Carn Dearg - Monadhliath and friends

With the long dry spell this summer a visit to the remaining Monadhliath munro was one of those I really ought to get on with. Claire and Richard were up talking to suppliers and such for their house in Nethy Bridge. They also wanted a walk. After some discussion we hatched a plan to bag Carn Dearg and possibly the other 2 munros.


Arriving at the car park at the end of Glen Road around 8:30am I set about having some breakfast. I'd just finished eating when Claire and Richard turned up, early. Nice one! There were few midges or clegs about but we all Smidge'd up in preparation for an attack at some point in the day. Blue sky, and warming up fast I opted to carry 1.5litres of water instead of the usual 1l. Less photography gear helped keep weight reasonable. We were soon off along the estate track and turning right into a side glen. Apparently we passed an old township marked on the OS 25k map, but saw no sign on the ground. However, looking on aerial photography reveals the outlines of some buildings long gone. After a couple of miles following the Allt Fionndrigh we crossed the burn and headed up through a gorge into Glean Ballach. Richard rather liked the idea of bagging the Corbett Top of Carn Macoul. Possibly because he thought it was a Corbett in itself. So we crossed Allt Balloch and what ordinarily would have been very boggy ground and climbed to it's small pile of stones at the rounded summit.

Richard striding off to Carn Macoul
Richard striding off to Carn Macoul

Claire and Richard at Carn Dearg
Claire and Richard at Carn Dearg

It was obvious to me I was 'cooking on gas'. Plenty of energy, my asthma hadn't kicked off, and I was moving well. Excellent! Game on. Carn Dearg was bagged soon after a down to the coll, a climb over a minor top, another descent and climb up this time to the summit.

Carn Dearg's summit sits on the edge of cliffs dropping into the amazingly boggy and peat hag strewn Gleann Ballach. We toasted the fortunes of a long dry spell that has rendered most of it dry as a sun bleached bone.

Moving on we now had a long 4.5mile walk over multiple minor tops with varying drops between them to get to the 2nd munro of the day Carn Sgulain. Usual guides say follow the fence line as it follows the natural watershed. It also happens to be the edge of the national park. But Richard wanted to short-cut many of the twists and turns of the fence. Later muttering something about having spent his previous career not walking on the exposed ridgeline for fear of getting shot at, it was quite normal. The distance dragged on. Carn Sgulain, when we could see it, slowly got closer.

Loch Laggan from Carn Dearg
Loch Laggan from Carn Dearg

Carn Sgulain and A'Chaileach in the distance
Carn Sgulain and A'Chaileach in the distance

Carn Sgulain is off on a slight dog leg off the sweeping ridge of tops we were loosely following. It's also an unremarkable, anonymous, bump. Thankfully, unlike my first time visiting it, it was very dry and every patch of mud cracked and crazed. It has two cairn, we visited both just to be sure. From it's summit we could see A'Chaileach across yet another col. This one includes a steep re-entrant cut by the Allt Cuil na Chaillich. We took another Richard line, to cross at a suitable spot. I steered him a little and we dropped to the river in just the right spot. Another slog and we approached the 3rd munro. A'Chailleach is another typical Monadhliath bump of grass, moss and well rounded. We were all glad it was mostly down now. I was tired and I'm sure I looked knackered.

Claire and I at a' Chailleach
Claire and I at a' Chailleach

The way back from a' Chailleach
The way back from a' Chailleach

We took the obvious path from A'Chailleach heading south'ish. It's not marked on the OS map, only OpenStreeMap. I suspect the OS path no longer exists. We made quick progress, soon seeing and then passing the dilapidated hut. Crossing the Allt a' Chaorainn was easy, a few big rocks acted as stepping stone. Then a steady yomp along the track back to the vehicles. Such a cracking day. I well and truly put the demons of the previous walk to Seana Bhraigh firmly to bed.

Tags: munro, outdoor, scotland Written 06/07/18 

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