Duo north of Loch Lochy

Meall na Teanga (917m); Sron a’ Choire Ghairbh (935m)

  • Pronunciation:            Miaowl nuh Tyenga; Stron a Horrer Girreth
  • Translation:                 Hill of the Tongue; Nose of the Rough Corrie
  • Total distance:             22.2km
  • Total time:                   6hrs 15mins
  • Total ascent:                1353m
  • Weather:                      Grey and overcast. Started out showery, which dried to leave a misty, cool day on the tops. Breezy on the summits.
  • Start / end location:   Car-park just east of Laggan Locks on Caledonian Canal (just off A82) [OS Map Sheet 34 – Grid Ref: NN 286 963]
  • Map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window.

Elaine ascending the Cam Bhealach with Loch Lochy in the background

We parked in a large wooded car-park adjacent to the (two) Laggan Lochs on the Caledonian Canal: at the NE tip of Loch Lochy. From here we jumped on our bikes and made our way over the canal locks to the west side, where we followed a tarred road WNW for 300m before it turned sharply SW as it began to follow the north shore of Loch Lochy. After a further 1km we passed Kilfinnan (farm) at which point the road changed to a forestry track: this road and track form a small section of the Great Glen Way, a way-marked path for walkers and cyclists extending from Fort William to Inverness.

A further 1km from Kilfinnan the track splits, with a lower track following the shoreline of Loch Lochy and an upper one, about 60m higher, running in parallel. We took the upper track and followed it for 2.5km to where it intersected with the lower exit of Cam Bhealach: a narrow glen that forms a bealach, or mountain pass from Loch Lochy westwards.

Cameron approaching the summit of Meall na Teanga in the mist

At this point we locked our bikes and took to the path running up through Cam Bhealach westwards: initially through a commercial forestry plantation before rising above this and into the open hillside of the glen.

Almost immediately upon exiting the forested area the impressively high and steep-sided crags and buttresses of Sean Mheall and Sron a’ Choire Ghairbh to the north and Meall Dubh to the south pressed down on us, always showing their presence in our peripheral vision. It is said that the Bonnie Prince Charlie’s fugitive companion, Major Glenaladale, after their Jacobite defeat at Culloden, whilst describing part of their journey southwest down the shores of Loch Lochy referred to “terrible mountains on the right”. The summits of these terrible mountains are Meall na Teanga and Sron a’ Choire Ghairbh – our two Munros of the day!

Cameron at the summit of Meall na Teanga

We were thankful that our route to the Munro summits didn’t require a direct assault on any of these steep faces. Instead, our route took us along the full length of Cam Bhealach, about 3km from our starting point on the forestry track, to a wide col at an altitude of about 600m. This col then effectively became the starting point for the ascent of each of the two Munros.

First off, we headed south, climbing steeply up the flanks of NW ridge of Meall Dubh for 70m, before contouring round to the SW and aiming for the col between Meall Dubh and Meall na Teanga. After crossing this col we climbed quite steeply up snowfields – by kicking steps – on the north ridge of Meall na Teanga to reach its summit at 918m, or 3,012’. The weather was very misty at the top, so I can only imagine that the views SW right down Loch Lochy towards the Nevis Range and the Grey Corries would have been spectacular in a fine, clear winters day. But sadly not today.

Elaine at the summit of Sron a' Choire Ghairbh

From the summit we retraced our steps back towards the col at the top of Cam Bhealach: losing height very quickly as we plodded down the snowfields, this time with our crampons on. At the col we simply crossed to the “other” mountainside lying to the north and this time followed an excellent path that lazily zigzagged its way up into the cloud cover. Following this path we very quickly came to a saddle on ridge that ran SE from the summit to a subsidiary top. This ridge formed the top escarpment of the NE facing corrie of Sron a’ CHoire Ghairbh. Here we turned NW and followed this broad ridge to the summit cairn at 935m, or 3,068’.

Our descent strategy was simply to retrace our footsteps back to the col, and then, after a flask of tea, to head back down Cam Bhealach to join the forestry track, where we pick up our bikes and cycled back to the car-park at Laggan.

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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1 Response to Duo north of Loch Lochy

  1. Alasdair says:

    The OS Map Sheet number is extremely helpful. It told me straight away that #34 was one that I did’nt have !
    Summit photos prove the point that you made it to the top but what about some scenic Caly Canal shots please?

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