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Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A'Ghlo

Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A'Ghlo


Postby Sabbathstevie » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:32 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Ghlo

Munros included on this walk: Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, Carn Liath (Beinn a'Ghlo), Carn nan Gabhar

Date walked: 04/08/2012

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 1239m

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Perhaps it was the need for a breather from the all-encompassing presence of the Olympics that was dominating every inch of media it could. Or perhaps it was down to the palpable sense of tension that creeps into every Edinburgh resident’s life prior oncoming annual madness that is the Edinburgh festival. Or perhaps it was just a knee-jerk reaction to the possibility of an oasis of sunlight in our water-logged excuse for a summer. Whatever it was, the first weekend of August presented itself as one that had to be spent in the hills, preferably as far away from the reach of civilisation as a reasonably short drive from Edinburgh would allow! 8)

It had suddenly dawned on me that in only 2 months it would be the anniversary of the conquering of my one and only Munro. Even if I had scaled that particularly rounded peak, Mayar, on two separate occasions now; and even if the time between those occasions had seen me scrambling amid the boulders of An Cliseam on Harris and wading through soggy, impenetrable clag on the Hart Fell horseshoe further south, it still didn’t excuse the fact that almost a year after popping my hillwalking cherry, my track record was, by all accounts, pretty lame. :thumbdown:

Fortunately, my enthusiastic hillwalking waffle had tempted yet another long time friend and colleague into joining me for some wanderings above 3000 feet. With Phil being someone who is, it cannot be argued, far fitter than I am, I was confident that for our first outing we could go for something a little more challenging than I had previously encountered and to that end I wanted to do a walk that achieved multiple summits – something I hadn’t yet done. But where to go? We spent a helpful Thursday evening together over a few too many pints of Scheihallion, pouring over a map of Scotland and deciding where to go. In the end, we narrowed down to either visiting Loch Tay to see how many peaks of the Lawers ridge we could bag (and possibly experiencing a first taste of scrambling on An Stuc) or venturing into the wilds of the vast Atholl estate on Beinn A’Ghlo. Our decision would be delayed until the crack of dawn on Saturday morning when, according to the Met Office, it appeared that Beinn A’Ghlo would be spending at least half the day in glorious sunshine … maybe someone else can tell me what that is! :lol:

In a pleasant change to my usual hillwalking arrangements, I was relieved of driving duties and Phil’s VW Golf GTI made comfortably short work of the M90 and A9 – I can’t say that my dirty old Clio would have done the same with quite so much style. Whenever I undertake this route, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of home as we enter the “big tree country” section of Perthshire around Dunkeld and today, with the blue morning sky peeking through the gaps in the leafy canopy above, was no exception.

After the pleasant trundle through a sleepy Blair Atholl, we were the first car into the “car park” (stretching the definition of that word a little!) by loch Moraig at 07:30. We were quickly suited and booted and set off purposefully along to track towards Cárn Liath, which began to look quite imposing in the sunshine, tantalisingly keeping its sister peaks behind well hidden from sight.

Cárn Liath in the early mornign sun.jpg
Cárn Liath in the early morning sun


As we stomped enthusiastically up the track, I realised our first schoolboy error of the day. It was coming up to 08:00 am and already we were working up a sweat…and neither of us had brought suncream! Well, the forecast told us that the sun wouldn’t stick around for too long so perhaps our skin would be spared an overdose of harmful UV, however as we commenced the long and fairly brutal ascent of Cárn Liath, the intensity of the sun and, perhaps more obviously given our altitude, the lack of any merciful breeze, was certainly being felt. Much to our chagrin, my little Jack Russell Maggie bounded playfully through the heather either size of the eroded gravelly path, occasionally rushing back to us as if to say “what’s taking you so long guys?!” before rushing off again. If you ever come across me and Maggie in the hills, I apologise in advance for the excited but good natured attention she will no doubt lavish upon you! :roll:

Cárn Liath Ascent Path.jpg
Cárn Liath ascent path


After much huffing, puffing and uttering of words which shouldn’t be repeated, we eventually emerged onto the spacious summit and took a moment to marvel at the views. The air clarity was striking – the views back south over our ascent route and the hills beyond were particularly breathtaking: Ben Vrackie was most prominent and looked to be a far more interesting day than I had previously credited it with, while across to our right Scheihallion’s elongated ridge rose from the surrounding land from this angle like the back of a great whale. Above all, the great bulk of Ben Lawers towered over everything else in the panaroma, :shock: it’s enormity on the horizon was staggering and I made a mental note that I needed to get out on those hills soon. The views to the west were equally good; with the narrow sides of Glen Tilt leading up to Carn A’Chlamain looking like a fantastic walk for another long summer’s day and the rocky flanks of Beinn Mheadhonach appearing to be similarly worth of an explore. The same, sadly, could not be said of Beinn Dearg which didn’t particularly excite from this angle.

Looking South from Cárn Liath summit.jpg
Looking South from Cárn Liath summit


Cárn Liath Trig.jpg
Cárn Liath Trig & Maggie


Most impressive of all was our first glimpse of the wonderful snaking ridge ahead of us, rising eventually to the somewhat unpronounceable Bráigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain. After a short break at Cárn Liath and having made exceptionally good progress for time, we decided to press on along the ridge and take our lunch upon the summit of the BCCB. As we made our way along the wide, easy ridge, we were rewarded with our first proper look at the highest of the day’s summits, Cárn nan Gabhar, with the southerly ridge of Airgiod Bheinn looking particularly impressive. indeed, a distant and snow-flanked vision of this ridge had caught my attention from atop Mayar on a similarly clear and warm day back in May and it looked even more imposing up close, cementing an earlier decision I’d made that we would make our descent via this airy(ish) crest, rather than via the bealach. For now however, we still had some way to go and the complete lack of breeze made things slightly unbcomfortable in the hot sun as we plodded up the gentle but long climb of BCCB, though we probably lengthened the ascent by clinging to the corrie edge in order to savour the views below.

Ridge to Bráigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain.jpg
Ridge to Bráigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain


Cárn Liath's snaking ridge.jpg
Cárn Liath's snaking ridge


Mighty Airgiod Bheinn.jpg
Mighty Airgiod Bheinn


After our second Munro summit of the day, we descended a little to the second cairn in order to find a spot to stop and eat. It always amazes me how much better food tastes during a hillwalk, when your body actually needs the energy it provides rather than just eating for the sake of it….as I so often do! It was also an opportunity to sample some of Phil’s “energy gels” designed for endurance sports – a strange, sticky sweet gel that came in multiple flavours (rhubarb and custard anyone?) which might not at first seem appealing for given their small size and weight could be sensibly tucked away in a pack in case needed. Worryingly though, I was over 2/3rds of the way through my fluid supplies and it was fast becoming clear that our second schoolboy error of the day – not carrying enough water – would soon become an issue. I hadn’t banked on there being quite so few fast flowing streams around within easy reach of the path where I could top up but then, I guess that’s another lesson learned and something else to check the map for prior to embarking on a walk. A quick glance back to Cárn Liath wonderful ridge and we could just about make out a handful of other walkers descending from it’s summit and the only other people we’d see all day - Captain Slow and crew perhaps?

Airgiod Bheinn.jpg
Airgiod Bheinn


Back to Cárn Liath.jpg
Back to Cárn Liath


Bealach view to Ben Vrackie.jpg
Bealach view to Ben Vrackie


We descended to the next bealach and prepared ourselves for the final, fairly gruelling ascent of the day up to Cárn nan Gabhar and its thrice decorated summit. As we climbed higher with the sun continuing to sear our unprotected flesh, we had understandably started to sag a little and even Maggie who, having been momentarily startled by a ptarmigan emerging from the heather, put on her best pathetic puppy dog face until I gave her a wee carry up the final slope – I’m far too much of a softie! The summit of Cárn nan Gabhar was, while fairly flat and expansive, almost entirely covered by a thick carpet of boulders which became larger and more tightly compacted towards each of the three cairns. The views from the northernmost and highest summit were excellent, particularly looking north into the high Cairngorms where I guessed that the great massif of Ben Macdui was the largest mountain on the horizon, with a prominent and conical peak immediately to the West of it from this angle – the Devil’s Point perhaps? The views to the east were also fantastic, with the grey slopes of Cárn an Righ and Beinn lutharn Mhór behind it rising from the lands beyond the steep sides of Glen Loch. The views beyond were a little obscured by haze, so I wasn’t able to pinpoint Lochnagar or really identify any of the Cairnwell hills other than what I took to be the shapely crescent of Creag Leacach far to the east.

Pull to Cárn nan Gabhar summit.jpg
Pull to Cárn nan Gabhar summit


Cárn Nan Gabhar Boulderfield.jpg
Cárn nan Gabhar boulderfield


Looking North to the High Cairngorms.jpg
Looking north to the high Cairngorms


Having briefly rested to enjoy the views and finish the last remnants of our supplies, and with Maggie also having recovered back to her bouncy self. Our return route was to be the narrow (in comparison to everything else in sight) ridge of Airgiod Bheinn so we began the slight descent towards it. At this point, I’m sure we heard voices and I immediately thought the walkers we had spotted en route behind us had caught up however they were nowhere to be seen… unless they were ascending Cárn nan Gabhar directly via its steepest westernmost flank, I still have no idea where they vanished to or where those voices came from… ! The descent along Airgiod Bheinn however was well worth the slight detour and comes highly recommended. We followed the broad and extremely rocky ridge, admiring the fine views both across to Ben Vuirich on the left and back to the rest of Beinn A’Ghlo on the right, before following a path which left the crest of the ridge to cut more directly (and steeply) down into the glen, startling a few toads in the heather as we did so.

Cárn Liath Ridge from Airgiod Beinn.jpg
Cárn Liath Ridge from Airgiod Bheinn


Allt Bealach an Fhiodha.jpg
Allt Bealach an Fhiodha


Looking back up to Bráigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain.jpg
Looking back up to Bráigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain


Although we’d experienced hot sunshine throughout the day (we didn’t get a drop of rain, despite practically begging for it at one point!), the walk out was just as boggy as suggested by other reports – the path which wound its way outward towards the better landrover track was occasionally little more than a mudbath. And, in common with almost all other reports, this was certainly the least enjoyable part of the walk being a somewhat weary trudge through heather and mud, though slightly saved by the excellent views back to the “hidden peaks” of Beinn A’Ghlo’s best side. The relief we felt at emerging from the rough back onto the landrover track was notable, by this point feeling a little weary but in particular both harbouring fairly sizable headaches from the intense heat and lack of water. My puddle drinking dog was faring much better… We arrived back at a busier car park at almost bang on 15:30, making it a solid 8 hours for the trip and finally giving me a good benchmark for longer walks and a little more confidence that my ultimate goal of a three peak epic in the Cairngorms from the Linn of Dee is completely doable. The headaches were swiftly treated by paracetamol and the best ice lollies ever from the shop in Blair Atholl, before making a relaxed journey back to Edinburgh, content and proud with our efforts on this fantastic range of hills. :thumbup:

Beinn Bheag & Airgiod Bheinn.jpg
Beinn Bheag & Airgiod Bheinn
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Sabbathstevie
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby kev_russ » Wed Aug 08, 2012 2:37 pm

Barry effort, report and pics Steve :thumbup:
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby EwaMH » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:47 pm

Great photos!!! What an awesome day you got :) My visit here was far far cloudier!
Maggie is super cute, never mind the attention she might give me if I met her on the hills..I may well scoop her up into my rucksack!
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby Sabbathstevie » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:04 pm

kev_russ wrote:Barry effort, report and pics Steve


Cheers Kev, much appreciated! :D

EwaMH wrote:I may well scoop her up into my rucksack!


I tried doing just that when she got a bit tired, thinking she'd happily sit there but it wasn't to be - she jumped down after about two steps! :lol:
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby ChrisW » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:21 am

Great effort Stevie and a fine report to capture the event, as for the minor errors, we've all made them. I once did 22km without the suncream or my daft hat, I looked like a lobster :lol: though fluids is one I never forget as I would shrivel up and die within an hour.

I love that pic of Maggie standing like a dog with her eye on a weasel ahead :clap:
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby MarilynMunro » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:15 am

Thanks for a very thorough report, Steve, haven't been up there yet, but your phots and description of your day have put it right in the spotlight.
Great phot of your pooch.
You haven't lived if you've not been burnt on the hills, :lol: :lol: my neck is still feeling it after my excursion at Bridge of Orchy
Cheers
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby Sabbathstevie » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:15 am

ChrisW wrote:Great effort Stevie and a fine report to capture the event, as for the minor errors, we've all made them. I once did 22km without the suncream or my daft hat, I looked like a lobster :lol: though fluids is one I never forget as I would shrivel up and die within an hour.

I love that pic of Maggie standing like a dog with her eye on a weasel ahead :clap:


Thanks Chris! I just completely underestimated how much fluid I'd lose! :crazy: As for Maggie, I'm not sure what she had her eye on...apart from one ptarmigan and a few Toads we saw bugger all wildlife all day...despite the hot sun, my reptile count is still, sadly, 0. :(

MarilynMunro wrote:Thanks for a very thorough report, Steve, haven't been up there yet, but your phots and description of your day have put it right in the spotlight.
Great phot of your pooch.
You haven't lived if you've not been burnt on the hills, :lol: :lol: my neck is still feeling it after my excursion at Bridge of Orchy


They are definately better than the route wopuld suggest...whats looks to be a straightforward lump of a hill turns out to have much more shape and structure to it than thought, and very nice in the sun! Speaking of Bridge of Orchy, I really need to head West...
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:06 pm

Great report, and excellent photos :clap: :clap: - you were right lucky with the weather there.
I haven't done these three yet - your report makes them look right tempting :) . Not too far from the fleshpots of Glasgow and Edinburgh, either - as you say, this must be a great way for youse Edinburgers to escape the festival :lol: !
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby Sabbathstevie » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:33 pm

bobble_hat_kenny wrote:Not too far from the fleshpots of Glasgow and Edinburgh,


Absolutely - in terms of straightforward access, these three are pretty spot on. :)
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby rush_fan » Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:16 am

Great report and pics :thumbup: . Must have taken ages to type this one up! Saw these mountains from the top of Ben Vrackie a couple of months back. I'm very tempted to give them a try, get some Munros on the scoreboard and abandon my usual "lowland" trips to the Pentlands.
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby SMRussell » Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:49 am

Stevie! Great to see you (and Maggie the mutt) getting more Munros under your belt :D

We did these during the rut last year - the whole place echoed with the sound of the stags which made up for the battering we got from the wind and the dense clag that shrouded Carn nan Gabhar.

Great report as usual :thumbup:
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Re: Finally, Munro number 2 (and 3 & 4) on glorious Beinn A’

Postby Sabbathstevie » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:48 am

rush_fan wrote:Saw these mountains from the top of Ben Vrackie a couple of months back.


Funnily enough, I couldn't help but think how good Ben Vrackie looked from up here - definately on my list now! :) I'm also a frequent stomper around the Pentlands and in a respectful nod towards your username, I've stood happily atop West Kip with "Subdivisions" blasting through my headphones! :lol:

SMRussell wrote:Stevie! Great to see you (and Maggie the mutt) getting more Munros under your belt


Oh why thank you! Yes, Maggie and I are ecstatic at having finally finished our "difficult second album"! Still enjoying your reports too, Beinn a'Bheithir in particular looked a cracker! I certainly have some catching up to do...
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