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Creag Meagaidh


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In winter, the vast mica-schist cliffs of Creag Meagaidh's Coire Ardair form icy gullies and walls, attracting many adventurous climbers. The mountain has a reputation for fast and often disastrous thaws, with avalanches thundering down above the Lochan a'Choire below the cliffs. In summer the mountain is transformed into something much sweeter.

This route begins at Aberarder, on the north-west shore of Loch Laggan. There is a Scottish Natural Heritage site here, with an associated car park. Effective deer management has led to an interesting bloom in flora, though you may well see deer in a fenced section by the car park. The lower stretches of the path show how fast birch and other trees can regenerate if protected from overgrazing.

Leave the car park and walk up to and skirt the farm, heading north-west at first and climbing gently. The path, often raised onto old railway sleepers to avoid (and protect!) the boggy ground, gradually bends to the west as it contours the slope, leading eventually to a view of the cliffs.

The path eventually meets up with the Allt Coire Ardair, not far below where it leaves the Lochan, and this makes a convenient stop both for a breather and to take in the superb cliff scenery above. I saw my first golden eagle here, though increased noise and bustle in winter has probably kept them away for some years now. Once rested, continue west across the slope to climb into the upper corrie. Ahead may be seen the narrow bealach known as The Window. From the bealach turn south and take the steep rocky slopes to gain the plateau.

Navigation on Meagaidh in poor visibility is notoriously difficult, so if using map and compass be sure to know your position at all times. The way to the summit lies south then south-west over the plateau. To return by another route, go east to take in the tops of Puist Coire Ardair (1071m) then Sron a'Choire (1001m). From the latter top, an easy descent may be made down lush vegetation heading east for the farm at Aberarder. There is a bridge over the Allt Coire Ardair just west of the farm.

 

Maps: OS Sheet 34 'Fort Augustus, Glen Albyn & Glen Roy' and 42 'Glen Garry & Loch Rannoch'
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 880m
Time: 6 hours
Food & Drink: Newtonmore to the north probably has the best choice of venues, while Roybridge to the south has standard fare. Alternatively, go north then head for Dalwhinnie, which has a Hotel and a Distillery!

 

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