Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
17th to 19th April 2010
Exploring the wilds of Glen Lyon.
The "longest, loneliest and loveliest glen in Scotland" was how Sir Walter Scott described Glen Lyon and it would hard to disagree with this sentiment. Even this early in the year with the trees still mostly bare, the grass still a pale wintry yellow and the heather dark brown it was still a lovely place to be, especially when the sun occasionally put in an appearance. Plenty of care is required when driving down the single track road that winds its way down Glen Lyon, there are many blind dips and turns and eyes that should be fixed on the road tend to want to roam the surrounding countryside. It was quiet today and I only passed a couple of vehicles on my way down to Innerwick. From the car park a forestry track leads around the side of a wood and onto the open hillside. A couple of red squirrels scurried quickly to the higher branches of a pine as I approached before heading deeper into the trees. There was some work going on here, possibly as part of a hydro scheme, which had seen the lower tracks widened making the lower glen a bit unsightly. However I was soon above the workings and back on a more worn in track. One or two rain showers dampened the air as I approached the long ridge line of Cam Chreag.
Cam Chreag above Coire Odhar
Leaving the track just before its end I crossed the heather before climbing steep grassy slopes aiming to the right of some crags 500m south of the summit. I paused near the top to don waterproofs to protect me against the increasingly wintry showers. Topping out onto the ridge a strong chilly wind impeded my progress slightly as I wandered along to the summit of Cam Chreag the `crooked crag`. A pair of Raven’s passed on the breeze practicing their aerobatics, one managing a 90 degree roll, not quite the full 180 where they fly upside down but impressive all the same. A mist shrouded Meall Buidhe stood to the west while a rainbow arced across the ridge to the north.
Finding shelter from the wind I enjoyed a brew before heading further north and dropping east back down into the glen. The sun occasionally broke through as I passed a small lochan on my way to regain the main track at a small shed. After returning almost as far as my starting point I crossed the river at the confluence of Allt a’Choire Uidhre and Allt Ghallabhaich before heading uphill alongside the latter on my way to Beinn Dearg the `red hill`. A steady climb took me into the trees before I took a right branch onto a steeper section that brought me to open hillside above the wood. Purple flowers on the Larch showed the beginnings of this seasons pine cones bringing some much needed colour to the surrounds. It was fairly rough going en route to Meall Glas but the lumpy hillside of grass, bog and heather improved as I neared the summit cairn of Beinn Dearg which stood a short way from the highest of an old line of fence posts. I continued a bit further east and a little lower until I was sufficiently out of the wind to comfortably enjoy the views across to Carn Gorm. A golden plovers furtive cries echoed around the hillside as it paced the ground nearby. Tracing an arc around the top of Cul Lairig I found my way over to Creag Ard with east glen Lyon now stretched out before me.
Beinn Dearg from Creag Ard
To the south the Ben Lawers range held the high ground with An Stuc and Meall Garbh centre stage.
An Stuc and Meall Garbh from Creag Ard
Grassy slopes to the south west brought me off the hill near the edge of the woods and close to the road at Innerwick. After driving around to the picnic area a couple of km south of the bridge of Balgie it was time to make some tea and settle in for the night. The overnight rain took some time to clear and it was late morning before I headed along upper glen Lyon. After reaching Pubil near loch Lyon I turned up the road that runs across Lairig nan lunn to connect upper Glen Lyon with upper Glen Lochay. The road gave a high starting point for my wee sortie up Meall nan Subh the `Hill of the Raspberry’. I squelched my way to the top in a little over an hour during which time the weather improved and the sun made an appearance. A grand panorama opened up from the top which I enjoyed while having a bite to eat.
Loch Lyon from Meall nan Subh
To the north there was Stuchd an Lochain rising from the shores of Loch an Daimh, to the north west lay Loch Lyon and Meall Buidh and west was Creag nam Bodach and Beinn Heasgarnich.
Meall Ghaordaidh to the east
It was only early afternoon so after returning to the van I continued over to Glen Lochay passing through an open gate that is sometimes locked on the way. Beinn nan Oighreagh `Cloudberry Hill` is sandwiched between the higher hills of Meall Ghaordaidh and the Tarmachan ridge. I began by walking up the water board service track about 1km west of Glen Lochay hydro power station. This eventually became a path that lead out onto open hillside before taking a slowly rising traverse around toward Lairig Breisleich.
Meall Ghaordaidh and Beinn nan Oighreagh
In days gone by this pass would have provided cattle drovers with a connection between Killin and the Bridge of Balgie in Glen Lyon. Some deep gullies had been carved out by the burns that run through here, I continued to climb before making a crossing onto some rough moor at the start of Beinn nan Oighreagh’s southern ridge. A steep initial pull became a more steady climb along the now well rounded grassy slopes.
Summit ridge of Beinn nan Oighreagh
Crossing a couple of false tops the summit was soon reached. The recent spell of sunshine continued but some neighbouring hills were clouded in wintry showers.
Ben Lawers and the Tarmachan Ridge
It was now all downhill as I retraced my outward route reaching the road as the sun started to go down. There were plenty of Wheatear and Meadow Pipit in the lower glen and some Curlew added to the chorus of bird song from higher up the hillside. However a song thrush perched high in a tree put them all to shame with its varied and colourful song. I drove the van part way back up the service road and enjoyed the sunset while making some tea.
Glen Lochay Sunset
Instead of heading straight back to Glen Lyon I decided to stop over in the camp site on the shores of Loch Tay and enjoy a nice long shower, the site was pretty quiet. Rain patted the van roof overnight and I awoke to find a fresh covering of snow over the hills. I drove back to the car park near bridge of Balgie after washing and paying my site fees and had a leisurely breakfast while waiting for conditions to improve. Things cleared sufficiently after a couple of hours and I found a parking space along the road at Camusvrachan. After taking the bridge across the river Lyon and the road down to Roroyere I crossed Allt Gleann Dá-Eig to pick up a stalkers path heading in a southerly direction. A couple of Kestrel broke cover noisily as I skirted round Creag nan Eildeag higher in the glen. Working my way across the boggy hillside I made the ridge to the north of the main crags.
Glen Lyon from Creag nan Eildeag
After enjoying the vantage point above Glen Lyon I continued over the rough ground and along the undulating ridgeline. Some deer were temporarily unaware that I was close to them before realisation struck and they trotted easily away. The Munros Meall á Choire Leith and Meall Corranaich looked bright under their freshly whitened covering over to the east. I had originally intended to include them in my round for the day but after a late start I decided it best to leave them out. There are two tops to Meall nan Maigheach and although the one to the east is marked as the top on the map I decided to visit both.
Stuchd an Lochain and Loch an Daimh from Meall nan Maigheach
A Dotterel sported some nice spring colours as it paced around the stony rounded summit. To the south Meall nan Tarmachan and it fine ridge stretched along the skyline with Lochan na Lairige sitting on its eastern side.
Meall nan Tarmachan and Lochan na Lairige
From the top I headed east toward Coire Gorm dropping into the Gleann Dá-Eig to pick up the end of a Landrover track.
Carn Gorm down Gleann Dá-Eig
I took a break to have some sandwiches and a brew before heading back down toward Roroyere but this time staying on the east side of Allt Gleann Dá-Eig. In a field lower down I spotted a brown hare, the first I had seen for a long time and quite a fitting sight considering the hill’s name that I had just descended from; Meall nan Maigheach, the Hill of the Hares.
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