Saturday 17 May 2014

Creag Meagaidh

The normal route up Creag Meagaidh is from Aberarder - a walk through beautiful native forestry gradually reveals the awesome cliffs of Coire Ardair, which can be safely turned on the side via The Window. It would be crazy to ascend from Glen Roy to the north, twice as far from the road and several trackless miles across featureless bog and tundra. Only an idiot would climb Creag Meagaidh from this direction.

Parallel Roads of Glen Roy:

We arrived at the road end in Glen Roy at 7am after sleeping rough en route, cold and glad to get moving. But this glen has features of subtle interest, chief of which are the Parallel Roads - ancient shorelines from the ice age. Once up on one, you barely notice it - they are best appreciated from a distance. But a trip along the Parallel Roads makes a great low-level walk in bad weather, looking at the various waterfalls in the glen, one of which runs under one of the Roads, forming a natural bridge.

Upper Glen Roy:

The flat bed of the ancient lake has been steeply carved by the Rivers Roy and Turret at Brae Roy Lodge, bridged by an 18th century military bridge (the strategic Corrieyairack Pass is not far away). Imagine being a redcoat trudging through the glen in the picture above, believing the provenance of the Parallel Roads to be classical-era hunting aids created by Fingalian warriors, nervously looking up at the hillsides for Fingal's claymore-wielding descendants.

Spiderweb on the path:

A rough path with only deer tracks and spider webs leads up to the Parallel Roads, and beyond to a beautiful series of cascades marked on the map as Dog Falls. A perfect skinny dipping spot. We looked enviously at the waters. "I hear folk hike topless in Norway?" I asked my companion who had lived several years in Trondheim, but he had never seen such a thing. Another cherished myth busted.

Pool on the Dog Falls:

I dearly wanted to tarry at one pool but it was too early for lunch.

Above the Dog Falls:

We stopped instead above the falls, where the snowfields of Meagaidh became visible for the first time.

Creag Meagaidh from the north:

A steady trudge across the bog took us to steeper slopes and sun-softened snowfields, views opening up with each step. To the north and west the hills of Affric and Knoydart, Sgurr na Ciche and Sgurr Fhuran prominent, Ben Wyvis just visible in a haze. To the south an unfamiliar aspect of Glencoe and the Grey Corries - Creag Meagaidh's position as a large hill away from the two big massifs of the Cairngorms and Lochaber makes for unfamiliar views. It took a while to orientate ourselves and realise we were looking at Loch Treig.

Summit view towards Aonachs and Ben Nevis:

Dirty old avalanche debris streaked Beinn a' Chaorainn and mighty Ben Nevis heaved above the Aonachs. Then the summit dome and suddenly, having seen nobody all day, a score of people: small groups in 2s and 3s processing across the snowfield from the common-sense direction of Aberarder.

Creag Meagaidh summit:

We headed as close to the cliffs of Coire Ardair as we dared: joined the bank holiday crowds as far as The Window, and left them again for the solitude of our unconventional route back to Glen Roy, only wheatears for company.

Coire Ardair:

It was a long way back, our feet tired after their long confinement in boots. But this side of Creag Meagaidh had shown us Parallel Roads, secret swimming pools, and an approach Scandinavian in scale. This route less travelled is one for the connoisseur.

Avalanche above Lochan Uaine:


blueskyscotland said...

I would never have thought of approaching Creag Meagaidh from that direction. Good photos of a wild area but these days I try to find the easiest and quickest routes up mountains where possible. That way up is definitely off the "to do before I croak it" list.

zinnia306 said...

A post I hadn't seen before and so glad you included the link (in a more current post). The pano of the summit is absolutely stunning!! I googled this mountain using Images and your photo stands out as one of the best in the bunch. Only a few (if that) of the other photos showcase the amazing mountains in the background, which gives the image its rich depth and width. That sense of how high you are is palpable and unimaginable that you and others walk these heights in a day's time! Scotland really is a very accessible treasure for the eye.