When we were on Harris earlier this month, the combination of wild weather, very rough terrain and my very poor sight, meant that I found the walking there very difficult. As I’ve said before, when you walk in the hills with a visual impairment, the mental effort is almost as tiring as the physical exertion and so for our first walk since returning from the holiday, I was looking for something during which I could to some extent, relax a little. The obvious choice would have been to head back to the Luss Hills, but I had a fancy to get up high and with a bit of luck, get some big extensive views.
After trawling through my memories of walks in the Southern Highlands, I remembered a walk I had done probably 8 or 9 years ago with a group from our local club Air na Creagan. On a fine summer day we’d done a relatively easy circuit over two Munros that lie close to Ben Lawers, Meall Corranaich and Meall a’ Choire Leith. The first of these, Meall Corranaich, is quite high, its summit cairn perched on a flat grassy top at 1069 m ….it would offer the big views I was looking for and both are almost completely grass covered …giving easy and therefore for me, fairly stress free walking. The final thing going for these two hills was their location. They can easily be reached from the high point on the single track road that leads past the site of the old Ben Lawers visitor centre and on over into Glen Lyon. As the high point is around 500 m, even the walk to the top of Meall Corranaich doesn’t involve vast amounts of ascent …..as I say, getting high without all the effort!
So then, that was our plan for Tuesday and all we needed was for the better of the two weather forecasts we seen, to be right. One of them had predicted cloud on the tops much of the day, the other …from the MWIS, had predicted that any low cloud would lift and break with an eighty per cent chance of a cloud free top…..we went with this one!!
We asked our friend Guy if he’d like to join us and as he’d been doing quite a lot of low level walks recently, (checking out a route for some cadets he works with) he jumped at a chance to get up on the tops again and was waiting to be picked up at Kilwinning station almost as soon as we’d asked him!
It was, quite simply, a perfect little day. The MWIS forecast proved correct and although when we’d started walking there were dark clouds covering all the main summits in the area, within an hour this had lifted and we could see our route ahead. The air was very clear and the views even to me were extensive. Needless to say, we took our time …stopping occasionally to sit and look and enjoy this spectacular scenery. The mountains still had patches of snow on them and this added to the grandeur of the scene. As we reached the main ridge leading up to the summit of Meall Corranaich, the views became even bigger, looking out over Loch Tay and nearer to hand, across a high bealach to Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers …the latter being just a few feet short of the 4000 foot mark. We avoided the path leading directly up to the top of Meall Corranaich and instead headed for it via a very steep slope of grass and stones, but one that was sheltered from the wind and was therefore much more pleasant. As I neared the top, puffing and sweating ….I glanced behind me to see Guy stomping up the slope ….and I suddenly remembered that he is now 80 …and still has more ‘umph and go’ on the hills than I do! As my friend Norma always says about Guy…. ‘what a man’! I hope I’m still climbing hills with as much energy and enthusiasm as he has, when I’m 80.
Our efforts were rewarded at the top by the sun coming out and big patches of blue sky emerging all around …it was spectacular. We had another long break sat out of the wind just enjoying the place. After a bit, we decided that this top was enough and instead of carrying on to the second hill, we’d just have a relaxed walk back. This was just the kind of day I’d wanted.