Sunday, 5 October 2014

Not quite Meall Buide (Glen Lyon)

Walk Summary
Read information board
before heading up service track near Giorra Dam
Same as for the earlier Conic Hill walk at the beginning of the trip, this walk was conceived late as a result of another adverse MWIS forecast predicting heavy rain from mid afternoon for 36 hours. Which also meant I had no large scale printed map but because I was with John P never even occurred to me to mark up sheet 378W Explorer map I had with me in addition to the smartphone. 
We both thought we were doing the smart thing by being flexible and revising plans according to the weather forecast, especially as this was only a short up and down walk on what was the 3rd consecutive days walking, leaving the next day as a definite well earned rest day that coincided with it throwing it down with rain.
A brilliant plan showing what John already knew and I was fast learning was that flexibility is key, around keeping a keen eye on all weather forecasts. What I did not realise was that I had not fully assimilated the lesson learnt from the Conic Hill walk.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 05 October 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, John Parkin
Accommodation - Maragowan Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Off road parking near info sign at Giorra Dam (GR-NN NN 51181 46381)
Start Time - 10:09
Finish Point 
Off road parking near info sign at Giorra Dam (GR-NN 51181 46381)
Finish Time - 12:27
Duration - 2hrs 21mins
Average pace - 1.73mph
Distance Walked - 4.07miles
Height Ascended - 512.82metres

Other walks on this trip

2014
September

30th Conic Hill & Gualann
October
01st Ptarmigan & Ben Lomond
03rd Meall Corranaich & Meall a' Choire Leith
04th Ben More & Stob Binnein
05th Not quite Meall Buide (Glen Lyon)
07th Cruach Ardrain & Beinn Tulaichean
08th Beinn Dorain & Beinn an Dothaidh hammerhead
10th Ben Challum [Beinn Challuim]
12th Beinn a' Chreachain & Beinn Achaladair
13th The Tyndrum Grandslam

Peaks visited
None except for the Ex Munro Top - Meall Buide SE Top

Route

Walk Description
Meall Buidhe
Low cloud in view west along Loch an Daimh
First job of the day was to check notice board near access road to reservoir service track about information for hill-walkers and deer stalking. There was no restriction an accessing the Munro but there was a helpful route marked in red to stay on and thereby avoid were deer are likely to be. This meant the original route planned to follow the track up towards the east ridge of Meall Phuill and subsequent visit to the sub-Corbett Top of Munro would have to wait for another visit outside of the stalking season. 
Taking the service track along north shore of reservoir to the right of the notice board we soon started gaining height and as the road vered to the left a handy cairn indicated a well trodden path to the right and up towards Druim Chalm.
Cairn marking first path and path we took up to Meall Buide
As expected, as we gained height visibility decreased due to cloud, but at least it was not raining - yet. Even so as we reached the top of Coire nam Miseach the ground turned decidedly wet underfoot and eventually became hags and groughs that made it had to follow the path. Nothing like the "bomb sites" and associated bogs you find in North Yorkshire or on The Cheviot in Northumberland but enough to make you concentrate in poor visibility to ensure you stay on the correct line and pick up the various paths towards the summit where they appear.
As we passed Meall Phuill we found a well trodden path in the expected direction of the summit but could not see it or ascent due to the low cloud. Tempted to make a quick detour but resisted both in terms of staying with John and also mindful and in respect of landowners request to stay on the marked path.
Premature celebrations on 917m spot height
So onwards and upwards where in no time the boggy ground was replaced by grass and hard ground with a faint path to the first area of high ground marked by a cairn. 
At first I thought this was the summit but remembered the write up in The Ultimate Guide to the Munros something about a languide stroll around a corrie rim so I pressed on further to the left.
Seeing John at the next cairn with his flask of soup was enough for me to celebrate what I thought was my 25
th Munro. The quarter century mark. To coincide with the occasion the wind got up and the forecast rain started to come down. Had it been clear the next and proper summit 1km further north would have been obvious. Instead after noticing a slightly higher point at the 917m spot height and the obligatory photographs we turned back in our tracks and headed down.
Giorra Dam appears out of cloud at about 660m.
On a different descent route
slightly further west than the ascent route
Suffice it to say the visibility had not improved and we saw two separate groups making their approach to the summit area on two more of the many different paths through the hags. We managed to stay on track through the hags and groughs until about the 48 eastings grid were we then deviated slightly further west but found a slightly dryer descent route which brought us out furtehr west along the service road. This was our descent route and would have made an equally suitable ascent route in the area of the requested red route.
Passing the marker cairn we used earlier to start our ascent I did think we had managed the planned 7½ miles rather quickly believing we could not have done more than 5 miles in the 2¼ hours we had been out. I explained this to myself by discounting the extra distance we had lost by missing out Meall Phuill and that maybe we had taken a more direct route to the summit.
It was not until I returned back to the site and looked at the route on my laptop the unexplainable had happened.
We had been out all morning, half of it in the rain, got soaked, felt all pleased with ourselves only to find we had not gone far enough along the summit ridge to the true Munro of Meall Buidhe. How could we have done that? Well the answer is I obviously never fully learned the lesson of Conic Hill. But rest assured I have this time.

Lessons
  1. Concentrate even more when weather conditions deteriorate and double check your decisions. This was annoying yet amusing, consequences can be far more serious
  2. Same as the one on Conic Hill. Well and truly noted this time. MARK THE PAPER MAP UP PROPERLY WITH SUMMIT LOCATIONS. Further more if you can note down the correct grid reference and description of the summit so it can be check against the terrain on the ground and your mapping software if you have one.

More Photographs
John waiting on cairn which we both thought was the summit marker
Click on photograph to view slide-show

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