Meall nan Tarmachan SE Top - 923m
Meall nan Tarmachan - 1044m
Meall Garbh - 1026m
Beinn nan Eachan - 1000m
Creag na Caillich - 916m

Saturday 24th September 2011

Weather/Conditions: Nice summery/autumn weather - some sun, cloud, a bit of wind and rain near the end.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 13.8km / 900m / 5h 35m
Accompanying: Graham, Kaeryn and Craig

Meall nan Tarmachan

I climbed Meall nan Tarmachan for the first time in February but climbed only two of the Munro Tops, ending at Meall Garbh. I know Graham, Kaeryn and Craig through the Glasgow Climbing Centre and they asked me if I'd like to come along to Meall nan Tarmachan on this Saturday. We drove up and stopped in at Killin for supplies. The car park was jammed full of cars as expected and we squeezed Kaeryn's wee car into the last verge available.

It turned out to be a fun day and the weather was alright. We walked up the path to Meall nan Tarmachan SE Top, where the wind (though present) was a lot less hostile than it had been in February: then, spindrift was being thrown around the corries and the wind raged with with some immense power. Just as well it was a sunny day.

And it was sunny today, occasionally. Beyond the SE we stopped for lunch in the lee of a boulder, feeling a bit cold with the cool wind. Since everyone had come from the climbing centre, there was a tendency to look out climbing problems, too - a lot of fun, except when the schist is soaking with water.

A funny thing happened happened just prior to the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan: we were about to break over the ridgeline, where the views would open out to the north. A big Glaswegian guy walked up alongside us with his wife and started talking about the views in loud tones, as if we were all to listen and be dammed if we didn't appreciate with him: "Ooohh... ahh... yes - this is what it's about." Etc... We talked to him for a while, good to know he liked it, I guess...

Tarmachan Ridge, Meall Garbh to Creag na Caillich

The summit came soon after then we continued toward Meall Garbh - this gem is the centre piece of the Tarmachan ridge: it's narrow summit arête descends to the Step, where a wee bit of hands-on is needed. All in all this ridge is great fun and I came away thinking it would be superb in winter.

Beinn nan Eachan and Creag na Caillich required only walking to reach their tops, but the terrain was lumpy. The path weaves a funny route through it all, and each summit held a small cairn. We were walking near Beinn nan Eachan, when I spotted something sticking out from behind a boulder just metres away: a spade handle. A closer look revealed that several spades, a pick axe and a couple of hammers. Surreal. Path maintenance is the only explanation I can think of, but we played with the theme of axe-murderers - the pictures are on Facebook and they look great.

There is a great section of the path south of Creag na Caillich's summit, where it leaves the ridgeline and (briefly) traverses the top of the 150m face. A couple of the steps were rather airy and it made me wish the scrambling and high heights had been more sustained. The rain came on during descent, but it was just a shower. The clouds darkened but the sun was out; in clear view was the long south flank of Meall Ghaordaidh - widely thought of as one of the most boring slopes in the Highlands. Having done it in the pitch black and been mind-numbingly bored, I suppose I can agree. But that's not to say Meall Ghaordaidh itself is a bad hill.

I raced down to the dam in the valley, and took time down there to cool off before the others arrived. Ahead of us was a walk-out of a few kilometres. In the end it took about an hour of pounding sore feet before we got to the car.

A great day out - my thoughts for this hill are that it would be good to do it in the thick of winter. So, perhaps soon...

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 10.50am Car park
(1.00) 11.50am Meall nan Tarmachan SE Top
(1.40) 12.30pm Meall nan Tarmachan
(2.15) 1.05pm Meall Garbh
(2.55) 1.45pm Beinn nan Eachan
(3.25) 2.15pm Creag na Caillich
(5.35) 4.25pm Car park

Written: 2011-11-30