Meall nan Tarmachan (pronounced: Myowl nan Tar-mach-an) is located within the Ben Lawers group to the east of the Southern Highlands of Scotland. Although part of this range, Meall nan Tarmachan and its three neighbouring peaks are separated from the main body of the Lawers range by the road that runs through the Lochan na Lairige pass. The contrast between the peaks on either side of the pass is quite stark. The smooth, rounded, rolling hills of Ben Lawers and its neighbours to the east are replaced in the west with craggy faced peaks and their knoll covered connecting ridges.
The peaks translation into English from Gaelic means Hill of the Ptarmigan. The Ptarmigan, Lapogus muta
is a medium sized gamebird in the grouse family that is found in many parts of the world, but only lives in isolated areas of the Scottish mountains. Within the Lawers range there are other peaks found in the area with references to birds in their names. Some of these peaks are; Creag na-h-lolaire (Rock of the Eagle), Creag an Fhitich (Rock of the Raven) and Creag nan Eun (Rock of the Birds).
The peak lends it's name to the general reference of 'The Tarmachans' or the 'Tarmachan Ridge' that is generally affixed to the peaks to the west of the Lochan na Lairige pass. The entire length of the Tarmachans is short, in fact only some 3km separates the first and last peaks. The traverse of these peaks, either in summer or winter, offers a fine expidition that will not disappoint the visitor.
The other peaks that make up the Tarmachans are;
Meall Garbh (Rough Hill) @ 1026m
Beinn nan Eachan (Hill of the Little Horse) @ 1000m
Creag na Caillich (Old Woman's Rock) @ 916m
Meall nan Tarmachan is the only Munro of the Tarmachans and is number 89 in this list of heights. Meall nan Tarmachan SE top and the other three peaks are classed as Munro Tops. From the town of Killin, some 5km to the south, the Tarmachans dominate the outline of the northern sky.
The best starting point for doing Meall nan Tarmachan or for doing a traverse of the Tarmachans is at the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) visitor centre on the Lochan na Lairige road. This starting point has the added bonus of an elevated starting point of 400m. There is usually plenty of parking space available at the visitor centre, but it would be wise to be there early as the Lawers range is a popular destination.
Approx time taken;
Meall nan Tarmachan - 2/4 hours.
Tarmachan traverse - 4/6 hours.
Meall nan Tarmachan(Photo by: Boydie).
BAA Glasgow Airport
Glasgow Prestwick Airport
BAA Edinburgh Airport
The map below details direction from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness to the NTS visitor centre in Ben Lawers.
View Larger Map
Train & Bus
The nearest train stations for the area are in Pitlochry or Crianlarich. A bus or taxi will be required to complete to your required destination. The buses within the area are infrequent and generally don’t operate on Sundays.
Buses run regularly from all major cities to Aberfeldy and Killin, however more than one bus maybe required to complete the journey.
Train and Bus links are below.
Train timetable information
Scottish City Link
There is no red tape in Scotland due to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 which incorporated the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This code, which commenced on the 9th of February 2005, has established statutory rights of access to land and inland water for outdoor recreation.
The Land Reform(Scotland) Act 2003
Scottish Outdoor Access Code
The following aspects should be taken into consideration when you are in the Scottish countryside;
- Seek local advice in regard to deer stalking or grouse shooting activities
- Ensure that all gates are closed behind you
- During the lambing season (March to May) ensure that all dogs are kept on a lead
- Please refrain from feeding or annoying any animals
- Limited parking space is available at the start of many routes, please ensure that you are not blocking a road and/or entrance
- Parking is provided at the start of some routes by the local farmers, it is polite to ask if you can use this facility
- Try to refrain from crossing fields with animals and/or crops if an alternative route is available
- Ensure that you treat the local environment with care by leaving it as you found it and by taking any litter home with you
- Any camp fires should be carefully watched and only used away from dense forest areas
The Tarmachan ridge.(Photo by: Bruach)
The best place to base yourself for climbing in the Ben Lawers region is in the picturesque town of Killin. Further accommodation can also be found near the town Aberfeldy.
Snow covered road @ the NTS visitor centre.(Photo by: Munroitis)
Tarmachan's summit cairn.(Photo by: Boydie)
Aberfeldy Weem Hotel
The Coach House Hotel
Craigbuie Guest House
Ben Lawers Bunkhouse
Lodges & Campsites
Killin Highland Lodges
Loch Tay Highland Lodges
Cruachan Farm Caravan & Camping Park
Aberfeldy Caravan Park
Wild camping is totally legal in Scotland and can be done in various locations close to Meall nan Tarmachan. This is due to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 that was mentioned earlier.
Here are some of the basic rules that should be adopted when wild camping;
- The larger the group, the harder it is to keep impacts to a minimum. Keep groups small.
- Camp as unobtrusively as possible.
- Remember that noise travels from tents disturbing wildlife as well as humans.
- Enjoy the freedom of wild camping without leaving a trace of your passage. Protect our country's outstanding scenery and wildlife as well as the wilderness experience.
- Camping on the same spot harms vegetation. Aim to move frequently and do not stay for any longer than 3 nights in the same place.
- Lighting fires poses a high fire risk on peaty soils and close to tinder dry grass. A high risk of fire can exist at any time of year, and not just in times of drought.
- Watercourses and loch sides are important sites for birds and animals. Take extra care when camping near burns and lochs, and try to avoid camping immediately beside them.
- Always find a spot at least 30 metres from fresh/running water when going to the toilet.
- Bury excrement in a small hole (not under boulders). A trowel or ice axe can be used to lift a flap of turf.
- Remove all litter (even other peoples!) Think ahead and only carry in what you are prepared to carry out.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland provides an invaluable leaflet providing a full breakdown of the dos and don'ts of wild camping in Scotland. Wild Camping, A guide to good practice
Maps & Books
OS Explorer map 378
Landranger map 51
Harvey Superwalker map-Ben Lawers
The Southern Highlands
by Donald Bennet
The Munros (SMC Hillwalkers guide)
edited by Donald Bennet & Rab Anderson
Ski Mountaineering in Scotland
by Donald Bennet & Bill Wallace
Scottish Hill and Mountain Names
by Peter Drummond
by Cameron McNeish
Tarmachan from Meall Corranaich.(Photo by: Boydie)
Northern viewpoint of Tarmachan.(Photo by: Boydie)
Meall nan Tarmachan is accessible all year round however, as you can see from some of the pictures, conditions during the winter can impede making it to the recommended starting point, so you may have to start from lower down on the road. As usual in Scotland, you can get four seasons in the one day, so be prepared for all weather eventualities and please, take care.
On the Tarmachan ridge.(Photo by: Bruach)
Walk the Highlands
The Scottish Mountaineering Club