Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Friday, 7 October 2011

Glas Maol and Creag Leacach

Creag Leacach from Meall Odhar
Glen Clunie seemed busy for a Monday with folk heading for Munros such as An Socach, Carn an Tuirc and Cairn of Claise. A local holiday for the Aberdeen area it turned out. We drove on to the large ski car park at around 670m and had it almost to ourselves.

I have mixed feelings about ski developments in Scotland. Lynne and I skied regularly throughout the 1980s being among the 2500 who spent the night in the cafe here during the blizzard of 22 January 1984, although usually we went to Cairngorm since we had a season ticket – we’d have been stuck there as well! Nevertheless, we both vehemently opposed the Cairngorm Ski Lift Company’s proposal to expand tows into Lurcher’s Gully and to plans for a ski centre at Ben Wyvis, the latter recently suggested again. Ski-touring is a better option, away from the crowds and on virgin snow but, in dubious weather, the simple pleasures of piste bashing can’t be denied.

Something else can’t be denied – Scottish ski areas can be dire places outside the skiing season and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to walking up Meall Odhar via ski tows, snow-fences and the buildings and junk that typically litter such places. But actually I enjoyed it. Maybe just because of pleasant associations; maybe because it was a fine, if very windy day; maybe just because, ski tows or not, I was among the hills and heading for the open spaces of Glas Maol, the highest point in the Mounth.

From the top of Meall Odhar a short ascent led to the mosses and soft turf of the plateau and the summit cairn and shelter. An hour and five minutes from the car park.

Glas Maol
Creag Leacach

The Monega Pass, the highest right of way over the Mounth, crosses about 500m east of the cairn  then on to Monega Hill before descending to Tulchan and Glen Isla.

This is all great ski-touring country and given good conditions a trip from Carn an Tuirc to Tom Buidhe, taking in Cairn of Claise, Glas Maol and Tolmount would be a fine excursion.

cof Claisr (R) and Carn an Tuirc(L) from Druim Mor
 Fine ski-touring country - Carn an Tuirc (L) and Cairn of Claise (far R)

After donning some warmer clothes at  the shelter we descended the easy slopes leading to a col and the howff (see previous post) and followed the delightful dry stone dyke to the sharp peak of Creag Leacach.

The dry stone dyke on Carn Leacach

Glas Maol from Creag Leacach

Our plan for the day was a simple one – a return the same way we had come, although we did consider continuing along the ridge, dropping down over Meall Gorm, picking up the track over Leacann Dubh and so to the western slopes of Meall Odhar as we had done on a previous visit. Retracing our steps and lunch at the howff won, but on our descent of Meall Odhar we did divert along the track on Leacann Dubh getting caught, briefly, in the only rain of the day when we stopped for a cup of tea. Part of the old ‘Devil’s Elbow’ road could be seen in the glen (I first crossed this one July with a cousin and friend - at midnight on a bike - when about fourteen or fifteen years old, but that’s another story!) Some small pillar-like structures could also be seen near the old road - beehives thought Lynne, and she was right, some lovely honey coming from this area.

We descended to the motorvan happy with the day and despite the local holiday, we’d only met two people on the hill.


  1. These hills have it all: A huge sense of 'space' (and without the massive climb from sea level to get there - always popular with a slackpacker like me!)

  2. Hi Alan- I always feel I'm cheating starting at any of the ski car parks! The west keeps you fitter I reckon, and I'm off there soon after I've been to the hospital next week to find out what can be done about my finger. I watched the surgical procedure on YouTube yesterday. Very interesting!

  3. "being among the 2500 who spent the night in the cafe here during the blizzard of 22 January 1984"
    Me too! To be more exact, we were in our Aventura motorhome in the carpark! I remember the engine compartment being completely filled with spindrift!

  4. Hi Laura - we had the car with us and thought about spending the night in it, but eventually opted for the delights of the cafe. I'm not sure we were any more 'comfortable'. It was quite a night wasn't it!?

  5. Returning from my ascent of Glas Maol to that car park on different levels I firmly believed that my car had been stolen - it did not appear until I was almost on top of it - a nasty moment.

  6. Hello Sir Hugh - very worrying and I've had the same experience coming down from the Northern Corries. I couldn't see the motorvan where I was sure I'd parked it, but there was no sign. Only much later did it come in to view. I'd parked much further up the car park. What a relief.

    Perhaps worse, my brother thought he saw his motorvan being driven away as he descended from a hill in Glen Shiel, but it was an identical van leaving the parking space. His still hadn't come into view.

    I think we must all be 'threat sensitive'.

  7. It's an odd thing I suppose, but I take some comfort from seeing the car (roughly) where I expect to find it at the end of a walk; even if it's still some way off in the distance.

    It's partly the thought of boots off and a cup of tea before the drive home.

  8. I know exactly what you mean. Funny old thing this hill business.

  9. I think what it is, Gibson, is that it's some kind of visual confirmation that I've actually ended up back where I intended to which, even after all these years, still comes as a welcome relief.