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Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four


Postby jupe1407 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:21 am

Route description: Beinn Udlamain and Sgairneach Mhor

Munros included on this walk: A' Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Geal-charn (Drumochter), Sgairneach Mhor

Date walked: 23/11/2014

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 23.1 km

Ascent: 1164m

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These hills are usually regarded as "winter hills", not being particularly stunning in summer, and a covering of ice and snow limiting the bog factor. I'd done Geal Charn and A'Mharconaich before, indeed they were my first winter hills on a stunning winter's day in December 2012 consisting of blue skies, no wind, and a 360 of snow covered mountains. A fraction under two years later and conditions were somewhat different. Serious snow is yet to come to the country, and it was a good bit windier than last time.

I didn't mind repeating these two as part of this round of four, as i'd found them enjoyable hills, Geal Charn especially with a fabulous view down Loch Ericht. My plan had been to leave at 6am, and make the summit, or at least the memorial cairns on Geal Charn for sunrise. Once down then up A'Mharconaich, the OS maps suggested easy terrain to Beinn Udlamain and Sgairneach Mhor, with only a relatively pathless descent, then long walk back to Balsporran Cottages to contend with.

Part one went well. I got to the car park at Balsporran Cottages at 7:30am, and was up Geal Charn at a decent pace, despite making the same "wrong path" error as last time :lol:

I'd made the memorial cairns in about 40 minutes. The sun wasn't quite up yet, so I was still in the so-called "blue hour"

Drumochter_Four.jpg
Memorial Cairns on Geal Charn


From here, it's a nice stroll to the summit cairns, the furthest one being the true summit (always touch both :lol: ). Just as i made the summit, the sun got above the thin layer of low-lying cloud and combined with the mist for a lovely effect.

Drumochter_Four-3.jpg
Sun up on Geal Charn


Drumochter_Four-4.jpg
Summit Cairns


I stopped for a while here. The views across to the Alder Range were stunning as the sun kissed the tops of the mountains, with low swirling cloud adding to the atmosphere.

Drumochter_Four-2.jpg
Alder Range


Standing about taking photos in winter is a nippy business, and i eventually got moving. The descent to the bealach is pretty standard on a fairly easy to follow path, though the icy stones needed a bit of care and attention. The descent path eventually crosses a landrover track, then a stream and starts a fairly pathless ascent up A'Mharconaich. Although a bit tedious, higher up the frosted grass made for pleasant going and i was soon on the plateau. I headed along to the cairn for the day's second summit. No views to speak, so few photos as a result. This one is the view along to the marker cairns.

Drumochter_Four-6.jpg
Exciting stuff


A quick bite to eat and a warmer pair of gloves and jacket and i briefly retraced my step, before continuing along the plateau to Beinn Udlamain., including a briefly moment of idiocy where i followed the wrong fenceline for a couple of minutes. Mistake soon realised and back on track. This is a really easy walk between summits, only dropping to 861m before a gentle, lengthy ascent to the massive shelter cairn.

Drumochter_Four-7.jpg
Beinn Udlamain approach


I was about to sit in the shelter for some scran, when a mountain hare jumped out from the shelter, but didn't seem to bothered by my prescent, letting me within a few metres before bolting off.

Drumochter_Four-9.jpg
Mountain Hare


I had a quick bite to eat, with only a brief glimpse of the potential views from here.

Drumochter_Four-8.jpg
Beinn a'Chachlair and Carn Dearg


I left the summit and followed the fence line of descent. Just before branching off left to take a stalkers path, the views again opened out.

Drumochter_Four-12.jpg
Loch Ericht and Alder Ranger


Drumochter_Four-13.jpg
South from Beinn Udlamain


The descent path was not bad at all, and the bealach not too boggy considering the location and rainfall of recent weeks. I made it across easily and began the long and gentle ascent of Sgairneach Mhor. This hill was covered almost entirely by frosted, spongy grass which was a delight to walk on. I soon reached the summit cairn and trig point.

Drumochter_Four-14.jpg
Sgairneach Mhor summit


I didn't hang around here long. It was bitterly cold, and cereal bar were beginning to taste horrific. I set off along the pleasant path, and had i had my wits about me and looked left earlier, i'd have had a brocken spectre. I was quick enough to get the camera out the bag through and it went as quickly as it had arrived. However the views were lovely from here.

Drumochter_Four-15.jpg
Sow of Atholl and the Boar of Badenoch


I then noticed how far away Balsporran Cottages and my car were :shock:

Drumochter_Four-16.jpg


(It's the white spec upper left). I followed a stalkers path off the final hill, which started promisingly, before degenerating into a boggy disaster long before the floor of Coire Domhain, bringing me out 500 yards along from the footbridge with no easy path to get to it. I struggled along and eventually made it, cursing as i went.

The walk out was over three miles from here, and was sprit-crushingly crap. Though i met up with a couple who'd done the same route, equally disappointed that neither of us were heading north from here by car. Thankfully quick work was made of the route along the cycle path, before returning to the car, which amazingly started first time. :lol:

These hills, although not highly rated make for a fine day out, just make sure you have a bike or second car :lol:


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Last edited by jupe1407 on Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby jepsonscotland » Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:29 am

Nice one, cracking weather with good views. :D (if a little chilly in the breeze! :lol: )
It's a good set to tick off, really good time too! :shock:
The quality of your pics never fail to amaze! :clap:
Chris
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:30 am

jepsonscotland wrote:Nice one, cracking weather with good views. :D (if a little chilly in the breeze! :lol: )
It's a good set to tick off, really good time too! :shock:
The quality of your pics never fail to amaze! :clap:
Chris


Thanks Chris, I do really enjoy these hills, just not the walk back to the cottages :lol:
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby Fiona Reid » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:14 am

Nice report and some great photos from first thing too :) We were a bit too lazy to make it up the hill that early.

Good to meet you on the walk out too.
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:15 pm

Liked your view over to Ben Alder - that was what I'd been hoping for from the Fara, but I clearly started out too late.
Saw lots of folk heading up the cycle track back to Balsporran as I was driving past down the road, so I'm guessing that these were quite popular hills yeaterday.
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:38 pm

Fiona Reid wrote:Nice report and some great photos from first thing too :) We were a bit too lazy to make it up the hill that early.

Good to meet you on the walk out too.


Thanks Fiona. It was good to meet you two also. chatting about various injuries certainly helped get that last 2 miles over with quickly :lol:

weaselmaster wrote:Liked your view over to Ben Alder - that was what I'd been hoping for from the Fara, but I clearly started out too late.
Saw lots of folk heading up the cycle track back to Balsporran as I was driving past down the road, so I'm guessing that these were quite popular hills yeaterday.


There was one guy following me up Geal Charn, but i think he went back. I didn't seen anyone after that until Sgairneach Mhor where i saw a hill runner, a group of four who went back immediately after reaching the summit cairn, and Fiona and Prog99 on the road out. A surprisingly quiet day.
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby Beaner001 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:53 pm

Cracking pics, we saw a mountain hare in Perthshire yesterday and it was in full white winter coat. The snow better come soon if it wants to use its camouflage :shock:
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:28 pm

Beaner001 wrote:Cracking pics, we saw a mountain hare in Perthshire yesterday and it was in full white winter coat. The snow better come soon if it wants to use its camouflage :shock:


I saw quite a few with fully white coats, especially on Geal Charn. I think the one in my photo must be a young 'un.
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby old danensian » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:53 pm

An under-rated round that should be done for the view across to the Alder group and along Loch Ericht alone - whatever the season.

First met Rodmeister while doing this a couple of years ago and we added The Sow on the end which helped avoid too much bog on the way down.

Great photos

OD
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby PerthAlly » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:31 pm

Good photos on a smashing day. Should have been walking yesterday but went golfing instead!

Did these 4 on a grim day in August. Pleased to see these hills in the sun. You're right about the cracking views across to Ben Alder.

You're also right about the hike along the A9. Soul destroying ( although I did it in the other direction ie parked at layby 81 and went clockwise )

6 hours is impressive. I was 7 hours and thought I did well. You must be way way younger than me :lol:
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby jupe1407 » Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:09 am

PerthAlly wrote:Good photos on a smashing day. Should have been walking yesterday but went golfing instead!

Did these 4 on a grim day in August. Pleased to see these hills in the sun. You're right about the cracking views across to Ben Alder.

You're also right about the hike along the A9. Soul destroying ( although I did it in the other direction ie parked at layby 81 and went clockwise )

6 hours is impressive. I was 7 hours and thought I did well. You must be way way younger than me :lol:


I hadn't noticed that! I'd entered 6:50 in the report but it must default to the first number :lol: Definitely a day for two cars, but a highly enjoyable nonetheless.

old danensian wrote:An under-rated round that should be done for the view across to the Alder group and along Loch Ericht alone - whatever the season.

First met Rodmeister while doing this a couple of years ago and we added The Sow on the end which helped avoid too much bog on the way down.

Great photos

OD


Thanks OD ... it was a great day out, hills I will certainly repeat (again) :lol:
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Re: Daunder around the Drumochter Western Four

Postby kaye.cantlay » Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:06 pm

I did them the day after you....but left a bit later at 7:50 after dropping my bike off at the summit if Drumochter.
The sunrise totally made my day!
Stunning!
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