Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sron a' Choire Ghairbh & Meall na Teanga

The extra public holiday on Friday, coupled with a great weather forecast presented the ideal opportunity for taking to the hills. Sron a' Choire Ghairbh and Meall na Teanga were selected as targets, friends invited, plans made and anticipation generated! The day got off to an inauspicious start when I was woken by my neighbour ringing the doorbell wondering why I wasn't waiting at the car as agreed (I'm sure I set that alarm!). Nevertheless, within a few minutes we were loaded up running round Perth to pick up the other lads who had accepted the invitation. By mid-morning we reached Spean Bridge, turned North and then West at the famous Commando Memorial, crossed the Caledonian Canal, and parked just before the shores of Loch Arkaig.

A steep path pulls up from the car park past the Cia Aig falls, finally joining a forest track which climbs Northwards parallel with the river below. The track eventually becomes a path which becomes increasingly feint after it crosses the footbridge (shown on the OS map) to the west bank of the river. Before reaching the little tumble-down ruin of Fedden, we struck westwards across the glen to intersect the path running in from the North, swinging into the glen we were aiming for. The climb up the bealach was a slog, and we rested at glen's highpoint, and dumped our bags for the trip to the summit of Sron a Choire Ghairbh.
Sron a Choire Ghairbh is not a shapely peak, in fact it is a steep sided lump when viewed from the South. What gives it character, (as with so many Scottish mountains) is the deep, steeply cliffed corrie which bites into its Northern flank - and the awe-inspiring views the mountain offers of other peaks too numerous to mention.

In blazing, hazy-humidity, we descended to our waiting packs, and lunch! The climb opposite onto Meall na Teanga looked incredibly steep. In practice it was a manageable, if not rather a hot, long pull. Teanga itself is another hill whose gentle lines are not themselves eye-catching, but the experience of standing on its' summit and looking down at the world; makes every pound put into the petrol tank, and every aching muscle, costs worth paying!
Heading off Meall na Teanga westwards over Meall Odhar was actually the most pleasant part of the walk. A nice steep little scrabbly ridge to climb, up, wide open views, striding over grand-ridges over springy moss, in delightful sunshine, an experience we shared only with a herd of running wild deer - was just tremendous.
In retrospect we should maybe have descended westwards from Meall Odhar, but the continuing ridge Southwards was too tempting. Dropping gently towards the car, with view out over Loch Arkaig looked too good to miss. In fact it led to a very awkward few hundred metres of descent through woodland to re-gain our track back to the car. Tired aching, and in my case, rather dehydrated (despite carrying all the fluid could lift!), the shop in Spean Bridge was a welcome sight - as was the Monadliath Hotel just before Dalwhinnie, whose fine pub-grub, completed a brilliant day out.

Ah - it's just SO good to be back in the mountains....

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