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Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top-bagging

Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top-bagging


Postby The English Alpinist » Wed Sep 21, 2022 12:05 am

Route description: The Cairnwell Munros

Munros included on this walk: Càrn a' Ghèoidh, Càrn Aosda, The Cairnwell

Date walked: 18/09/2022

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 18 km

Ascent: 921m

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13 Carn Aosda 3003 feet.JPG
Summit of Carn Aosda (3,003 feet), The Cairnwell opposite.

I speak of the Munro top belonging to Carn a' Gheoidh (Munro no.180). They tend to have their own name, which is quite right, as the tops of course think themselves 'peaks' by geological definition and require effort for a human to get up them. However, they don't half add on mileage to the overall Munro campaign and the excess expenditure of energy does not always feel welcome, to say the least (as yesterday).

This walk was preceded by 'Glas Maol's Family of 10'
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=114896

So much so, that I've been wondering whether I should scrap all notions of becoming a top compleater, especially considering that being an actual Compleater still feels like a pipe-dream (with 33 Munros proper now to my name). However, there was no excuse not to add this one to today's route, which was as easy as they're ever going to come. I refer to the trio of Munros just left (ie west) of the Cairnwell pass, alias the A93 highest A-road in Britain, alias Glenshee Ski Centre fame.

0 Devils Elbow.JPG
The Cairnwell and Carn Aosda stand above the Devil's Elbow on the A93.

1 Cairnwell.JPG
The splendid Glenshee Ski Centre.

2 summit hut 3059 feet.JPG
Luxury at the summit of The Cairnwell (3,059 feet).

4 true summit.JPG
Technically this would be the summit, but spikes block access up ladder.

3 hare.JPG
Strange goings-on on The Cairnwell. Electrocuted? It looked very fresh, and devoid of wounds.

Of the first summit today, 'The Cairnwell' itself, what can one say? Well, Cameron McNeish says that it, along with its brother Carn Aosda, is 'amongst the most depressing in the country'. He refers to the damage done to nature by all the assorted ski-lifts, tracks, fences and pylons (we could add the car parks the size of small villages) strewn up the mountainsides. I heartily do not share his feelings on this: perhaps, partly, because I was so relishing an easy time after my marathon of yesterday, but it seems to me that skiers have a right to be catered for too even though it's not a sport I've tried and probably never will (only because of age, time and expense I hasten to add); what's more, having a disabled son, I find it a very nice thought that he could one day 'do a Munro' or even two, and it's great that less able people in general have this opportunity at The Cairnwell. So, let's hear it for The Cairnwell - and its tracks and its chair-lifts - not to mention its cafe which I enjoyed before I set off - not to mention its half-rotted wooden shelter at the top which I luxuriously enjoyed being in no time-pressure whatsoever today.

Next up was Carn a' Gheoidh, somewhat outlaying to the west, which McNeish says 'helps add a touch of reality to this outing'. This is because we venture away from the pair of mechanized mountains, onto real mountain paths of mud, grass and heather, and a fine ridge walk (if visible). Extra 'reality', for me, was added by the fact of a lot of cloud-cover, causing some anxiety and confusion at one point. Wondering whether I had reached the summit or merely at Carn nan Sac en route, also my so-called sense of direction telling me I needed to be going the exact opposite way to the compass, hard experience has told me to implicitly believe the little needle over myself. I think a few others who I might smugly term 'tourists' turned around at the rather 'final' looking cairns here, thinking they'd made the Munro, which was in fact further on over a lot of peat and up a few rocks. Success, now it was onward to the 'top', of which I expected little aside from energy usage - but was so wrong!

5 the ridge.JPG
The ridge walk to Carn a' Gheoidh.

6 Carn nan Sac.JPG
Carn nan Sac - no, not the Munro yet.

7 to and fro.JPG
Summit of Carn a' Gheoidh, reaching it and then returning to it after bagging the 'top'.

8 Carn Bhinnein 3006 feet.JPG
Carn Bhinnein ahead; call it by its name.

9 the view.JPG
View from the 'crow's nest' of Carn Bhinnein (I should have got some better photos).

The amount of descent (and thus re-ascent) is not so bad for this top, and what's more if it hadn't been for the fact I was aiming to bag the top, I may not even have struck out further west and may have made the dismal mistake of turning back at Carn nan Sac, missing out on the Munro itself. The clincher, however, was the view. Suddenly, on reaching the top, I had one! The clouds parted, as if to thank me for being game enough to come here, to stun me with great valleys and mountainsides all around. Carn Bhinnein - let's give it the dignity of its own name! - sits at the very end of the ridge which drops away on 3 sides, with a really cute little ring-shelter that feels like a crow's nest where one can sit and gaze out over a panorama that has to be amongst the best anywhere. Furthermore, you'd probably often have it all to yourself, as I did this time. With joy in my heart, and 20 minutes later by the time the wind-chill factor demanded it, I began the trek back to take in the post-apocalpytic Carn Aosda. There, too, I was granted visibility from the summit. No complaints for this day whatsoever from me, despite all the rusted metal and skeletal pistes. Perhaps I'll even come back in December and take up skiing.

10 Carn a Gheoidh 3194 feet.JPG
Carn a' Gheoidh (3,194 feet), the triumphant pose (this was the second time around).

11 tarn.JPG
Returning east for Carn Aosda.

12 view west.JPG
Looking westward from Carn Aosda.


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Addendum:
The dead hare must have happened very recently. I must have missed the incident by minutes, an hour or two at most.
How did it get so neatly on top of that?
Did somebody kill it? Surely not.
Electrocuted?
Next to it on the metal it is written keep it real.
Was this graffiti old (disgraceful blot on the beauty of the surroundings) or does it refer to the hare?
A joke? A hex? A good luck charm even?
Last edited by The English Alpinist on Thu Sep 22, 2022 4:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top-bag

Postby DopeyLoser » Wed Sep 21, 2022 2:44 pm

Thanks for the report. The rabbit is a puzzle for sure.

I was on Carn Bhinnien recently and also enjoyed it. It was in Munro's original (1891) list as a separate mountain. You noted the steep drop on three sides: quite a few of his originally separate mountain but now demoted tops have that kind of drop, so they do look mountainlike from many directions.

Carn Bhinnien also looks distinctive and is easily recognised from the north, e.g. from Beinn Iutharn Bheag, another enjoyable former separate mountain now 'just' a top.

I find any top is worthy of a visit, but the motivation to go the extra distance for them can be too much of a challenge when already tired, so I have missed many. Later, I wish I had just made a little extra effort!
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Re: Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top-bag

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Sep 29, 2022 7:26 pm

Thanks for posting! Carn Bhinnein looks like a great hill from Glas Tulaichean on the other side of the Glen. It also pops nicely onto the skyline when reaching the summit of Beinn Gulabin - its sharp peak is a big contrast to the smooth slopes of the other hills in this area. I’ve climbed Carn a’Gheoidh twice (thick mist both times!) so third time lucky I’ll make it out to Carn Bhinnein.

tim
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Re: Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top-bag

Postby jmarkb » Thu Sep 29, 2022 8:20 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:I’ve climbed Carn a’Gheoidh twice (thick mist both times!) so third time lucky I’ll make it out to Carn Bhinnein.


A circuit (from Spittal) of Ben Gulabin, Carn a' Gheoidh, Carn Binnein and back down Glen Taitneach is a worthwhile expedition. For a shorter walk, you can start at Rhiedorrach, go up the track to the col S of Carn a' Gheoidh out to Carn Binnein, and then back via Carn a' Gheoidh and Carn nan Sac.
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Re: Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top-bag

Postby The English Alpinist » Fri Sep 30, 2022 1:22 am

Interesting perspective on tops and this area in particular from the three of you, thanks for the comments. Whatever the weather (within reason!) I say make the effort of tagging Carn Bhinnein on to whatever circuit you try - as I discovered, even on a murky and damp day the view might well clear for a precious few minutes and iit's all the more dramatic for it. This applies to walking in general, though, I guess.
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Re: Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top-bag

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Fri Sep 30, 2022 10:05 am

That sounds like a good route, jmarkb! The English Alpinist, I think your idea of doing the Tops as well as the Munros is a good one for seeing the best of the hill scenery in each area.

My limited experience of the Munros has shown me that even the less dramatic ones often have an interesting side that may not be seen from the usual route - Carn Bhinnein and the Glen Taitneach side of Carn a'Gheoidh being a good example. Loch nan Eun at the head of the glen is also a fine spot that feels wonderfully remote.

Another one that comes to mind is an interesting climb that I did up the ravine between A'Chailleach and Carn Sgulain, two Munros that are probably down at the bottom of the popularity table, also nearby Carn Dearg via Loch Dubh, Carn Macoul and its south ridge, which I found a very enjoyable route - probably more interesting than the normal route across the plateau. I also hope one day to explore the south-east side of Tom Bhuidhe too - judging by the map, it may have some fine craggy scenery, in contrast to the pudding-shaped summit.

tim
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Re: Carn Bhinnein outstandingly redeems the cause of top-bag

Postby jmarkb » Fri Sep 30, 2022 4:33 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:My limited experience of the Munros has shown me that even the less dramatic ones often have an interesting side that may not be seen from the usual route


Yes, that's quite often the case. The hills around Glen Shee in particular tend to have better options than the most efficient bagging routes if you are happy to spend more/longer days on them, or have already done the standard routes.

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Another one that comes to mind is an interesting climb that I did up the ravine between A'Chailleach and Carn Sgulain, two Munros that are probably down at the bottom of the popularity table


Is that the Allt Cuil na Caillich?

As for Tom Bhuidhe, yes, the Glen Clova approach is more rewarding than heading over the plateau from the west. Glendoll - Bachnagairn - Crow Craigies - Tolmount - Tom Bhuidhe - Jock's Road is a good round, all on decent paths apart from the initial descent off Tom Bhuidhe. Can be extended to include Broad Cairn and Cairn Bannoch if desired.
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