& Meall a' Bharr and Meall Liath
Tuesday 14th November 2017
Weather/Conditions: Calm weather but oddly cool. In spite of a great forecast, the sun was always behind a cloud somewhere, the hills a bit grey, with a bitter wind to go. So benign all in, but it was good to get back to some warmth!
Distance/Ascent/Time: 18km / 1400m / 5h 50m
I drove to Glen Lyon on the promise of a good forecast. The group of four at Invervar was in my sights and I'd originaly planned to climb them from the north by Rannoch. Indecision put that plan to bed and I settled for the normal loop from the south!
A funny thing happened at this point too, for at the car park I bumped into Nicola from the Clachaig. It turned out we had both driven from the same part of the country to climb the same round of hills, and had arrived within five minutes of one another! It was a hell of a coincidence, so we did the natural thing and of course did the hill day together.
We went for Carn Gorm first. Since I was last here, some of the forest out the back of Invervar has been felled, and a hydro track has made it's way into the coire. I think these things are so damn intrusive, but it's the same case everywhere in the Highlands - every glen and coire within spitting distance of a road has some kind of microhydro going on. That in itself I don't mind, but the network of tracks is a substantial change to the Highland landscape that's really only come about in the last couple of years.
We had nice weather on the hill, but early promise of sun gave way to blanket cloud, which seemed to filter out all warmth. Carn Gorm seemed a cold place, and just before the upper slopes we got some food in the lee of some boulders.
We did the round clockwise with the thought of keeping our backs to the wind. Meall Garbh, Munro #2, followed on pretty soon after, then we were walking due east. Though any residual snow was limited at Glen Lyon, substantial patches were lying on the coires of Drumochter and Atholl to the north; a good sight, and obvious signs it's a colder, wintrier part of the country.
But my main memory of the day was that chilling wind, which never blew hard, but never seemed to stop either. I'm always reminded, even on easy days like this of Martin Moran's slightly chilling statement in The Munros of Winter, something to the effect of, "that cold just gets into your bones...". You can feel, on days like this, how it can just pull your system back, and really drive you down.
It had obviously been a while since I was on these hills, because I entirely forgot the summit of Carn Mairg was not on the rocky outcrop. We followed another of folk over to that promontory before realising the mistake. We went across to Meall Liath, my last Munro Top in the area and a gentle dome of grass and moss. Schiehallion didn't look far away; I caught some sights of the route up from Loch Rannoch - maybe next time.
With the light noticably dimming we got over Meall na Aighean then started down into the glen. I think because these hills are so tightly packed, it's sometimes easy to not realise how high abvoe Glen Lyon you are. In just a few hundred metres descent, we were out the worst of the wind, then made the rest of the long walk down in growing darkness. Though we'd talked about getting a cup of tea somewhere, in the event I was keen to get back to Ballachulish, not least because I had dinner waiting for me in the kitchen!
A good day, and an awesome coincidence to bump into Nicola.
Meall na Aighean
(0.00) 10.45am Invervar
(1.45) 12.30pm Carn Gorm
(2.20) 1.05pm Meall Garbh
(3.30) 2.15pm Carn Mairg
(4.33) 3.18pm Meall na Aighean
(5.50) 4.35pm Invervar