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]

Thursday 17 October 2019

Meall nan Caorach (NN928338; 624m) and Meall Reamhar (618m)

Thursday 17 October
Distance: a few yards under 8 miles
Ascent: 530m
Weather: disappointingly low cloud, but only a few spots of drizzle.

Yesterday I looked at potential hills that could be visited between Blair Atholl (where we were at the time) and Stirling (where we intend to be at the weekend). I then consulted Google Maps for some distance calculations and discovered that travelling to Stirling via Crieff on the A822 was marginally shorter than going down the A9. Bonus! The A822 may not be as big and quick as the A9, but it meant we could bag some hills without adding any extra distance to our journey south.

Bearing in mind the weather forecast and my wish for Mick to feel inclined to come along with me, out of all the hills accessible fromt his road I opted for the two named above. They sit not much more than a kilometre apart, either side of a pass that is accessed via a track.

Most people seem to park at the end of the Girron farm track and StreetView suggested it would be big enough for Bertie, so that's to where we drove. Objectively there was enough room, but it felt a bit rude plonking something so much bigger than a car in that location so we backtracked to the village hall I'd spotted in Amulree just over a kilometre earlier. It looked like the sort of place we could validly park and that was confirmed when we saw the 'You're welcome to use our car park but please consider making a donation' sign.

Contrary to the forecast lifting of the cloud and general brightening-up, as we arrived, rain started to come down. The flask of coffee was retrieved from one of our daypacks and the butteries from the other, and we had elevenses whilst waiting for the rain to stop.

Stop it did and out we headed, just at the same moment as were the only other occupants of the car park. This couple were on bikes, heading off in a different direction, but we all agreed that we hadn't chosen a good day for our respective activities. For us, our summits were up over 600m and as we set out the cloud base was somewhere between 400 and 450m.

Heading up the track the cloud started to lift and there was even some blue sky to the east, but our optimism that it would clear further as we ascended was misplaced.

Many people do these hills as a circuit, which would have definite merit in better conditions. We chose the easy option, using the track to nearly the top of the pass, then doing an out-and-back up Meall nan Caorach.

Summit snap with a murky backdrop

Steps were retraced to the track where we paused for fig rolls and a sip of water. Given the rain-induced delay in setting out it had now become clear that it would have been a really good idea to have made another flask and have packed some lunch.

During that brief break I plotted what looked to be the best (i.e. avoiding the steepest terrain) line up Meall Reamhar and we set out on a navigation exercise as the cloud descended onto us again.

An old fence was an obstacle easily crossed and we did an excellent job of following bearings to the summit cairn.

Not nearly the worst visibility ever had on a summit, but no good for views either.

Consideration was given to walking back along the ridge, which I'm sure is a lovely option when there are views to be had, but today there seemed no point when we could drop back below the cloud and take advantage of the same track we'd walked in on.

Mick crossing the base of the glen

The track in the upper reaches of the glen is a lovely grassy one

A bit of drizzly rain started to fall just before we reached the road,and we feared that our timing had been ill, but in the end it didn't amount to enough leave us with wet kit needing to be dried.

By the time we were back at Bertie, changed and had lunch cooking it was quarter to three and we were hungry enough to eat a scabby dog. Yep, definitely should have taken sandwiches and a flask with us!


  1. Views from the summit are not the be all and end all. Especially in Scotland a large part of the pleasure is in just being there and being on the hills.

    1. I think it depends on the hill. Lochnagar, for example, we have repeatedly deferred because, from the map, it looks such a fine hill that it demands a clear day.

      Otherwise, I don't mind too much having a cloudy summit (although obviously I would prefer it to be clear!) if either I've had views for a good portion of the way up, or if it's an unremarkable hill where I don't feel like I'm missing much.

    2. Re: Your example of Lochnagar, each time I've been over that way has been on the Challenge so I've not had the luxury of waiting for a good weather - I've STILL not been up there in the clear!