Glen Lyon – Meall Buidhe and Cam Chreag

by backpackingbongos

After a day on the Tarmachan ridge I returned to the van and cooked dinner.  It was a rare treat to sit outside and cook without being bothered by midges.  Using the camper van makes food much more enjoyable than when backpacking as weight is not an issue.  The only downside was that the beer I had brought with me was beyond tepid and not even worth opening.  A fridge would be a welcome addition in summer.

In stunning early evening light I headed north, descending the single track road into Upper Glen Lyon.  A long continuous downhill made me appreciate just how high my starting point for the Tarmachan ridge had been.  I have never visited Glen Lyon before and I was bowled over by it.  There is a perfect combination of pastoral beauty and rugged mountains.  None of the bleakness you get with some of the glens further north and west.

I missed the turn off for Loch na Daimh by several miles, initially thinking it was a private track.  I realised my error and returned, passing several groups of people camping along the river Lyon.  The parking area below the large dam of Loch na Daimh was busy when I arrived but I found a level spot on a grassy verge.  As the evening progressed most drove off but a few remained and pitched tents, one chap sleeping in his car.  I spent a peaceful undisturbed night in the van.

15.5 kilometres with 890 metres ascent

Glen Lyon

I was disappointed to wake to a grey and gloomy scene, the surrounding hills hidden by a shroud of low cloud.  I had checked the weather forecast the day before and it had promised hot sunshine after mist and fog had burnt off in the glens.  I had a feeling that anyone on the hill tops early on would be enjoying a spectacular inversion.

I got chatting to the guy who had slept in his car.  He had done a mammoth trek around the loch the day before, a good two day backpack for me.  He was also waiting for the cloud to lift and then would drive round to Glen Lochay to climb Beinn Heasgarnich, a huge complex beast of a mountain.

The cloud suddenly shifted mid morning in a blaze of sunshine, with rucksack already packed I was quick to set up the track that starts at an information board.  I had run out of water in the van and was keen to collect some for the day ahead.  I was disappointed to find that most of the streams as I headed east along the track had dried up, their water being diverted underground.  I finally found a trickle, wetting my cap to keep cool in the increasing heat.  The view back along the loch led my eye into wilder territory.

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From reading guidebooks it looks like many people visit where I had parked to bag the two Munros facing each other across the loch.  This means two short there and back walks.  I toyed with this but decided it would be much more satisfying to do a longer round, settling on the Corbett Cam Chreag and the Munro Meall Buidhe.

I left the track at a wall and followed it northwards through dried-up bog.  Aiming slightly to the right of the wide ridge, outcrops of low boulders and rock made progress quick and easy as I could avoid the rough vegetation.

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The horseflies were out in force and very persistent, I constantly had half a dozen buzzing around my head.  A few landed but were quickly slapped away only to be replaced by another.  It’s a miracle that I did not get bitten.

One of the reasons I had chosen these two hills was for the potential of extensive views to the north.  I was not disappointed with Cam Chreag which overlooks Loch Rannoch.  With the summit to myself I sat in the sun and took it all in, a lack of urgency to get moving again.  With conditions so clear I fired off lots of photographs.

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I realised that there was still a lot of ground to cover and that an expansive but hopefully dry bog had to be crossed.  I reluctantly got moving again, Meall Buidhe filling the horizon as I headed west.

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The going between the two peaks was rough but thankfully dry.  A steep pull up towards the cairn on Meall a’ Phuill and I was on the expansive plateau.  The summit ridge arcs around Glas Choire giving the best walking of the day.

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The summit cairn is located at the northern edge of the ridge and the views are exceptionally far-reaching.  What caught my eye was Rannoch moor laid out like a map beneath my feet, loch Laidon snaking into the heart of the moor.  Behind it the Mamores and Grey Corries looked small and benign under the blue summer sky.  It’s amazing how perspective can change according to the weather.  Once again I was reluctant to leave the summit and was happy to sit in the sun, being cooled by the breeze.  I would have been very happy to stay up there all night and roll out a sleeping bag as the sun slipped below the horizon.

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I finally tore myself away and headed south down the eroded peaty baggers path.  In places in it is ill-defined as people take different routes through the boggy bits.  Stuchd an Lochain across the glen looked tempting but I was aware that sunset was only a couple of hours away.

Before reaching the van I did a long detour to top up my water bottles for the night.

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The Bongo was the only vehicle left at the parking area when I finally returned and I had another peaceful and comfortable evening and night.

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I sat and planned a short route for the following day, something quick before the long drive home.  However before sunset the clouds had once again settled on the hill tops and stubbornly refused to shift the following morning.  The drive home was indeed long and incredibly boring once on the motorway, the penalty to pay for a cracking few days in the Highlands.

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13 Comments to “Glen Lyon – Meall Buidhe and Cam Chreag”

  1. A fantastic area that James. You certainly were fortunate with the weather.

    • I could not believe how good the weather was for the whole weekend Dawn. Especially as it started raining soon after I left.

  2. Fantastic looking day out and wonderful photos.

    Scotland’s brilliant for wild camping with the van isn’t it?

    • Yes it is great Chrissie, so good in fact that I am planning on heading out in the Bongo again at the end of the week.

  3. Looks incredibly bright and clear, lucky chap. I used a stream as a beer fridge on my last trip out, worked a treat!

    • The stream for a beer fridge is great but all the streams nearby had nearly dried up. Luckily the whisky was ok to drink though!

  4. You absolutely sure that’s Scotland 🙂

  5. did you take a look at the Yew tree in the church yard at the start of Glen Lyon. It is dated to be the oldest living thing on the planet – 4,000 years ( from memory ). You got lucky again there Mr Bongo.

    • Missed out on the churchyard Warren as entered via the mountain road near the head of the glen. A superb area and one to return to I think.

      • It feels like another world – there was a festival of music that took place there. They wanted an ‘ out of the way New Age ‘ sort of place. There is a cd by Martin Bennet of the event – very good. You must see the Yew Tree next time.

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