Wednesday 5 October 2016

Meall Ghaordaidh

The forecast was for strong winds - dry and clear, but being on the tops for any length of time could be distinctly uncomfortable.

So we consulted the maps and the guide books and decided on Meall Ghaordaidh. A "rounded and undistinguished" hill above Glen Lochay. A short walk, up and down, with (we hoped) the hill itself offering some shelter from the prevailing wind for much of the day. Plus we hoped for great views of the Central Highlands all around...

Setting off from near Allt Dhuin Croisg bridge, Glen Lochay (NN526363)

So, after a bit of a lie in (it was only a short walk!), we set off in the late morning, from the little car parking area west of the Allt Dhuin Croisg bridge. It was a bit grey and the highest tops around us were shrouded in cloud, but we hoped that the blustery wind, would soon blow it away.

Hill access sign, Meall Ghaordaidh

There were no issues locating the right gate to access the hill...

Crossing the fields to the west of Allt Dhuin Croisg

It was a pleasant start to the walk, through fields of sheep and cattle. The way was fairly clear, a grassy trod to a gate and then a ladder style.

Rafe and Jim - Nearing the ladder stile (NN531367)
west of Allt Dhuin Croisg

It was a bit of an effort to get Rafie over the style - he is getting on a bit now! But that's what his harness is for.

Friendly locals

Meall Ghaordaidh was to our left - it did appear that the "rounded and undistinguished" description was fairly accurate.

Meall Ghaordaidh from the south east

We watched out for the cairn and pole mentioned in the guide book, marking were the route veers from the glen and onto the open hillside. I think that, even without these markers, the rough path was well enough established to be obvious.

The start of the ascent of Meall Ghaoraidh - cairn and post markers

The path wound its way through the bracken and out onto the hill proper. Then it was just up...

Views east from the start of the ascent of Meall Ghaordaidh

It was never very steep and the going was reasonably good - although it had been dry for some time before our day out, I can imagine that it would have been a bit of a bog trot after a wet spell!

Rafe and Jim - Ascent of Meall Ghaordaidh

As we ascended, the wind increased (as forecast!) and we were soon donning hats and gloves, as well as an extra layer...

Rafe and Jim - Ascent of Meall Ghaordaidh

It sound's like we weren't enjoying our walk! We were. The serried hills around us went on an on, cloud swirling around the summits, changing the views minute by minute. The weather was exhilarating and the hill was ours.

Views east to Meall nan Tarmachan from ascent of Meall Ghaordaidh

The hill steepened through some boulders and the odd minor crag.

Jim and Rafe - nearing the summit plateau of Meall Ghaordaidh

As we ascended the last few metres to the summit, we walked into cloud and the wind was howling across the plateau. It felt like we'd walked from late summer into winter...

Looking back (south east) from the ascent of Meall Ghaordaidh

There was a shelter around the trig point, we ducked behind this to get a bit of respite from the icy blast. This was not a place for a leisurely picnic today!

Rafe, looking a bit sheepish! - Meall Ghaordaidh summit

Rafie, though, loves the wind - he was jumping up and barking at the moving air.

Rafe - barking at the wind - Meall Ghaordaidh summit

We took the usual summit pictures -  Meall Ghaordaidh (Munro 93, 1089m) - we thought that all we were going to get in the photos was the trig point and white cloud. But just as we were ready to make a hasty retreat from the tempest on the top, the cloud started to thin...

Meall Ghaordaidh summit (Munro 93, 1089m)

We tucked ourselves back behind the shelter wall again, and hung about for a few more minutes.

Views north west to Glen Lyon from Meall Ghaordaidh summit

It didn't really clear out, but we got some moody views across to the west - Glen Lyon (and Meall Buidhe, which we climbed last year).

Rafe and Jim - Descent from Meall Ghaordaidh

We soon headed back the way we had come, striding quickly from the hoolie on the top - gravity and the north west wind speeding our descent.

Rafe and Jim - Descent from Meall Ghaordaidh

As we lost height, the wind soon lessened and walking became easier - the views opened up in front of us again...

Views south and east from descent from Meall Ghaordaidh

Looking back (north west) to Meall Ghaordaidh

We took a slightly different route on our way down - but it took us into some widespread bogs. Once again, we were glad that it had been dry for a while - it was quite easy to cross. After heavy rain??

Meall Ghaordaidh bogs

Views east to Meall nan Tarmachan from descent from Meall Ghaordaidh

Jim and Rafe - descent from Meall Ghaordaidh - views south east to Meall Dhuin Croisg and Glen Lochay

The sun came out :)

Glen Lochay from descent from Meall Ghaordaidh
Great place for lunch

We stopped by a couple of big rocks, and unpacked some lunch. Out of the wind, it felt mild and pleasant, and we had great views for our picnic.

Views north along Allt Dhuin Croisg to old shielings

Meall Dhuin Croisg from Glen Lochay

We continued south east - from the rough grass and bog of the open hillside onto lush grass and farmland. It felt like a different world...

Rafe and Jim - views south from near the end of the descent from Meall Ghaordaidh

It wasn't long before we were back in Glen Lochay and back at the car.

A short walk, yes, but it was a proper hill walk - no matter how "rounded and undistinguised" Meall Ghaordaidh may look on paper.

And we even managed to get a coffee on our way home - the very lovely Artisan Cafe, based in an old church near Tyndrum - well worth a visit.

Fields west of Allt Dhuin Croisg near the end of the walk

Route:  Small layby on Glen Lochay road W of Allt Dhuin Croisg bridge (NN526363), 50m E along road, NE through gate (sp Meall Ghaordaidh) onto rough track, through gate in corner of field, continue on grassy trod across field to ladder stile by locked gate in stone wall, continue on rough track generally NE to small cairn (NN533373 approx) below a metal pole on hillside, take left fork at cairn onto rough and boggy intermittent path NW up Meall Ghaordaidh south eastern slopes, Meall Ghaordaidh (Munro 93, 1039m), return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 9.5km  Ascent: 900m  Time: 3 hours 40 minutes

Map:  OS Explorer 378 Ben Lawers & Glen Lyon

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