Meall Buidhe is an unusual Munro (a Munro is a separate Scottish mountain of over 3,000ft). What makes it unusual is its combination of relatively easy climb with a challenging drive to get to the start of it.
Meall Buidhe is possibly best seen from the north, from the remote road that leads past Loch Rannoch to Rannoch Station. But it is usually accessed from the south.
Glen Lyon is a beautiful glen largely by-passed by 20th Century road builders. Reaching it involves the long single track road approaching from the east near Aberfeldy; or the more demanding single track road that climbs over the Ben Lawers range from near Killin.
And once in Glen Lyon you still need to make your way well west of any significant habitation and take the even more minor road that leads two miles north-west from the glen to the dam at the head of Loch an Daimh. Here you'll find a number of places where you can safely leave your car off the road.
This is the point at which the difficult drive becomes the (relatively) easy walk. The water level of the Loch is at about 430m above sea level. With the summit at 931m, you've only 500m to gain, so you're almost half way there before you start.
The path commences at the northern end of the dam and progresses due north, steeply at first, up the hillside above. Higher up the gradient eases, but in the fashion of less popular Scottish hills, the path becomes indistinct in places, and there is more than one route visible (if at times barely so) on the ground.
As the main ridge curving round from the summit (invisible beyond the shoulder of the summit ridge facing you) approaches, there are again choices to be made as the path(s) wend their way between, and sometimes through the very peaty ground that, though wonderfully springy underfoot when we were there, could be less enjoyable after a wet spell.
A final pull up the shoulder of the summit ridge and something of a surprise confronts you; a slightly undulating plateau gently curving round to the obvious summit of Meall Buidhe, 1.5km further north again.
On a clear day the views from the summit are superb. Well, a glance at the map tells us they must be, ranging from Glen Coe and Rannoch Moor to the west round to the Glen Lyon Horseshoe and Schiehallion to the east. We picked a day when the haze allowed easy navigation over what could be a confusing landscape: but did not extend to decent views.
Come to think of it, this is probably not a good place to get lost: if you descended north rather than south you could easily end up the better part of a hundred miles by road from your car. And if you tried to descend west into Rannoch Forest life could be still more difficult.
No, although this is a simply climb in terms of effort expended, height gained, and ground covered, the vagueness of the paths on the ground and the proximity to some pretty wild country make this a climb to be treated seriously. If you find yourself here without a map and compass when the cloud comes in then you could be in for a tricky hour or two, or more.
The summit itself carries a cairn that can be seen from the other end of the main ridge. And the cairn is in turn marked with a memorial to Bobby Stirling and Willie Young, who look from the dates to have been excellent adverts for the health-giving properties of hill walking, both being in their eighties when they died.
Since we first published the photo of this cairn, Bill Young has been in touch to say that Willie Young was his uncle. He and Bobby Stirling came from Paisley. They were founder members of the Glennifer Hillwalking club and made many climbs well beyond an age when most would have settled for their slippers and a comfy chair. Willie Young's ashes were scattered near the cairn by his friends. It brings to mind another great man of the hills, Alfred Wainwright. The closing words of his 1966 book Fellwanderer were about his intention (later realised) to have his ashes scattered on the summit of Haystacks in the Lake District: "And if you, dear reader, should get a bit of grit in your boot as you are crossing Haystacks in the years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me."
Visitor InformationView Location on Map
Meall Buidhe is 3,054ft or 931m high.
Grid Ref: NN 498 499
The route described here is about 8km or just under 5 miles in length, and involves some 520m of ascent.