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Meall Chuaich

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This mountain translates as the hill of the quaich, or cup. Most hill names beginning with Meall in Scotland have probably been regarded as lesser in height by the natives who named them, though Meall Chuaich is of sufficient stature to be in the list of Munros. To compensate for its low position in this list (214 by height), it is a fairly isolated mountain, lying at the northern end of the plateau flanking the east side of the A9 road near Dalwhinnie.

There is room for several cars off the A9 about 3km north-east of Dalwhinnie, opposite Cuaich cottages (654 867). There is a locked gate barring access to a private road. This route takes in quite a few km on track, and a mountain bike could make short shrift of much of the distance involved. Cross the gate to go along the roads and join another road which is followed eastwards past a small power station.

Some 250m short of the Loch Cuaich dam turn south-east onto a rough track and pass a bothy. About 500m past the bothy cross the Allt Coire Chuaich. (By now you may have become bemused by the wandering 'h' - sometimes there in chuaich, sometimes not. I think the 'h' is a later corruption and the hill probably began life as Meall Cuaich).

Continue up the steep heather slope, with a broad ridge above of grass and heath. A level shoulder looks down over the craggy Stac Meall Chuaich to the north, before rockier slopes lead more steeply to the flat summit.

You may return by the ascent route, but for some variety you can do a round of Loch Cuaich. From the summit descend north-west, staying north-east of the Stac Meall Chuaich and heading down gradually steepening slopes to gain level ground and cross the Feith na Braclaich. A track then leads south-west down the loch to cross the river by a bridge and pick up the approach road and so back to the start.


Maps: OS Sheet 42 'Glen Garry & Loch Rannoch'
Distance: 14 km
Ascent: 610 m
Time: 4 hours
Food & Drink: Dalwhinnie with a hotel, cafe and its distillery (recommended malt whisky!) is about 3km to the south-west, while Newtonmore, about 12km north has a wider choice of refreshment stops.


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