A small hill….in a very big landscape

The wild landscape at the edge of Rannoch Moor

The wild landscape at the edge of Rannoch Moor

Quite a few years ago I started thinking about walking Meall a’ Bhuiridh ….the big hill on the edge of Blackmount, and Rannoch Moor that is home to the Glencoe ski centre.  The easiest way would simply have been to walk up following the line of the ski lift, but well, it didn’t seem very adventurous!  There had to be a better way up the hill and one that would avoid much of the paraphernalia attached to the ski slopes.  After looking at the map I decided to climb the hill by its south east ridge and then just descend down the ski slopes.  It seemed a good compromise and would make for an interesting day.

A little hill in a very big landscape

A little hill in a very big landscape

We did the walk on a dry and quite fine summer day.  The cloud was high and so although there was no sun to be had, we were at least assured of some good views….or at least Anita was.  She was not only guiding me but also our friend Norma who is also visually impaired.  We left the car at the ski centre car park and then headed back along the West Highland Way for several kilometres until we reached Ba Cottage …not far short of Ba Bridge.  From here it’s a steady pull uphill to reach the end of the SE ridge of Meall a’ Bhuiridh ….and we got here just in time for an early lunch.  It makes for a wonderful picnic spot as you are well off any paths and have views all around…..and it was here that Nita first set eye on Meall Tionaill.  This is a small hill (582m) set in the heart of Blackmount and surrounded by much bigger neighbours.  Nita was quite taken with this lonely little hill and before we set off again I think she was already planning to go to it one day.  From our lunchtime spot the broad ridge climbed steeply at first grass covered and then increasingly boulder strewn slopes.  But turning around for a breather every few minutes we got increasingly big views…it was quite spectacular.

After what seemed an age, the angle of the slope eased and we emerged out onto the rocky top of the hill at just over 1100 m.  There were surprisingly few people up at the top but high above us was someone flying around with a paraglider.  At first neither Norma or I could see it despite much pointing and giving of directions by Anita, but almost as if the pilot realised our problem he or she flew directly over head and then just hung there in the air …a bit like a Kestrel without all the flapping!  It was amazing.  After several minutes it turned and headed off towards Buachaille Etive Mor.  We descended down the ski slopes which at least to start with, made for very easy walking.  The lower section though was steep and on an increasingly eroded path by or almost below the ski lift …and seemed to take an age to get back down to the car …I seem to remember we were back there by around 7pm.

Meall Tionaill  surrounded by its larger neighbours

Meall Tionaill surrounded by its larger neighbours

The reason for recalling this walk is that despite our saying most years that we’d have to go and find Meall Tionaill, we’ve never got around to it.  A few days ago though, I received an email from our friend Guy saying that he was planning to go and find this wee hill one day soon ….and he asked if we’d like to join him.  Sounds as good a time as any and as Nita and I have just had a month of flu and cold bugs, our first walk back on the hills for over a month should be a relatively easy one …and this sounds just the thing.  So then, not quite sure when we’ll try and go, but hopefully it’ll be one day in the next couple of weeks.  There’ll be a full report as and when.  The only photo I actually have of this little hill is ….well, rather vague ….Anita had to find it for me and mark it with an arrow!  As I say, it’s a little hill in a very big landscape.

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