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Lancet Edge – Geal-Charn and Carn Dearg
by Clach Liath » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:27 pm
Munros included on this walk: Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Geal-charn (Alder)
Date walked: 18/08/2012
Time taken: 9.5 hours2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
I parked up by the level crossing a couple of hundred metres south of the rail station. It is also possible to start this route by going under a bridge another 500m or so further south. You used to be able to drive under that bridge and park up just beyond but the Estate has now put a barrier by the bridge so this is no longer possible although there is limited parking just before the bridge and, on the other side, there are camping possibilities.
Anyway I kipped in the car ready for an early start as I had a bit of a drive later the following day.
I was up and away at about 6.30am in the morning gloom. Now as some of you who read some of my reports may have gathered, I am on a bit of a mission to do all of the Munro tops. So today’s objective was as much Sgor Iutharn (the top of Lancet Edge) as the two Munros. Lancet Edge provides a magnificent and tempting backdrop to the Bothy at Culra. Climbing it had been on my wish list for a long time. So here I was.
An early blast of drizzle fortunately faded away. There was an early hurdle of hoisting the MTB over the gate at the Estate gatehouse but, that achieved, it was a gentle cycle up the lochside. There are a series of mock baronial style houses that are passed, the first of which is available as a holiday let. I got off to push at one steeper section but the next time I got off was at a gate just beyond Ben Alder Lodge. It was then back on the MTB for a long grind up to the watershed between Lochs Ericht and Pattack. Just beyond the top views open out but the cloud was well down so just the lower reaches of the broad green strath were visible. As the track descends towards Loch Pattack, a path cuts a long corner more directly to Culra Bothy. It looks as though work has been done to it to improve it. On my way out I saw two cyclists using it. But I carried on freewheeling along the Estate track down to the Loch.
A tent occupied a little high spot by the Loch, no doubt a good breezy spot to keep the midges off. Soon a chain bridge is reached over the principal inflow to the Loch. It is a little awkward to manoeuvre a MTB over this with the inky black water threatening below. Some ponies nearby watched with some disdain.
Anyway the hurdle was cleared.
The cycle then takes you in places along the Loch gravel beaches and, if you like, into the water itself. Then it is up and away from the Loch to a fork and south over a substantial wooden bridge. Here I got off the MTB again and pushed it. The track is now somewhat rougher here. At this point I had what can only be described as a major rear wheel failure. At first I thought the chain had snapped. But in fact, whilst it had come off the sprockets, the rear wheel had come out of its housing and the rear brake had detached too. So I needed to spend 15 minutes sorting all that out. I hopped back on the MTB but could not be bothered to take it beyond a higher point in the track (I would only have to cycle over it on the way back) so stashed it safely out of sight hoping that the repairs would last the return journey. It was then a walk of a kilometre or so to the Bothy.
The weather remained gloomy. Early patches of sun which held some promise had disappeared. But there was activity around the Bothy. A group had just set out up the slopes of Carn Dearg behind. One or two others were battling the midges and packing up outside. I went over to have a chat and a mooch around the Bothy.
The last time I had visited Culra was about 20 years ago. It had certainly changed since then and the Bothy is now positively palatial compared to how it was. The Lodge behind has also been rebuilt and now has a windmill to provide power. Three guys were packing out after 3 wet days, one using a child carrier to carry out some of the gear.
I spent around 40 minutes at the Bothy before setting off on up the right of way that leads over the Bealach Dubh. Timed just right I walked into a 40 minute deluge which had soaked me through by the time I was approaching the foot of Lancet Edge.
But as I reached the Allt Loch an Sgoir, the rain eased off and I had a better view of the task in hand.
Here, rather than cross the river, I followed it up its east bank. There is a path not shown on the map. Where the ground eased off a bit, I then struck south west. The base of Lancet Edge is broad but it soon narrows and steepens. I could find no trace of a path on its lower slopes but one formed intermittently once the rocky outcrops started to form. A blast of sun struck Loch an Sgoir and Diollaid a’Chairn.
Carn Dearg was clear.
The Long Leachas which, with Lancet Edge, forms the gateway to the Bealach Dubh was (like Ben Alder itself) still cloud covered.
Height was soon gained and the scrambling began. The ridge narrows considerably. The rock was still greasy from the earlier rain but at least the cloud had lifted and the breeze was not too strong. Care was needed on the exposed or rougher sections. But it was a great situation. The scrambling is not hard nor is it sustained.
Here is a view back down the ridge.
Sgor Iutharn was reached. It was clear briefly. Carn Dearg was bathed in sunshine. But The Fara in the distance was capped with cloud.
Geal Charn remained firmly in the grip of cloud.
Beyond this summit the narrowness goes. Gentle slopes descend to the broad col. Distant Loch Ossian was clear beneath a grey blanket.
It was then a question of setting a compass bearing for the Munro summit. There is 120m of steepish climbing to the 1100 contour ring, the highest point within which has a crude cairn. Then there was a tramp across the boggy ground of the plateau followed by a short rise to the summit itself. I sat down by the fine cairn for a spot to eat. It had taken me almost 2½ hours from the Bothy to reach this point.
I willed the clouds to lift, but they ignored me. It was quite nice up there in a damp sort of way. The air temperature was not cold and the cairn provided me with shelter. But it was no good, I would have to continue. Rather than navigate in a direct line to the top of the ridge that leads off the plateau, I set a bearing for the 1114m spot height as I could then use the cliffs and pacing to find the way off. Part way to the spot height I met the group I had earlier seen leaving the Bothy for Carn Dearg. The rain started again but we chatted for 3 or 4 minutes before continuing. The spot height reached I turned east. A couple of minutes later I bumped into a solo guy from Edinburgh and we had a longer natter. Whilst chatting the cloud lifted a bit, so the fact that I had forgotten how many paces I had done no longer mattered!
I went on. In fact as you near the way off a path develops and leads the way you need to go. This will obviously help in thick weather. So here I am near the top of Aisre Ghobhainn looking at the way on.
So it was down the ridge and over the Munro top of Diollaid a’Chairn (which must have the most pitiful of cairns of all summits) and on. Beinn a’Chlachair to the north became clear.
Lancet Edge was fine.
Part way up Carn Dearg I next met a couple of guys who had been in the tent by Loch Pattack as I had passed by that morning. They had come up from near Glasgow the previous evening. Like the others I had met they were going to tackle all four Munros on the ridge.
The summit of Carn Dearg was soon reached. But first here is another look back to Geal-Charn.
A view down to Culra Lodge and Bothy from the summit.
The other Geal Carn (Mullach Coire an Iubhair) was bathed in sun to the north.
But it remained gloomy Ben Alder way.
It had taken me 1½ hours from Geal-Charn, but without the stops it would probably have been just over an hour. It was 1pm. A 15 minute stop was had to refuel and then I was off. Within 3 or 4 minutes I met another solo chap. Again I stopped and we starting talking. He had walked in from Dalwhinnie, had dumped his gear in the Bothy, was ascending Carn Dearg, was going back to the Bothy and then was to do Bens Alder and Bheoil after then! After a while we realised it was a little silly talking there so he finished his ascent and caught me up as I dawdled on down. We then had a very pleasant 45 minutes or so chatting away as we descended. The conversation moved on to Scottish walking websites. We realised that we were both users of WH and I was talking to Tayman. Well hello again it was good to meet you!
We parted at the Bothy. I walked back, overtaken by a couple of MTBers whom I believe had cycled over the Bealach Dubh, to the location of my MTB. The cycle out was a delight and took 1¼ hours including a brief stop for photos, e.g.
and a group of teenagers (DoE?) sprawled across the track near the entrance to Ben Alder Lodge. So it was off now north west and the rendezvous, which will be the subject of another TR.
by jester » Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:45 pm
by Graeme D » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:54 am
jester wrote:Lancet Edge is on my "to-do" list. Thanks for the report.
Ditto. It looks like a "must do". Having done Carn Dearg but not Geal Charn or the 2 beyond, I'd be thinking about a walk in to the bothy at Ben Alder cottage for an overnight then around to the base of the Lancet Edge.
Lovely atmospheric photos there by the way!
by kevsbald » Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:44 pm
by Clach Liath » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:46 pm
Graeme D wrote:jester wrote:Lancet Edge is on my "to-do" list. Thanks for the report.
Lovely atmospheric photos there by the way!
kevsbald wrote:I fancy it in Winter.
Mmm as do I. Bits could be quite challenging depending on the snow conditions. A rope would probably be needed.
by tayman » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:25 pm
by Clach Liath » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:40 pm
Also sorry I missed Dooterbang. It would have been good to meet.