Next time you drive east through Killin let your eyes drift upwards from the main street to the knobbly ridge above and beyond. This is the Tarmachan ridge: a combination of one of the easiest single Munros you'll find anywhere, plus a ridge of considerable character for those in search of a more ambitious day out.
The starting point for most climbs of Meall nan Tarmachan lies at a height of about 460m at the point an old quarry track turns west off the narrow single track road north from Loch Tay to Glen Lyon. Note that this road is not cleared of snow in winter, which must be a little rough if you live at the western end of Glen Lyon: but after you've driven it once or twice you'd probably avoid it in icy conditions anyway.
There are parking spaces available at the start of the quarry track (which is blocked by a gate a hundred metres or so from the junction). A fine alternative is to park in the car park provided by the National Trust for Scotland for the Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve, though as the starting point for the trade route up Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers, this can get busy. This lies a few hundred metres south of the junction with the quarry track, and a few metres lower than it: and on the opposite side of the road to the old car park that has now bee returned to nature.
Either way, you don't stay on the track very far beyond the gate. A right turn takes you up a fairly obvious path up the side of the south ridge of Meall nan Tarmachan. This has been the subject of extensive remedial work in recent times, so while parts of the path are still pretty mushy after rain, most of it is fairly good. Once you gain the south ridge the path becomes a joy to walk upon: good underfoot and set at a comfortable gradient that allows you to see the views opening up in all directions (except north) as you rapidly gain height towards Meall nan Tarmachan's South East Top.
Beyond the South East Top the path dips for a short distance before climbing more steeply as the true summit is approached. The path takes a sneaky route up that bypasses any direct confrontation with the steepest parts of the summit facing you. Instead it leads round to the right of the direct route, and ends up approaching the summit from its eastern side. You may just about be able to see a line of specks ascending the snowfield below the summit in the photo (above right). This is NOT the normal route, which more closely follows the bottom edge of the snowline in the photo.
The view from the top is extensive. To the east the view is constrained beyond Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers: though they themselves more than make up for it. North lies the Glen Lyon Horseshoe, while to the west the views are more distant and extensive, to Ben More and beyond. Possibly the most striking feature of the view is the ridge on whose highest point you now stand, stretching away to your west in a confusing and difficult to discern series of features. This is the moment for your big decision. If you head back down the way you came up you're no more than an hour's easy yomp from your car.
The alternative is to take on the "lesser" summits of Meall Garbh, Beinn nan Eachan and Creag na Caillich, a series of rocky summits and connecting ridges, that eventually leads you back to the far end of the quarry track and your route home.
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Meall nan Tarmachan is 3,427ft or 1,044m high. The route to the summit described here involves around 600m of climbing and is rather under 4km in length.
Grid Ref: NN 585 390