The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

Munros North of Glen Lyon

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Date: 24th May 2009
Distance: 12 miles
Time: 5 hours
Attendees: Me
Munros: Carn Gorm, Meall Garbh, Carn Mairg and Meall na Aighean
Weather: Sunny spells, cold gusting wind

It’s a wonderful feeling: leaving the house in brilliant sunshine, a hint of a frosty dawn still lingering in the air. The quiet roads were a joy and in no time at all I was off the A90 and winding my way through the backroads of first Angus and then Perthshire. A dash up a deserted A9 got me to Aberfeldy and then it was a matter of following the Glen Lyon/Bridge of Balgie signs until, having negotiated my way down the narrowest of single lane roads, I found myself at the car park below the telephone box in Invervar just a few minutes before 8:30am.

Early morning in Glen Lyon

Kitted up and with slightly reckless shortsleeves I crossed the road, went through the gate and was soon heading up a track through the woods. Somewhere to my left there was the roar of the burn tumbling down and occasionally I glimpsed flecks of white water through the lush greenery that was basking in the early sunshine.

Blue skies over Meall Garbh

Leaving the woods onto more open hillside I continued up a well defined track. Ahead of me was the shoulder of the day’s second hill, Meall Garbh. White sheep dotted the hillside and as I climbed Glen Lyon opened up behind me. South, over the treetops could be seen the fastness of the Lawers range rising up until its peaks were lost in a cap of ominous grey cloud.

An Sgorr from the slopes of Carn Gorm

In the sunshine I was happy, crossing the rickety metal bridge at 660495 before continuing up the track on the left side of the burn. At a point just after the trees the main turned to climb onto the open moorland and the long ridge of Carn Gorm.

View across to Ben Lawers range

I was enjoying the walk by the water though and kept heading alongside it before finally climbing steep, boggy ground to reach the main track half way up the shoulder.

Ben Lawers

Ahead of me Carn Gorm showed a good profile, particular with the top of An Sgurr to its right. The track narrowed and zig-zagged its way up the face, the views on to the Lawers range getting better and better at each turn. An Stuc was just out of cloud whilst Lawers itself was still attracting a covering.

Glen Lyon from Carn Gorm

A level section was crossed and then the final pull up was completed with the summit being reached just an hour after setting off from the car. Up here the wind was strong and gusty and carried a feeling of snow. I stopped by the ruined trig points to admire the extensive view. Loch Rannoch was now revealed and beyond Lawers I could see Ben More and Stob Binnein.

Summit of Carn Gorm (1020m)

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In the sheltered side of the cairn I donned layers including hat and gloves as the temperature had dropped noticeably with the climb. From now on I’d be above 800m for the rest of the day until dropping down from the final summit.

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A good path led off the top down the north ridge which had pleasing views back down the ascent route and a fine view of Loch Rannoch. Instead of staying on the main track I went up the top of An Sgurr before dropping down to the col below the next Munro, Meall Garbh.

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The track climbed steeply beside a line of metal fence posts until the large cairn, topped by numerous posts, on a gentle domed summit.

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The wind was biting but had definitely helped to break the cloud up meaning the sun was back out again. From the 968 summit I headed across to the 963 top and then returned to the fence line to drop down a bouldery summit to the next col.

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From here and as I climbed up to Meall a’ Bharr there were excellent views onto the scree slopes of Schiehallion which lay just to the northeast.

Schiehallion

Carn Gorm from Meall Garbh

Ben Lawers Range

Hardly any height is lost on this next section of plateau which runs around to the stony rim of Coire Chearcaill and brings you up close to the crag which forms a great southern facing prow to Carn Mairg.

Lawers from Meall a' Bharr

The ridge to Carn Mairg

Schiehallion

I visited the summit and then dropped the sack behind the tor to have a scramble across it to get the views over to Ben Lawers and the final Munro of the day, Meall na Aighean.

Summit of Carn Mairg

Ben Lawers across Carn Mairg's crags

Returning to the bag it was around 11:30 and having been walking for 3 hours now I decided it was high time for some food. After this I dropped steeply down close to the craps on the southern side of Carn Mairg. There was a track but this was a lot steeper than the recommended route down the east ridge. In no time I was heading across the peaty Bealach where I met the first walkers of the day. They had descended Meall na Aighean. I followed their steps up, branching left to reach the main summit just on 12pm.

Carn Mairg from Meall na Aighean

As I sat on the jumbled summit, admiring views to Ben Lawers and the Tyndrum hills I felt quite satisfied at having got four Munros in before midday. Whilst there hadn’t been much re-ascent, it had been much colder than expected. It had been good to enjoy the solitude of these hills as well.

Ben Lawers from Meall na Aighean

Summit of Meall na Aighean

I dropped off the summit and visited the 974 top before joining the splendid main track which drops off the west ridge heading straight for Invervar.

Carn Mairg

A Moment of Quiet Contemplation

Glen Lyon

I paused several times on the way down to enjoy the views but before too long I was rejoining the outward track and heading back through the forest to the now very much more crowded car park!

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