Area: Glen Lyon to Glen Dochart and Loch Tay
Munro: Meall Ghaordaidh
Date walked: 29/11/2009
Time taken: 4 hours
Distance: 10 km
Ascent = 900m
Meal Ghaordaidh sits alone on a narrow plateau between Glen lyon and Glen Lochay. Its normally walked from the car parking area just West of the small bridge near Duncroisk 4.5 km West of Bridge of Lochy. There are a couple of Corbetts in the area and an interesting circular walk to include one or more can be achieved if so desired.
Danny and I left Dunfermline at 0550hrs and arrived at the car parking area at about 0730hrs. The car park is just a small tarmac area at the side of the road, 4.5km east of Bridge of Lochy, and there is a clear sign 20m west of the car park indicating the start of the walk up the munro. After a quick change we set of along the road past the sign and then onto the track that leads up the hillside.
The track runs alongside the burn North for a km and a half then heads North West pretty much all the way to the summit. There was no wind and the ambient temp was about 2 degrees. We had come prepared for the cold but had to stop at about 200m in order to remove some clothing. I was expecting blustery winds and low temperatures so the relative calm was a surprise. The overnight frost was still in the ground which left a reasonable crust on top leading to a bog free initial ascent. There was a heavy mist in the valleys but visibility on the lower parts of the hill was good.
After about 1 hour 10 minutes we reached the 700m point. (it took 1 hour 10 minutes from here to the summit). From here you could clearly see the summit covered in snow. Some peat hags have top be crossed between 700m and 800m but because of the frost in the ground there was very little visible water which made for good going and we made good speed to the snow line at approx 800m. This is when things slowed down a little. The snow was a couple of feet thick with drifts of 4 or 5 feet in places. This meant the lead man had to do all the hard work stepping into the snow and the trail man just followed in these footsteps. We took turns in leading. From 800m to 900m we came across some crags covered in snow and ice. It was a bit hairy ascending some of them and we slowly picked our way through to better ground below the summit. After a short time we reached the summit. A nice sheltered cairn with a trig point in the middle.
We were the first to ascend today through the virgin snow and Danny couldn’t resist writing his name in the snow to let those that followed on today, know it hahaha. I decided at this point to strip off and change my inner wet clothing for dry gear. We were at the summit for about 20 mins and in that time the clear visibility above the clouds/mist that we had enjoyed was reduced to around 20m as the mist lifted from the valley floor and the temperature dropped.
It was time to retrace our steps and leave the mountain. Again, going down through the icy crags was interesting. During the descent we met a number of walkers going up the mountain. In addition the ground was warming up and the wet boggy conditions were returning. Luckily enough we probably had the best conditions of the day during our walk and other later, walkers will find slippy boggy conditions to contend with.
A good walk climbing 900m in the first real snows of the year.