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Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend

Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend


Postby weaselmaster » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:39 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: 25/02/2013

Time taken: 8.51 hours

Distance: 22.9 km

Ascent: 1519m

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Had been looking forward to this big set of 3 for some time now and knew it would be something of a longish day. So an early rise was called for. Not that lying awake all the night before wondering where our cat had got to as she had, unusually, failed to return for her supper had been good preparation for a 4.20 rise, nor did her disappearance lead to an entirely comfortable state of mind out on the hills.

Anyway, set off at 5.15 and found it strange to be driving past the Erskine Bridge turn off and along motorway rather than the winding Loch Lomond road that has been the start to so many recent adventures. At any rate it made for easier driving with a sleepy head… getting past Perth the air temperature was falling and by the time we made the farm roads towards Loch Maraig, frozen snow was piled high by the roadside in places, although the road itself was fine. Parked up across from the “No Fishing” sign and got togged up.
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Loch Maraig from the parking spot by 23weasels, on Flickr

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First view of Carn Liath by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Carn Liath basking in the morning glow by 23weasels, on Flickr

We could see our first objective, Carn Liath (CL) gleaming in the morning sun with just a tinge of pink still on its snowy shoulder. First folk there, we set off at about 7.45.
We headed up the track, passed a few disinterested and probably half frozen cattle and turned left to make our way to the start of a steep flank of CL. Fortunately most of the bog that must make this a squelchy journey most of the year was frozen under layers of snow and ice, with only the odd patch still liquid.
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Looking back towards Sron a Chro by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Panorama looking NW from slopes of Carn Liath by 23weasels, on Flickr

The view backwards towards the South East was superb, with the sun dazzling away, Schiehallion standing isoceles-pointy and Loch Maraig swathed in afine veil of mist.
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Looking back to Loch Maraig in the mist by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Schiehalion by 23weasels, on Flickr

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E view from Liath by 23weasels, on Flickr

Ice and frozen crunchy snow led to us donning crampons almost as soon as we started up the side of CL. Throughout the day we were squawked at by black grouse that would shoot off from the heathery undergrowth ahead making a bizarre sound like rattling laughter. By keeping to the L of the scarred track we kept to the snow which was easier going than the heather – and we avoided eroding the hillside further by walking on the icy stuff. Found it necessary to zig-zag though to relieve ankle pains with the crampons. Looking back, the contrast between the snow and the brown heather patches made for an absorbing landscape – was a great day to be out.

Image
Steep slope up Carn Liath by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Still a way to go to top of CL by 23weasels, on Flickr

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View from the first cairn of CL by 23weasels, on Flickr

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C'mon you two! by 23weasels, on Flickr

There’s a small cairn just at the top of the steep slope up then a more gentle pull up the last 50m or so.

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Top of CL by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Hoar-frost on the cairn of CL by 23weasels, on Flickr
The trig point was wreathed in feathery, frosty fingers writhing to the East and the vista was superb, up to the Cairnwell and the Cairngorms in the further North.

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Looking to the next 2... by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Finn out-posing us both by 23weasels, on Flickr
There was a wee bit of wind to keep up from lingering too long and we set off following the footprints of visitors from earlier in the week towards our next target, the Hill of the Small Rounded Blisters (or Stones – depending who you believe).
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Yep, get on with it...the ridge to BCCB by 23weasels, on Flickr

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BCCB with pointy top by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Another view back to CL from the ridge to BCCB by 23weasels, on Flickr
Dropping a couple of hundred metres down to the col didn’t seem to matter that much with such beautiful surroundings, but on the way up a stop was required for a bit of preventative action with tape on what was threatening to become one of these same “small rounded blisters” on Allison’s foot. Medical care applied, the top was reached without further problem, a more comfortably sloped ascent than CL and we stopped for a bite to eat at the cairn – just over 3 hours from the car so far, which seemed good time to me.

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Heading up BCCB, view back to CL by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Towards Carn nan Gabhar by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Summit BCCB by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Looking NE from summit BCCB by 23weasels, on Flickr

Setting off again we dropped down to the bealach with Carn nan Gabhar – minding the lost metres a bit more this time around, especially as the brute is all of 1172m high. Again we could follow the prints of previous walkers, with some ski tracks too – must be a great experience ski-ing on hills like these!
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Towards CnG by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Looking back to Carn Liath from slopes of CnG by 23weasels, on Flickr

There was no thought of trying any glissading today however – crampons on and the hard icy surface of the snow would have torn away the seat of one’s pants – and maybe also a bit of what was underneath!
Setting off up the steep side of CnG I made with a steady plod, counting out sections in hundred strides and finding it easier just to keep going.
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White slopes of CnG by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Finn nearing the last top by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Looking towards glas leathad from CnG by 23weasels, on Flickr

Allison had slowed and met up with one man and his (golden retriever) dog who had been making a cracking pace following our path – he told her this was the third time he’d done these hills and the first that he’d seen anything at all – we were lucky to get a day like this! He powered off towards the top and we took a more leisurly pace, meeting a group of 4 walkers and their dog who were doing the circuit in reverse direction to us. In hindsight there may be something to be said for this – the walk out is long long long and it might be nice to have all the “action” in the second part of the walk rather than the first.
The top of CnG is marked by not one, not two but three cairns, with the trig point being the second and the true to being the third. All three tops were entombed in the thickest frosty coatings I’ve seen, with the poor old trig almost entirely enveloped in the stuff. Amazing snow shapes.
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Finn at the trig of CnG by 23weasels, on Flickr

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There is a trig point in there, honest! by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Pair of poseurs on CnG true summit by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Allison suddenly shrunk to leprachaun size... by 23weasels, on Flickr

We spent some time looking around at the still beautiful hills although some darker clouds were beginning to hang over the Cairngorms and I thought we might be in for one of the snow flurries that had been forecast. When it came however, it was a short burst of white pellets of hail, fluffy little ones.

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North from CnG by 23weasels, on Flickr

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another view of the way we've come by 23weasels, on Flickr

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View back to BCCB & CL from top CnG by 23weasels, on Flickr

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...and again by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Airgiod Bheinn by 23weasels, on Flickr

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and again, with CL behind by 23weasels, on Flickr

For the descent we had wondered about going over the pristine whiteness of Airgiod Bheinn as I’d read about in a few walk reports, and as Mr Golden Retriever was doing. However, on the map and in the snow it looked steep and I thought it might be a bit menacing on the knees. The fact that Finn was struggling with the slopes down Gabhar itself made up our minds that we’d just go down to the bealach and head back along the valley in the usual way. In fact I haven’t seen the dog as apprehensive as he was sliding down the slopes today – maybe his experiences a few weeks ago on Beinn Achaladair have got to him, or maybe the fact that his paws were getting cut on the icy surfaces today – really don’t know what could have been used to prevent that as all the dog paw covers I’ve seen would have resulted in him having no grip at all and slipping & sliding to a much worse degree. The other dogs we saw today didn’t seem to have a problem at all…

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"I hate this stuff..." by 23weasels, on Flickr

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View from the bealach between BCCB & CnG by 23weasels, on Flickr

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This is the start of a long walk back by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Beinn Bheag with CL behind by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Beinn Bheag with CL behind by 23weasels, on Flickr
The walk out was a bit of a slog. First several hours (well so it seemed) spent contouring round Beinn Bheag then a couple of jumps or stepping stones across streams and plod through heather and bogs – again mostly of the frozen variety. With some relief we hit the easier going of the landrover track, passing a multitude of hungry sheep before making to the plain before Loch Maraig which was populated by sentinel cows. The sun was warm enough to suggest that spring – if not early summer – nah that’s delirium talking… - was well in the air and we shed layers as we made the final stretch back to the car. Dog limping quite badly by this time leaving a trail of blood droplets

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Sheepy watchers by 23weasels, on Flickr

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Cow sentinels on the last stretch by 23weasels, on Flickr

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A last look back at CL in the late afternoon sun by 23weasels, on Flickr

Once we got changed set off along the track with a family of hieland coos being reluctant to let us leave – just stood half on the road looking at us as we wended our way carefully past – didn’t fancy these horns using my car as an exercise in tin-can opening.
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We ain't moo-ving... by 23weasels, on Flickr

A text from my wife that the cat had not returned cast a bit of a damp towel over the rest of the day – previously we had swithered about camping out and doing either the Drumochter hills or some of the Lawers ones on the Sunday, but my feline worries coupled with the dog’s paws being in no state for more punishment meant the we headed home instead.
As a final happy note, on the Sunday evening, after a day of woe, the cat beast turned up, having been inadvertently incarcerated in the neighbour’s cellar. All’s well that ends well then!
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weaselmaster
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Re: Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:48 pm

Super report and pics :) I can vouch for just how boggy the start of that route is. Oh and nice to here about the cat :lol:
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johnkaysleftleg
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Re: Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend

Postby rockhopper » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:32 am

Great stuff, WM, looks like you both had a great day. Was up in these hills around the same time of year as you but had a bit less snow - very much liked the view of the "switchback" ridge once up and over Carn Liath looking towards BCCb - but the walkout just seems neverending :roll: - cheers :)
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Re: Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend

Postby heatheronthehills » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:27 am

Fantastic photos - looks like a great day out. Shame about Fin's paws though - he needs some wee booties with crampons attached :lol: So relieved the cat story had a happy ending - I was worried about it all the way through your report :crazy:
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heatheronthehills
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Re: Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend

Postby weaselmaster » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:51 am

heatheronthehills wrote: Shame about Fin's paws though - he needs some wee booties with crampons attached :lol:

Yeah - haven't seen them for sale anywhere yet :lol: :lol: Pleased to report that they're healing up ok - big question is - healed enough for 4 Drumochter hills this Saturday? My guess is not, and he'll be one huffy dog sat at home :roll:
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weaselmaster
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Re: Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend

Postby soulminer » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:35 am

A great read with a fine array of photos 8) Superb trio in the right weather. Hope Finn has a speedy recovery :thumbup:
The first time we were there, we were passed just after CL by four guys running, in training for some sort of peak challenge. In the end we beat three of them off Airgiod and the one that passed us was lying at the car knackered- we didn't fancy their chances much for the target they had set themselves :lol: Cheers.
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Re: Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend

Postby Fudgie » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:20 am

Excellent pictures on what looked like an ideal day for walking. I've read someone else mention doing the walk in reverse so when I get round to these in the summer, I think thats how I'll approach them.
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Re: Beinn a'Ghlo-rious on the lost-cat weekend

Postby PeteR » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:33 pm

Another excellent report and photos WM :D This is a great trio of hills and you got a not bad day for them too by the looks of it :D
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