Ben Lawers and neighbouring Munros, 28 July 2019

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. A guided mountain hiking day, bagging the 7 Munros north of Loch Tay. John King was leading.

Ben Lawers and neighbouring Munros

Ben Lawers and it's surrounding hills make for a seven Munro walk which is one of the classic routes of the Southern Highlands. It's also one of the more achievable ways to do so many Munros in one day! Having spent a summer working in the hotel at base of these peaks a few years ago I got to know them very well but I hadn't been back for a while, so it was great to have the chance to be back amongst them once again. I met our group for the day - Julia, Jeanette, Rachael, Brian and Andrew – and after a little shuffle of cars to leave transport at either end of our walk we gathered as a group at the Ben Lawers Hotel and started walking around quarter past nine.

It was a warm, muggy morning with little wind to keep away the midges, especially in the trees, so we walked up through the initial section of forestry by the Lawers Burn at a good pace, waiting for the open hill before stopping to take off some layers. At this point it was hard to believe the forecast which predicted fresh easterly winds on the summits! From here the path continues up by the river at an easier angle but before long we were heading off more steeply uphill once more. A bit of a path has started to be worn up this first hill. It is a fairly direct route, straight up hill, but it meant we gained height nice and quickly. When the summit came into view it was a welcome sight! A significant amount of the day's ascent had just been tackled and we knew that a fine ridge-walk lay ahead.

At the top of Meall Greigh the weather wasn't particularly friendly. A hefty shower had blown in just before the top and it had become pretty wet and windy. Not a place to be hanging around. A few photos and we got moving again, heading northwest in the hope of finding a sheltered spot for a break. However, after the tough initial climb, the easy walking on the ridge was very pleasant and we could wander along and chat. The rain stopped, and things started to clear up. By the time we were at the bealach below our next Munro we were able to enjoy a break in the sun with views down to Loch Tay and over to the Carn Mairg group in Glen Lyon. A textbook Scottish change in weather!

Heading up Meall Garbh was a steady pull, surprisingly (and disappointingly) passing an empty bottle of Buckfast beside the path - an interesting choice of beverage for the hill!? Back in the mist and the gusty wind we carried on and before long we were making our way up the steep pull onto An Stuc. This is the steepest and most technical part of the day, requiring a bit of care up high, but the team made easy work of it. We were soon behind some boulders in the lee of the wind enjoying lunch at the summit.

Next up, Ben Lawers, the highest peak of the day and the 10th highest in Scotland only just below 4000ft high. Briefly we emerged out of the mist, giving views ahead to our day's final Munro, but it wasn't long before we climbed back up into the clag. Coming up the final slopes the wind was really blasting round the hill! In a couple of places it made for ‘arduous walking conditions' but taking to the lee side of the hill allowed for easier progress to the top. Munro number 4 of the day and it felt like a major milestone for the day, breaking the halfway mark and bagging the highest summit! We remained in the mist but there were signs of improvement.

Coming down off of Ben Lawers we were onto much better paths. The National Trust for Scotland has done some cracking work here and it is impressive how much erosion on this path has been reduced in recent years with lots of plants like Alpine Lady's Mantle and Mossy Cyphel starting to take hold where there was once only bare earth. A good path carries on over Beinn Ghlas and this gave us possibly our easiest Munro summit of the day with only a little over 100m re-ascent. The cloud was really starting to lift now and it was nice to get some atmospheric views up the last part of the ridge. A steep descent down the northwest ridge of this hill took us to the base of Meall Corranaich, our next Munro summit.

As we headed up onto the day's final two Munros the weather was really starting to turn for the better and we enjoyed a stunning walk up and over grassy slopes to the end of our round, able to see many of the surrounding hills and more distant views stretching to Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and Ben Alder. High on Meall Corranaich we also spotted 3 dotterel, the first I've seen on the hills for a while! Reaching the final summit, Meall a' Choire Leith, was hugely satisfying, a nice boost to our collective Munro tallies and it was nice to do it in the sunshine – although the hills at the start of the round still seemed to be holding onto their own weather!

The road lies 3km away from the final summit at 550m above sea level, and although the route is boggy in places with a bit of a climb over a col to gain the road, we had momentum now and made it back in under an hour and a half. We reached the road after 9 ¼ hours walking, a really good time for the round. Thanks to the group for a memorable day on the hills and some good chat along the way!

More photos by John King are here on Flickr.

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