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A wee cycle in to Carn Ban

A wee cycle in to Carn Ban


Postby JOHNGG » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:44 pm

Route description: Carn Ban via Strath Vaich

Corbetts included on this walk: Carn Ban

Date walked: 03/06/2011

Distance: 40 km

Ascent: 650m

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After an epic week in Torridon in glorious weather back in April I'd been experiencing some pain in my knees. After ignoring the problem and hoping it would go away (it didn't) I finally decided a trip to the Physio was in order. Sure enough, a combination of too much walking and not enough "warming up/down" was diagnosed as the problem and I was sent away with a list of exercises to do and a warning not to do any walking - but " a bit of cycling was OK"

The forecast for Friday was too good to let it pass by however, and as I was in the area, a trip up Carn Ban was picked for Corbett number 200. After all, it's mostly a big cycle with a wee hill at the end, so I wasn't really walking :D

I parked at Black Bridge and got the bike out. The weather was glorious with just a bit of wind.

Carn Ban June 2011 001.JPG
The start of the day at Black Bridge


As I looked out my gear I realised that the map and guidance notes were sitting at home on my bed. Fortunately the weather was fair, and I had (I thought) a pretty good idea of where I was going, so I decided I'd give it a go, map or no map so off I cycled. The first bit of the track in is great - tarmac and fairly flat, and with the breeze behind I made good progress passing various wildlife including some big horned Heiland Coos , which luckily were on the other side of the river.

Carn Ban June 2011 002.JPG
Cows and sheep


The road winds its way towards the dam at the south end of Loch Vaich, but before you get as far as that there's a rough landrover track to the right which passes through a small wood, and takes you to the hill to the east of the dam and gives you your first view down the loch Vaich towards Carn Mor. It looks bloomin miles away at this point !

Carn Ban June 2011 005.JPG
Loch Vaich


The track alongside Loch Vaich is a pleasure to cycle along - especially with the breeze was helping. I didn't even mind the fact I had a puncture half way along and had to stop to fix it. As I was doing this I met a couple who had done Carn Ban the previous day and gave me some advice ("follow the cairns") and I also had a quick look at their map to confirm I was on the right track.

Carn Ban June 2011 006.JPG
bike repair


The track goes right past the end of Loch Vaich and towards and then round Meall a Chaorrain (a Donald) as it rises and then descends into Gleann Beag.


Carn Ban June 2011 007.JPG
Looking at the track up and round the donald


There are a few rough patches on the track but nothing a decent bike can't handle and the use of a mountain bike certainly makes a very long walk in a much quicker experience. Once round Meall a Chaorrain the track descends into the glen and fairly speeds up your progress.

Carn Ban June 2011 008.JPG
looking down Gleann Beag to the bridge


As it was I was at the bridge over the river and preparing to start walking a little under 2 hours after leaving the car. Now some guides suggest cycling west along the track for another couple of kilometres until you get to a stalkers path, but I bumped into a couple of other walkers who planned a descent straight north from this crossing , and , as they had a map and I didn't, I invited myself to walk along with them.

The ascent isn't too tricky and I found a path of sort along the burn flowing down from Lochan na leach. Unfortunately half way up I stopped to take this picture of the ascent to Carn Ban ridge, had a sandwich and rather stupidly left my camera on a rock when packing up.

Carn Ban June 2011 010.JPG
The climb up by the stream where I "lost" my camera


The route up to the summit is not terribly exciting, but you do get a great sense of being in a real wilderness miles from anywhere. As I ascended I noticed the small cairns on the hillside so followed them until coming to a fairly wide open hillside, but at that point you can see the penultimate top of the hill which is defined by a group of white quartz rocks on its south side. No photo as it was at this point I realised I had lost my camera :(

Once on the penultimate top you can see the true summit which has a large summit cairn, but the views - the views are just amazing. To the west are the Beinn Dearg hills and in particular Seana Bhraigh group which are amazing from this angle. Some very interesting ridges there ! Picture from the iPhone so not as good, but just had to take one.
Carn Ban summit 3.JPG
Looking west to the Beinn Dearg group


To the north the eye is caught by a panorama of the Assynt hills and I spend a good 10 minutes trying to identify them all. Truly a hill to be done on a good day (bit of a miserable plod in the wet I'd imagine though)

Carn Ban summit 2.JPG
Looking north to the hills of Assynt


The walk back was fairly straightforward, although I was surprised how many frogs were hopping about the hill side. It never ceases to amaze me how you can find frogs so high up in the hills . Maybe there's a frog equivalent of hill bagging.

I got back to my bike after a detour to track down my camera which was safely retrieved - hurrah ! Total walking time was just under 3 hours bike to summit to bike, at a fairly relaxed pace. The cycle back was hampered by the wind which was now a fairly stiff breeze in my face, but the downhill sections helped and I was back at the main road in about an hour 40 minutes.

This hill represents a long day if you are walking in but with a half decent bike it's a lovely day in a cracking part of Scotland and definitely one best saved for a good day.
Last edited by JOHNGG on Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:51 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: A wee cycle in to Carn Ban

Postby malky_c » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:44 am

JOHNGG wrote:Truly a hill to be done on a good day (bit of a miserable plod in the wet I'd imagine though)


I'd agree with that - I did the same route on a miserable day (although there were some promise of sunshine on the cycle in and out) and got thoroughly drowned :lol: . Didn't see a thing on the hill itself, so I am a bit envious of your report and Kinley's recent report, as it should be a great summit.
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Re: A wee cycle in to Carn Ban

Postby JOHNGG » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:39 pm

Hi Malky

I'd read your report and didn't envy you the weather you had. It would be a great place to walk in and camp over I reckon as it is a bit of a trek in and out in the same day. As the Corbetts I have left now are all in remote but beautiful spots I have decided not to rush to finish them but rather to wait for good weather to do them and (hopefully) enjoy the views when I get there. Mind you, with our changeable Scottish weather, I may be waiting some time ......

cheers

JohnG
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Re: A wee cycle in to Carn Ban

Postby edweirdo » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:27 pm

Think its a Graham not a Donald- the wee hill cycled past on the way in. Cycled in on my old bone shaker with no punctures which was just as well as i had no repair kit at all! Gears were murder as some did not work and brakes were dodgy so time for a decent bike I think. Had to go back to this hill as at new year 1987 walked to Gleann Beag bothy from Choire Mor bothy via ridge and bealach and neglected to bag it then-tw@t!
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