The festive season proved to be a great opportunity to bag a few new Corbetts. Both the Sow of Atholl and Meall na Leitreach are accessed from Dalnaspidal Lodge, close to the A9, and while they are walked separately they are each short enough to allow for a double Corbett bagging day.
Corbett doubler: Sow of Atholl and Meall na Leitreach
The start for both walks at Dalnaspidal Lodge is almost 430m above sea level. This was hugely welcome because the weather wasn’t too promising.
I met my Corbetting bagging friend Ben at Dalnaspidal. He had driven up from Edinburgh (1.45 hours), on his way to stay with us for New Year and, for me, it was only a drive of around an hour and a bit south from Inverness.
We agreed to walk one of the Corbetts, assess the weather and then decide whether to walk the other Corbett. (Although, I think we both already knew that we were doing both unless a mega storm arrived!)
The Sow of Atholl was our first target. Apparently, the hill’s strange Anglicised name is believed to be a response to match the hill known as the Boar of Badenoch that is situated some 2km away.
Walking in this area is often wet and boggy underfoot. After a spell of snow and rain, this was certainly the case.
At first, after crossing the railway line, there is a wide and obvious track that heads south and then west.
This wide track does peter out into wet trods but it is still fairly obvious where you are headed. After a while, we found ourselves simply heading uphill and tramping over heather. It’s steep but not too steep.
We stopped for a chat with two other walkers, who were also enjoying the festive period for mountain walking.
In what seemed like no time at all (remember there is very little total ascent for this Corbett), Ben and I were closing in on the summit.
There was a small cairn and another area of the summit that looked bit higher so we wandered over there and then back again just t be sure! (I have been caught out before.)
On to Meall na Leitreach
As we descended the Sow, the weather suddenly took a turn, with clouds and rain forcing us to put on waterproof trousers.
At higher altitude it was windy as well, but I don’t think the second Corbett of Meall na Leitreach was really in doubt.
Without properly discussing it, Ben an I headed directly towards the path for Meall na Leitreach and without returning to the lodge.
There is not a great saving in terms of distance by doing both Corbetts in one outing but it is satisfying just to keep going on the track at the narrow northern end of Loch Garry.
Soon we turned uphill and on to an obvious path. There is a path all the way to the summit, although one side was a fast-running stream.
The higher we climbed, the stronger the wind became and the less we chatted. For the final 150m or so, we simply walked with our heads down, trying to shield our faces from the wind. The chat disappeared until we could see the highest point.
Turning around to walk back down the slope the way we had come up was a huge relief. We started chatting and laughing again.
The wind was at our backs and helped to blow us downhill. It was muddy, bogy, wet and slippery underfoot but it felt so much better than walking uphill with a horrible headwind.
Ben and I have enjoyed many mountain walks together. I confess this one doesn’t rate so highly for great weather, or for terrain. The scenery was fine, when the clouds lifted, and that is because there is rarely a landscape that is not impressive in the Scottish mountains. It can be summed up as a rugged but wet location!
The greatest reward was two relatively easy “ticks” for Corbetts on a day of less favourable weather – and then a drive north to the promise of an early beer/wine as a prelude to the New Years’ celebrations.
Two Corbett route
Total distance: 13.5km
Total elevation: 906m
Each summit height: Sow of Atholll is 803m and Meall na Leitreach is 775m.
Corbetts bagged: 72 and 73.