Following the standard bagging route from Kilfinnan in the Great Glen on a glorious, sunny autumn day .
Date: 29th September 2014
Hills: Meall na Teanga (Munro), Sron a' Choire Ghairbh (Munro)
Weather: Early mist clearing to give plenty of sunshine
Route: Click to view on Social Hiking
It was a happy bunch of people who assembled at the unofficial parking area near Kilfinnan Farm in the heart of the Great Glen. For Matt, Jenny and Brian this was to be their first outing in the Scottish hills. The day promised to be good, autumn sunshine spilling from behind clouds and mist clearing all but the highest tops.
The walk in on the forest road above Loch Lochy was a pleasant way of warming up and we covered the ground quickly. The leaders were chattering away to such an extent that they missed the narrow path, marked by a cairn, that led west away from the road and up into the trees. This took us up through pines and then birchwood with the Allt Glas-Dhoire tumbling away in a hidden gorge to our left. Sunlight filtered down through the trees and it was wonderfully pleasant, the smells of autumn all around and toadstools scattered here and there amongst the mossy undergrowth.
Higher up we emerged above the treeline into the narrow glen below the Cam Bhealach. The track was flanked by bronzed bracken and zig-zagged steeply up the slope before starting to level off as we climbed up into the coire. There were beautiful views back down to Loch Lochy and the last of the summer's purple heather hung on in places.
We made our way up through the Cam Bhealach heading for the saddle at the top which separates the two hills. Above us the mist slowly cleared away from the crags until we had clear views up to the tops above us.
The path was mostly good and only got a little boggy as we reached the crest of the bealach. A chill wind was blowing in from the west and so we took a break in the lee of a few rocks, eating a few snacks and deciding which of the two Munros we would be heading for first.
With a decision made we decided to head for Meall na Teanga first, and so from the top of the pass we crossed the boggy watershed and then headed up the narrow but clear track leading us south. The views immediately started to open up westward across Meall an Tagraidh towards the glens that lead into the Rough Bounds of Knoydart. Blue sky appeared though the odd patch of cloud and mist did keep descending down onto the hills immediately around us.
The path climbed the lower slopes of Meall Odhar and then traversed around on a boggy course to the col below Meall na Teanga. Its curved spine was presented to us as we came around the corner and continued our way up.
As we pulled up from the bealach on a steeper but drier path there were great views back down to Loch Lochy far below. Above us the cloud was once more gathering and seemed to be dropping in height. The day grew a little greyer but we continued stoicly, hopeful of another lifting.
There were now good views back across the Cam Bhealach to Sron a' Choire Ghairbh, which would be the day's second Munro a little later on. it was very autumnal and there was the occassional bellow of a stag in heat from somewhere in the glens below us. From time to time we would see a glimpse of deer running across slopes.
After clibming the broadsouthern ridge we emerged on the plateau which gave an easy walk along to the summit cairn with fine views down to Loch Lochy, tiny cars and trucks heading along the A82 their engines just the faintest roar on the edge of hearing.
Initially it seemed like the views were going to disappear as the cloud moved in but after a short wait at the cairn it became apparent that it was breaking again and by the time we'd had a spot of lunch the sun was back out. In the distance we could see Ben Nevis towering over the Great Glen, to the west the mountains of the North West Highlands were bathed in sunshine whilst cotton-wool clouds were wrapped over the Monadhliath hills to the east.
With the weather much improved it was with a spring in our steps that we retraced our outward steps, back along the plateau and down the ridge to the bealach below. The loose and scrabbly path gave the occassaional pause for thought but soon enough we were all back at the Cam Bhealaich and looking up at the zig-zag stalker's path that would give a much quicker ascent.
The path quickly gained us height and we enjoyed the fine views to the west. The light was very different from the morning, throwing into sharp relief all the texture and grain in the land.
We soon enough reached the top of the zig-zags where a short climb up a grassy slope led to the lip of the great eastern coire of Sron a' Choire Ghairbh. Here it was blustery but the views were incredible and we could see all the way up to Loch Ness and spot where our accommodation for the week was.
From here it was just a short stroll up a grassy slope to the summit plateau where the cairn came into view, along with amazing panoramic views into the North West Highlands with views to Glen Garry and Loch Quoich.
It was breathtaking and although a chilly wind was blowing, in the shelter of the cairn under a blue sky it was really quite pleasant. We had a snack break and everyone sat around enjoying the peace and stillness.
From the summit it was a straightforward route back, retracing our steps down to the zig-zags and then down to the bealach. We soon warmed up again in the bright afternoon sunshine.
After a regroup at the bealach we headed down the path, the lengthening shadows giving the glen a quite different character.
it was a very pleasant walk down with lovely views around and before too long we were descending down through the trees to the forest road above Loch Lochy.
Another regroup and then we headed back along to the car waiting at Kilfinnan chatting away and enjoying the warmth amongst the trees.
A short drive back, dropping Blake off to catch the bus back to Inverness, and we were back at the House where cocktails and croquet were already in full swing. It had been a wonderful day in great company.