For our second day in the Glen Roy area we chose to climb the three Munros on Creag Meagaidh. Creag Meagaidh is a big brute of a mountain, consisting of 3 Munros: Creag Meagaidh (1130m), Stob Poite Coire Ardair (1053m) and Carn Liath (1006m) and several ‘Munro-tops’. The route over the three summits is 1334 m of ascent and 20.46 km long.
The area is a NNR (National Nature Reserve, managed by Scottish National Heritage (SNH). A SNH information panel beside the path gave a bit of information on the way the reserve is being managed.
On this National Nature Reserve, SNH seeks to establish a self perpetuating native woodland WITH red deer.
To permit growth of young trees it is vital that deer numbers are controlled. This annual cull of deer is achieved on the reserve using two methods. By live capture and by selective culling between 1 July and 15 February. Trained and experienced SNH staff accomplish this task using the most practical and humane methods.
The promise of a new and vibrant woodland is evident. Further good examples of the gradual and natural process of tree regeneration can be seen from the path as you progress into Coire Ardair.
Following the well-maintained gravel path from the visitor centre we soon came to the small woodland of Creag Meagaidh. Walking on the Scottish hills often consists of tramping for hours over barren slopes of grasses and heather, with the occasional dwarf willow. Here on the reserve native trees such as birch, alder, rowan, willow and oak, silver birches are found growing 1500 feet up. There are mature trees bent by the wind and covered in lichens, and young saplings emerging above the heather.
The path gradually climbs to the lovely Lochan a’ Choire ringed by the cliffs of Coire Ardhair. The corrie is a lovely spot and worthy of a visit even if not going higher.
But we were, so we could not linger here too long. The way out of the corrie up to the ridge is by way of a notch in the rim of the corrie know as The Window.
The whole of this gulley was filled with snow, but as we stopped for a snack we watched two other climbers make steady progress up the snow.
We took out our poles (usually only used to save our knees on the descent) and set off to plod uphill. The snow was superb; just hard enough that our feet only sunk down several centimeters, but not too hard and icy to be slippery. It was hard work, and warm in the sun, but an enjoyable way to the bealach.
Out on the plateau we met and chatted with several groups of walkers, some who had also come up the gully from the corrie and others who had come over the other two Munros and were planning to descend The Window. For some reason everyone we passed today seemed to be particularly chatty and keen to share notes – not just the usual grunt about the weather!
From the window, we climbed SW up steep ground onto the broad plateau that makes up the summit of Creag Meagaidh. Much of this plateau was covered in snow and the whole plateau was rather breezy.
Before the main summit we passed the large ‘Mad Meg’s cairn. According to local legend this mysterious cairn marks the grave of an 18th Century suicide, who was denied burial in the local kirkyards. Her family buried her high on Creag Meagaidh. The old stone walls of the cairn have collapsed, showing that a considerable volume of sandy soil had gone into the making of the cairn. www.geograph.org.uk/
The summit itself was cold and windy, so we snapped the obligatory summit shots, left a bookcrossing book and turned around.
We headed back towards The Window and headed north going up the long gradual incline to Stob Poite Coire Ardair (1053m).
Following that, the walk along the ridge to Carn Liath was fairly long passing over four Munro-tops and was particularly cold as it was now blawin’ a hoolie!
From the very windy and cold summit of Carn Liath, we headed off south following the line of iron fence posts towards Na Cnapanan (623m). There is a faint, rather over-grown path that winds down through the regenerating forest and meets the main path from the visitor centre to the corrie. From here is was an easy stroll back to Aberarder.
Click here for more photos of the walk.