Saturday 6 May 2017

Carn Mairg Circuit above Invervar

Overnight in an old quarry near Bridge of Balgie - views east

Found a cosy spot for Cyril, beside the hill road near Bridge of Balgie, just as it was getting dark on Friday night. After a reasonable sleep, we woke to the sun coming up over the mountains in a cloudless sky - looked like a perfect hill walking day.

Rafe and Jim - Setting off from Invervar

We parked up in the little car park south of the road in Invervar - despite it only being 7.30am, there were several cars there before us.

Along the road and through the gate - we were soon on the authorised route, following the orange and green posts - initially in attractive woodland and past the lint mill...

Jim - In the woods by Invervar Burn (orange and green post1)

...soon through a deer gate into a clear fell site (rather nasty underfoot in places), and through another deer gate onto a hydro track.

We'd been a little bit nervous about this initial bit of the walk. It had sounded complicated in the guide book, and the instructions did not really translate to what we could see on the map - plus the fact that the estate has a bit of a rep for not being keen on access - but the orange and green posts were well placed and meant there was no doubt which way walkers were meant to go! Not sure what would have happened if we had strayed...?

The clear fell site that needs to be crossed near Invervar 

Bridge over the Allt Coire a'Chearcaill

The posts took us up the side of the Invervar Burn, gaining height gradually, along tracks and over a bridge...

Rafe - Invervar Burn

...before dropping down into the gully and crossing the Invervar Burn on a somewhat dilapidated footbridge. Rafe chose to go through the water.

Care required - bridge over the Invervar Burn

The path continued along the side of the forest plantation, past some old shielings and soon onto the open hillside.

Jim and Rafe - ascent of Carn Gorm by Invervar Burn

Looking back towards Invervar Burn gully

Rafe and Jim - ascent of Carn Gorm

An Sgorr from ascent of Carn Gorm

There was an obvious path all the way - it was steep at times and a bit of a grassy slog, with a couple of false tops.

Meall Garbh and Ben Lawers from ascent of Carn Gorm

But the views...

Looking back down ascent route (Carn Gorm SE ridge) with views to Meall na Aighean and Glen Lyon

The sky was almost cloudless and the horizon crisp and clear - what a day - the views went on and on.

Jim and Rafe - ascent of Carn Gorm

It was also hot. I was very soon down to a tee shirt and Jim had his summer cap on.

First views of Loch Rannoch from ascent of Carn Gorm

Rafe and Jim - ascent of Carn Gorm

We were soon amongst the summits - we could see the whole of the rest of today's walk, as well as many hills that we have already climbed - and many more, still to do.

Carn Gorm summit plateau - views east to Carn Mairg, Meall na Aighean and Gen Lyon

There was a chilly wind gusting across the summit of Carn Gorm (Munro 103, 1029m). Sadly, my jacket had to come out again - but we were standing about, gorping at the magnificent scene all around us...

Carn Gorm summit (Munro 103, 1029m)
Views to Lawers Group

Many photographs were taken - Ben Lawers, stood out in the south, along with Meall Greigh and Meall Garbh (where we had been, just two weeks ago), Loch Rannoch in the north, a still snowy Ben Nevis in the north west and more snow on the Cairngorms in the north east. Glorious.

Jim and Rafe - Carn Gorm summit - views north over Loch Rannoch

Carn Gorm trig point - views east to Carn Mairg and Meall na Aighean

Ben Nevis from Carn Gorm

We dropped off the summit, to the north, found a good spot out of the wind and tucked into a very early first lunch.

We sat, happily in the sunshine, identifying summits and marvelling at how lucky we were.

Rafe and Jim - first lunch on Carn Gorm

Lawers Group from Carn Gorm

Over Glen Lyon from Carn Gorm

But we still had a long way and three more Munro's to go. Time to move on.

A gentle grassy descent took us into the next bealach.

Loch Rannoch, Meall Breac and Meall Garbh from descent from Carn Gorm

Looking back to Carn Gorm from bealach between Carn Gorm and An Sgorr

The camera decided that it was ready for a rest and informed us that it had a systems error. We did all the usual things - turned it on and off, took out the battery, smacked it with a walking pole, etc. To no avail. The rest of the days photographs were taken on my rather mediocre phone camera - it was lucky that it was such a beautiful day, the light perfect, the sky clear, the horizon crisp - even a phone camera to take OK pictures today!

Views south east over Corie Allt an Sgorr

Aww well - we headed off to pick up An Sgorr (Munro Top 198, 924m), a quick 70m or so of ascent, with more good views, this time with Carn Gorm dominating.

Rafe - An Sgorr summit (Munro Top 198, 924m)
Views to Carn Gorm

We were soon on our way again, descending back onto the main track, with the rest of our route undulating before us...

Jim and Rafe - descent from An Sgorr

Meall Garbh from descent from An Sgorr

Looking back to An Sgorr and Carn Gorm from ascent of Meall Garbh

The ascent of Meall Garbh passed quickly, we were joined half way up by a line of old metal fence posts, the summit was capped with a few boulders.

Meall Greigh from ascent of Meall Garbh

Jim - ascent of Meall Garbh

Loch Rannoch from ascent of Meall Garbh

Jim - nearing the summit of Meall Garbh

The views from Meall Garbh (Munro 186, 968m) were at least as good as Carn Gorm... Stunning!

Meall Garbh summit (Munro 186, 968m)
Views north west over Loch Rannoch

I wonder who would have collected all these fence posts and built the "sculpture"?

Meall Greigh, Meall Garbh, Ben Lawers, Beinn Ghlas, Meall a'Choire Leith and Meall nan Tarmachan from Meall Garbh

Shiehallion popped up in front of us - seems like a long time since we've been up there.

Jim and Rafe - descent from Meall Garbh
Views to Schiehallion, Meall a'Bharr and Carn Mairg

Wandering on along the summit, we spied a little lochan down to the east - Rafie, in his furry coat, was ready for a plodge - we headed down.

Lochan - descent from Meall Garbh

Jim - Lochan between Meall Garbh and Meall a'Bharr

It was a lovely spot. The wind had dropped off and it was warm - we found a couple of handy rocks and had a breather.

Rafe was straight into the water.

Rafe and Jim - Lochan with views back to Meall Garbh

Onward and upward - another gentle grassy bank up to another great viewpoint - Meall a'Bharr.

Jim and Rafe - ascent of Meall a'Bharr

Lawers Group from ascent of Meall a'Bharr

Carn Gorm and Meall Garbh from ascent of Meall a'Bharr

We were soon picking out summits again - this time to the east and north, beyond Shiehallion - Ben Alder, the Drumochter Munros, is that Creag Meagaidh?

Meall a'Bharr north top with views to Shiehallion

Meall a'Bharr north top had a couple of cairns, the summit of the Munro Top was a few hundred meters further south - we sauntered that way - it really was a wow!

Jim - nearing Meall a'Bharr summit

Rafe - Meall a'Bharr summit (Munro Top 78, 1004m)
Views south to Meall Greigh

It didn't take long to get to Meall a'Bharr (Munro Top 78, 1004m) - with another fence post sculpture.

Views east to Shiehallion and over Carn Mairg's wide platueau

There was a walker, far across the plateau, on his way towards Carn Mairg, giving a sense of perspective - showing quite how large the grassy expanse was - expansive...

Jim - ascent of Carn Mairg

But it was excellent walking - we made good time.

Looking back (west) from near Carn Mairg

Rather than stick to the path, which contoured around some crags, we stuck to the summit of the ridge, great views over Shiehallion and into Gleann Mor.

Nearing Carn Mairg summit

We were looking forward to getting to the summit - we had a second lunch planned for our third Munro - Carn Mairg (Munro 91, 1042m) - the highest point of the day.

Carn Mairg summit (Munro 91, 1042m)
Views to Shiehallion

Rafe and Jim - Cairn Mairg summit plateau - views to Lawers Group

The boulders to the south of the summit looked like a good place to get out of the breeze - and it was - views back along our route with an excellent backrest - sandwiches and cake in the sunshine - and three Munro's already in the bag.

Views to Carn Gorm and Meall Garbh from near Carn Mairg summit
Good place for a second lunch

Disregarding what we had read in the guide book earlier, we just made a bee line for the next bealach from the summit of Carn Mairg. It was unnecessarily bouldery. It was only when we got to the bealach that we could see that there was a lovely grassy trod descent route - if only we had taken Walkhighlands advice and headed north east off the summit initially - bah!

Meall Laith and Meall na Aighean
from descent from descent from Carn Mairg

Meall Liath was a perfectly rounded grassy dome - up we go.

Rafe and Jim - ascent of Meall Laith

It was only about 60m of ascent to pick up this extra Munro Top - but we were starting to get a bit tired now - and it was hot! (I assure you that it was hot - I know Jim is still in his jacket in the photo's, but he just doesn't seem to feel it).

Jim - Carn Mairg from ascent of Meall Laith

We were soon at the top of Meall Laith (Munro Top 72, 1012m) - the summit had a feeling of space and peace. We had 360 views of blue sky and green mountains - and to the south our final Munro of the day, Meall na Aighean.

Rafe and Jim - Meall Laith summit (Munro Top 72, 1012m) - views to Carn Mairg

A pathless descent led us to a tiny lochan in the bealach - another plodge for Rafe...

Views to Meall na Aighean West Top and Lawers Group
from descent from Meall Laith

...Before the final major ascent of the day to Meall na Aighean, a rough path to the wide bealach west of the Munro and then a daunder along to the summit - Meall na Aighean (Munro 168, 981m).

Jim and Rafe - ascent of Meall na Aighean

Rafe - Meall na Aighean summit (Munro 168, 981m)

We could spy Loch Tay to the south beyond Meall Greigh and to the north, Carn Mairg and Meall Laith - Meall Laith looking remarkably large from this viewpoint.

Cran Mairg and Meall Laith fmo Meall na Aighean

Our final summit of the day was Meall na Aighean West Top, (a sub Sim apparently), a short walk along the wide summit ridge from the Munro.

Jim and Rafe - descent from Meall na Aighean - Views to West Top and Carn Gorm 

Rafe and Jim - Meall na Aighean West Top (974m)

And from here we could see, both our ascent route and our way off the hill.

Meall Laith, Schiehallion and Meall na Aighean
from Meall na Aighean West Top

It looked a long way down - and we were feeling a touch footsore by now.

Rafe and Jim - descent from Meall na Aighean - views to Carn Gorm

We dropped straight off the summit, heading for the obvious path on the west ridge.

Glen Lyon from descent from Meall na Aighean

We lost height quickly and the hills rose up around us. The wind dropped off completely and it was hot hot hot!

An afternoon doze seemed in order - we got laid out on the grass, had a snack and a drink - and let the spirit of the place take over.

Sleepy Rafe - descent from Meall na Aighean

Not really sure how long we rested for! Didn't really want to go back down to civilisation, but we had to move on...

As soon as we stood up to go, three other groups of walkers came over the hillside behind us - suddenly the hill was crowded. Off we go.

Rafe and Jim - descent by Meall na Aighean West Ridge
Views to Glen Lyon and Carn Gorm

It kind of felt like we had to get a move on - but our rest had done us good. We were soon well ahead of the others and were striding on along the ridge.

Carn Gorm and An Sgorr - we went up that way

There was a rather nasty steep bit, expected but still nasty, at the end of the ridge - I was starting to get a bit of a blister. But not far now!

East along Glen Lyon from Meall na Aighean West Ridge

We met up with our outward route at the top of the clear fell site and followed this back to the start. The sun was shining on the lint mill now - lovely.

But not as lovely as taking my boots off when we got back to Cyril!

So thats' four Munro's, three Munro Top's, sunshine and clear skies, views to die for, plus coffee in Aberfeldy - what more could anyone ask for?

Lint Mill, Invervar

Route:  Small car park (6 cars) E of phone box in Invervar (NN665481), W along road 25m approx to gate (sp To the Hill), N along path winding through woods following the orange and green posts, past Lint Mill, through deer gate, across clear fell and 2nd deer gate, left briefly along hydro track, left again onto path beside E side of Invervar Burn, left on another hydro track and over a bridge (NN663489), left onto path over an old iron bridge and continuing NE along W side of Invervar Burn and around the top of the forest plantation (sounds harder than it is - just follow the orange and green posts!), continue on path ascending SE ridge of Carn Gorm, Carn Gorm (Munro 103, 1029m), N to bealach (sh 851m), E to An Sgorr (Munro Top 198, 924m), N to bealach and NE to Meall Garbh (Munro 186, 968m), E to lochan (NN653516), NE to sh 881m and E to cairn on Meall a'Bharr North Top, S to Meall a'Bharr (Munro Top 78, 1004m), continue generally E along wide ridge to Carn Mairg (Munro 91, 1042m), E across grass and rocks to bealach, continue E on grassy slopes to Meall Laith (Munro Top 72, 1012m), S then SW on grassy slopes to bealach (sh 855m), generally SE on path to bealach between Meall na Aighean and West Top, E to Meall na Aighean (Munro 168, 981m), W to Meall na Aighean West Top (974m), descent NW to pick up stalkers path on Meall na Aighean west ridge, W along this track (ignoring stalkers path which cuts across at NN670490) into glen of Invervar Burn near the deer gate at the top of the clear fell site near the beginning of the walk (NN663487), return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 18.5km  Ascent: 1450m  Time: 8 hours 15 mins

Map:  OS Explorer 378 Ben Lawers & Glen Lyon

Carn Gorm

Meall Garbh

Carn Mairg

Meall na Aighean

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