The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

The Tarmachan Ridge

A round of the Tarmachan Ridge above Killin

Date: 15th September 2012
Distance: 14.23km
Ascent: 933m
Time: 4 hrs 30 mins
Hills: Creag na Caillich, Beinn nan Eanach, Meall Garbh, Meall nan Tarmachan (Munro) Weather: Early sunshine and breezy to later on low cloud and very strong winds Route: View on OS Maps

A quick drive north east took us to Killin and up the road to our high starting point for the day. We passed the new and very busy Ben Lawers car park to reach the Tarmachan starting point which only had a couple of cars parked up at this relatively early hour. Although the clouds had earlier been stuck to the summits, we booted up in bright sunshine with a blustery breeze blowing the long grasses.

Beinn nan Eichan and Meall Garbh

Given the westerly wind we chose to reverse the traditional route, and so headed along the landrover track westward, the Tarmachan ridge opening up above us. A workgroup was spotted putting in new plantings but they were the last people we would see for a good long while - the western end of the hill was deserted.

Early cloud over Meall nan Tarmachan

Loch Tay

The Ben Lawers Group

Looking over Killin

We enjoyed the early morning sunlight that was illuminating Loch Tay and Killin and gazed hopefully up at the ridge as the cloud gradually burned off. A couple of forks took us gradually higher up the hillside.

The Tarmachan Ridge

Heading towards the ridge

Quarry Workings above Loch Tay

Creag na Caillich

The track wound its way gently up the hillside until we reached the ruins of the old quarry. Here there was no sign of a continuing path and so we took to the open hillside, picking a vague line of least resistance and aiming for the low point in the ridge some distance off at the head of the coire.

Creag na Caillich

In Coire Fionn-Lairige

Cloud gathering over Creag na Caillich

Beinn nan Eichan and Meall Garbh

Beinn nan Oighreag

The craggy slopes of Creag na Caillich now stood off to our left as we made our way past small streams and over some wide patches of peat and bog. The ascent was much easier than expected and after a steepish climb up the head wall of the coire we finally emerged on the ridge just short of the summit of Creag na Caillich. My uncle and I continued up to reach our first summit of the day. From here we had a stunning view of the Tarmachan Ridge opening up in front of us. A little cloud lingered, particularly over Meall nan Tarmachan itself but we still were enjoying the sunshine.

Looking east along the Tarmachan Ridge

Loch Tay

Towards Glen Lyon

The Tarmachan Ridge

Beinn nan Eachan

Beinn nan Eichan and Meall Garbh

From here we returned to where my aunt was waiting before continuing eastward along the ridge. It is a delightful walk and the views continued to be expansive, particularly over the wild, empty glens to the north of us. There was a steep pull up a zigzag track and then we on the summit of Beinn nan Eachan where the cloud finally caught up with us.

Heading to Beinn nan Eichan

Looking down to Fionn Glen

The track to Beinn nan Eachan

Creag na Caillich

Ascending Beinn nan Eichan

Meall nan Tarmachan and Meall Garbh

Out of the sun and with a strong wind blowing we rapidly got some extra layers on. A group of four Geordies arrived and told us of their interesting day out on the Lawers range the day before when they had been forced to crawl off the summit amidst a howling gale. The wind was strong today, but thankfully not that strong.

Summit of Beinn nan Eichan

Descent from Beinn nan Eichan

Meall Garbh (and the scramble)

With outer layers and warm hats on we continued east, following the ridge down to the col before the impressive climb up to Meall Garbh. This has the infamous scrambly section which we would be climbing up rather than sliding down. The rock was damp and slippery and it took me a bit of time to locate e best route of ascent. Eventually though I emerged at the top of the crag and rejoined my aunt and uncle who had sensibly taken the steep bypass.

Towards Glen Lyon

Creag na Caillich and Beinn nan Eachan

Coire Riadhailt

Summit ridge of Meall Garbh

We climbed up and then followed the narrow arete along to the prominent top of Meall Garbh. In the wind it was an interesting place to try and stand, offering views east to Meall nan Tarmachan.

The Tarmachan Ridge from Meall Garbh

Meall nan Tarmachan

Summit of Meall Garbh

Meall Garbh

On the far side of Meall Garbh we found a sheltered spot to stop for lunch. We had been making good progress but the weather still looked to be getting ahead of us and so after a sandwich and some crisps we headed off, now making the final descent to the col before ascending the gentle slopes of Meall nan Tarmachan and the only Munro of the round.

Heading towards Meall nan Tarmachan

A pool on the ridge

Meall Garbh and Beinn nan Eachan

Pool on the Tarmachan Ridge

Meall Garbh

Heading up Meall nan Tarmachan

Meall Garbh and Beinn nan Eachan

As it turned out we spent the least amount of time on the highest summit. By some freak of geography it turned out that we had been largely sheltered from the true wind strength through the course of the day. Only when we emerged on the summit of the Munro did we find out just how windy it was. We could barely stand still to take a quick summit photo and so we moved off rapidly, getting just enough of a break to note that the cloud had descended over Lawers and was rapidly shrouding the ridge over which we had just passed .

The Tarmachan Ridge

Summit of Meall nan Tarmachan

Across Lochan na Lairige

Meall nan Tarmachan

Loch Tay

We quickly made our way off the summit, passing a large family outing replete with numerous children and dogs, and then making our way down the excellent track to Meall nan Tarmachan’s south-east top.

Cloud over Ben Lawers

Meall nan Tarmachan SE Top

Mist over Meall nan Tarmachan

The track made for a rapid descent and although Meall nan Tarmachan was now shrouded in mist there was sunlight elsewhere, finding its way through gaps in the cloud to send rays down over Killin and Glen Lochay.

Sunlight over Killin

Ben Lawers above Lochan na Lairige

Loch Tay

Descent from Meall nan Tarmachan

Clouds over the Ben Lawers group

The wind remained ferocious even as we lost height but the light was superb as afternoon crept onwards and we got closer and closer to Loch Tay. Ahead of us the cloud once again started to part from the Ben Lawers group of hills.

Light over Glen Lochay

The descent from Meall nan Tarmachan

Descent from Meall nan Tarmachan

Descent from Meall nan Tarmachan

The track above Loch Tay

Killin and Glen Lochay

Ben Lawers Group

The path eventually met the outward vehicle track and then it was just a short stretch back to the car with the sight of Lairige Dam dwarfed by Meall Corranaich an impressive sight. Out of boots we had a quick run up to the lochan to look at the impressive eastern buttresses of Meall nan Tarmachan and then it was a pleasant drive back in the late afternoon sunshine to Stirling for a relaxed evening with lovely food and company.

Above Loch Tay

The Lawers Group

Meall Corranaich