ONE book I had suggested for my Christmas stocking was the just published Caleb’s List by Kellan MacInnes, in which the author intertwines his personal struggle with HIV with the life story of Caleb George Cash, a Victorian mountaineer.
Cash’s long-forgotten list of 20 mountains visible to the north from Arthur’s Seat was published in The Cairngorm Club Journal of 1899. As the Cashs or Calebs didn’t sound right, the author has called those hills the Arthurs.
I realised I had climbed them all bar one, 690m/2264ft Meall Dearg which lies five miles south of Aberfeldy and overlooks Glen Cochill. Hey ho, another target and another Graham, Scottish hills with a height of between 2,000ft and 2499ft and with a drop of at least 150m on all sides.
Starting from the car park at the south end of Loch na Craige on the first Sunday in January, Rhona and I had in mind an approach to the hill from the north-west, blissfully unaware of the 14 turbine Calliachar Wind Farm currently being constructed beyond Loch Hoil. (The Griffin Wind Farm on the east side of Glen Cochill was completed in 2012). The forestry track, now a broad expanded way, is temporarily closed during the construction period. Completion is expected by the spring. From Loch Hoil, it was to have been south by track to the high ground north-west of Loch Fender, then over Creag an Loch.
Not to be deterred, we had a quick change of plan.
From the car park, map ref 887452, walk a short distance south to join part of General Wade’s Military Road; accessed by a stile at the bend of the A826, map ref 887445, or by crossing a fence further south, map ref 890444, by a side stream. We chose the latter, with a gap in the trees leading to a lovely cleared strip. Both routes lead to map ref 888441 where there are some small ruins.
Built by Hanoverian soldiers in the 1730s, much of the Crieff to Aberfeldy section can still be walked. However, in upper Glen Cochill, passing through the forestry plantation, most of the road, if not its line, has been lost. The way gradually opens and leads by the side of a wide fire break. Around the Cochill Burn (there is now no bridge) the tussocky ground can be extremely boggy, at least on our day.
Later walk over an easily missed small bridge and so to another stile on the left hand side of the perimeter fence to leave the plantation.
Continue a short distance on the by now obvious road to meet a new track which cuts uphill, easing the effort to reach the corner of the plantation, map ref 888426. Leave the track and head to Meall Dearg and its prominent trig point.
As an extension to the walk, we continued south-west by Loch Fender to Creag an Loch. Noting that the hill has a spot-height of 663m we wondered if there might once have been a trig point there. We found no trig point base, but I did discover a penny coin well-hidden in the depths of the cairn. Dated 1919 and in much poorer condition than another 1919 coin I have at home, I can only speculate as to why and when it had been secreted there. It must have been a long time ago, possibly over 90 years, and the date may be significant.
Once back at the military road, you may prefer to return by the A826.
MAP REFS FOR GRAPHICS
Car park 887452
leave A826 890444
small ruins 888441
leave plantation 894434
plantation corner 888426
Meall Dearg 886414