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2 Munros & 2 Munro Tops: Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain

Written by Fiona

November 27 2023

I last walked the two Munros, Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain, at least a decade ago. That time, it was with Hubby G and I have only a vague memory of the outing, although we think it was during a long weekend of bagging many Murnos in the area. Yesterday, I set off again from Fersit, with my friend Rachel with the aim of reaching Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain, as well as two Munro Tops.

While Munros are a list of 282 mountains of at least 3000ft (914.4m) height in Scotland, the Munro Tops are described as “subsidiary summits” of the same height. There are 227.

I have already completed a round of Munros yet I am often happy to accompany friends on their Munro adventures. If I can tag on a Munro Top or two, I am even happier.

Chno Dearg has one Munro Top, Meall Garbh, while there is also a South Top of Stob Coire Sgriodain. If you walk the route to both Munros as described by many books and websites, the chances are you will bag the South Top (although you do need to make sure you walk to the cairn, which is a little way off the main trod). To reach Meall Garbh takes a bit more effort and route finding.

Views below the cloud line.

Chno Dearg and one Munro Top

The forecast had been a lot more promising compared to the conditions that awaited Rachel and I as we arrived at a parking area at Fersit on a single track road, south of the A86. Clouds hung over the summits, although the prediction has been for sunshine. However, while the air and ground were freezing cold, there was very little wind.

We set off along a wide farm track, heading east and then turning south. Various different route suggestions showed different options on the map but, on the ground, the trod was fairly obvious as track turned to rugged hillside.

We followed the trod south and uphill heading in the general direction of the northern shoulder of Sron Garbh bhienne, which we walked over to reach Stob Coire Sgriodain.

From around 600m, the views started to disappeared and for much for the next few hours, we walked through a thick mist. There are some days that you get lucky with the Scottish weather and others that you don’t, so Rachel and I consoled ourselves with the thoughts that we were still out in the mountains, which brings both mental and physical benefits, the two Munros would be new ticks for Rachel, and we had plenty of chat to catch up on.

From Sron Garbh bhienne, the trod came and went and snow made route finding a little difficult but we knew from the map we needed to head generally south and upwards.

Summit of Stob Coire Sgriodain.
Icy and snowy on Stob Coire Sgriodain.

The cairn of Stob Coire Sgriodain at 979m elevation came suddenly in the end, looming large out of the clag. If you have good visibility you will enjoy beautiful views across to the mountains of the Easains.

It was chilly at this height due to our exposure to a cold wind so we wasted little time and headed on towards the Munro Top. The South Top of Stob Coire Sgriodain was quickly bagged, after a few undulations.

We needed to make sure we detoured a little easterly from the trod to touch the cairn.

Meall Garbh.

A bit of navigating to reach Munro Top, Meall Garbh

Heading south and then east, we descended from the first Munro Top. By now, the cloud had thickened and we needed to be careful with our route finding. On a clear day, you would be able to see the landscape rising to the south towards Meall Garbh but we could hardly see more than 20 metres ahead.

We stopped a few times to check the map and then chose a point from which to set a bearing for the Munro Top. It was great navigational practice and, working as a pair, we enjoyed the challenged of ensuring we were on track.

The first rise towards Meall Garbh came at 975m elevation, before the ground descended again before heading up to a height of 976m. Both high points are marked with small cairns.

Following our bearing in reverse – and with the benefit of snowy footprints – we quickly descended back to the trod that links the two Munros together in an arc.

Rachel on the summit of Chno Dearg.

Ascent to Chno Dearg and a long descent

Chno Dearg was summitted after a steep climb on a rugged path. Snow and ice added to the effort but it was rarely too arduous. From the large cairn at 1046m elevation, we took another compass bearing to ascertain our descent route. We had hoped there might be a bit of a trod over the rugged grassy tussocks but we didn’t find anything that resembled a path.

All we could do was stomp downhill, carefully picking our footsteps in deep grass and snow and looking forward to making it below the cloudline.

View below the cloud again.

We finally picked up a trod beside Allt Chaorach Beag at around 450m height and followed this downhill. It was muddy, wet and icy in places and we needed to cross the stream a few times (on ice-covered stones) but finally we made it back to the main track lower down the glen.

The last section was on an easy going track. The route took around 5.5 hours and a extened to 16.6km with 1080m of total ascent. See our route: OS Maps.

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