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Rescued from Carn nan Clag

Rescued from Carn nan Clag


Postby Alteknacker » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:09 pm

Route description: Beinn a' Ghlò

Munros included on this walk: Bràigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, Càrn Liath (Beinn a' Ghlò), Càrn nan Gabhar

Date walked: 15/10/2020

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 22.6 km

Ascent: 1432m

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After the Farrago on the Hill,Dr Duncan and I part ways, and I head for Beinn a'Ghlo, the starting point for which is only 10 miles or so away. My plan is to camp next to the parking spot shown on the map towards the end of the "road" to Monzie; but when I get there however it seems that the farmer has just delivered a whole herd of cattle into the adjacent field, and not only are they making a tremendous racket, but only a cattle grid separates the parking area from half a dozen young and very curious little bullocks. No matter, I think; no doubt they'll calm down after a little while. So I locate a reasonable flat spot, and drop my tent there. I turn around to unpack some other stuff, and - lo and behold, a calf is on MY side of the cattle grid! How the heck did it manage that????!!! After a few minutes consideration I decide it isn't worth risking a visitation from who knows how many bullocks some time in the night....
Image

...so I put my stuff back in the car, and turn it round with the intention of finding another camping spot back along the road. Of course the calf stands right where I want to drive, next to the cattle grid. What to do??? I drive very very slowly forward, and as I approach the calf it turns towards the cattle grid, examines it for a few seconds, and then, very carefully, very deliberately, one foot at a time, walks back across the cattle grid!!! I have to say, I've never seen that before!

About 1 km back along the road there's another small layby just beyond another cattle grid (grid ref. 898669), adjacent to which is a slightly elevated lump with a flat spot on its top which turns out to be an ideal pitch, not least because there's a stream just 100 or so metres away. Once the tent's pitched, and my gear stowed, I warm myself a dehydrated chicken tikka rice, swallow the contents of a can of Nanny State, and then crash to the sound of a pair of tawny owls exchanging calls in the adjacent wood. And it's not even 8 pm!!

I'm awakened nearly 11 hours later by the distinctly unmusical alarm call of "morning flower" on my mobile. It's still dark, and though I'm as warm as toast (lovely Exped winter mattress :thumbup: ,) it feels as if it's pretty cold outside. And it is: the tent is wholly covered in frost. I don't seem to be able to move quickly, and there's an age of faffing before I've , got some lunch made and packed, downed some breakfast, struck camp and am on my way back to the car park.

I've no reception, but the forecast from last night was for it to be overcast and cloudy, but with good visibility.

Route: For no very good reason I've planned to walk the hills clockwise, with a vague idea of returning by dropping off the east side of Airgiod Bheinn, and picking up the path that runs ENE/WSW down the glen of the Allt Coire Lagain. But on the way I met some folk who said they done this route some year ago, and it had been extremely boggy, but that they had been told by a friend who’d recently walked it that the path running south down from Bealach an Fhiodha had been upgraded, and now was easy walking. So I decided to take this route, but easy walking was not not quite what I discovered :roll: After a short section of reasonable path, there's a long stretch – probably one and a half km - of peaty bogs kept soggy by streams running down the hillside every 50m or so and crossing the path.

But I didn't know that at the time, so this is the route I took. I have to say, too, that it looked like quite a decent ridge route on the OS when I was planning it, as indeed it turns out to be.

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It's a serious faff morning: somehow I don't get going until after 9, and then discover, a km or so up the track that I've left my phone (= camera) on the car roof...
dumb S.jpg


Eventually, though, I am moving in the right direction.

Image20201015-092532. Nice view from the track looking back towards Loch Moraig, with - from left to right on the skyline: Farragon Hill, Meall Tairnaechan and Schiehallion (and, I suppose, in the very far distance, the Lawers hills).

Image20201015-093703-0. Ahead the M181 up the front of Carn Liath is really quite an eyesore. Oddly, once you get on to it, it doesn't seem visually that bad. I think it stands out so starkly because either side of the path a lot of white stones have been exposed.

Image20201015-093807. Nice that one doesn't have to start the walk with wet feet. Temperatures in the night clearly dropped below zero here also.

A long slow uneventful slog up the motorway eventually gets me to the summit

I do go on over much about the effort of getting up hills these days. My excuse is that it’s hugely frustrating having been reasonably fit for my advanced years suddenly to find that I need to take a breather every couple of hundred paces or so. (The next day, I am passed by a 6-year-old on the ascent of Meall nan Tarmachan!)
Still, I keep telling myself that most folk with my condition literally cannot walk above 15 paces on the flat without stopping for a breather, so I really must stop whining...

And in fact, most of the time it doesn’t really disturb me. Once I’ve accommodated to the fact that I need to scale back on routes I planned more than a couple of years ago, I can in practice just relax (almost!) into the pleasure of just being in the hills.

Image20201015-112522. I have a wander around the summit area for a quarter of an hour or so. Notwithstanding the rather grey day, the views are pretty fine. These two pics are looking along the ridge to Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain.

Image20201015-114021.

Image20201015-114358. Onwards - and the view of the ridge really does open up. Lovely easy walking initially - which belies the fact that there's still a drop to Coire Chruim followed by over 450m of ascent to Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain.

Image20201015-114832. The final two munros clear to see...

Image20201015-114842-labelled

Image20201015-114848. And the same in pano.

Image20201015-120059. Looking back to Carn Liath.

Image20201015-120121. Ahead the track up to Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain.

Image20201015-120448. And - hidden behind the shoulder of the hill - the drop to Coire Crom Chruinn-bhalgain....

...followed by another flog up to the summit.

Image20201015-131944. This is looking ahead ENE towards Carn nan Gabhar.

Image20201015-132007. And the same in pano.

Image20201015-132808. There's an easy-to-follow path heading off, first NE, then east to Bealach an Fhiodha. But - Oh dear! what's that I see a-gathering on the summit of Carn Gabhar??? :roll:

Image20201015-133941. I quickly get going again, and shortly the bealach comes into sight. Once again motorway dimensioned paths up the face of the hill dominate the picture.

It's only about 250m of ascent, but once again it seems to take an age to get to the top, and all the while, slowly but unmistakably, the mist is descending...

...but - wonder of wonders - it begins to lift about 10 minutes before I get to the first of the 3 cairns...

Image20201015-150348....and has lifted almost entirely by the time I arrive. Just ahead the northern-most cairn, with the trig point.

Image20201015-150400. Looking back at the middle cairn from the actual summit!

And just as I get to the actual summit, the clag lifts a few metres above head height...

Image20201015-150959. ...and I get to see Ben Vuirich, which, when I did the planning some years ago, I'd intended to include in the round.

Image20201015-151053. Just to prove that it did actually clear for a short while!!

Image20201015-152209. On the descent, the mist can't make up its mind whether to come or go; but that's fine: I did get a summit clear of clag!
In the background here is Coire Crom Chruinn-bhalgain.

Image20201015-153003. Pano a bit further on, looking towards Airgiod Bheinn, which is where I'd have headed had I not spoken on my way up to Carn Gabhar to the couple who gave me the information from their friends about the supposed "good" path back via Bealach an Fhiodha.

Image20201015-155453. Once at the bealach, the path (visible on the LHS) doesn't really look especially good, but now the decision is made, so I continue down it.

As per my comment at the start, it is actually very wet and muddy for most of the way down the glen - and in trainers I do get wet feet (but that's my own fault, of course); and the going is inevitably slower than might otherwise have been expected.

By way of consolation, my travails are accompanied from top to bottom of the glen by roaring stags. I have my binocs with me, so I get one particularly loud one in view in the hope of seeing a comer to his raucous challenge. But it must be as fearsome to other stags as it sounds to me some 3-400 metres away. In any event, the stag remains alone!

As I get towards the end of the glen, I see what looks like a very well-made track in the distance, which I suppose must have been what the couple's friends had been referring to.

Image20201015-165530. About an hour later I join this path, and this pic is taken looking back up the glen from this point.

Image20201015-170541. Very well-made and actually quite a relief after the last hour of bog-hopping.

Image20201015-172817. And walking on a path like this, it's not much about half an hour by the time I get back to the car park. This pic is looking back at the hills of the day, shortly before I get there.

I'd be intrigued to know how one can avoid a long bog fest (apart from doing the walk in winter)...???

Image3D view of route.
Last edited by Alteknacker on Sat Oct 31, 2020 9:25 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Rescued from Beinn a' Clag

Postby Sgurr » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:51 pm

There is a huge scar on the first hill because the path was just an ordinary path and became more and more eroded. What is now the path has been built in the attempt to let the hill heal, but it is going to take an awful long time.
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Re: Rescued from Beinn a' Clag

Postby prog99 » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:31 pm

Looking at your track I think you missed the good path back to the landy track which is initially boggy as described but then abruptly turns into a very good one. Perhaps old path scars sent you the wrong way?
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Re: Rescued from Beinn a' Clag

Postby jmarkb » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:46 pm

Going over Airgiod Bheinn is a good option - there is a faint but reasonable path up/down the SW ridge. On the whole I think I prefer going up this way and doing Carn Liath last, though it is against the prevailing wind direction! It also makes the navigation between Bealach an Fhiodha and BCCB easier in winter.
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Re: Rescued from Beinn a' Clag

Postby dav2930 » Tue Oct 27, 2020 6:11 pm

Lovely report and nice pics AK. I really enjoyed this group when I did them in March 2009. I came down Airgiod Bheinn, but there was still a longish stretch of tortuously boggy path to reach the Landrover track.

I was amazed when you described the calf carefully crossing the cattle grid! Kind of defeats the object of a cattle grid if they can do that :shock:
Sounds like you found a nice camping spot once clear of the cows! :)
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Re: Rescued from Beinn a' Clag

Postby Sgurr » Thu Oct 29, 2020 5:04 pm

dav2930 wrote:
I was amazed when you described the calf carefully crossing the cattle grid! Kind of defeats the object of a cattle grid if they can do that :shock:
)



Sheep have been known to roll over cattle grids.
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Re: Rescued from Carn nan Clag

Postby litljortindan » Thu Oct 29, 2020 8:24 pm

Probably prudent to move camp despite the obvious cow hearding skills depicted in your first photo! Useful report along with the discussion it has provoked as I will hopefully head there in the not too distant future though I am waiting for weather that will enable me to write a report titled Beinn A' Glo aglow which I know is not a really good reason to climb a hill.
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Re: Rescued from Beinn a' Clag

Postby dav2930 » Thu Oct 29, 2020 11:31 pm

Sgurr wrote:
dav2930 wrote:
I was amazed when you described the calf carefully crossing the cattle grid! Kind of defeats the object of a cattle grid if they can do that :shock:
)



Sheep have been known to roll over cattle grids.

Sheep are much more intelligent than they're given credit for :lol:
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Re: Rescued from Carn nan Clag

Postby rockhopper » Fri Oct 30, 2020 12:46 am

Think I'd have been relocating my camp as well :shock: I do like the switchback ridge up there - must go back some time. Wish I could get 11hrs sleep in a tent - any more than about 1 or 2 at a time is a record for me regardless of how tired I am beforehand :roll: - cheers :)
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Re: Rescued from Carn nan Clag

Postby aaquater » Sat Oct 31, 2020 5:20 pm

Carn nan Clag :lol: I tend to call the mountain Bog a' Ghlo, exactly because of the descent along Allt Bealach an Fhiodha - although when I went there 3 years ago, I also managed a proper step into the bog below Carn Liath, and had to go the whole rest of the walk with a drenched sock... so now I'm trying to convince myself that the stone path really is that new, and I'm not totally blind :roll: Wonder if it might be better (or, at least, drier) to descend SE via Meall na h-Eilrig, and then join the path below Stac nam Bodach, although the 558 bealach looks dubious as well...? :?
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Re: Rescued from Carn nan Clag

Postby scotdavid63 » Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:50 pm

good to see you relaxing in doing sub 40km walks, one bonus of living in the central belt is that it's a short drive to Blair Athol and there are some great hikes and bike'n'hikes around there, which also avoids unwelcome visitors to your tent of course. other comments note the path variants for coming off but those are a bit newer and maps are out of date, a bit like crossing the new forth road bridge with a satnav more than 3 years old (thinks you're in a DUKW).
Cracked the Fannichs in a day this year, you'd like that trip, could even camp up top. Just watched some of Donnie Campbell doing the 282 in 30 days or so, reminds me how feeble our efforts are .........
All the best (met you on Beinn Achaladair a few years back with son, friend and dog) !
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Re: Rescued from Beinn a' Clag

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:42 am

Sgurr wrote:There is a huge scar on the first hill because the path was just an ordinary path and became more and more eroded. What is now the path has been built in the attempt to let the hill heal, but it is going to take an awful long time.


Yes, at a distance it certainly looks brutal now (even worse than Sail in the Lake District). Hence my M181 moniker for it (you win a toffee apple if you identify the rationale for the number.... :D )

prog99 wrote:Looking at your track I think you missed the good path back to the landy track which is initially boggy as described but then abruptly turns into a very good one. Perhaps old path scars sent you the wrong way?


Very possibly. There were so many old path scars and detours where folk had tried to avoid the worst of the bogs that I frequently lost any kind of path. I did have a gander on Google Earth, but the pic was taken when there was a lot of snow, and the resolution is very poor, so I couldn't see anything.

What side of the glen is the very good path? I only hit the very good path I mention in my report almost at the bottom of the glen, and it is on the west side of the glen.

jmarkb wrote:Going over Airgiod Bheinn is a good option - there is a faint but reasonable path up/down the SW ridge. On the whole I think I prefer going up this way and doing Carn Liath last, though it is against the prevailing wind direction! It also makes the navigation between Bealach an Fhiodha and BCCB easier in winter.


Thanks for the tip, JMB. Now my son's living in Dundee I expect this won't be the last time I venture on to these hills.


dav2930 wrote:Lovely report and nice pics AK. I really enjoyed this group when I did them in March 2009. I came down Airgiod Bheinn, but there was still a longish stretch of tortuously boggy path to reach the Landrover track.

I was amazed when you described the calf carefully crossing the cattle grid! Kind of defeats the object of a cattle grid if they can do that :shock:
Sounds like you found a nice camping spot once clear of the cows! :)


Thanks Dav.

Yes, I grew up in the Dales, where there are many CGs, but I never saw any animal even attempt to cross one, let alone succeed.

I mentioned the camping spot because it really is quite handy. I took me a while to find because it's about the least obvious place one would imagine to be good for camping; but the rest of the area is very tussocky indeed.


Sgurr wrote:
dav2930 wrote:
I was amazed when you described the calf carefully crossing the cattle grid! Kind of defeats the object of a cattle grid if they can do that :shock:
)


Sheep have been known to roll over cattle grids.


Sheep have many well-hidden talents. Not that long ago I saw one swim strongly across a decent sized lake - and it had a really thick fleece!
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=54093

litljortindan wrote:... Useful report along with the discussion it has provoked as I will hopefully head there in the not too distant future though I am waiting for weather that will enable me to write a report titled Beinn A' Glo aglow which I know is not a really good reason to climb a hill.


I suspect many of us have wished we could get the necessary conditions... :D


dav2930 wrote:
Sgurr wrote:
dav2930 wrote:
I was amazed when you described the calf carefully crossing the cattle grid! Kind of defeats the object of a cattle grid if they can do that :shock:
)


Sheep have been known to roll over cattle grids.

Sheep are much more intelligent than they're given credit for :lol:



Indeed, as above. They also do a phenomenal job of keeping that intelligence concealed... :D


rockhopper wrote: Wish I could get 11hrs sleep in a tent - any more than about 1 or 2 at a time is a record for me regardless of how tired I am beforehand :roll: - cheers :)


It'll come, as per my reply to your Knoydart report: you just need to be old and knackered. If I don't set an alarm, 11 hours seems to be my default time these days when I'm under canvas after a day's walking....


aaquater wrote:Carn nan Clag :lol: I tend to call the mountain Bog a' Ghlo, exactly because of the descent along Allt Bealach an Fhiodha - although when I went there 3 years ago, I also managed a proper step into the bog below Carn Liath, and had to go the whole rest of the walk with a drenched sock... so now I'm trying to convince myself that the stone path really is that new, and I'm not totally blind :roll: Wonder if it might be better (or, at least, drier) to descend SE via Meall na h-Eilrig, and then join the path below Stac nam Bodach, although the 558 bealach looks dubious as well...? :?


It seems from replies that there is a decently paved route from Bealach an Fhiodha, though I didn't find it. But there's definitely a bog-free path across to the base of Carn Liath. As regards a SE descent: this had been my original idea. and the map indicates a track along the glen; but the folk I spoke to on the ascent of Carn Gabhar said they'd done this a few years previously, and that the drop down to the glen was very steep (which I'm OK with), and the "path" was more of a theoretical than real and very boggy (which I'm less enthusiastic about). As no doubt I'll be up there again in the none-too-distant future, I'll probably give it a go, though...


scotdavid63 wrote:good to see you relaxing in doing sub 40km walks, one bonus of living in the central belt is that it's a short drive to Blair Athol and there are some great hikes and bike'n'hikes around there, which also avoids unwelcome visitors to your tent of course. other comments note the path variants for coming off but those are a bit newer and maps are out of date, a bit like crossing the new forth road bridge with a satnav more than 3 years old (thinks you're in a DUKW).
Cracked the Fannichs in a day this year, you'd like that trip, could even camp up top. Just watched some of Donnie Campbell doing the 282 in 30 days or so, reminds me how feeble our efforts are .........
All the best (met you on Beinn Achaladair a few years back with son, friend and dog) !



Hi David,

Yes, I remember well our encounter on Beinn a' Chreachain and subsequent conversation on the walk to Beinn A.

Sadly, I can no longer manage big walks (developed a sudden heart condition), but my bonus is that my son has just moved up to Dundee, so, looking forward, I hope to have plenty of time in the Highlands, though doing shorter walks.

I had also planned the Fannichs in a day - which a few years ago seemed eminently doable. Sadly no longer, but it's a group I can imagine doing over a couple of days, with one or two summit camps on the way. We'll see...
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Re: Rescued from Carn nan Clag

Postby Anne C » Tue Nov 10, 2020 11:23 am

Love that photo with the cow and your description of trying to get sorted with the tent :lol: Brilliant stuff.The whole area seemed quite heavily farmed to me, so amazing you found somewhere eventually.
I was up Carn Liath a couple of years back when they were still building the upper section of the new path; I thought they were making a great job of it, given how scarred and eroded the track was until then.
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Re: Rescued from Carn nan Clag

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:12 pm

Anne C wrote:Love that photo with the cow and your description of trying to get sorted with the tent :lol: Brilliant stuff.The whole area seemed quite heavily farmed to me, so amazing you found somewhere eventually.
I was up Carn Liath a couple of years back when they were still building the upper section of the new path; I thought they were making a great job of it, given how scarred and eroded the track was until then.


Yes, the area is quite heavily farmed; and where it isn't, it's got rough forestry, not ideal for camping. That's why I gave the coords of the place I found - I counted myself pretty lucky, since I'd done a fair bit of searching by then, and hadn't found anything.

As regards Carn Liath: I didn't ever see it prior to the path being built, and I guess it will blend in one day. At the moment though, it really does look like a motorway from a distance :( .
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