Climbing Meall Greigh

Ben Lawers range
meaning - Hill of the Horse Studs
Sunday 15th Jan

The hamlet at Lawers has always been tricky for parking, but the Hotel offer 'free' use of their car park if you have a pint in the bar before or after your walk , what a pity it was closed this January!

Our walk began at the Horn Carvers shop, which has been there as long as anyone can remember. Taking the track to Machuim (pronounced ma'wheem) there is a helpful sign, put there no doubt, to stop walkers from traipsing through the yard.
Helpful and so much nicer than an 'official' sign
The path beyond the farm is wooded and sheltered; there are glimpses through the undergrowth to the Lawers Burn.  
In summer, bracken and ferns give thick cover to this track. 
In places it's a little soft underfoot
Imrich track  (Gaelic: to move house)
We crossed a small bridge over a deep ditch, it also gives protection to the alkathene pipe.
handy bridge over a rather deep ditch
At the top of the woodland is a tall stile. With the amount of lichen established it's been in place for a while. Spot the 'dog flap' - Andrew has tried getting through these before....but there again so has Bill....
Ron using his leki pole as a 3rd leg.
At this point you gain access to the open hillside and a sign marks the boundary of the NTS Ben Lawers nature reserve.

Just beyond the sign are the remains of many shielings.
Grass and moss cover the walls, but the shape of the dwellings are still recognisable.

These ruins are the relics of transhumance when the local population, usually the village young, accompanied their cattle, goats and sheep to the summer hill grazings.

Scotland has thousands of such sites but it is still a poignant moment when you realise the struggle that the local population had to feed and clothe themselves in the 16th and 17th centuries

so we can't bring the car up here then?
Looking toward the corrie containing Lochan nan Cat; the rocky summit of An Stuc clear of the cloud, our hill of course, remained completely shrouded.
A glimpse of clear blue sky raised hopes for a clear summit
The small footbridge over the Lawers Burn provided a photo opportunity, but it was a detour, for our ascent of Meall Greigh we should have swung up the hill.
'Should have' is the correct phrase as we decided to continue alongside the burn - the walking becoming more toilsome as we became hemmed in hummocky banks.
Footbridge over the Lawers Burn
Eventually we struck uphill, it's always easier to tackle the slopes directly instead of trying to sneak around them.......
it was a cold wind
Roni found the correct path first, how did we all miss it?
Colder and no views
The path was free of snow and ice, we were the only people on the hill today so could only think that the lack of vegetation on the narrow path didn't give the snow/ice anything to stick to.
We all had full winter clothing on

It was a steady plod to the top where we stuffed 'pieces' in our mouths and looked around for the views. 

Weather conditions unlikely to change soon.
Let's go down.
no place to linger
It was a quick descent - and we stayed as a tight group.
Figures in the mist
We were all happy to have turned back - even David - who normally relishes a tough walk. 
glad to be back below the cloud level
Al last we had some decent views of Loch Tay.
beautiful muted colours on the woodlands around the loch
Man in Black, but what a bright rucksack
put that camera away.......
The sides of the Lawers Burn are thickly wooded with Scots Pine, Silver Birch,  Rowan and a stand of tall Larches on the far bank.
The wind storm of 2011 has taken it's toll even here.
windblown Larches 
Now comes the most dangerous part of the day, the short walk of half a kilometer from the horn carvers shop to the hotel car park.

We all arrived back safely!

Golden sunlight on our hill slope tantalized us once we were down.
We'll be back.

David, Dee, Andy, Bill, Roni and Ron

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