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Colin's Munros

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Carn Mairg, Carn Gorm, Meall Garbh & Meall na Aighean
Maps 378E, 51; 12 Feb 2005 & 24 Aug 2008

Route: 11¼ miles; 5070' ascent; 6-8 hrs


Route: Parking is marked by a phone box in Inverar (Glen Lyon) on the S side of the road, behind which is a small car park, 5yds down the "private road". The start of the walk is then a few yards west along the road towards the river. Perhaps go through gate at far side of white cottage, as indicated, or take the main valley track, but avoid the rightmost track to Inverar Lodge. When I was last there in October 2014 the track was probably a better choice as the signage for the path through the woods was inadequate. However, then the track up the valley had been ruined by work on a hydro scheme, creating stretches of very deep mud.
For some unexplained reason the local estate expects you to follow this route only in a clockwise direction, and the sign posts only worked in that direction when I was there. However, the anti-clockwise direction is probably more pleasant unless the prevailing wind is blowing because of the better path on the eastern end than the western end and because navigation in cloud on Meall na Aighean is also easier that way.
I have included all the three related Munro tops in this walk. Two of them are detours from the natural route round the Munros and can be omitted easily. However, one of these, namely the shapely An Sgorr, is well worth including. It adds a mere 70m of ascent over easy terrain and almost no distance whilst yielding a great view from its position at the head of a valley. There is a lower level path for those wishing to avoid this Top.
The route along the ridge follows boundary fence posts between Meall Garbh and Meall Liath.

Access: Sometimes there is deer shooting ("stalking" is a euphemism) in the valleys below this round but, despite the notices, this doesn't occur continuously, as is evidenced by comments posted on various blogs.
Judging from its website, the local North Chesthill Estate has a dislike for walkers and actively discourages them as much as possible because "Hill walking affects all wildlife, which is the heart of this estate's conservation and wildlife management business... The disturbance is creating great pressure on the deer herd and birdlife and is becoming unacceptable. Hill walkers are encouraged... to walk elsewhere." One wonders how much the shooting conserves or affects the wildlife! Obviously, the many stalkers (apparently out almost every day of the year) don't have nearly the same effect on the wildlife in the glens as the walkers up on the ridges.
Given reaction on the web, it is difficult to determine the reliability of any notices claiming shooting, or even just stalking, is going to occur on a particular day. It may occur on some days during the week covered by any notice, but almost certainly not all of them. The estate suggests alternative hills for the 6 months (August to January) of the year when deer or other shooting might take place. Most are quite a few miles away (see here) and this is unhelpful if you have left your intended route with friends, come hundreds of miles with specific maps to a glen with no connectivity and only want to tick off these particular Munros.
The estate does not invite you return on a Sunday when shooting is traditionally not done in Scotland. Indeed, it claims to use Sundays occasionally for its activities, and its weekly notice usually includes mention of activity every week on every day of the week. However, on 23rd May 2017 this weekly notice still referred to "stalking from Tuesday 13th September 2016" with no mention of when this period would end. So up-to-date information may no longer be readily available for the would-be walker. But perhaps the estate has reformed? Clearly, this is an area of Scotland that has been inaccessible for months on end if you observe the requests on all the estate's notices – even if you have no commitments so that you are free to come on any day. It's not clear to me that a small, quiet, responsible party would cause any noticeable disturbance to shooting since most of the route is well-positioned out of sight of the valleys. Unfortunately, rights of access laws are unclear on this. It would be good to have a test case established in one of the few areas such as this where the spirit of the law is so clearly breached. Certainly, the estate needs to take a more sensible attitude to walkers (and a more responsible attitude to its paying shooters) by widely and clearly advertising a sufficent number of days for walking so that the two do not come into conflict. Obviously, if stalking and shooting is not taking place on a given day, walkers should be welcomed so that they don't come back on a day when estate activities might be disrupted. Currently, the pressure on walkers to avoid the area for so much of the year means that many are likely to ignore the estate notices after a succession of failed previous attempts at access. Judging from walkers' blogs, this is indeed the case. Indeed, as the estate's notices have been fairly unreliable in reporting whether shooting was actually taking place, many walkers will ignore them on the reasonable and correct assumption that there is a good probability that shooting will not occur.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has some strong words to say about the estate's behaviour. Other helpful discussions include, for example, one on WalkHighlands.

Weather (12/2/05) Cloud base at around 2500', very strong winds, frequent snow showers, drifting snow. Blizzards! Snow cover down to sea level, drifts up to 3', no firm snow underfoot. (Very slow times for 12/2/05 because of severe weather conditions, compass problems & darkness from 1800.)
Weather (24/8/08) Cloud base around 3000', some tops clear, stiff showers & some drizzle.

12/2/0524/8/08 Description Ht.Asc.Dist. Grid Ref.Mobile
09150855 Park at Inverar, Glen Lyon. Take the left track
through a large gate, or other path indicated,
not the track to Inverar Lodge.
190   00.0 milesNN66604824No Orange
 0910 Track NNW beside Inverar Burn to bridge
over tributary
315 0.5 milesNN66404897 
 0930 Cross the Inverar Burn at the bridge
by the zig-zag – unmarked on map.
4202301.0 milesNN65944952 
12001040
-1045
Ascend path W round the edge of the forest
then 400 yds SSW by forest edge, before
turning WNW up ridge to M Carn Gorm
trig pt (now on its side)
10298402.75 milesNN63465011Orange
 1100 Path N to Col 851 3.25 milesNN63705090 
12401105 Path E to T An Sgorr 9249103.5 milesNN64065094Orange
 1110 Path N to Col 845 3.75 milesNN64105132 
13151125 ENE to M Meall Garbh
(which has large cairn made from fence posts)
96810354.15 milesNN64675168Orange
   Follow fence posts SE to col 945    
13251130 SE to Meall Garbh
(former top is back from fence line)
9631055 NN65035154 
 1140 Return N to boundary then
path by fence posts 600 yds ENE to col
925  NN65495182 
   Path by fence posts for 300yds NE to Top 88111004.9 milesNN65735199 
 1145 Sharp right on nearlt level path SE to Col 871  NN65835191 
14251200 Path E up to summit ridge,
then SSE to T Meall a'Bharr
(2nd cairn at fence corner, in a row of cairns)
100412005.7 milesNN66795158 
 1210 Path E by fence posts for 400yds to next cairn 9991200 NN67375165 
   Path E by fence posts for 650yds to col 965 6.3 milesNN67605165 
   Path E by fence posts by-passing top 100112306.5 milesNN68035169 
   Path SE by fence posts for 250yds to col 985 6.6 milesNN68215153 
15001230
-1240
SSE to M Carn Mairg (leftmost of 3 tops) 104112906.85 milesNN68475125Orange
   Weak path E to broad col 955  NN68885121 
15301255 Continue E to for Munro Top T Meall Liath 101213457.35 milesNN69305122Orange
 1305 SSW/S to the broad bealach of Gleann Pollaidh 845 8.0 milesNN69005035 
1615
-1715
1325
-1330
Path S then E to M Meall na Aighean
(12/2/05: Wasted time leaving summit due to
incorrect navigation arising from problem
with compass/mobile phone interaction.)
98114808.5 miles NN69474968Orange
   Path WSW to col 955    
17251335 WSW to SW top of Meall na Aighean
for better view to SW
97415008.77 milesNN69064946 
 1400 N for 400 yds to path, then W down ridge path
to crossing of stalkers' path (from rusty hut)
above Allt Coire a' Chearcaill
530 10.3 milesNN67104907 
   Continue S to right fork in path after 200m 475 10.36 milesNN67064894 
   Continue ridge path WSW to valley track
at first pole of power lines
after track emerges from forest
285 10.9 milesNN66414866 
19351440 Track (or path) S back to car park at Inverar 190150011.25 milesNN66604824No Orange


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