Stuchd an Lochain and Meall Buidhe: Munros From Giorra Dam
This hike doesn’t win the award for the most exciting in the area but, like so many mountains in Scotland, the view from both summits make it worth the slog. It’s a long drive along some isolated and winding roads so I would definitely recommend doing the two peaks in the same hike.
They are often documented as being two separate hikes but their close proximity and high starting altitude make bagging both in the one day very straightforward. I found the starting point at Giorra Dam to be very similar surroundings to those at the Loch Mullardoch Munros. There were plenty of deer and highland cows happily mixing and sharing the same terrain. It always amazes me how tame some of the deer can be in places like this.
Meall Buidhe is a pathless slog for the most part until you get to the ridge which again offers great views all around. The ridge isn’t as epic as its neighbour but is still enjoyable on a clear and calm day. We tackled it in almost hurricane conditions (which I wouldn’t recommend) so the majority of the walk was a battle against the elements.
- Munros Climbed
- Getting There
- Duration & Length
- Where To Stay
- The Hike
- Alternative Routes
- Nearby Munros
- To Conclude
an Lochain– 960 metres (3150 ft) – pronounced STOOKT-AN-LOCHAN
- Meall Buidhe – 932 metres (3058 ft) – pronounced MYALL-BOOYE
For more information on Scotland’s mountains and their different classifications, check this out.
The hike starts at the Giorra Dam and it entails lots of long and winding roads through Glen Lyon. When you get off the main roads and onto the single track road it feels like it goes on forever!
If you’re coming from the south then there are a couple of ways you can get to the starting point. The route we took (from Glasgow) is probably the quickest. Follow the M80 motorway up to Stirling before turning off onto the A84 to Callander. Head straight through Callander and follow the road up to Killin. Note that the road changes from the A84 to the A85 to the A827. Around 4 miles past Killin, at Milton Morenish, you take a left onto a single track road. 9 miles later you reach Bridge of Balgie where you take a left and a further 5 miles is the Giorra Dam.
The alternative route that may be slightly quicker (but by hardly anything) from the west side of Glasgow is to take the A82 up to Killin and then follow the same directions as above.
Coming from the north you follow the A9 and take a right at Dalnacardoch Lodge (a few miles past Blair Atholl), follow the road through Kinloch Rannoch and eventually to Bridge of Balgie and the Giorra Dam shortly after.
The starting point is on the map below.
This is definitely one of Scotland’s Munro hikes suitable for beginner hikers and even kids. While there are some pathless sections on Meall Buidhe, the hike up to the ridge is not too taxing. What helps for both peaks is that fact that the car park is situated at 400 metres so you’re already almost halfway to the top before even getting out your vehicle!
The slog up Meall Buidhe is probably the toughest part of both mountains
The beauty of a route like this is that if the weather is poor or you’re not feeling you can manage both, you have to pass the car park en route to the second so it’s easy to throw in the towel earlier than planned.
Duration & Length
Duration: 5.5 – 9 hours
Length: 10.8 miles (17.4 km)
My route according to the Viewranger App
The time and distance can both be approximately cut in half if you decide to do just one of the Munros.
There’s not really anything very cheap in the nearby area. Your best bet would be the Crianlarich Youth Hostel but this is still a good hour drive from the hike’s starting point.
- The Bridge of Lochay Hotel, Killin – 17 miles from starting point.
- The Courie Inn, Killin – 18 miles from starting point.
- Killin Hotel, Killin – 18 miles from starting point.
There are actually a few camping sites in and around the Killin area. You can check those out here.
Like I mentioned before, the car park and hike starting point reminded me very much of the dam at the start of the Loch Mullardoch Munros. The surroundings are vast and there was plenty of deer grazing in the fields. There were also a lot of highland cows licking on their salt and mineral molasses.
They let me get surprisingly close for a photo!
Briefly follow the road towards the dam where it starts to climb up to the point you can walk across the dam. The forestry track continues briefly afterwards before there’s a small cairn showing you where the path up the hill begins. The path up Stuchd an Lochain is clearly defined for the most part and quite easy to follow.
The dam was created for the Breadalbane Hydroelectric Power Scheme in the 60s
We went the day after some really heavy downpours so the path kind of merged with a shallow river in some sections but it wasn’t impassable at any point. The path climbs steeply up to the ridge of Creag an Fheadain and you’re rewarded with increasingly impressive views back towards the dam and over the Loch an Daimh reservoir.
Cairn guiding you up towards the ridge
The views get better as you climb up the initially steep slopes
Once you get up to the ridge and pass the two small cairns on Creag an Fheadain the ascent becomes much more gradual. Follow the ridge over a couple of smaller tops all the while enjoying the stunning views of the Coire an Lochain cliffs which hang over the pretty Lochan nan Cat.
The effect of the sun coming through the clouds was spectacular
The ridge turns into a plateau which is easy going with the final climb being a short but steep stretch up to the summit. When we did this there were almost hurricane force winds which made it slightly more difficult!
The ridge itself is steady and quite an easy walk
We didn’t hang around for long on the summit because of the winds but the views don’t disappoint. To the south, you’ve got the Ben Lawers hills while over Loch an Daimh to the north is the extensive Rannoch Moor. On a clear day you’ll even be able to see as far as Ben Nevis.
I could barely keep my eyes open because of the wind!
The way back is as simple as retracing your steps! I’m never a huge fan of this and always prefer some kind of horseshoe or loop but it’s not really possible due to this hill’s location.
Once you’re back at the car park you’ve got two options:
- Finish for the day.
- Tackle Meall Buidhe.
This, of course, works as well if you decided to climb Meall Buidhe first – it makes no difference.
For us, it was a no-brainer to bag the second one while we were there. The weather was decent and the hike up Meall Buidhe is actually even shorter than going up Stuchd an Lochain.
This will possibly be the shortest description on my site so far but there’s really not much to talk about for this one. It’s not one I’ll be racing back to do and we were glad to get it over with.
From the car park, there’s a forestry track heading north which you follow for less than half a mile before a cairn leads you on to a very faint path.
Follow the slopes directly north towards Meall a’ Phuill. When we did it there was a very faint path which seemed to disappear and reappear at times so I wouldn’t rely too heavily on it.
The path is initially like this but it doesn’t last long
Once you’re up on the ridge it’s a short walk around to the summit cairn. The views are equally as impressive as those from Stuchd an Lochain.
As before, it’s a case of retracing your steps back to the carpark! You have to be more careful on this one, I jarred my knee a couple of times in some of the boggier patches.
This route is by far the best and most convenient for both these Munros. You could potentially tackle Meall Buidhe from the north by coming over Garbh Mheall but this would be an incredibly long walk.
We were going to do Meall Ghaordaidh on the way back but we ran out of daylight hours. This would be an option on a
The closest hills after this will be the Ben Lawers range to the southeast where you have plenty to choose from!
As always, thanks a lot for reading and if you’ve got any questions or something to add then please leave your thoughts in the comments box below. 🙂