Meall Glas – an excellent spring summit

Walk on the wild side

Bounded by Glen Lochay to the north and Glen Dochart to the south, Meall Glas lies amid an area of rolling hills, mostly above 700m. At 959m/3,146ft, it is thus a good platform from which to view higher northern hills – Meall Ghaordaidh and Beinn Heasgarnich, and the even higher Ben More and Stob Binnein to the south.

To the east is Sgiath Chil, the neighbouring Munro. Both hills are commonly climbed as a pair, and sometimes also including Beinn nan Imirean, a Corbett that lies to the south-west, and the three hills together give a pleasant circular route from the south. Nevertheless, a separate exploration of each hill is worthwhile.

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Overlooking upper Glen Lochay, the one-mile banana-shaped summit ridge of Meall Glas, seldom dropping below 900m, stretches from the Munro in the south-west to the one subsidiary top, Beinn Cheathaich, at the north-east end. The south-east facing slopes are interspersed with crags, to be treated with caution.

Meall Glas was at one time known as Meall Glas Mhor (and part of the crags are still mapped as Meall Glas Bheag) yet early maps made no mention of the name. Beinn Cheathaich was originally listed as the Munro. At 937m, and a mile distant, the 22m height difference is not readily apparent, and one can understand the inaccuracies in those early mapping days. However, to this day the siting of the trig point on the top, echoing the situation on Gulvain, gives it a feeling of greater importance than the actual highest point. The complete summit walk should be undertaken in any case.

Meall Glas is one of the very few hills I have set out to climb, yet returned without reaching the summit. On a winter day in 1984 our progress was slowed on encountering soft snow and thick mist and in worsening blizzard conditions we retreated, later relieved to stumble back to the road, all traces of our earlier footsteps having vanished.

Years ago I described a walk to Meall Glas from Glen Lochay. Far from Glen Dochart and the busy A85, this approach gives a feeling of escape and on a poor day it is easier to navigate, with a track helping on most of the ascent. However, on a recent outing the Mountain Lamb and Dick were keen to climb Beinn nan Imirean, thus dictating an approach from Glen Dochart. Having finished a round of Munros, Dick is keen to look at the Corbetts. The Mountain Lamb is nearing the end of his round, but his outstanding hills are further afield and inevitably include some on Skye. So we set off together, then went our different ways.

You will need Ordnance Survey map 51, Loch Tay & Glen Dochart.

Meall Glas, not too high and not too far from the A85, makes an excellent hill for spring. While Auchessan in Glen Dochart is the most commonly used starting point, on a poor day in mist this approach – over uneven terrain and winding streams – may prove surprisingly challenging, so wait for a good day. The nearest parking spot is half a mile to the east, at a bend in the A85, though the roadside verge near the start of the private road to Auchessan seems to be used more and more. Do not park on the private road.

Follow that road, over the line of the dismantled railway and cross the River Dochart to reach Auchessan. Use the track that starts from the east side of the farm. Climb steadily north, at first with vague tracks that assist, keeping east of Creag nan Uan.

Gradually curve north-west to reach the Allt Glas, by now in that surprisingly difficult terrain. This could be a sensible turning point. Head north-west to the upper reaches of the Allt Glas to avoid the crags of Meall Glas Bheag, and from near the bealach between Beinn nan Imirean and Meall Glas climb NNE on a grassy rake to reach the summit ridge. Climb north-west on the pleasing final cone.

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Continue to Beinn Cheathaich, with a well-worn path that keeps mainly on the north side, avoiding some of the undulations. On return on a good day the crags of Meall Glas Bheag can be breached at several points, but it is safer to return to the grassy rake and the route of ascent.


Map Ordnance Survey map 51, Loch Tay & Glen Dochart

Distance 8 miles

Height 900m

Terrain Farm tracks, then rougher terrain leading to summit plateau

Start point Private road to Auchessan from the A85 at map ref 447276

Time 5 to 6 hours

Nearest villages Crianlarich and Killin

Nearest refreshment spot Ben More Lodge Restaurant, Crianlarich