It is a relatively straightforward and short walk to reach the Corbett, Monamenach, from Auchavan in north Glen Isla. For a longer and more rewarding outing, my friend Rob and I completed a circuit that included two Munros – Creag Leacach and Glas Maol – too, as well as a lovely viewpoint on Monega Hill.
Glen Isla summits circuit
The day started warm and after meeting Rob at a small parking area just off the end of the public road from Auchavan, we set off to reach Monamenach. We had decided to do the circuit in a clockwise direction because we thought it would be better to do the ascent of the Corbett first. Walk Highlands suggests the circuit in the opposite direction, but with the warning: “The climb up Monamenach is direct but can feel brutal at the end of the day.”
In addition, the forecast suggested a strong wind at higher altitude and we decided we would try to keep it at our backs as much as possible.
Corbett bagging: Monamenach
The ascent of Monamenach is straightforward and there is a track and paths to follow most of the way. We arrived at 807m summit fairly quickly. The views all around were superb, taking in the Munros that we planned to bag to the north-west. Creag Leacach, in particular, with its steep, rocky sides dominated our view.
Munro 1: Creag Leacach
The best route to reach the 987m top of Creag Leacach is to head north-westerly, over an undulating terrain and towards the summit of Càrn Ait. It seemed like this section of the route took the longest.
However, the sun was out, the wind was mostly weaker than we had imagined and the views were superb. Rob and I happily walked, chatting and enjoying our surroundings, while Storm – Rob’s collie – followed his nose.
From Càrn Ait, we dropped a little elevation to the north-east, before climbing again to reach a high point (943m) on the westerly end of the ridge of Creag Leacach. The summit proper at 987m is further east and requires another short descent before another push upwards.
Unlike the Corbett, where we saw no one else, the Munro summit was suddenly busy with people. From this point, we met many walkers, most of whom were bagging the Munros, rather than the Corbett.
I am usually on the quieter Corbetts but it was a nice change to have so many people to chat to. Rob and I exchanged a few words with almost all the walkers we passed – and spent more time talking with those who fancied a longer stop.
Munro 2: Glas Maol
Creag Leacach and Glas Maol are often walked together in one outing. Indeed, they make a great pair to hike together with another two nearby Munros, known as the Glas Maol circuit, from the Cairnwell Pass.
It was great to return to these Munros after such a long gap and to try to remember the first walk. I don’t have a great deal of recollection of it, except I know it was a weekend of 11 Munros!
From the summit cairn of Creag Leacach we descended north-easterly and then climbed again to the top of Glas Maol at 1068m. It was an easy second Munro, although my legs were tired after the Bike and Hike of Two Gaick Corbetts the day before.
A large stone shelter turned out to be a busy passing place as many walkers and runners came and went on their chosen route.
Taking in Monega hill
We left Glas Maol summit to descend to the south-east. It is possible to follow a southerly path downhill from the next rise, Little Glas Maol, but we had read that Monega Hill offered good views. So, we continued on over Little Glas Maol, walking further to the south-east to reach Monega.
I can confirm the views were superb. The northern side of Monega drops steeply towards an impressive glen (Caenlochan Glen) that stretches west to east. Another glen runs at right angles to Caenlochan, stretching from north to south. As we walked south from Monega, we peered over and down towards the equally superb Canness Glen.
We spotted a huge herd of red deer far below us, nonchalantly grazing on the lush glen grass.
We walked on a path that continued to descend south before meeting a wide track along Glen Isla.
It was mid-afternoon by this point and the sun’s heat intensified as we followed the side of a river gently downhill in the glen. Storm was very keen to be in the water – we didn’t blame him! – but we also wanted to make it back to our vehicles before dark and so he needed to be encouraged to stay on the hot and dusty track rather than in the river.
The full route was just over 21km and 1269m of ascent.
Corbetts bagged: 96