Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

A rare perfect day in Glen Islay

A rare perfect day in Glen Islay

Postby Bushbaby » Fri May 16, 2014 12:23 pm

Munros included on this walk: Creag Leacach

Date walked: 26/03/2014

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 23.2 km

Ascent: 1064m

1 person thinks this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Creach Leacach had been on my agenda for almost two years now. In Feb 2011 my husband and I had done the Glas Maol circuit but on reaching Glas Maol, it was a white out, we were tired and decided to call it a day leaving poor Creag Leacach neglected.

Jan 2014 I made a disastrous decision to go climb CL from Glen Shee on a perfect winters day. It was a Sunday, not a cloud in the sky, thick snow everywhere right down to about 300m and no wind. What more could one ask for? It was so perfect that the entire Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland and I'm sure I heard some Europeans as well all descended on Glen Shee. After sitting in a traffic jam for an hour, Shadow restless in the back and still being over 2km from the start of my walk I turned around frustrated, deciding to head home. I still had the problem of an un exercised border collie - a bigger problem than most realize so headed off down a quite road and quite by accident discovered Glen Islay. A large desolate track heading into a glen was a godsend. We set off at 1pm, knowing it was too late to summit but we did walk all the way into the glen and looked in awe up Glen Caenlochan - stunning! In fact the snow was so thick I wished I had had skies and could have skied along the track rather.

Given the incredible wildlife we saw, the remote and isolated feeling I decided to had to return. Hence it was that I came back to Glen Islay to summit Creag Leacach a few weeks later. On this perfect day I did not see a soul, no skiers, no sledgers, not even another walker.

We were parked and kitted up by 7:45am heading out along the landrover track.

Soon we passed the rickety old bridge on the right that one day I just have to cross for the fun of it. Getting to the bridge at the lodge we ducked down to the river so Shadow could have a drink and a paddle - not sure about the paddle as it can't have been much above 5degrees but clearly he was already hot.

Shadow stopping for a drink and paddle after only 4km!

Views up Canness Glen

We forded the Glas Burn then turned left sharply missing the stalkers path although we finally did meet up with it. Its a long trudge up the hill and Shadow kept looking back at me with questioning eyes as to my slowness - he is a very depressing partner to walk with! Soon I spotted some litter and was surprised to see litter in this remote area. Closer inspection showed it to be a very clean plastic bag with two pork pies in it! Realization dawned that actually this was Shadows lunch and he had successfully ripped a hole in his pack forcing me to carry his food - not impressed.

Soon we reached the summit of Monega hill and were rewarded with the most stunning views ever of Caenlochan glen.

Views into Caenlochan Glen

I admit I almost turned round and called it a day after this view. We had sat munching on pork pies and drinking tea simply enjoying the beauty and peacefulness of it. I felt that nothing else could come this close and I had achieved my objective to look into the remote glen. However that would be foolish to pass up the Munro which were now so close. Hence, suntan lotion was applied, crampons strapped on, ice axe out and we headed over the snow field to Little Glas Moal, Glas Moal and finally Creag Leacach.

The walking was superb, so easy, so smooth, so solitary. We didn't encounter a single soul. The snow was crisp and firm so the crampons dug in easily making it seem like a stroll in a park. Shadow was in his element chasing shadows caused by myself, himself and simply the snow glistening. Every now and then he would dive head first into the snow and dig furiously. Being deaf he never barks unless he gets really really excited and then emits this high pitches squeal - yip you guessed it, soon I had to reprimand him to enjoy the silence again but at least he was happy.

A rare perfect day

Footprints "on" the snow

The ridgeline to Creag Leachan


Shadow and his Shadow

Having already summited Glas Maol, we didn't actually go all the way to the summit cairn but passed within 20m, skirting round and onto the ridgeline heading to Creag Leacach. Its a beautiful ridge walk strewn with rocks and we were cautious to skirt wide of the overhanging cornices. Shadow ventured a wee bit close and it held but I decided not to test it that day. From the summit we left the snow behind making our way down the boulder field to Carn Ait before turning left and following the fence line. By now there was no snow to be seen so crampons and axes were stored away and I realized just how much harder the walking became. I've always preferred winter walking to summer. My intention was to include the corbett Monamenach but a case of extreme laziness set in on the summit of Black hill and I decided - stupidly to head straight down to the lodge. Stupidly because this ended in a epic. Bog after bog after bog, then a bad river crossing before finally ending up walking through the lodge, ignoring the signs and doing my best to creep as I was then exhausted before finally reaching the bridge again and the walk out. Had I simply stuck to my original plan the walk would have been so much easier :lol: Lessons learnt!

Needless to say Shadow was not exhausted but I was. We relaxed by the side of the river sharing a wrap purchased on the way up and simply enjoying the "warm" winter sunshine. A great day out with my best friend in a truly beautiful glen.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

User avatar
Munro compleatist
Posts: 5
Munros:191   Corbetts:21
Grahams:1   Donalds:7
Sub 2000:17   
Joined: Mar 22, 2013
Location: Kinrosshire

Re: A rare perfect day in Glen Islay

Postby AnnieMacD » Fri May 16, 2014 2:21 pm

Enjoyed that and great photos. Laughed at the bit where you snuck through the lodge! Yes, it's great to get away from the crowds.
User avatar
Posts: 789
Munros:25   Corbetts:15
Sub 2000:8   
Joined: Jun 25, 2013
Location: Applecross

Re: A rare perfect day in Glen Islay

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sat May 17, 2014 8:49 pm

What a stunning route for this hill - Shadow looks like a great companion, when not eating his pack :lol: Lovely photos.
User avatar
Posts: 1034
Munros:263   Corbetts:17
Grahams:9   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:18   Hewitts:4
Wainwrights:1   Islands:19
Joined: Apr 13, 2012

1 person thinks this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 46 guests