Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
11th & 12th June 2011
A weekend based near Invergarry in the Great Glen with walks up Sron a' Choire Ghaibh & Ben Tee from South Laggan Loch's and Meall na h-Eilde & Geal Charn from Eas Chia-aig at the east end of Loch Arkaig.
After driving to Grantown on Spey we made our way onto the A9 heading toward Inverness. A sign for Fort Augustus prompted a drive across some scenic backcountry along B851 through Strath Rathnairn and Strath Errick along General Wades Military road. Invergarry is situated in the Great Glen south of Loch Ness and north of Loch Lochy. We had arranged a rendezvous with John and Ann at the village hall at Invergarry. After meeting we headed for the start of our walk which began near the picnic area at South Laggan Lochs. The top of one of the Loch gates provides a footbridge over to the gate keepers hut. We followed the track alongside Loch Lochy as far as Kilfinnan farm before making our way up through steep grassy fields.
Loch Lochy from Kilfinnan
Enzo was quite keen to go and play with the sheep but Nat kept him in check by putting him on his lead. Leaving the sheep fields behind we then crossed through the heather until will gained the ridge below Meall nan Dearcag. From here we got our first real views of Ben Tee and an idea of the climbing involved if we wanted to include it in the round.
Ben Tee from Meall nan Dearcag
The peaks ahead formed a fine horseshoe of elevated ground. From Meall nan Dearcag our first target was Sean Mheall over some rough and occasionally boggy ground. But from this top the ground firmed and the vegetation shortened for a fine high level tramp over to Sron a' Choire Ghaibh.
Heading for Sron a' Choire Ghaibh
The air was clear and we had good views all around despite gradually losing the sunshine to the increasing cloud cover. Meall na Teanga looked close but is only accessible after first dropping steeply onto the high pass of Cam Bhealach
Nearing Sron a' Choire Ghaibh
Reaching the summit of Sron a' Choire Ghaibh we settled down for a spot of lunch and firmed up onward plans. John was going to head down to Cam Bhealach and then to the shores of Loch Lochy while me and Nat would return via Ben Tee. Dark clouds toyed with us as they shrouded the hills out to the west constantly threatening to bring rain our way. It was a lovely broad ridge that lead us around to Meall a' Choire Ghlais which itself provided for continued pleasant walking.
Sron a' Choire Ghaibh from Meall a' Choire Ghlais
The ridge drops off through series of craggy outcrops but a couple of grassy gullyís allow for an untroubled if steep descent.
Ben Tee from Meall a' Choire Ghlais
We turned down the east ridge before heading north to reach a boggy bealach.
After refilling water bottles we tackled the peat hags that cover the broken ground over to Ben Tee.
Any line of attack from here is steep so with a deep breath we set off keeping a slow but steady pace.
The vegetation lower down gave way to rockier upper slopes and it wasn't too long before we arrived at the summit.
Gentler terrain was in store on the eastern side but then we faced a damp crossing to eventually pick up a path just above Kilfinnan falls.
This then took us around the hillside above the gorge before dropping us back down near Kifinnan farm just leaving a short walk back to the Lochs.
After talk of midges and the calm drizzly outlook we elected to use a B&B rather than camp and fortunately found one with vacancies quite quickly.
We then headed to the campsite to enjoy a barbeque at John and Annís Caravan.
The hoped for fine evening didnít materialise and unfortunately the fine rain continued to fall.
John luckily had a head net to keep the midges off, I had mistakenly unloaded mine with my bag back at the B&B.
But I think the combination of a dosing of skin so soft and the smoke from the coals meant that not too many midges managed to get their teeth into me.
Retreating inside the caravan out of the drizzle and away from biting insects we settled down to enjoy our meal and a couple of beers.
The weather improved overnight and Sunday started as brightly as Saturday had. We headed off to Gairlochy and then to the car park next to Eas Chia-aig Witches Pool and Waterfall. Meall na h-Eilde & Geal Charn sit at the east end of Loch Arkaig and looked like they would provide an entertaining circuit. The day started under the shade of the trees as we eased our way along the forest track on the east side of Gleann Cia-aig. After breaking from the cover of the trees Meall na h-Eilde soon came into view.
Meall na h-Eilde above Allt Cam Bealach
It was at this point that we had to coax Enzo over a high stile, fortunately his technique for such obstacles is improving but he does tend to want to get down all too quickly so we had to forcibly control his descent as he threatened to leap straight off the top tier. A bit further on we crossed to the north bank of the river via a footbridge before making for Bealach an Easain.
Sron a' Choire Ghaibh above Allt Cam Bealach
Steep grassy slopes kept our pace to steady plod and as the angle of ascent eased we were teased as each little rise revealed not the top but a bit more hill. Eventually we found our goal and took a well earned breather and cereal bar at the summit of Meall na h-Eilde.
Nat on Meall na h-Eilde
There were fine views right up the length of Cam Bealach all the way to the high pass that links Meall na Teanga and yesterdays hill, Sron a' Choire Ghaibh. Travelling over the short grass and winding between some small rocky knolls we dropped steadily to Bealach Choire a' Ghuirein before traversing the intermediate top of Meall Coire nan Saobhaidh. A couple of short sharp showers had us pausing to don waterproofs but these were fortunately only required for a brief period. Another descent down to a peaty Bealach Carn na h-Urchaire was then followed by our final climb of the day up onto Geal Charn.
Meall na h-Eilde from Geal Charn
Following the vague southeast ridge we sort the path on the north side of Allt Dubh which we then followed to the road near Achnasaul.
It was a further 2.5km of tarmac until we were back at Eas Chia-aig Witches Pool and Waterfall and the car park.
Eas Chia-aig Witches Pool and Waterfall
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