Autumn snow on Creag Mac Ranaich and Meall an t-Seallaidh
Over the last year or so, I’ve been diversifying my summit bagging focus. I still plan to finish my first round of Munros but the 25 mountains that I still have to do are remote or far away. I’ll get there – and I am in no rush. I simply enjoy walking in new places and bagging new summits.
Instead, I’ve been walking Corbetts, Grahams and Donalds. It’s great to have new lists to tick off, not because I am particularly obsessed by a list but rather it means I have a reason to visit new places and reach new summits.
The best thing about the lists of mountain peaks is that I have visited so many different locations – and many places that I would never have thought to go to.
The Munros have taken me all over Scotland and to some wonderfully wild and remote destinations.
Two new Corbetts
On Saturday, I needed to be in Perth for an evening ceilidh and I simply looked at the map of Corbetts and chose two that were en route. It would have been possible to walk a number of other single Corbetts, too, but I liked the idea of a longer day out because the weather looked calm and promising.
My bagging pal Ben joined me and we met at 8.45am at Lochearnhead. He came from Edinburgh and I arrived from Glasgow. Amazingly we pulled into the car park at exactly the same time.
We knew the forecast was suggesting snowy and rainy showers in the afternoon and we reckoned we would be out walking for about six hours to complete the route of almost 13 miles. This turned out to be almost exactly the case.
Creag Mac Ranaich and Meall an t-Seallaidh
The walk forms a sort of ragged balloon shape with a walk out and back along a beautiful glen followed by a hike up to Creag Mac Ranaich at 809m. The route heads back to the track lower down before another climb on the other side of the glen to reach a wide ridge on which the other summit of Meall an t-Seallaidh is located. This is the higher peak of the day at 852m. The total ascent is close to 1000m.
The walk along the glen towards Creag Mac Ranaich was stunning. The lower slopes of gorgeous autumnal hues gave way to snowy higher peaks. It was our first snowy walking of the season and although it was cold, the air was wonderfully fresh and the sun was shining.
As we walked closer to – and below – the craggy higher buttresses of Creag Mac Ranaich, Ben and I wondered whether there would be a path to the summit or a steep hike over heather and snow. If there was a path , we couldn’t see it because of the snow.
In fact, the snow was a lot deeper than I had imagined it would be and I wished I’d worn a more robust pair of waterproof winter boots. I ended up with snow inside my boots and that resulted in cold and wet feet.
As we climbed, we came across footprints of a walker ahead and halfway up the slope we met Jason from East Lothian. He had stopped for a quick bite to eat in a wonderfully sheltered part of the slope.
The three of us pushed on upwards together, chatting as we walked to a couple of smaller summits before finally reaching the cairn at the highest point. The views over the wider countryside were superb, especially with the contrasting snowy tops against the browns, russets and golds of the lower landscape.
As we retraced our steps to walk down the slope and back to the wide track in the lower glen, we met a solo female walker coming along to the summit. We asked if she wanted to join our wee gang but she said one Corbett was enough for her that day.
Next up: Corbett two
The route descended to the glen floor to then climb back up again on the southern side. To start with we followed a vague path, before the blanket of snow obscured the land below. We simply walked upwards in a fairly straight line.
Jason had gone ahead while Ben and I had stopped for a quick lunch and we could see his boot prints in the snow. It’s never a good idea to blindly follow another walker and so we checked our map and direction.
Jason was exactly right and we were thankful that he was breaking in a snowy path. The snow higher up the slopes was deep enough to cover our boots.
I enjoyed the push upwards because it warmed me up and allowed my feet to thaw a little.
Once we reached the lower part of the ridge, the slope gradient became gentler and we made fairly easy progress to the trig and cairn at the top.
The clouds came and went and we walked for a while in thick mist but as we reached the summit the clouds passed by and the views back down to Loch Earn were fantastic.
I love this time of year the vistas are a mix of autumn and winter.
The descent involved a plod over snow-covered heather, which was slippery and deep in places. We made a bee-line for the track through the glen, aware that we would need to cross a river at some point.
After meeting Jason again at the second summit, he stayed higher up the glen on the descent and we appeared to enjoy a small short cut. We didn’t meet him again.
For a spell we walked through the only precipitation of the day and it fell in light snowflakes, which was actually rather nice.
The return walk through the glen
Ben loves a glen walk, while I am less keen, especially on the outward route. Walking in, I enjoy the views of the mountains coming towards us but on the way out I find it a bit of a slog. I think my sore hip does not help this just now.
Also, for some reason, the outward walk always seems so much longer than the inward walk. I guess that is to do with being on fresh legs and the promise of the walk and summits to come. I really enjoy a mountain ascent!
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the day overall but I would have happily jumped on a mountain bike to descend that wide glen track back to the van.
As we finally approached the road through Lochearnhead and the last short stretch on pavement to our vehicles, the heavens opened and the forecast rain came down hard.
We felt very lucky to have enjoyed a mostly dry day and for such a beautiful walk.
That’s me at 20 Corbetts out of 222. There is a high chance I have walked more Corbetts although I can’t recall them so I’ll stick with the 20 just now.
- Thanks to Ben for some of the photos in this blog.