Mealls Corranaich & a’ Choire Leith

23 03 2014

October 2009
The next 4 posts are a series of walks from a week in a cottage at Lawers Village under the Ben Lawers range…

At the start of October 2009, Richard and I took a trip to Loch Tay with the intention of bagging all the Lawers area Munros. The cottage in Lawers village was really beautiful – we got accidentally upgraded as our smaller booked cottage got flooded just before we arrived due to a water-filter problem and we were put in a huge 8-bed bungalow which should have been vastly more expensive but of course we’d already paid the rate for the other cottage. In addition it also had a carport which was wonderful for my poor ol’ Sunny, especially considering the weather we had…

As there aren’t many photos for this post due to the ongoing nil visibility most of the week (the ones of the mountains were taken on another day from Ben Lawers col) I’m putting a few extras in here… starting with these of the view from the cottage and later a few waterfalls from short walks we did on the really bad weather days…

View from our cottage
View from our cottage

Our garden at Lawnacroy
Our garden at Lawnacroy

On surfacing the first morning the weather was not great – low cloud and some drizzly showers. We decided to break ourselves in gently by just doing Meall Corranaich and Meall a’ Choire Leith from the now defunct Ben Lawers Visitor Centre.

Meall Corranaich & Lawers Range fm Tarmachan ascent
Meall Corranaich & Lawers Range from Beinn Tarmachan

On parking at the visitor centre, we attempted to pay the suggested £2 but the meter was jammed with a pound coin (couldn’t get it out ;-) )

For some reason, I’d decided to wear my very thin zip-off trousers – not sure why as there was little sun, just the occasional peep. We set off up the tourist path towards the main Lawers range and, just as it crossed the burn, we followed a grassy path going straight on towards the col between Meall Corranaich and Beinn Ghlas (the head of Coire Odhar).

We went straight on about here instead of crossing the burn

Beinn Ghlas & Meall Corranaich

The path was great for about another mile or so and then it petered out into the bogs. No matter, we could see the col below Meall Corranaich’s SW ridge so we headed over the next few humps towards our objective, scaring a herd of deer in the process.

When we got to the foot of the slope up to the col, I was surprised at how steep the hillside was. A lot of it was peppered with small, greasy looking crags so I decided we’d ascend the very steep plain grass slopes further right. I could see there was a slight platform about two-thirds of the way up which would make me feel better if I found the ground too steep for my liking. It was a real grunt up the slope to the ‘platform’ and then there were some slight grassy gullies going up to the col – all easy and not too steep. In no time we were on the col and preparing to head up the south-west ridge. It was here the full force of the gale hit us. We tried to stay round the ridge out of the wind but you couldn’t really escape.

The ascent of the SW ridge is really short from this col and we soon reached a cairn on a small summit. Far too soon for the actual summit I thought so we continued along the ridge in the mist and ascended to another cairn a couple of minutes later. Still far too soon for the summit I thought again but, peering into the mist, could see that all the ground around us went decidedly downwards. I couldn’t believe how short and easy the ascent had been! We set off along the easy and pretty ridge with quite a fierce crosswind blowing.

Meall Corranaich
Meall Corranaich (our final descent was slanting left down the easy grass on the right)

As the book says, partway along the ridge, it splits and you have to take the right-hand fork. We could see the left-hand fork quite easily as it is short and was out of the mist. However, we couldn’t see where the right-hand branch was supposed to be – it certainly wasn’t directly north. We stood for a moment peering into the mist and it suddenly cleared slightly revealing the ridge down to the col before our second Munro, Meall a’ Choire Leith, below us on the right.

We descended east down the side of our ridge across a bulky section of the mountain to join the paths down the desired ridge. The weather cleared a little so we decided to take the path which went along the ridge-top in preference to one which followed the burn as that would be nice and sheltered for our later return up the ridge.

As we neared the col the wind became ferocious, trying to blow us over the col down the steep craggy slope into the side glen. At this point, as it was now raining steadily, Richard decided he couldn’t go another step without putting his waterproof trousers on. I said he would be better waiting till we were in the shelter of the path creeping up the lee side of our next peak but he was insistent.

The next few minutes were total farce as he struggled with his wildly flapping trousers while standing on one leg as I held him up by the scruff of his jacket while wedging his rucsac between my legs so it wouldn’t disappear over the col ;-) He initially put his left leg down the right leg of his trousers and then decided he had to have them the right way round (not sure it matters really) so huffed and puffed his way back out again. By now he was getting very grumpy and I was laughing at him! He eventually got them on and we again set off for Meall a’ Choire Leith.

Meall a Choire Leith
Meall a Choire Leith

The path for this sets off on a gently rising slope to the right of the mountain. It’s a short and steady ascent and we were out of the wind so it was great. We were soon at the very ornately built cairn. However, as we studied the cairn I saw it didn’t really have a very firm base, it was actually undercut all the way round. I thought that was pretty dangerous really and it was likely to fall on some unsuspecting walker sitting behind it. I told Richard to help me post rocks into the spaces underneath so we set to work.

Suddenly, I shouted a warning to Richard as the whole thing set off in his direction (he had his head down looking for the next rock to use). He jumped out of the way just as the whole cairn crashed down just where he’d been. We felt terrible about demolishing such a beautiful cairn but we’d only been trying to help – honest! We quickly rebuilt it the best we could and hurriedly headed off back down. We could hear the mountain shouting ‘hooligans’ and ‘vandals’ at our backs (or at least we had a laugh imagining it was ;-) ). Every time we saw it from subsequent walks, we imagined it was still shouting after us.

We were soon back on the col and back into the horrible gale. We set off south on the burnside path back up the ridge we came down. At one point the wind hurled me across the path and I fell and hurt my wrist. It soon recovered however and we continued. I’d seen a nice-looking path on the way out which continued south over the edge of the ridge on grassy slopes and back down to the col between Corranaich and Beinn Ghlas. From there I knew there was a superb path back to the tourist route and the visitor centre. It was a bit wet and rough through the lower parts of the corrie to the col and the path disappeared for the last few hundred yards but we were soon heading back down the good path to the visitor centre.

By now it was sweeping, soaking rain and my zip-offs were wringing wet but I still wouldn’t put my waterproof trousers on as I hate wearing them. I couldn’t even be bothered to put on my featherweight over trousers which are great but meant taking my wet boots off.

We arrived back to the visitor centre carpark where it was too windy to stand to take off our wet stuff. I sat in the car taking my sodden boots off and putting them down by the car door and they were nearly setting off it was that wild. Anyway, it was a good, short, easy route for the two Munros with only a little backtracking and re-ascent. In total it was about 8 miles and 2966 feet of ascent.

Here’s a photo of the Falls of Acharn about a mile south of Acharn village on the South Loch Tay road… You have to go through a hermit’s cave to a rock platform above a big drop to view it!

Falls of Acharn

And the Birks of Aberfeldy…

Birks of Aberfeldy

Rainbow&view fm Birks of Aberfeldy
View from Birks of Aberfeldy

We later found out that we were lucky we hadn’t demolished the cairn of our second Munro the year before as a guy who had been sat eating his sandwiches at the summit got mobbed by wasps – there was a nest in the cairn! This prompted me to tell him a funny story about a wasps’ nest in my compost bin which I’ll reproduce here…

I know to my cost how grumpy wasps get in autumn as I had a wasp’s nest in my compost bin one year. They were fine with me tipping compost into it all summer, however, come September/October I opened the lid to tip some more… out came the whole nest – a huge cloud of angry wasps. I rushed for my back door followed by the cloud… I rushed through the house and out the front door – still followed by the cloud… I then ran outside onto my drive, round in a circle, all the while beating myself around my head and shouting obscenities, then back into the house… If my neighbours were watching they must have been thinking of dialling the loony bin! It must have looked really strange if you didn’t know what was going on! ;-)

I was lucky and just got stung three times and most of the wasps didn’t manage to follow me back into the house – just two which I soon blatted! The three stings gave rise to a scientific experiment as I couldn’t remember which you put on wasp stings, vinegar or bicarb of soda… I tried one of each on two of the stings, and the one which worked on the 3rd (vinegar).

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18 responses

31 03 2014
McEff

Hi Carol. Nice area that. Have you ever considered going into the demolition industry? I’m sure you’d flourish.
Cheers, Alen

1 04 2014
mountaincoward

I’m usually very good with stone – I’ve done a bit of dry-stone walling and so on. I blame the original cairn builders for building such a beautiful, but unstable, pile of stones! ;-)

28 03 2014
the sometimes hillwalker

My second ever trip was to this area! Me and a mate done Beinn Ghlas, Ben Lawers and An Stuc from the visitor centre. It’s the still the trip I have least photos from, we were clagged in for the full walk. We were visited by a fox while we were brewing up on the summit of An Stuc which was surreal. It literally toddled past about a metre away from us as if we weren’t even there, I’ll never forget that.

28 03 2014
mountaincoward

The fox would have been great – didn’t you give it a sarnie? I was once on Norber, a small limestone hill in the Dales, and was stood admiring the view for a while. When I looked down there was a fox stood looking up at me. When I looked down he scarpered…

26 03 2014
bob

Sorry.Just read last comment back and realised I’m typing crap. Getting two separate burst pipe memory repairs mixed up. Just back from Ireland and suitably discombobulated thanks to strong drink.
Memo to self. Never post comments after consuming half a bottle of vodka :o)
For purely medicinal pain killing purposes of course as I’m injured at present.

26 03 2014
mountaincoward

Vodka??!! I thought you were a Scot man! ;-) Where’s the whisky?

What have you been up to injuring yourself? Don’t start that – I had enough of that last year…
Carol.

26 03 2014
bob

Shows you how often I keep up with the current state of Munros. I didn’t know the Visitor Centre was shut. I had to crawl right under a huge wasps nest in an attic years ago to access a leaking water pipe in an emergency. Scary stuff! Big as a beach ball. Did it at night in mid winter when they were all inside by 5:00 pm and I could replace the damaged section by head torch.
Shame about the weather on the Lawers range.

26 03 2014
mountaincoward

That was 2009 when I did that and I think the Visitor Centre had shut that summer.

24 03 2014
stravaigerjohn

What grand pictures!

24 03 2014
mountaincoward

To say what bad weather we had I suppose you could say I made the best of it when it deigned to clear! ;-)

24 03 2014
chrissiedixie

Is Ben Lawers the one near Killin? Might well be going up to that area for a week at the end of May. Looks lovely, as most places tend to do in Scotland!

Poor Dixie’s dangerously allergic to wasps. I have to always carry Piriton for her. Didn’t have any the first time she was stung and had to rush her to the Vets for emergency injections, as her face swelled up like a rugby ball and started interfering with her breathing :(

24 03 2014
mountaincoward

That’s awful about Dixie – I didn’t really think about animals being allergic to stings and so on but I suppose some of them will be. That must have been really scary as you really do have to hurry to get medical attention in those cases don’t you!

It is above Killin and Loch Tay. A very nice range of hills and also very easy and well-pathed :-)

24 03 2014
smackedpentax

Looks a great walk Carol (you vandal)…I am hoping to get some ‘proper’ walking in soon now that the weather is improving. Many years ago I was in the ‘Black Horse’ at Asquith (I am sure you know it) and one of the farmers sons was telling a tale about his late father – who was a dour no-nonsense kinda guy. They had a barn down near the river which was little visited and one day the old man went down for something and spied a football sized wasps nest hanging from a beam at head height. Without a second thought he took his old coat off and wrapped it tightly around the wasps nest, slung it under his are and walked down to the river and threw it in. I don’t know if the tale is true or not but having met the old man once or twice it is the sort of thing he would do.

24 03 2014
mountaincoward

He did right. I didn’t realise they’re sticky until I tried to throw one over the wall onto waste ground which I’d found in my shed. I got it on a spade and hurled it with all my might… and it just went thud at my feet! :-o

23 03 2014
fedup

Not an area I’ve visited, but it looks good walking country. I always seem to travel along the A82 or A9, but I’ve never ventured around Loch Tay!

I hate wasps, I got stung right between the eyes when I was about 12 and my nose swelled up like the elephant man for a few days. I feel a little guilty now when I splat one, as I think they are meant to be good for plants. Love the big bumble bees and tend to go out of my way to save those trapped by windows!

Unlucky about the holiday cottage ;)

23 03 2014
mountaincoward

I love bumble bees – and most other bees for that matter. As to the wasps, I think it’s probably Karma in my case. When we were kids, we used to trap wasps in jam jars, shake them up to get them mad, and then let them loose at passers-by! ;-)

24 03 2014
lanceleuven

“When we were kids, we used to trap wasps in jam jars, shake them up to get them mad, and then let them loose at passers-by!”

That’s hilarious! :-D

24 03 2014
mountaincoward

the passers-by never thought so! ;-)

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