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A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo


Postby Jaxter » Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:07 am

Route description: Beinn a'Ghlo

Munros included on this walk: Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, Carn Liath (Beinn a'Ghlo), Carn nan Gabhar

Date walked: 25/03/2016

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 1239m

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Due to the discovery of walking buddies and my friend Lucy moving to Scotland, it had been a while since I'd been out walking on my own. However, Friday was a free day for me and with decent looking weather, I wasn't going to be deterred, so it was to be a solo excursion due to family commitments elsewhere; I was to be let loose on my own :shock: :lol:

It had been a late night the night before, and as I set my alarm for 4.45 (alarmingly my phone told me it was less than 4 hours away :shock: ) I was beginning to wonder if I was being slightly insane. Of course I woke up full of the usual excitement, and was out the house within 20 minutes as per usual. The 80s party mix was on in the car and I was off :D :thumbup:

Driving up the A9, the views were absolutely stunning; it was all I could do to keep my eyes on the road and obey the speed limits. Finding my way up the single track road, I arrived at the parking space at 7.05 and imagine my surprise to have been beaten there by 2 other cars :shock: A couple left just as I arrived, but the owner of the other car was long gone.

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Off I went down the road for a few metres before going through the gate and heading up a decent track, gently ascending over lumps and bumps until the fork at the wooden hut. Due to my clumsiness on Creag Pitridh on Sunday and a Royal Mail cock-up the day before, I had only one pole and was feeling a bit lopsided…

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The cloud clearing from the hut
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By now the cloud had cleared from the summit of Carn Liath and the sun was beating down. I stopped for a drink and to lose some layers before setting off across gentle boggy slopes which soon turned into the steep, stony, eroded path that scars the mountain and can be seen for miles. It was hard going, especially in the warmth and I kept telling myself to slow down and enjoy it but my legs had other ideas!

Views back
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The path relenting for a few metres
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As I climbed higher, I could see some curious white flakes on the ground, reminding me that, despite the warmth and conditions, it was in fact March, although one could easily have mistaken it for June! 8)

Funny white stuff
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The views back the way were breath-taking and I had to keep stopping for photos. During one of these photography sessions, I noticed someone else coming up behind me. It was going to be busy today it seemed!

As I came over the worst of the slog onto a relatively gentle final climb to the summit, the breeze picked up which was most welcome. I had to stand and admire the beauty of my surroundings before continuing up to the summit. I don't think I could ever grow tired of days like today. I pondered on how lucky we are to be within such relatively easy reach of these wonderful views and how alive it makes me to feel to be out there. After the week the world has had, it seemed particularly poignant to stand there and enjoy every moment.

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Final few metres to the top
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Eventually I walked the final few metres to the summit and the full vista was revealed. I could see the ridge ahead of me, my next 2 targets Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain and Carn nan Gabhar as well as the possible route down over the ridge of Airgiod Beinn which was looking more attractive by the minute. The views in every direction were wonderful and I spent so much time taking pictures that the guy behind me caught up.

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The ridge ahead
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The wind, although not very strong at this moment, was extremely cold and the sun decided to choose this moment to go behind one of the few clouds still in the sky, so I layered up and set off down the curved ridge. I tried to take my time as much as possible here too, as it was only 9am and I didn't want this wonderful day to be over too soon!

Ahead
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Back along the ridge to Carn Liath
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Of course soon the sun came out again and I was far too warm, so I had to stop and take something off, at which point I was overtaken by my pursuer! I made my way along the ridge, admiring the stunning views and the many coires of the Beinn a’ Ghlo (19 according to Cameron McNeish, I have to admit I didn’t count).

Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain
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Looking South-ish from the bealach
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It was a steep rocky descent down to the bealach and then straight away began climbing up the other side. There was much more snow here – it must have been out of the sun more, although it was very warm on my back as I started up Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, which I didn’t attempt to pronounce…. Once my legs had remembered how to go uphill again, this was a long but enjoyable climb. The enjoyment was increased by the stunning views of course.

There was an impressive cornice on the top of the coire which looked like it could collapse at any moment. Eventually the huge bulk of the mountain was conquered and there I was at summit number 2! Again it was pretty chilly, so layers were back on before summit photos this time.

Peekaboo!
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Looking back to Carn Liath
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The route was less obvious here, and I consulted the map and instructions before doing anything stupid. I treated myself to a mars bar as I felt I’d earned it, and then followed the ridge along to the second summit as directed, then traversed left a little before heading steeply down. There were footprints in the snow here which was reassuring, as it felt a little bit like walking off the edge of a cliff until you were actually there….

Safely over the edge, heading down
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Once over the edge, there was a path which was obvious most of the way down to the bealach, snowy and slippery in places, but the drop was made with dignity intact. The bealach and the whole side of Carn nan Gabhar was in the shade; there was much more snow here and it was a bit chillier which was actually pleasant for this final climb.

The route up
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The path was visible much of the way, although not always easy to walk on as it was filled with snow. This ascent wasn’t as bad as I was expecting – perhaps my fitness isn’t so bad after-all. I bumped into a man coming down who turned out to be the early bird from the car park – he said he had started walking at 6.30 which must have been wonderful!

Soon after parting ways, I came to a large piece of snow to cross. I could see steps and started to follow them before realising that it was a huge piece of ice, not snow…. :shock: A complicated manoeuvre of getting my ice axe out without slipping down the ice followed, fortunately without mishap. Should probably have got it out earlier…. :roll:

Looks so innocent...
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There were some dodgy moments where my hobbit legs couldn’t reach the footholds so ended up crawling, but made it across in one piece, which is what matters afterall. Who needs dignity?! :lol: After that it was a simple walk to the first huge cairn, which then revealed a trig point and finally a summit cairn some distance on. I met my quarry at the cairn and we chatted for a few minutes before he set off down and I took some more photos and found a sheltered spot to eat my sandwich. I could hardly believe it was only 11.15 but it felt like lunchtime! It was a brilliant spot to sit and eat – fabulous views in every direction, couldn’t ask for better really.

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Cairngorm-arama
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My route so far
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When I set off shortly after it was much windier… :shock: so walking back along the summit ridge was harder work than it should have been, as well as being pretty chilly. Rewarding myself for being awesome with a coconut macaroon, I marched on and came to decision time. Airgiod Beinn or not? It was always going to be a “yes”. As a child walking in the Lakes I would always walk over unnecessary summits and it seems that little has changed since then including my height :lol: I was also wanting to get the views of the whole ridge that I thought I would get from there. I’d spied a zig zag path down the last bit so knew that getting down would be no problem.

Airgiod Beinn was definitely a case of “paths less travelled” as there was one footprint the entire way that I spotted. It was a nice feeling, being more off the beaten track. And I was happy to extend my day in the hills in any way possible. On reaching the top, the views were as stunning as I’d expected. I started messing around trying to get a photo of me jumping on a rock. It didn’t work very well, largely because the camera kept blowing over.

Best of a bad lot. Fun though!
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A while later I realised that this was because the wind had increased again, and was making standing difficult for me, let alone a camera….Thinking that this was probably a sign to head down, I picked up my things and headed down the ridge, gentle at first with some really cool rocky things, but becoming increasingly steep and giving my knees a real work-out.

Cool rocks
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No photos on the way down as I was concentrating on not going flying but here is one I took looking back up :shock:

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The last bit of descent to the Allt bealach an Fhiodha turned into a stream and bog which wasn’t so fun but made it to the stream with dry feet. I sat by the stream for a while as it was so idyllic, but I had a long way to go so refilled a water bottle and headed off down the path.

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The reports of the bogginess of this have not been exaggerated, and I can only imagine that it would be a swamp after really wet weather. Parts were stony but there were big sections of mud and bog to negotiate. Still trying to prolong my day, I took my time and stopped for some more photos.

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The bog trot didn’t seem as long as I’d imagined fortunately, probably a lot to do with the wonderful views.

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Eventually the boggy path turned into the track that I’d turned off early this morning and after a few more bends, I spied the wooden hut.

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Just before I reached this, there was one final hurdle…a river crossing!!! Fortunately not as bad as it looked and I didn’t need to wade this time!

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I could see some people coming down the Carn Liath path which I thought was brave. I ploughed on and eventually reached the gate, the road and the car park which was now overflowing with cars. Arriving early is worth it!

Back where I started!
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Boots off felt fantastic. Finishing off my bottle of Irn Bru from the car and putting the 80s party mix back on, I headed back down the road, waved goodbye to the very large cows watching me suspiciously and hit the A9 for the long drive home.

Reflecting on the way back, I realised that I appreciate different things walking alone to walking with company. Both are good and I was so happy that I managed to get out for another fabulous day 8)

Wee video:
Last edited by Jaxter on Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby Collaciotach » Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:55 pm

Good stuff :clap: :clap:

I walk alone most of the time (well always got the dog) and aye it is nice to have company sometimes too.
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby dooterbang » Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:14 pm

I also like to mix solo with group/friends walks :)

I took the same descent route when doing these few years back, I think I ran out when on the flat...was fitter then :)

Some fab photos, coupled with enthusiastic narrative.

There's something nice about rising around 4am, think it's the sense of adventure and what lies ahead.

Cheers.
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby Guinessman » Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:38 pm

Another great report. Last time I was up that way the cows were on the approach side to the last gate and crowded around it. Not very pleasant.
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby Borderhugh » Sat Mar 26, 2016 5:47 pm

Love the piccies and WR Jackie or should that read Picaboo! :clap: :? :D
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby litljortindan » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:12 pm

A lot of variety, good views and enjoyment there by the sound of it. Possibly one for us to try in the summer.
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:19 am

Well done, that's a decent time for those three at this time of year. I did them on a totally scorching day in July 2014, having forgotten any sort of sun protection which made for pretty amusing (and painful) results.

That walk out seems never-ending though, especially my route off (i didn't bother with Airghod Bheinn and just dropped back down to the bealach between Braigh..etc.. and CnG. It was still pretty mushy in places after a week of hot dry weather.

The view of the winding ridge from the middle peak is fantastic.
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby Petr Dakota » Sun Mar 27, 2016 11:10 am

Another good walk :clap:
It brought some unforgetable memories from there , I did this trio in heavy snow between Christmas and New Year ( December 2014 ) and I fully agree with jupe1407 - the way back was never-ending as on my way I badly chose a "shortcut", which was finally much longer in time by the rough terrain :lol:
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby ancancha » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:26 pm

A fabulous trio of hills that should be on everyone's walk list whether in company or solo :wink:
Nice photos and amusing report as usual Jaxter :lol:
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby dav2930 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:18 pm

A really great walk, well done. :clap: There's a lot to be said for going solo, at least once in a while; you become more attuned to your surroundings I think.

I remember that slope up to Carn nan Gabhar being a sheet of ice when I did this walk back in March 2009 - I was glad to have my crampons!

Like you, I came down Airgiod Bheinn, which gave excellent views as well as being a nicely defined ridge - definitely the best way :wink: But yes, it's still a long and slightly tortuous walk out.

Nice report and pics :clap:
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby scottishkennyg » Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:32 pm

good read Jaxter..and you can never take too many photos..liked the one where you nailed the pose on the rock..nice one..cheers
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby Andymac75 » Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:12 pm

Great quality photos.
Looks like a very refreshing day on the hills.
Looks more sociable/ agreeable than the top of Nevis did on Friday.
There is no stopping you :lol:
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby Jaxter » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:08 am

Collaciotach wrote:Good stuff :clap: :clap:

I walk alone most of the time (well always got the dog) and aye it is nice to have company sometimes too.

I always used to walk alone, always enjoyed it but you're right, both are nice :D


dooterbang wrote:I also like to mix solo with group/friends walks :)

I took the same descent route when doing these few years back, I think I ran out when on the flat...was fitter then :)

Some fab photos, coupled with enthusiastic narrative.

There's something nice about rising around 4am, think it's the sense of adventure and what lies ahead.

Cheers.

You're so right - that anticipation that makes early starts acceptable :lol:
Running out after that walk? Good effort :shock: :clap:


Guinessman wrote:Another great report. Last time I was up that way the cows were on the approach side to the last gate and crowded around it. Not very pleasant.

Eeek....they're just so....big :shock: :shock:


Borderhugh wrote:Love the piccies and WR Jackie or should that read Picaboo! :clap: :? :D

Thanks - will have to take you with me next time :lol:


litljortindan wrote:A lot of variety, good views and enjoyment there by the sound of it. Possibly one for us to try in the summer.

Aye, a really really great walk. Loved every minute :D Go for it!


jupe1407 wrote:Well done, that's a decent time for those three at this time of year. I did them on a totally scorching day in July 2014, having forgotten any sort of sun protection which made for pretty amusing (and painful) results.

That walk out seems never-ending though, especially my route off (i didn't bother with Airghod Bheinn and just dropped back down to the bealach between Braigh..etc.. and CnG. It was still pretty mushy in places after a week of hot dry weather.

The view of the winding ridge from the middle peak is fantastic.

Thanks! :D Aye remembering part way round that you've forgotten the suncream....not good... :shock: I got away with it this time, only a mildly red nose fortunately!


Petr Dakota wrote:Another good walk :clap:
It brought some unforgetable memories from there , I did this trio in heavy snow between Christmas and New Year ( December 2014 ) and I fully agree with jupe1407 - the way back was never-ending as on my way I badly chose a "shortcut", which was finally much longer in time by the rough terrain :lol:

Ahh shortcuts....more like longcuts :lol:


ancancha wrote:A fabulous trio of hills that should be on everyone's walk list whether in company or solo :wink:
Nice photos and amusing report as usual Jaxter :lol:

Thanks - agree, it's a wonderful walk :D


dav2930 wrote:A really great walk, well done. :clap: There's a lot to be said for going solo, at least once in a while; you become more attuned to your surroundings I think.

I remember that slope up to Carn nan Gabhar being a sheet of ice when I did this walk back in March 2009 - I was glad to have my crampons!

Like you, I came down Airgiod Bheinn, which gave excellent views as well as being a nicely defined ridge - definitely the best way :wink: But yes, it's still a long and slightly tortuous walk out.

Nice report and pics :clap:

Airgiod Beinn is great isn't it!! Such an interesting wee top. It's a shame so many people miss it out, although perhaps that's part of its charm :wink: :D


scottishkennyg wrote:good read Jaxter..and you can never take too many photos..liked the one where you nailed the pose on the rock..nice one..cheers

Thanks :D Yeah I was snapping away all day!


Andymac75 wrote:Great quality photos.
Looks like a very refreshing day on the hills.
Looks more sociable/ agreeable than the top of Nevis did on Friday.
There is no stopping you :lol:

Thanks - yeah it was just what the doctor ordered after a long term :D :D
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby katyhills » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:18 pm

Smashing report and pix! :D
It's a great walk and the views are superb on a clear day.

Glad you had good weather to get so many photos and not get drookit feet in the bog trot out. When i did them last summer, I intended coming over the end, but the weather came in and I decided to drop to the bealach, which meant a very long trudge out in pouring rain. My feet still haven't recovered! :roll:
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Re: A very Good Friday on Beinn a' Ghlo

Postby rockhopper » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:46 pm

nice day for it - good to get such conditions to make the most of the ridge
more than makes up for the long walk back - cheers :)
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