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Into the Interior: Beinns Dearg & Mheadhonach

Into the Interior: Beinns Dearg & Mheadhonach

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:46 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Dearg (Blair Atholl)

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Mheadhonach

Date walked: 12/07/2014

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 31 km

Ascent: 1460m

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In terms of the weather, July has been a bit of a frustrating month so far: fantastic midweek weather, then p***ing down every weekend :lol: ... ah well, as a wise man once remarked to me somewhere in the Arrochar Alps, "You get the weather you get".
Due to the usual combination of on-call, family social commitments, much-sought-after tickets to see the tiddlywinks semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games and sundry similar nonsense, I only had one weekend day free for walking, Saturday 12th, and needless to say, after wall-to-wall midweek sunshine, the weekend forecast was pants :( - low cloud and drizzly rain all day. It did look slightly better in the east than in the west, but only slightly, mind. My usual partner in crime Tom had come down with some unpleasant viral lurgie too, so I was off on my own again. After a last look at the www.mwis.org.uk forecast, which hadn't improved any, I decided to disappear in a huff into the Interior, in the form of the fairly remote Munro of Beinn Dearg up at Blair Atholl :roll: . It's a bit of an awkward singleton, and it sits a long way back from the road, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get it ticked off. All the same, it looked like a long walk for just one "tick", so I thought I might as well also have a look at the Corbett to its east, Beinn Mheadhonach, if time and energy allowed.

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They are an interesting wee group of hills, these: a straightforward Munro (Carn a'Chlamain), a fairly straightforward Corbett (Beinn Mheadhonach), a more remote Munro, but still with good access tracks (Beinn Dearg), and finally a truly remote Corbett (Beinn Bhreac). They can be accessed either from the Old Bridge of Tilt car park at Blair Atholl, or from Calvine further west along the A9; and there are two atmospheric bothies (one on the Allt Sheicheachan at GR834736, and an even more remote one away out to the north-east at the headwaters of the River Tarf, commonly known as the "Tarf Hotel") that can be used to avoid the Long Walk In, and even to allow routes further north to that ultimate pair of Back of Beyond Munros, An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir. Although the Beinn Dearg / Beinn Meadhonach combo looked like a long walk by my usual standards, I was hopeful that the good approach tracks should make it do-able as a day trip without having to get my torch out :? ...
I got an early start and arrived at the Old Bridge of Tilt car park in jig time. It's a scenic bit of the world this, but the weather wasn't any better than promised. Ah well, at least it wasn't raining yet :lol: . I set off left down the tarmacked road to Old Blair, and then straight on down the continuing track at the crossroads.
WR1 - Crossroads at Old Blair.jpg

This leads to a slightly confusing network of paths around the Banvie Burn, up through an attractive bit of forestry, the Whim Plantation. I nearly crossed the Banvie Burn by mistake :? , but the route keeps to the NE bank of the burn, and a quick look at the map kept me right.
WR2 - Whim Plantation.jpg

Soon enough, I was out of the trees, and stoating along the excellent path into the middle of nowhere.
WR3 - into the Interior.jpg

A bit further up the track, there is an impressive cairn to the right, known as "Lady March Cairn". It apparently commemorates nothing more momentous than the eponymous Edwardian lady's roadside picnic sometime back in the early years of the last century. Given the size of the cairn, it really must have been some picnic: I can't help envisaging some sort of cucumber-sandwich-induced "When Harry Met Sally" moment :lol: ...
WR4 - Lady March Cairn.jpg

The road goes ever ever on, as Bilbo Baggins might have said, across some fairly featureless but pleasingly remote moorland.
WR5 - long and unwinding road.jpg

There are practically zero Features of Interest, but soon that started to become oddly enjoyable - it just made it feel even more like the Back of Beyond, somehow. The low lid of cloud helped too. Admittedly it didn't make for great mountain photographs :? - eventually it got so that I was whipping the camera out whenever I spotted an exciting combination like a bridge and a big thistle :lol: ,,,
WR6 - bridge over Allt na Monie Baine.jpg

The track rose almost imperceptibly to a high, flat bealach between the cairned minor rises of Meall Dubh and Meall Tionail. From here, a hazy view across to the track on the west side of Glen Bruar, where there currently seems to be some sort of fairly major pipeline construction work going on, did spoil the Wilderness Ambience a wee bit :( .
WR7 - pipeline work in Glen Bruar.jpg

Luckily this didn't last for long however, and another short stretch of flat and featureless moorland, I reached the great wee bothy on the Allt Sheicheachan at GR834736. It looks as though it would be a great spot for an overnighter - quite luxurious as bothies go in fact, with big church candles in the windows and a wooden picnic table just outside.
WR8 - Tarff Hotel.jpg

The track crosses the Allt Scheicheachan on stepping stones just behind the bothy, and heads on along the NW bank of the burn.
WR9 - crossing Allt Sheicheachan behind the bothy.jpg

Eventually the track took a sharp bend to the right across the burn (apparently this provides an alternative return route if bagging Beinn Dearg on its own), and from this point a well-constructed stalkers' path zigzagged up onto Beinn Dearg's broad south ridge.
WR10 - start of stalkers' path.jpg

All those zigzags made for fairly effortless height gain, at least initially, although it did get a wee bit steeper as I got higher up. It wasn't long before I started to hit the Clag, though :( ...
WR11 - hazy view down from stalkers' path.jpg

Higher up, and clearly I would have almost zero visibility for the next few hours. I was glad of a series of waymarker cairns: one of these even incorporated a big stone arrow to mark a point where the path took a bit of a dive to the left.
WR12 - arrow cairn at left-hand bend.jpg

A bit higher up again, and a fairly impressive big cairn loomed out of the mist ahead - N.B. NOT the true summit though :? ! This was just a minor cairned south top - according to the map, the true summit should definitely feature a Trig Point.
WR13 - cairn on Beinn  Dearg minor south top.jpg

Thankfully it wasn't much further to the real-deal summit cairn, an unmistakeable big semicircular windshelter with a rather cute red granite Trig Point in the middle. Spectacular summit views, needless to say :lol: :lol: !
WR14 - Beinn Dearg summit cairn & trig point.jpg

Having drunk in the impressive vistas around me, I set off past the cairn in the same general direction. Unfortunately the continuation of the stalkers' path marked on the OS map seems to be the figment of some cartographer's imagination: the path soon fizzled out on Beinn Dearg's vague NNE ridge, and getting down to the bealach with the rounded top of Elrig 'ic an Toisich to the east involved some tricky compass-and-GPS work (well, tricky by my dodgy navigational standards anyway).
Of the various Beinn Deargs, Stob Deargs and even Sgorr Deargs I've climbed, this one is definitely the Dearg-est of the lot: those big granite boulders really were very red indeed.
Q: What's big, red and absolutely miles from anywhere?
WR15- big red rocks on Beinn Dearg.jpg

Having eventually made it down to the poorly defined bealach, heading up east to the rounded "summit" of Elrig 'ic an Toisich was straightforward enough, but there was some more tricky navigation getting down its SE "ridge" to the lumpy, swampy and downright confusing bealach with Carn a'Chiaraidh in thick Clag and worsening drizzly rain. By the time I was down at this next bealach, I was fairly drookit and my map was getting very soggy too :( . Definitely tIme for a lunch break. Thankfully, my cheese and pickle sandwiches fair revived my flagging navigational skills, and in no time I was making much better progress up to the south, bypassing Carn a'Chiaraidh to reach Beinn Mheadhonach's north ridge.
This Corbett has two cairned tops of almost the same height, with the the one to the north apparently being the true summit. I'd have to admit that its tiny cairn was a bit of an anticlimax, though: Lady March would probably have been unimpressed :lol: ...
WR16 - tiny main summit cairn on Beinn Mheadhonach.jpg

The cairn on the marginally lower south top is altogether more impressive!
WR17 - much bigger cairn on Beinn Mheadhonach south top.jpg

Just south of this second cairn, I was very glad to see a Path, of all things, materialise out of the clag :) . It headed off down Mheadhonach's south ridge, so I put my saturated map back in the rucksack for the time being and followed it.
WR18 - a path materialises leaving the south top cairn.jpg

The path made for straightforward progress, and very soon I finally emerged from the cloud to be treated to a pleasantly hazy view down to the meeting point of Gleanns Diridh and Mhairc.
WR19 - nice hazy view over junctions of Gleanns Diridh & Mhairc.jpg

There was a bridge marked over the Allt Mhairc to the left, with an ongoing path on the far side eventually leading down Glen Tilt. I was a bit dubious about the existence of the bridge at first - a lot of the bridges marked on OS maps seem to be rickety wooden structures that get washed away in the first flood... However, as the path finally reached the edge of the gorge of the Allt Mhairc, the bridge duly appeared. And a very impressive stone structure it was too, although why on earth anyone would build such a grand bridge leading to an obscure Corbett in the middle of nowhere is something of a puzzle. I wasn't complaining, though!
WR20 - view down to bridge over the Allt Mhairc.jpg

A nice view back up Gleann Mhairc from the far side:
WR21 - view up Gleann Mhairc.jpg

A good path continued on down to the next bridge, the one over the Allt Diridh marked at GR 888713. This turned out to be another well-constructed wee stone bridge.
WR22 - bridge over the Allt Diridh.jpg

From here, the path quickly evolved into a vehicle track down the west side of the River Tilt. After running through a wee bit of forestry, this eventually came out at the west end of Gilbert's Bridge, which is accessed through a truly bizarre diamond-shaped gate in a big deer fence. I've never encountered a gate anything like this before - very Tate Modern :lol: !
WR23 - bizarre diamond-shaped gate.jpg

I'd been walking a long time by now, and Gilbert's Bridge was a welcome sight. All the same, it was still a fair old way back down the Glen Tilt track to the car park even from here.
WR24 - Gilbert's Bridge.jpg

A long walk in featureless scenery and dodgy weather to bag a couple of relatively obscure hills in the middle of nowhere... It really doesn't get much better than that :D !
Last edited by bobble_hat_kenny on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Into the Interior: Beinns Dearg & Mheadhonach

Postby AnnieMacD » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:52 pm

Well done :clap: Really enjoyed reading that - at least you kept your sense of humour! Beautiful little stone bridges - I'm sure they were used by the crofters in days of yore.
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Re: Into the Interior: Beinns Dearg & Mheadhonach

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:18 am

AnnieMacD wrote:Well done :clap: Really enjoyed reading that - at least you kept your sense of humour! Beautiful little stone bridges - I'm sure they were used by the crofters in days of yore.

Thanks! Yes, those two wee stone bridges were really unfeasibly picturesque, whoever built them out there in the back of beyond :clap: ... Those two wild glens, Gleann Diridh and Gleann Mhairc, were definitely the highlight scenery-wise.
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Re: Into the Interior: Beinns Dearg & Mheadhonach

Postby Fudgie » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:40 pm

I did that Corbett from the other side after doing Carn a'Chlamain and it was a bit of a slog from that side. I found a path running off the summit of Mheadhonach but it stopped abruptly in the heather which was a truly bizarre sight. I found the bridge by accident and it is a strange sight when you consider whats around it. I agree that the walk out seems never ending... :shock:
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