The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday 27 April 2018

Meall Odhar and Beinn Chuirn

Meall Odhar (NN298298; 656m) and Beinn Chuirn (NN280292; 880m)

Distance (foot): 9.8 miles
Ascent: around 1000m
Weather: Showers, but with some good periods of sunshine.
Start point: Tyndrum

Our line up to the SE shoulder of Beinn Chuirn wasn't as straight as shown here. I turned the Garmin Gadget off as we lunched and there was a delay in me remembering to turn it back on.

Our day started with some deliberation over which direction to walk our intended circuit, the result of which was a decision to go anticlockwise. I was having a crisis of confidence as to the steepness of the east side of Beinn Chuirn and we reckoned that it would be easier to decide whether it was doable, and to spot a route through the crags, from the vantage point of Meall Odhar, rather than from above.

First, however, we had to get to the top of Meall Odhar, to which end we started by ascending the path which switches its way back and forth through the old lead mine above Tyndrum. Our short-cutting of the biggest switchback was an accident - we simply lost the path in the face of spoil heaps covered in trodden lines.

We should have gone over the top of Srón nan Colan, which was the route I had plotted, but a failure to navigate had us skirt it instead. A longer route but with less ascent - I couldn't help but feel that going over the top would have been quicker and easier.

Skirting the top of a forest, a trodden line was found and it led us all the way to the top of our first objective:

On Meall Odhar with Beinn Chuirn behind me

This is a very lovely area and the views to the snow capped Ben Lui and its neighbours were exellent, as were those over the general lumpiness in all other directions. What caught our attention the most, though, was the east side of Beinn Chuirn.

I picked out what looked to be a feasible line. Mick was dubious. What he was surprisingly undubious about (given my track record) was the feasibility of getting through the trees that lay between us and the beallach between the two hills. Aerial photos told me it should be easy to get through them, but looking at them from ground level didn't immediately give the same impression. Happily, the aerial photos were right and soon we were cursing our way over a deer fence and finding somewhere to perch for first lunch. Having undercatered for this outing, we thought we would have one sandwich and half a cup of coffee at this point and save the other half of each for later.

Our route up onto the SE shoulder of Beinn Chuirn worked nicely, with just a few areas where falling would have been a bad idea (not that falling is ever a particularly good idea), then it was a straightforward yomp to the summit.

Racing an approaching shower, I paused to snap a quick panorama of Ben Lui et al, before they got obscured by the weather...

...which slowed me down enough to allow the arrival of the shower to just pip us to the top. Its front edge was hail, followed swiftly by snow, and it worked to prevent us from pausing for second lunch.

There being barely any wind today, the showers were slow moving. Whilst we had been lucky that most had skirted us, we were fully underneath this one and it didn't pass until we were off the hill and well along the track back to Tyndrum. By that time (in fact at about 450m) the snow had, of course, turned to rain.

We've walked the track back to Tyndrum a few times before, and it was no shorter nor more interesting today, but in its favour, it is a fast walking surface.

All in all, it was a very satisfactory day out, marred only by the bit where the snow turned to rain and got us wet. Oh, and that second half of lunch? We never did find a suitable time to stop for it, so it came with us all the way back to Bertie.


  1. Is Mick not into biking (as a means to an end?). Pics of Ben Lui bring back frightening memories of my ascent in the snow, and then paniful memories when my knee packed up about quarter of a mile from my bike on the way back.

    1. Mick doesn't have a bike and to my recollection has only ridden one twice in the 19 years I've known him (2000: about 1.5 miles into town and back; 2013: 15 miles in Florida). He's unlikely to invest in a bike in order to access hills as he is most determinedly not a hill-bagger, although he probably will get one in due course for use as transport in foreign towns.

      Was your ascent of Ben Lui in May 2009? I seem to recall that you were up there a week we went over it on our first TGO Challenge.

  2. Gayle- Yes it was 2nd May. I seem to remember you commenting somewhere about the coincidence but can't find it now.