Monday, November 05, 2007

The Mamlorn Hills: Meall Glas (199) but not Sgiath Chuil (270)

Walk date: 04/11/07
My Munro #'s: 139

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
Myowl glas - grey-green hill - 959m
Skeea-chool - back wing - 921m

Duration - 11:30-16:45
Distance - 16.2 km
Total ascent - 813m
Weather - Cool with low cloud and plenty of moisture in the air, but almost no rain and only light wind even on top.
Team - with Sonia, Paul P, Bridget and Sarah
Other hikers: one from afar and two across the river!

Numerous options presented themselves, but time
and bridges only allowed one:

The impetus for this hike was the grand visitation of Paul P and fiancé Bridget to Aberdeen. On the Saturday we met the guys at The Ship Inn in Stonehaven for lunch; as a Yorkshire lass I trusted Bridget would appreciate a real ale establishment and I was not disappointed! After lunch Sonia and I showed Paul and Bridget around the charming fishermen's village of Footdee in Aberdeen before Sonia had to depart for a birthday party and I cooked at my place before we headed into Aberdeen for the glorious Prince of Wales and Under The Hammer.

Showing off the sights of Stonehaven (Sonia-Paul P-Bridget):

Paul and Bridget by Aberdeen's harbour:

Anyways, after all that, everyone still managed to humour me in my desire for new Munro action by getting up exceedingly early on Sunday and heading to Glen Lochay and The Mamlorn Hills just west of Killin, some 3 hour drive that included a stop at Perth to pick up another card-carrying Yorkshire lass in the guise of Bridget's friend Sarah. The aim for the day was a two-Munro hike which would have taken me to the magical halfway point of 142...

However, once geared up we set up a good pace only to be met with a complete absence of footbridge at 453356* (only concrete support posts suggested it had once been there). After a look at the river, we decided that fording it seemed like an unnecessarily wet option, and so we switched plans from doing Sgiath Chuil first to heading for the footbridge at 432349 and taking on Meall Glas as a starter before taking stock (reasoning that if we did manage the full walk in reverse we would at least only get our feet wet at the end).

Setting off into Glen Lochay with pipeline in view:

The crags to the north of Meall Glas are dead ahead:

Thankfully, although not in the best condition, the footbridge at 432349 did exist and we cautiously used it to cross the Lochay only to immediately be rewarded with some fine Scottish bog. Instead of heading for the steep and intimidating crags which my book insists is a healthy route, we then reservedly headed upwards alongside Allt Coire Cheathaich through a gate and into the wide grassy corrie below (and north of) Meall Glas. The going underfoot was wet due to the long grass and soft moss and initially the approach was quite steep, but once past the height of the crags the going was much smoother.

Seen better days, but at least it's still standing!

Steady.. Sonia, Sarah, Paul and Bridget take their chances:

At last, some height can be gained above Glen Lochay:

As I had been keeping to the west of a tributary to Allt Coire Cheathaich and the Lochay, our route veered toward the north western ridge of Meall Glas. Figuring that the walking would be easier on the ridge I kept us to this line and after a brief but welcomed lunch and a short rise, we found ourselves strolling up the broad back of this wide hill (hitting the ridge around 427328).

Even with 150m in height to go, this section was very quick and we were on the summit before we knew it. Unfortunately, since hitting the ridge the views had completely disappeared due to the low cloud, but the cairn was very pretty!

With the greater wind due to the exposure on the top coupled with some light rain/cloud moisture, there was no chance of a second picnic happening and it was time to move on. Due to a combination of time constraints and not knowing what the route to Sgiath Chuil was like, we played safe and ditched it, heading back down to the bridge and a guaranteed dry crossing. This descent took less time than expected due to a fine mix of acceptable incline and the quite pleasant spongy grass underfoot, and we were soon crossing the welcomed bridge again.

An entirely different walk, the welcomed ridge of Meall Glas:

It's worth it for the panoramic views! Getting to the top:

So to the south here, you can see some fantastic features:

Our first view below the cloud of the descent:

Paul and Sonia heading up the rear:

From here, the track back to the carpark was straight-forward, although a lot longer than we'd remembered, so much so that light was getting scarce by the time we were back towards the car. However, this did not stop Paul and I satisfying our curiosity as to how the river crossing at 453356 would have been, by just getting on and doing it for no other reason. The answer was "very wet indeed", and we concluded we had been quite wise to not have our girlfriends do this at the start of the day's hike, but maybe not so wise in our method of deducing this!

Once into dry footwear, we hit the fantastic Sarah-recommended Falls of Dochart Inn at Killin where real ales from Fyne Ales brewery and home made food was served in plenty, and the place even had a fire. A long drive then ensued, but at the tail end of a very satisfying day out, all were happy with it. Fine stuff!

Some live walking action:

That quite unnescessary river crossing 1:

And back:

* The complete lack of footbridge where expected for the river crossing presented quite a problem for us, to the point that Paul was even pondering crossing on the back of the wide pipeline that cuts across the valley in front of the carpark. However, in failing light Bridget and Sarah though they could see a bridge near to the carpark, and a re-examination of the map in this area does show a thin track crossing the river immediately SE of the carpark that then enters the marked forest and begins zig-zagging up the lower slopes that lead to Sgiath Chuil. I would suggest this then as a route up towards Sgaith Chuil, but just don't expect much of a path in this area (just a bridge). I would also give yourself plenty of time for this pair, as my book's 4-6 hours proved quite optimistic!

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Blogger eric said...

Another great report with amazing photos! Any idea how old that foot bridge is? or why it was originally built?

If you haven't addressed it here already, I'd be very interested in a brief rundown of the gear / supplies that you carry along on these adventures. How many deep-fried Mars Bars can you fit in your pack? ;-)

7 November 2007 at 18:19  
Blogger George Walks said...

I think the bridges are just for access including for the farmers to get sheep across. However, there was an abandoned cottage near to the collapsed one. It could be that the army built them as it's quite a common training exercise. No idea on age, but earlier than 2000 as that's my map's copyright date.

I will give a rundown of gear and supplies on my next hike and will include new stuff that I plan to purchase!

8 November 2007 at 17:05  
Anonymous Andrew Leach said...

You do know how to show people a good time dont you...

20 November 2007 at 17:09  
Blogger George Walks said...

Well, they did have tears in there eyes, but I imagine that was due to having so much fun...

20 November 2007 at 19:08  

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