Carn Liath, Stob Poite Coire Ardair and Creag Meagaidh

Loch Laggan - by Andy Speight

Start Point: Nature Reserve Car Park, Aberarder
Grid Reference: OS Sheet 34, GR483873
Time: 7 - 9 hours
View Location: Scalable multimap
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Creag Meagaidh was on the 'Must Do' list for 2002, but was left until September because it is on National Heritage land and assumed to be free from stalking restrictions. However later on in the month my friend came across two men roaming the hills rifles in hand...

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Early morning cloud lifted to give views from each summit, but was never very far above us. I'll have to go back because there are a couple of memorable views that I want to see in sunshine. First of all the cliffs of Coire Ardair rising above Lochan a' Choire are slowly revealed as you climb Carn Liath. Also what little I could see below the cloud hinted that the panorama looking West from the top of Creag Meagaidh could be amazing.

I've only recently started climbing Munros but sitting on top of a Munro in sunshine identifying those I have already climbed provides great satisfaction.

Creag Meagaidh can be climbed on its own, there's a route described elsewhere on this site. However for very little extra effort we climbed Carn Liath and Stob Poite Coire Ardair first.

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  • Start at the car park (space for a couple of dozen cars) off the A86 at Aberarder.

  • Head NW from the car following the graded road towards the farm / visitor centre (GR479875).

  • Skirt to the right of the buildings and pick up the track that leads all the way to Lochan a' Choire.
  • As you pass into the plantation shown on the map keep your eyes peeled for a small cairn and fence post on the right hand side of the path (GR472883).
  • Leave the main path at this point and head NE following a narrow path following an intermittent line of fence posts up the side of Na Cnapanan. The path is overgrown in places and you'll find yourself having to squeeze between bushes (a machete would have been useful).

  • You'll eventually emerge onto open hillside. Carry on following the path up to the ridge just North of Na Cnapanan. From there follow the path up the ridge NNW, swinging NE to the summit cairn of Carn Liath (1006m, GR 472904).

  • Stob Poite Coire Ardair is some 4km SSW. Descend SW from the summit of Carn Liath then follow the gently undulating ridge W then SW over several tops. Around halfway along the ridge you'll pick up a line of fence posts.

  • Stob Poite Coire Ardair (1053m, GR429888) is one of the newer Munros and is featureless. It has two small cairns and according to the GPS the true summit was the westerly of the two (away from the fence posts) but could easily be hidden by a snowfall.

  • Descend 100m SW to the bealach between Stob Poite Coire Ardair and Creag Meagaidh (GR425886). This is commonly known as 'The Window'.

  • From 'The Window' head S up a steep 100m ascent on a well worn path. The path levels off and swings west and then gently rises another 50m passing a sprawling old cairn before reaching the summit of Creag Meagaidh (1130m, GR418876).

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  • To descend retrace your steps to 'The Window' then head ESE over the boulders and scree down to Lochan a' Choire. It is a steep 350m descent, initially the boulders seem to be the best route but as you descend a path to the left of the boulders becomes more prominent. While descending you'll get a close up view of the impressive cliffs of Coire Ardair.
  • From Lochan a' Choire (GR435884) an excellent path with walkways made from railway sleepers taking you over boggy ground will lead you back to the starting point.
  • There's one obstacle on the walk out to dampen the spirits and test tired legs. At one point the path rises well above the river in the valley below.

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  • There are alternative descents. We chose a low level route because of the strong wind. A high level return route is possible over Puist Coire Ardair and Sron a' Ghoire. With two cars the shortest descent is along the SW ridge before swinging S following the Moy burn to a lay-by on the A86 at Moy.

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