines of the city within which they live.

While fines can be imposed for non-compliance with lockdown restrictions, as far as travel is concerned I reckon any fines imposed would not stand up if challenged in a court of law due to the disproportionate nature of the restrictions - unfair imposition of the restrictions by local authority area, and close to zero risk of actually infecting anyone or becoming infected while physically distanced in the outdoors. To disregard Human Rights articles, public health restrictions have to be proportionate. They are not in the context of outdoor activities.

I decided I wanted a change of scenery so revisited the legislation and regulations to ensure I had at least one reasonable excuse to do so. If challenged I would take the matter to court for the reasons I have mentioned above and not pay any fine.

Thanks to currently being single and living alone, I was able to call a single friend from the Stirling area and establish a temporary extended household allowing for us to meet-up to undertake a hillwalk. Further, as I can make money from the photos I take, the walk therefore comes under work and not recreation or exercise. Further still, as the list of reasonable excuses is a non-exhaustive list, I felt I needed to get out for the good of my own physical and mental health which has been increasingly suffering.

I would suggest to others wanting to get outdoors i) check the non-exhaustive list of reasonable excuses and see if any apply; if not ii) do you have a reasonable excuse that is not listed, if not iii) are you prepared to pay a £60 fine (reducing to £30 if paid early) or take the matter to court.

If heading out do ensure you fill-up with fuel at home, ensure you have all the food and drink you need from home, and ensure you have the appropriate skills and experience for anything you decide to tackle and know your limits - you do not want to have to call Mountain Rescue. Police Scotland are charging individuals needing rescued with culpable and reckless conduct as well as with a Coronavirus Restrictions fine in order to make example of individuals. I know many mountain rescue volunteers who are not happy with the line Police Scotland have been taking and Police Scotland are at serious risk of losing volunteers.

Mountaineering Scotland is allegedly meant to represent mountaineers but have been failing to do so. They should be lobbying for these disproportionate travel restrictions to not apply to outdoor activities. Unfortunately, Mountaineering Scotland is too closely tied to SportScotland which is just an arms length part of the Scottish Government. Mountaineering Scotland are too scared to lobby in can they lose their national funding.

Having ascended Sgiath Chuil and Meall Glas previously from Glen Dochart, this time I decided to ascend them from Glen Lochay. We both met and parked in the Glen Lochay parking area which is also used for an ascent of Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich.

Prior to undertaking the walk, I read the WalkHighlands route. I decided the WalkHighlands anti-clockwise route made little sense and that undertaking these hills in a clockwise direction would be more sensible. Why cross a wide river at the start of a walk and have to endure wet feet throughout when you can cross the river at the end of the walk and only have wet feet for the short walk back to the car. This was a good decision in that I got very wet feet on crossing the river.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

Glen Lochay signage:

From the outset of the walk we were walking in low cloud. The walk was therefore a navigational exercise until eventually breaking through the cloud. I didn't see the point in taking photos of Scotch Mist so my photos commence from the point in time we left the cloud.

On leaving the cloud, .

Not going to spoil the report with lots of unnecessary words, so here are the photos.

First view from above the clouds:

Looking across to Meall Glas and Beinn Cheathaich from upper slopes of Meall a' Churain:

View north:

On the ridge to Sgiath Chuil:

Looking across to Meall Glas:

Approaching Meall a' Churainn with Sgiath Chuil beyond:

Beinn Cheathaich, Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich:

Lots of cloud inversion:

Stunning view of Trossachs tops above the inversion:

Approaching Sgiath Chuill, with Stob Binnein and Ben More beyond:

Trossachs tops from the summit of Sgiath Chuill (zoom):

Ben More to Ben Lui from the summit of Sgiath Chuil:

The standard route between these hills involves descending very steeply off Sgiath Chuil and ascending very steeply up Meall Glas. As the steep descent was part-covered in steep hard snow and ice and mostly covered in thick cloud, I looked at the map to find an alternative route linking the two hills which was less steep and mostly without snow and ice. My route choice turned out to be good.

Second Brocken Spectre of the day on entering back into the cloud inversion:

Back out of the clouds to reach the summit of Beinn Cheathaich:

Meall Glas from Beinn Cheathaich:

Approaching Meall Glas:

Ben More and the Crianlarich Munro tops just popping through the cloud inversion:

Looking back across the cloud inversion to Sgiath Chuil:

Fog bow on entering back into the cloud:

An outstanding day out on the hill and good to catch-up with a friend.

Postscript: I am already finding that landowners are displaying new signs advising of no walking, no camping, no dogs, etc. on their land. Access Rights have not changed and this Coronavirus shitshow must not be used as an opportunity by landowners to erode our access rights. If you come across such signs please contact your local outdoor access officer to arrange to have them removed.