Another Perthshire Outing: Coire nan Cat Circuit

With the usual uncertain Autumn weather in Scotland, it’s pretty difficult to refuse any good-weather opportunities in the hills. Thankfully the planets aligned and allowed Sarah and I one last hill day before some really rotten weather arrived. Sarah’s fond of Perthshire, so we returned to an area we visited earlier in the year and bagged another 3 Munros during a circuit of Coire nan Cat.

[Oct ’21]

A hill day in Perthshire normally means a picturesque drive through the Trossachs, but the time of year meant that this was done mostly in the dark, so we just assumed the view was nice! It had been a few weeks since I’d last been anywhere exciting, so I was already getting antsy with the lack of general outdoor activity since my Deeside Trail trip.

After a quick splash and dash in Killin, we were soon parked up at the Ben Lawers hotel and ready to start another day of Munro-bagging. Parking was limited and the hotel (along with a field next door) charge £5 for the privilege, but it’s worth paying when it’s the only viable option without really annoying folk!

We set off just after 0800 and headed along the A827 for a short distance, before turning off and heading up a track alongside the Lawers Burn.

Heading for the hills

We soon emerged out of the woodland and were presented with the first of the day’s objectives – Meall Greigh. There wasn’t much to write home about on the ascent of this fairly featureless mountain, but the views behind us down to Loch Tay were lovely and worth the odd rest and photo break every now and then.

Out on open hillside
Looking back on Loch Tay

The gradient was fairly steady and we eventually found ourselves at the summit of Meall Greigh at 1001m. The views across to a frost-covered Ben Lawers were superb and we enjoyed a well-earned few minutes soaking in the view before heading off towards our second target of the day.

Views from Meall Greigh

There wasn’t a great deal of down-and-up between the first and second Munros of the day, so we made good steady progress to the lowest point in the Lairig Innein and began the steady (and slightly steeper) pull towards Meall Garbh.

A dusting of frost on Ben Lawers

The views were superb and the conditions were just about perfect for a hill walk, so we made excellent progress and reached the second summit of the day in what seemed like no time at all. An Stuc and Ben Lawers ahead of us looked superb!

An Stuc and Ben Lawers

With one final down-and-up to go (and the up involving a tricky-ish scramble according to Walkhighlands), we pressed on down to the bottom of An Stuc’s steep NW face.

Lochan nan Cat

The short section of scrambling was far less difficult than we’d been expecting and we made quick work of the re-ascent. As had been the trend all day, the views were absolutely brilliant. Given its location, the Perthshire hills give a great panoramic view across much of the Southern, Western and Central Highlands and as far as the Cairngorms on a clear day like today. We were pleased to have another 3 Munros in the bag, but sad that our day in the hills was coming to an end. Although the forecast had promised some clouds and rain by mid-afternoon, so it was time to get a wiggle on and beat the bad weather.

Ben Lawers from An Stuc

The descent from An Stuc down to Lochan nan Cat was very steep in places and required a wee bit of care not to end up slipping in the boggy and feint path. We took our time and were soon down at the side of the lochan, where another feint and very wet path skirted around the lochan and eventually met a good track that comes up from the A827 to reach a small hydro works. After following this for a short distance, we turned off to follow a narrower path that crossed the Lawers Burn and joined on to our ascent route where we turned off for Meall Greigh a few hours before.

Descending to the lochan
Looking back on An Stuc
Another excellent hill day!

Content with another 3 Munros and the fact that we’d missed the weather, we headed back down through the woods and along the road to the hotel to complete our walk. The day’s effort amounted to 12 miles and 1340m ascent, which we managed in just over 6.5 hours. After a quick change we were soon on our way and just as we got back in the car in Killin following a toilet stop, the heavens opened. We couldn’t have timed our day any better!

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