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Geal Charn, A'Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Sgairneach Mhor..

Geal Charn, A'Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Sgairneach Mhor..

Postby munrowalker » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:07 pm

Munros included on this walk: A' Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Geal-chàrn (Drumochter), Sgàirneach Mhòr

Corbetts included on this walk: The Sow of Atholl

Date walked: 18/08/2009

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 27 km

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Geal Charn, A'Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain & Sgairneach Mhor....and The Sow of


Date: Saturday 15th August 2009

Drive time: 1hr 45 mins
Start time: 9am
Finish time: 5pm
home time: 7pm

Walking distance: 27km
Ascent: 1500m or so

fun: loads!
Feet: sore!
Skin: drookit!

Saturdays trip up the hills was to Drumochter. An area I've driven through I

don't know how many millions of times between Edinburgh and Inverness, and

always been amazed at the hills. But this will be the first time I've stopped

EVER! At this point in the route I've usually been stuck behind a Tesco lorry

for a good twenty miles and getting desperate to getting cracked on to get


What a relief this time for the somewhere to be the where where I'm usually

trying to get through from.

Parked up at the car park in front of Balsporran Cottages, not in front of the

cottages, but the big flat car park just off the road. Only one car there, so

was thinking already that there isn't going to be a lot of people up the hills

today....not with the weather forecast being as rubbish as it had been

overnight. Did no one tell anyone that this was supposed to be summer and not

monsoon season?

choo choo!

Anyway another first for me today as I was going to use a gpx route

from...whisper....munromagic. Now in my defence the only reason I was using it

guv was that walkhighlands doesn't have a route in one go for these four hills.

If Paul did have a route it would have been used. And I'm going to get this out

of the way now, I aint using a route from munromagic again cos it was SHITE,

UTTER SHITE, waypoints weren't what you'd describe as waypoints, in wrong places

and not enough of them. Paul's routes are usually pretty special in that there's

a waypoint at all the appropriate places,,ie when you need to make turns. Not

this one, stank of being done off of a map without actually having walked it.

Ok onto the walk so its a quick belt down the path past Balsporran cottages to

the railway.

sign at balsporran


Big sign saying only authorised people can cross, ach I thought no

one about I'll cross over. Naturally making sure no trains coming either way and

making sure to close both gates safely behind me. I mean theres so little people

about here (ie nobody) who was gonna know? One of the things I like about the

hills in that there's no busybodies just waiting to tell you off if you do the

slightest thing you maybe politically correctly shoudlnae dae.

Now here's where I made my first mistake as I took right hand path which took me

up towards Creagan Mor, whereas I should have turned left and headed up the

ridge for Geal Charn, still views were pretty spectacular up here, looking back

towards Balsporran and to the A9 and the Munros on the other side thinking

you'll be mine, bwaah haa haaa!

Anyways dropped back down over the heather and up the flank of Geal Charn to

pick up the right path, did I say I was cursing the gpx route already?

views across a9

Geal Charn is an easy push up the hill on a no bad at all path, bit muddy but

considering amount of rain overnight not that bad. And weather was no bad at all

mist had lifted a bit allowing me to take some snaps, which I quickly took as I

must admit I didn't think was going to stay dry all day.

Getting towards summit of Geal Charn I noticed a BIG cairn, in fact more like a

wee cylindrical tower of about 5 foot. Get close to it and on it it reads:

memorial cairn

view of memorial cairn

"This Cairn is dedicated to Mick Costello Ice Climber Extraordinaire, erected by

Andy Roxby, 3rd August 2009"

I know a lot of people won't appreciate these kinds of things, me I don't mind

and won't judge, its there its part of what I'll take in on the day, let and let

live. Wouldnae mind knowing who this guy was and why someone took so much effort

in putting this up,concrete and all?

Anyways off to summit which wasn't that far ahead, wind picking up a bit now, so

thankfully a nice wee shelter of stones to hide behind, and have a wee snack.

Had bought a pack of Maryland Cookies, rather blooming good they were as well,

tempted to finish them there and then but no, held off the temptation!

Time so far 1hr 20mins

And this is when the mist starts to kick in big time, so vision gets down to

about 20-30 metres or so, but wind is fair battering on so clearing at times. So

at any point it does clear out with the old camera to snap away whatever I can


And what I did see on EVERY summit (or round about) was two blooming sheep!

Looked like same two as well (or was that me just getting high off the maryland

cookies?) I've heard of Munro bagging dogs, but Munro bagging sheep? That's a

first for me! But genuinely true that I did see a pair of sheep at or roundabout

the top of each hill. Granted its probably not the same two but hey it lightened

up my day!

Offf now along broadly flat route to A'Mharconaich. Quick pace along here as its

nice and easy and thankfully vision wasn't so bad for a while. Well for a while

I mean 2 minutes so grabbed a few snaps of the views including across to

Sgairneach Mhor.

enroute to beinn udlamain

From here hard to describe much of what was happening as mist was in, rain was

in, wind was in so head down and batter on to Beinn Udlamain.

Now because vision was so rubbish finding the actual summit itself was a pain,

as was pretty flat and broad up here. Loads of little cairns.

On via instruments again as drop down a bit for turn to head up and ascent to

Sgairneach Mhor.

sgairneach mhor

theres a summit up here somewhere, please god let there be a summit!

Was cursing the gpx again as not really enough waypoints for a

misted out condition with flat terrain with no that much features to use as

guides if I had reverted to map.

Bit boggy here as well, and for first time ever feet starting to get wet, reckon

was wind and rain as had decided couldnae be bothered with my waterproof

trousers and gaiters as they make me sweat and restrict my movement to batter


rainbow at summit of sgairneach mhor

Hit top of Sgairneach Mhor and meet first two people today, who were trying to

catch some shelter from the rain, they'd just been up The Sow of Atholl and were

going to do Bein Udlamain and A'Mharconnaich before heading back down.

loch ericht!

They were the only two people I saw all day! The weather really ahd put people

off being out today!

Some nice cliffs alongside the summit of Sgairneach Mhor, but again didn't see

them for long in mist.

Descent back down that heads towards The Sow of Atholl. Now I hadn't planned on

doing this today but as it was 2pm and was well on track though, ach its only a

wee Corbett and its there would be daft no to do it!

Really nice drop between the first bit and the hill itself as you'll see in

picture below.

looking back towards a'mharconaich and geal charn

sow of atholl bealach

enroute to sow of atholl

Not that much of a path up here at all and I was estimating only

four hundred metres or so of ascent so wasnt that concerned. Did pick up

vestiges of a path further up, and on reflection if I'd just battered up in a

straight line up the south flank of the hill would have been a better idea. The

path veered round the left of the hill along the steep bit, and never seemed to

go anywhere to the top. In the end got fed up, following it and just struck for

the top! Had a look at the north flank and looked a bit steep for heading down.

As I say I hadnt planned this one, so if I had I'd have seen it was perfectly

doable. Instead I played it safe and headed back down the way I'd came and

headed for the stream at the bottom of the hill that runs alongside the railway

line and the A9.

Still thats me first Corbett bagged so well worth it!

Now how to cross the stream, if I'd still been on route then no bother, but as I

was off plan, just jumped in and waded across so soggy feet! Stopped at other

side and wrung me socks out, yeeeuch!

Then its pretty much go under the railway at the bridge and a swift batter along

the path back to Balsporran for a 4 1/2 km walk. Definetely one I'd recommend

stowing a bike in the fields to save time at end! Nice layby with a cracking

aerial map of all the hills, now this would be good for at the start path of all

the Munros in my opinion, nothing on the hill, but at start would be a nice


And weather turned a lot better at end as well, so views were restored and sun

even came out for a wee while!

Still thats Munro's 40-43 bagged, and Corbett no.1 done.
aerial picture map

theres rain in that clkoud I tell ya, not a word of a lie!
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Re: Geal Charn, A'Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Sgairneach Mhor..

Postby Graeme D » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:31 pm

I enjoyed reading that and seeing the pictures munrowalker. These have been on my radar for quite a while but I have kept putting them off and finding other hills to climb instead. But I hope they might succomb on a nice crisp winter day soon with a clear blue sky and crunchy snow covering the ground :D .
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Re: Geal Charn, A'Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Sgairneach Mhor..

Postby kevsbald » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:45 pm

I would imagine the MCoS would not be impressed with the newly erected memorial cairn. I wonder if someone can shed some light on the building of these on Munro summits - ethical etc? In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if this isn't up there that long.
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Re: Geal Charn, A'Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Sgairneach Mhor..

Postby HighlandSC » Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:37 pm

Nice report munrowalker :)

The day when I actually stop on the Drumochter is fast approaching :lol:
Like you've I've driven through a billion times stuck behind lorrys!

5 feet high memorial cairn?!?!? There was a huge debate about this sort of thing at that place you whispered about. I never read it all but it was into the hundreds of replies (you better watch this walk report doesn't go the same way).
MCoS do have a statement on the subject http://www.mcofs.org.uk/memorials.asp
I agree with the MCoS that if nature never put it there then it shouldn't be there (exception of geniune cairns). Otherwise where do you draw the line.
Going by responses to this question on other forums, it seems there's plenty of people who are quite happy to remove memorials without a 2nd thought. Some sympathetic removers will leave a message at the site with contact details where the creator can get their plaque or whatever back.
I'd love to hear if that 5ft one stays there.
There does however seem to be popular opinion that people will turn a blind eye to small and discrete memorials - eg those well away from paths and routes, so they may only ever been seen by those that know it's there and look for it.
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Re: Geal Charn, A'Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Sgairneach Mhor..

Postby Paul Webster » Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:51 pm

Good report. I'll put the discussion on memorials into a separate post in general discussion so the report doesn't get swamped!! :D
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Re: Geal Charn, A'Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Sgairneach Mhor..

Postby mountain coward » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:40 am

Great post - one of my fave mountains (A' Mharconaich) and my absolute fave B&B (Balsporran). I did them in snow and it's great - well worth doing just A' Mharconaich and Geal Charn in snow - make a nice round. I keep looking at the Boar of Badenoch instead of the Sow of Athol as that looks quite boring (although not a long diversion from Sgairneach Mor) - looks to have a great ridge up the front and all the deer hide there to escape Munroists and their ilk! :D
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