To the north of Loch Tay there is range of seven Munros that centre around the main peak of Ben Lawers. During the eight mile length of this ridge only at one point does height drop below 2,500 feet. So for an energetic hillwalker opportunities for staying high all day are plentifull.
For non Uk climbers, 3,984 feet may not seem worthy of inclusion within such a mountaineering web site. However, when the climbing starts at little above sea level these hills are widely regarded as being substantial. In order to put this into perspective, as well being the ninth highest hill in Scotland, there is no other hill further south in the British Isles of a higher altitude. An interesting note is that in Victorian times an extra large cairn was built to elevate the hill to over 4,000 feet. You can still see the crumbling remains of that concrete platform.
The Munros that comprise this range are:-
Ben Lawers 3,984'
Meall Greigh 3,430'
Meall Garbh 3,661'
An Stuc 3,643'
Beinn Ghlas 3,657'
Meall Corronaich 3,530'
Meall a' Choire Leith 3,033'
For the energetic all seven can be accomplished in one long day, however this would entail in excess of 7,500' ascent and would necesitate a start from Camusvrachan in Glen Lyon.
For those with a little less stamina my recomendation would be to start and finnish in the little settlement of Lawers. I would recomend an anticlockwise ascent of the first five hills detailed above. This route would still require a great deal of effort, but would ensure that the last hills of the day were the highest and therefore give the opportunity of a potential sunset view from the reigning local peak. If this option were followed the remianing two munros could easiliy be climbed on another day from the high point of the Loch Tay to Glen Lyon pass.
For those with a limited amount of available time the tourist route to Ben Lawers starts from the National Trust Centre on the above mentioned mountain pass. This route has the dissadvantage of being very popular and unfortunately suffers a little with errosion problems.
Most people travelling to climb these hills drive up from Glasgow on either the A82 (Fort William) road and then take the A827 at Crianlarich or alternatively take the A9 as far as Dunkeld and then head westwards towards Loch Tay.
For those requiring access to the National Trust Centre take the A827 Loch Tay road as far as Edramucky and then head off up the steep hill on the pass towards Glen Lyon. The National Trust Centre can be found a couple of miles up the hill on the right, whereas the starting point for Meall Corranaich and Meall a' Choire Leith is at the end of Lochan na Lairige about two miles further.
During snowy conditions there is one hurdle that can sometimes cause problems. this is the blunt eastern escarpment of An Stuc. When I climbed it there were people turning back and others descending on their backsides. All this because of a littlle snow.
It goes without saying that in Scotland mountain weather conditions can change very rapidly. When setting off, even on the most promissing glorious morning you always need to be adequately prepared for a change to almost any climatic condition.
For an upto date forcast I would suggest that you try www.mwis.org
For those of you that have not come accross the spectacle of a Brocken Spectre I have attached a photo taken on Meall Ghlas. They are formed when you have climbed above the clouds, you have the sun on your back and your shadow is cast below onto the clouds. The sureal image of your shadow moving as you do whilst using the clouds as a screen is made all the more impressive with the miniture rainbow that forms around yourself. I am told that you can spend a lifetime walking and not be lucky enough to see such a sight.
When To Climb
If picking off these hills a couple at a time it is perfectly acceptable to climb at any time of the year, however if climbing in the winter and looking to take on all seven, unless you are a very strong walker I would suggest that you think again.
To put this into perspective I managed a round of five easily in March (after the clocks had changed) but still returned to the car in the dark.
Above 1,500' the south eastern flanks of Ben Lawers are owned by the National Trust for Scotland due to the wealth of alpine flora that can be found. Yes, there is a need to take care and not damage anything floral, however the plus side of the coin is that there are no access restrictions at all.
I am unsure of the ownership of the land to the north and it is possible that deer culling may take place from time to time. If climbing from the north my recommendations would either be to climb outside the hunting season or contact the landowners.
For a top notch meal and pint after your hike try The Falls of Dochart Inn in Killin and don't leave without trying the venison sausage casserole.
Be aware in March 06 I returned to this pub for a post walk pint. They didn't have an alcohol licence!!