83 Munros bagged … only 200 to go!

Meall nan Tarmachan (1044m)

  • Pronunciation:              Miaowl nun Tarmachan
  • Translation:                   Hill of the Ptarmigan
  • Total distance:              7.35km
  • Total time:                     2hrs 29mins
  • Total ascent:                 670m
  • Weather:                        Bright, dry and warm. Fairly cloudy but with cloud levels above most of the high peaks.
  • Start / end location:   1km south of the Lochan na Lairige reservoir. [OS Map Sheet 51 – Grid Ref: NN 604 383]
  • Map:                                A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.

Elaine crossing a snowfield near the top of Meall nan Tarmachan

We’ve had the last two days off resting our tired limbs after a good two weeks of Munro bagging. Our rest days saw us a bit further south from today’s climb and so by the time we travelled to the start point it was after 10am. Luckily this had all been planned for and this rather later than usual start was more than compensated for by the shortness of today’s climb – only two and a half hours!

Nearing the top of Meall nan Tarmachan with Ben Lawers in the background

We once again travelled along the minor road up through the glen between Loch Tay and Glen Lyon, where this time we stopped about 1km to the south of the Lochan na Lairige reservoir. Compared to our recent trip up this glen, less than one week ago (see 19 March entry), the snow had now completely disappeared from the roadside, and indeed from most of the surrounding peaks below about 800m. There was, however, still plenty of snow in deep pockets and ribbons higher up – especially on the northern and eastern facing aspects, but otherwise the thaw had certainly taken hold.

Elaine on the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan with the Tarmachan ridge in the background

From our parking spot we crossed a bridge over the Burn of Edramucky and followed a land-rover track south for 300m to where a obvious walkers path veered right (east) to climb gently up the broad hillside. This excellent path continued to gain height at a modest pace before it turned north and steepened a little as it made its way directly to a small subsidiary peaked marked at 923m.

As we proceeded towards the 923m top we caught up with the only other group of people on the hill: a French couple and their friend from Glasgow (but now working in France). We exchanged greetings at the 923m top before Elaine and I dropped down quickly to the little col that signalled the start of the final steeper slope to the summit. This last incline followed a shallow gully to a flatter region before a diagonal traversing line was taken to reach the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan at 1044m or 3,425’. This shallow gully was a good example of a feature that held onto the snow and so we kicked steps up the first tier to where the angle levelled before we crossed and climbed diagonally up the last snowfield.

Cameron on the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan with Ben Lawers in the background

From the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan looking along the Tarmachan ridge

From the summit the views were excellent – especially along the Tarmachan Ridge to the immediate SW, with the mighty profiles of Ben More and Stob Binnein dominating the horizon. To the ENE the Lawers massif was clear, although from our angle we could only see the two Munros of Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers – with the other three Munro obscured behind the mass of Ben Lawers itself.

As we admired the views we saw that the company of three we’d overtaken earlier had split up, with the French chap continuing upwards to join us at the summit whist his friends appeared content to remain at the top of the shallow gully section. Once alongside us at the summit cairn we found out more about our French companion, whose name was Olivier. We used the opportunity to offer to take photographs of each other at the summit.

Despite this mountain’s name translating to the Hill of the Ptarmigan, this was one of only a few hills this winter on which we haven’t actually seen or heard any these birds – how ironic!

Cameron and his new pal Olivier on the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan

Our route up Meall nan Tarmachan was certainly very quick and easy, and perhaps doesn’t do the hill the justice it deserves. There are longer and certainly very interesting alternative routes to be climbed on this hill – especially a traverse of the excellent Tarmachan Ridge in full winter conditions. Another route worthy of consideration would be ascending the north ridge (leaving from the north of the Lochan na Lairige reservoir), taking in the Meall nan Tarmachan summit and then sweeping SW to the Top of Meall Garbh (1025m) before descending back to the starting point via Meall Garbh’s NNW ridge.

We will definitely come back and try both these alternatives  – but for now we are satisfied that our ascent of Meall nan Tarmachan marked our 83rd Munro, leaving us with only 200 left to climb to complete our round of the Munros.

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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