Carn Mairg circuit

Carn Gorm, Meall Garbh, Carn Mairg, Creag Mhor (Meall na Aighean)

For my first Munro bagging walk of 2016 I headed off to a part of Scotland I'd not been to before -Glen Lyon near Aberfeldy

The drive up the mainly single track road is 'interesting' at times, but this broad section allowed a view of the first Munro in the Carn Mairg circuit - Carn Gorm. I'm relieved that the snow of the past few weeks has gone, although irritated that I've had to bring my microspikes and Yaktrax.

For various reasons including a flat tyre on my hire car, which luckily I spotted before leaving, I'm well over thre quarters of an hour later than expected and the small car park at Invervar  is full, so I drive on another half a mile to the very large loop layby west of the hamlet. That means another twenty minutes walk added to the day of course, which could prove a problem if time was tight at the end of the day. I started the walk at 10:40.

Anyway it's a brisk walk to....

...the start of the walk at this gate. The orange and green guide poles are a feature of the early part of this walk.

The path starts pleasantly through woods before...

...reaching two deer fences. There are stiles but the gates appeared to be unlocked.

Thye construction of a hydro road has lead to the path being diverted and the next....

... section isn't very appealing but... soon reaches a rather rickety bridge across the Invervar Burn.

From now on the walk reverts to a proper hill path as it wraps around a plantation...

...and begins the climb.

The view looking back down Glen Lyon from above the woods.

There is a clear and easily graded footpath up the south eastern ridge of Carn Gorm....

...and in the sunny conditions was delightful with..

...views across Coire na Lairige to the top of An Sgorr and in the distance the second of the day's Munros, Meall Garbh.

The track continues to climb steadily with increasingly good views.

To the north east are the snow covered Cairngorms. Somewhere over there is Ben Macdui.

To the south are the Ben Lawers group of hills.

To the south west are Stob Binnein and Ben More near Crianlarich

There were plenty of walkers out on this beautiful May Saturday. The summit cairn can be seen at the far end of the plateau. It had taken me 2 hours and 20 minutes from leaving the car so I had actually slightly improved on the expected time for the climb. A twenty minute lunch stop sitting in the sun was very pleasant.

Click on the image for a larger panoramic photo. This is the view looking towards the south and south west.

Looking west, the hills around the top of Glencoe can be seen to the right of centre.

This zoomed image shows the unmistakeable flat summit of Benm Nevis (30 miles away) , together with the Mamores and White Corries.

Loch Rannoch is seen looking down the north west ridge of Carn Gorm.

The bulk of Schiehallion is over to the east.

Leaving the summit of Carn Gorm (1028m) the path drops... a bealach at 851m.

Click on the image for a larger photo of Loch Rannoch.

The path skirts the north west side of An Sgorr..

...before dropping slightly again....

.....and  starting the climb to the next Munro, Meall Garbh.

Looking back to An Sgorr and Carn Gorm.

The path now follows a line of metal fence posts but looking back...

...there is a better view of Carn Gorm still with some large snow patches left.

The path follows the posts steadily uphill..

...before reaching stonier ground..

....and a view of the cairn.

It looks like somebody decided top make a 'bonfire' of all the spare posts - quite hideous. The section from Carn Gorm had taken exactly an hour so I allowed myself another 10 minute break for a drink.

From the summit there's a good view of Schiehallion - it's a pity I had no view from that hill's summit last year when i climbed it but at least I've seen it properly now.

There's now a long and delightful ridge walk towards Munro number three, Carn Mairg, which can be seen over to the right.

Over to the south is a small lochan....

...and then there is a gentle climb.... a small cairn....

...after which the path meanders along the ridge..

...with the cliffs on Carn Mairg becoming more obvious.

It is a beautiful stroll in sunny weather, although as a result of my late start I was getting a little anxious as to whether I'd be back in Pitlochry in time for a meal at my hotel.

Just before reaching Carn Mairg there are two enormous heaps of stones, looking almost like quarry tips - very strange.

The path reaches the crags at the end of Carn Mairg and then doubles back to reach the actual summit at 1041m.

There were too many people about so I didn't take a photo of the cairn.

The drop down from the summit to to the bealach at 855m is quite steep and eroded at first, although I forgot to take a photo of it from the top....

...with some slightly awkward bouldery sections lower down.

The path then drops down gently over grass to reach...

...what I suspect will be a boggy area in wet conditions.

Looking back the cliffs at the end of Carn Mairg are quite dramatic. The path from the summit drops down to the right of them.

There's now just an easy climb to the summit of the fourth Munro - Creag Mhor (Meall na Aighean on the O.S. maps)

The summit is quite rocky...

....with a cairn and a glimpse of Loch Tay in the distance. My estimated timings for the walk so far had been about right but I was of course running later than expected because of my delayed start.

I was now seriously concerned about whether I'd get back in time for a good meal ( I really didn't fancy having to go to a chippy in Pitlochry) so started off as quickly as possible down the long ridge.

For much of the way there's quite a clear path, although it did disappear at one point and took some finding again.

On the O.S. maps there's a stalkers path which is shown dropping down the hillside in zig zags so I took this thinkling it would be a good way down instead of the main ridge path - bad choice as it clings awkwardly to the hillside! In the end I rejoined the main ridge path and eventually reached the hydro road.

A brisk walk to the car got me there about three quarters of an hour later than I'd hoped for after taking about eight hours including breaks. With clear roads, but no exceeding the speed limit(!), I made it back in time for an excellent meal in Pitlochry