Another scorching day in Scotland, another Munro bagged. On Thursday, I took on Meall Nan Tarmachan and the Tarmachan Ridge with Boab, Teej and Chrissy. Couldn’t have asked for a better day for it! With another Munro in the bag, I’m nearing double figures, that’s me on 8 now. Well, I could say 9. The Meall Garbh summit on the Tarmachan Ridge is 1,027 metres (3,369 ft) and is ‘technically’ a Munro. However it’s not officially identified as a Munro. I don’t really understand the rules, I thought a Munro was a mountain over 3,000 feet and never had specific qualification requirements. Can anyone shed light on that? Let me know below!
Meall Nan Tarmachan
Category – Munro
Height – 1,044 metres (3,425 ft)
Location – Lawers National Reserve, Loch Tay
Difficulty Rating – 7/10
Approximate Timing – 3 – 4 hours (5 – 6 hours for full Ridge hike)
Pronunciation – Myowl Nan Tar-mach-an
Meall Nan Tarmachan (hill of the Ptarmigan) is a Munro found on the Northern side of Loch. Meall Garbh (rough hill) can be found along the Tarmachan Ridge. This Munro shares a car park with the tenth biggest Munro (Ben Lawers). You should be able to fire ‘Ben Lawers car park’ in to a sat nav. If not, follow the A85 up towards Crainlarich and take the A827 cut off and drive through Killin and the Falls of Dochart. Not far along the road, you’ll pass Morenish and about 2 minutes after that you’ll see the sign for Ben Lawers Reserve. Follow that road to the left. It’ll take you up into the hills and before long you’ll see the car park on the left hand side. On one side of the road you’ll see Meall Nan Tarmachan, on the other, Ben Lawers.
From the car park, you should see a wee sign pointing you towards the paths to each hill. The one for Meall Nan Tarmachan is about a foot wide. You’ll need to follow that path through heather for just under two kilometres before the proper ascent begins. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the first part is flat but it’s nothing compared to the actual ascent.
You’ll start making your way up the side of the hill, with a couple of steps here and there. It’s pretty tough going, my quads were on fire! It should only take you 20 minutes to get to the top of the Meall Nan Tarmachan South East Top. As you start to see beyond that, the actual summit of Meall Nan Tarmanach emerges. This minor summit is still an impressive height at 923 metres (3,028 ft). It makes a good wee stop for a view over to Ben Lawers and Lochan Na Lairige. In Teej’s case, it was the ideal place to get into the fetal position. Poor guy was suffering from a bit of trapped wind. After that, he was a machine going up the rest of the way. Hope he doesn’t mind me sharing that.
There will be a short descent from that summit before the steep ascent to the actual summit of Meall Nan Tarmachan. I’m not joking when I say steep. It’s honestly stone steps for most the way, it really burns. It only took us 20 minutes from the minor summit to the actual summit but my mates are like mountain goats. As you near the top, you can continue along an extra few metres to the right and get a view from the Meall Nan Tamarchan East Top. If you can’t be bothered and just want to get to the summit, follow the path to the left. Once you are at the top you’ll get unbelievable views over Loch Tay, Ben Lawers, Ben More and beyond. We had an exceptionally clear day and even saw Ben Nevis! What a place to have a piece and drink!
Now that you’ve had a rest, you have a choice. You can continue back the way you came or turn your attention to Meall Garbh on the Tarmachan Ridge. You’ll not miss it, it’s a lonely pinnacle to the East. There’s also a path heading towards it. we opted for the ridge, we managed the short descent and ascent to Meall Garbh within 20 minutes or so. It’s even more impressive when you reach it and see the narrow ridge beyond. The summit of Meall Garbh provides a great photo opportunity, one side is a sheer cliff face. I think it looks slightly like an old man’s head, you can see eye sockets, a nose and a beard. Let me know if you can see it as well!
You can follow the ridge even further on to hills like Beinn Nan Eachan and Creag Na Caillich. Chrissy had to get back to do some work, so we followed a narrow wee path off the ridge. As you make your way downhill, you’ll begin to see Meall nan Tarmachan in its glory. You’ll also see a peaty bog below. That’s where we headed after the path ran out. We made our own way down, passing a sheep carcass on the way. Call me a sicko but I got a photo, I thought the skull looks pretty cool.
Once you manage to navigate your way over the bog, you’ll come to a wired fence. Don’t make the same mistake I did and hold it to test it… it is electric and mostly likely on. I got a jolt through my body, even my heart rate took a wee spike according to my apple watch! Just after the fence, you’ll join back on to the narrow path you started on and before long you’ll be back at the car park. Another Munro in the bag. Well… maybe 2 if you want to count Meall Garbh!
I had never heard of Meall nan Tarmachan until the day before we done it. I was flicking through my Munros book that my mate Scoob had graciously given me and saw it in there. So glad that I did, it’s a cracking hike, especially in such good weather. I got the chance to test my drone at the top and I must say, I’m impressed with how well it handled the wind at that height! I really enjoyed the day all in, would have to say it’s definitely up there with one of the more enjoyable Munros. The Tarmachan Ridge and Meall Garbh definitely made it for me.
It’s been amazing being able to share my passion with my mates these past couple of week, now they enjoy climbing hills as well. Really enjoying my time doing it with them. Since it was such a nice day, I managed to get quite a few photos, have a wee look below and tell me what you think! Also, let me know in the comments, if you think I should count Meall Garbh as a Munro! Would you?
Thanks for reading,