From the Archive – Creag MacRanaich

16 Feb

Since I didn’t end up on the hills this weekend I looked back in the fatdog repository to find out what I was doing 1 year ago this weekend.

Here is the “tail”…

 Cuillin’s Last Stand

It’s 6.40pm on Saturday night. Time to check mwis for Sunday’s weather report. Once that’s done I can then decide on tomorrow’s destination. Glenshee direction…possibly. I’m just about to bring up the site when I realise I have mail. I wonder what Cuillin wants? A change of plans for next week at Glencoe perhaps? No, it’s an invite to a little wander tomorrow taking in Creag MacRanaich and Meall an t-Seallaidh at Lochearnhead. Not just one Corbett but two. That could be…” interesting”! A bit heavier than anything I’ve tackled for a few months but what the hell, it’s only an hour up the road and it’ll be good to meet up with Cuillin again. I immediately agree and an 8.30 start at the main Lochearnhead car park is arranged.

It wasn’t fair to gloat but Cuillin had been at a Donnie Munro concert the previous evening and had to leave Culloden just past 5.00am to arrive here on time. I felt desperately sorry for him on both counts. The good news is that it should cut his pace down to below twice mine so there is now the remote possibility that I may survive today after all.
The weather was looking good. As I drove north from the Central Belt the cloud dissipated and temperature dropped. The hills beside Loch Lubnaig were clear and the sunshine became stronger and the sky bluer, the further north I drove. I rolled into the car park just gone 8.30. Cuillin had been there since 8.00 and was raring to go…back to sleep!
Just before 9 with the Fatdog hitched up we headed back to the A84 and the entrance to the lane at the little church. From there it was a short walk up to the surfaced zig-zag cycleway that connected the two sections of old disused railway line above Lochearnhead

We followed the upper line south to a series of gates then short cut across a field to pick up the main Glen Kendrum track. Off to the south Cuillin noticed a group of four buzzards soaring on thermals. More immediately the Fatdog noticed blood. Dark red stains marked the path in front of us and the Fatdog headed off at pace nose twitching.

I turned a corner in the track to find the Fatdog standing over an interesting find. She grinned evilly at me but even I don’t believe she could finish a meal this quickly. Well…sort of believe…maybe…

As we started into Glen Kendrum it was clear that this glen is sheep territory so FD was hitched up once more as we started the long trek to the beallach (596m) between the two Corbetts. The views of the two hills in the bright mid morning sunlight were outstanding but a chill breeze picked up and soon the jackets were hauled on. A hovering kestrel provided the only wildlife interlude as we made our way up the glen.

Dave now realizes that the camera could be a weapon in the wrong hands…and those hands have a camera in them!

The height gained by taking the long track would leave us with only 213m of rough ascent to reach the summit of Creag MacRanaich. Bypassing the main crags on our right we reached the watershed and looked for an easy route up.

Don’t fancy this way up much!

I knew from the map and a photograph I had taken from Meall an t-Seallaidh that the going would be easier on the west side. Unfortunately the track dropped quickly in front of us into Gleann Dubh, meaning that if we continued on looking for an easier slope to climb then we were going to have a good bit more ascent on our hands. The “straight up” approach prevailed. As Cuillin and FD pushed on in front, I deliberated on the necessity of a photographic break.

This short sharp burst of near vertical ascent proved a bit tougher than anticipated and knocked the stuffing out of my legs. On reaching the last rise to the summit plateau I cracked first and admitted that I wouldn’t manage the second hill. Cuillin made me feel good by admitting that he was just about to make the same call. The Fatdog sneered in contempt at us both.

We had a quick halt to check our exact position and more importantly the position of the summit. Our destination lay only a few minutes north of our current position so we pushed on to the well defined north top (809m).

The ascent took us about three and a quarter hours, in line with the SMC book, so we now considered the far more important issue of lunch. Cuillin found us a good sized rock to hide behind out of the freezing westerly and the Fatdog put on her bib and prepared to sample whatever she could scrounge.

I always find it an amusing spectacle when someone tries to reason with FD over the ownership of lunch. For some reason it just doesn’t work. The Fatdog has a fairly dogmatic approach to the possession of food. Cuillin came to realise what it is to have lunch with the Fatdog. His initial tactic of having soup was, I have to say, a bold opening gambit. FD has no concept of soup so initially ignored him. However the picture changed entirely when he moved on to solids. As the smell of smoked salmon and cream cheese wafted into the nostrils of the voracious Fatdog, all else was forgotten as she moved into piratical mode endeavouring to chew Cuillin’s unopened lunchbox the minute it surfaced from his pack. The war of wills began.
Thankfully I was able to have at least part of my lunch in peace.

Lunch over it was maps out time as we discussed our possible routes down. Neither of us fancied trying to go down the way we had come up so another, more viable, route was required. After much debate we opted to head ENE along the ridge to Meall Sgallachd (707m) and from there SE towards Meall Reamhar (672m). From anywhere between the two tops we could drop into the east corrie and pick up the Glen Kendrum track at a lower level. This proved to be a good choice.

Lunch was almost finished so I thought I would take a few photos before we packed up. Taking the camera from its bag I strode out from behind our substantial rock to be almost cut in half by the icy wind which seemed to have picked up unnoticed during our leisurely break. On went the fourth layer!

Time to Go

Wonderful snippets of distant views made this route a little gem. Where the walk in had been about the big panorama between the two Corbetts, the return leg was about detail.

Glimpses of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin over the remnants of gleaming snow.

Small ice covered lochans

The big east facing crags of Creag MacRanaich.

Perched stones

On a bright sunny afternoon in mid February, with crisp ground below the feet, this walk took a bit of beating.

Cuillin and the Fatdog stared in awe across Glen Ogle as they admired the stupendous feat of engineering in front of them. They stared in wide eyed admiration at the access track and mast site on the slopes of Meall Buidhe. Modesty forbids me from commenting further on the matter.

We met a couple of walking parties on our descent, a father and daughter ascending Creag MacRanaich from the north and three guys on the crags of Meall Sgallachd who were just happy to be wandering around in the glorious sunshine with no real destination. It was that sort of day. The last walking decision of the day had to be made. Would we tackle the last top, Meall Reamhar or would we bail out back to the track? Watches were consulted and the serious possibility of dog tossing considered. Time to bail out and head for the pub. It had been too good a day to mess with now.

We picked our way back to the track at (255855, 724450).

Glen Kendrum track heading home

As we emerged from Glen Kendrum we were treated to a stunning view down Loch Earn. A vantage point for a classic photograph was required.

The Fatdog, hungry from a long day on the hill, still had designs on the contents of Cuillin’s pack. Cuillin spied the picnic table and hurried off down the track. The Fatdog spied the picnic table, drooled at the thought of further portions of smoked salmon and cream cheese, and hurried after him.

Curled up on the floor of the Rob Roy Bar, the Fatdog was reasonably proud of herself…sort of. Although she had missed out on a second lunch (Cuillin steadfastly refusing to remove the pack from his back), she had managed to bring her quarry to bay perched high on a picnic table while she paced threateningly around. The “Voices” would be pleased!

My thanks to OwdJocky, honey_munster and weatherman for their input prior to this little excursion.

The Hill Report and subsequent discussions are beginning to prove to be of immense value as the quantity and quality of information expands for each hill. I would encourage everyone to keep writing, no matter how little. You never know you, may save an overweight canine from being tossed over a fence!


Posted by on February 16, 2009 in General Drivel


8 responses to “From the Archive – Creag MacRanaich

  1. Phreerunner

    February 18, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Hi Ken
    Found your blog today thanks to George (London Backpacker). You have some nice pics on view. I was curious about the ‘Outdoor Bloggers Summit’ which seems to have disappeared from your site but which still appears in Google reader. You may find the UK version –
    a much friendlier place!
    Enjoy the blogging…

  2. fenlander

    February 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Ken,
    Nice. Hmmm I don’t usually ‘do’ hills (being a flatlander) but that is a great write-up. (I do ‘do’ dogs!)

  3. fatdogwalks

    February 18, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Martin, welcome to the site. Glad you enjoyed your visit 😀 .

    The post I set up about the “outdoor bloggers summit” is sitting in draft format. I came across it via a link from somewhere and set off on an anti-hunting (for enjoyment)diatribe. I posted it but it attracted a site

    which keeps “hitting” (not commenting like spam)on a selected post for no other reason than to increase the number of hits, which is does very quickly. It’s the second time it has happened and I’ve found the way to stop it is to put the post back into draft format.

    Having done that I looked at the post again, considered it to be unprofessional 😆 , it being more of a rant than a blog and filed it to the back of my mind. Didn’t know until you commented that it was still “visible”. Thanks for letting me know.

    On the subject of I joined up at the weekend and have found it a friendly place indeed with lots of good blogging advice to hand.

    Thanks again for the info. 😀 and please drop in again.


  4. fatdogwalks

    February 18, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Robin,good to hear from you again :D!

    Thanks for the comments on the post, always greatly appreciated.

    I don’t expect you find many hills in your part of the world but they’re a national obsession up here 😆 . I tend to spend more time on the flat through the worst of the winter and mid summer and hit the hills during Spring and Autumn. Today was my first day of the year on the more seriously hilly stuff…just back from a day in the Cairngorms. There had been a bit of a thaw which meant it was more of a Spring day than a Winter one. It was a great day out :D!

  5. Anonymous

    February 18, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    I hope that we get the same weather in Glencoe this weekend.
    Nice report and cracking pictures as always.

  6. fatdogwalks

    February 19, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Hi Anonymous 😆

    Thanks for the comments 😀

    Now I’ve got to study the grammar, punctuation etc. to decide what Shiller has posted under Anonymous…and how it happened 😀 !

    You do realise that, in accordance with the terms of the agreement between myself and Chris, any blatant defections have to be reported 😆 !

    On the other hand if you come clean we’ll pretend all this never happened…and good luck with the weather!

  7. Andrew

    February 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Ken it was i who posted.
    only just noticed that my photo thingy or my name did not appear alongside my message.
    Wasnt trying to be anonymous honest

  8. fatdogwalks

    February 19, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Andrew,I guessed it was either you or Tessa. I think it’s because I attempted to ease the access restrictions to commenting, though to be truthful I’ve no idea what changes have been made and if they have been effective.

    Anyway, saves me emailing Chris 😦 – . which in turn will now deprive him of hours of endless fun at your expense at the Clachaig this weekend. Have a good trip!


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