Let's call a spade a spade: no one is going to claim that these two Munros are the most exciting. Whoever said there are no dull hills was stretching things a bit. But get past the boggy lower slopes and these big grassy lumps have a certain something. It's the attraction of wide spaces, enlivened with open views to the more distinctive skylines of neighbouring ranges. This unassuming and soggy hinterland offers a comparatively strenuous leg-stretch, with less in the way of decent paths than you might expect from 3000-foot peaks in the popular southern highlands.
metres / Distance
NN4481527580 Take the private road towards Auchessan, crossing the broad River Dochart on a bridge, then passing three houses; signs indicate the footpath through the farm. The path follows the Allt Essan upstream. Pass a small hydro development, but instead of crossing the burn here stay on the east bank, ascending beside the burn for another 1km, where the ground is often wet and muddy. Just below a prominent waterslide, peel right away from the burn, mirroring a fence line enclosing young growth native woodland for about 800m. Traces of path fade in and out and the terrain is tough.
NN4499629917 From the upper corner of the fence cut east to join the Allt Riobhain. Follow its west bank upstream for 1km, at one point crossing a wooden bridge over a side stream, to reach a concrete dam and water intake. Cross the main burn here, then cross the dam access track, before striking ENE up the heathery lower slopes of Sgiath Chuil. There is no path to speak of, but the general gist is obvious. Aim for the saddle left of Sgiath Chrom, a prominent little crag and peak at the southern end of Sgiath Chuil. On the upper slopes the ground becomes much easier underfoot, and a trail takes shape, ascending just right of Sgiath Chuil's summit crag to reach the cairn on top.
NN4629031795 A major drop and 300 metre re-ascent separate Sgiath Chuil from Meall Glas, with challenging pathless terrain to add to the fun. First head north along the broad, grassy ridge. At a shallow col before the north top of the hill, cut left, descending west down steep grass and scree into the boggy Lairig a' Churain.
NN4547632513 Climb west-northwest – more bogs, heather and general roughness - picking up and losing threads of path at random. Skirt below the steep eastern flank of Beinn Cheathaich to gain gentler grassy ground on its north spur, then follow this to the summit of this Munro Top, as marked by a trig point.
NN4440432660 First descend southwest. A clear path now contours the slope just north of another minor top, then follows an undulating ridge above the boggy depression of Meall Glas' southern corrie before climbing easily onto the domed summit.
NN4310532185 Descend southeast at first to bypass steep craggy ground on the southern flank of Meall Glas. Pass over a broad easy-angled shoulder, then go south, threading through a band of crags. The ground soon rolls out into the boggy lower slopes. Pick up a path along a prominent heathery ridge and across the Allt Glas. The trail soon peters into bogs, so just plough on south-southeast to meet another burn. An intermittent trail leads downstream to reach a point where a new hydro track joins the burn. The choice now is either this track (steep and stony) or the path on the east bank of the burn (wet and muddy). Both options lead back to Auchessan.
I’ve seen the dull hills quote attributed to Hamish Brown, though never sourced so that may be apocryphal.
thanks for this Dan - personally I think these two hills are needing a bit of promotion, they often seem to be perceived as a boggy miserable day out to save for a November dreich day. I think the opposite is true after a dry spell on a quiet mild weekday (when you’ll likely have them to yourself) - and there are few popular and easy to reach from the central belt munros that give such a feeling of space (or as you have pointed out, relative pathlessness).
I enjoy this pair, though a dry spell or hard frost does indeed improve the experience! There is a drier option from the Glen Lochay side, apart from fording the river at Lubchurran, but that's normally pretty shallow. I also like doing Sgiath Chuil and its eastern tops from Auchlyne (top trivia: with 106m of re-ascent, the 883m top is the most prominent unnamed summit in the UK).