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It's So Good to be Bhac

It's So Good to be Bhac


Postby jupe1407 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:50 pm

Route description: Beinn Iutharn Mhor and Carn Bhac, Inverey

Munros included on this walk: Carn Bhac

Date walked: 24/04/2016

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 26 km

Ascent: 787m

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Bike In: 5:45 miles - 1 Hour 3 mins
Walking: 6 miles approx - 4 hours 30 mins
Bike Out: 5:45 miles - 35 mins


It had been 48 days since this:

DSC_0064.JPG


A fairly straightforward operation to trim some cartilage I'd torn coming off Monadh Mor in 2014 plus a few other things floating about in my knee that shouldn't have been. Getting old is such fun :lol:

I'd been given a timescale of 8 weeks to try hillwalking again, so naturally I felt I'd give it a go a week early. I'd bought a mountain bike a few days previous with plans for the Alder hills next week in mind, so decided to test out this bike/hike thing on Carn Bhac, one of several munros east of the A9 I just couldn't be bothered with previously.

Having not ridden a bike since the age of approximately 12, I under-estimated the effort involved in truly hilarious fashion. For some reason I thought that regularly attending spin classes up until a year ago, and windless early morning conditions would make the 5.5 mile cycle in a complete piece of cake, leaving me plenty of energy for the 450 metre ascent to Carn Bhac, a casual return to the bike and coast out on a gentle downhill most of the way back to Inverey. Surprisingly, it wasn't quite that straightforward.

The morning started with a most unwelcome 5am rise, followed by futile attempts at getting a 29er MTB into the back of a Renault Megane, which eventually worked after some persuasion. Eventually I arrived at Inverey and set off up Glen Ey at 7:50am. Conditions were truly beautiful, or at least I assumed they were as I was concentrating fully on the ground immediately in front of me, whilst half asleep, no mean feat. My illusions over the ease of cycling in were shattered brutally just over the first footbridge. There's a relatively short uphill, which I pathetically failed at, and had to push :lol: Still it was an excuse for a photo stop.

I got off and pushed...
Image

After this section I was passed by an Estate vehicle, the only other human I would see for 5 hours. After another mile or so, I arrived at the ruins of Auchelie Farm. There are quite a few ruined structures in this Glen, which really do make you wonder how difficult it must have been for folk here decades ago, to scratch a living off the land in a truly harsh environment.

Auchelie Ruins
Image

Pleasingly, I was getting used to the bike and was beginning to quite enjoy the ride, I stopped a couple of footbridges later, as this one has the views of the very un-Cairngorm-looking hill Creag an Fhuathais.

Creag an Fhuathais
Image

I stopped for a few minutes here, for no reason other to relax and enjoy my surroundings. There was no one else around, and the only sound was the breeze and the running waters of the Ey Burn. Fantastic.

A short distance on the track from here, the character of the glen completely changes into a great flat landscape, with only the Ey Burn winding it's way through. It's a glorious sight.

Upper Glen Ey
Image

The wind had got up (behind me thankfully) which made this section easy. I arrived at the last bridge over the Ey Burn before Altanour Lodge's ruins and shot the classic view of the burn and Beinn Iutharn Mhor. It's a lovely view.

Ey Burn and Beinn Iutharn Mhor
Image

Back up Glen Ey
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I arrived at the ruins of the lodge, and stopped for a bite to eat, locked up the bike, and had a wee wander around. Both the lodge ruins and the trees opposite have new fences around them, although there are stiles if you want to get in about the ruins etc. I'd thoroughly enjoyed the cycle in and was now enjoying the remoteness of this place. There wasn't a sound other than the nearby Ey Burn and birdsong. I was reluctant to leave and head for the summit, which is really little more than a tick at the end of a lovely Glen.

Heading off from Altanour Lodge Ruins
Image

The route up to Carn Bhac was much more straightforward than I'd expected. I had visions of a disappearing path, bog, peat hags and a route resembling the Battle of Passchaendale. However, a reasonably easy to follow ATV track goes almost to the final pull short of the summit. The initial ascent to the grouse butts is a nice grassy path with a smattering of squelchy bits but in the main pretty decent going.

It's not long before Carn Bhac comes into view. Now in the vast majority of hills I've done, I've seen a lot of false summits, this one was the reverse, I assumed the quartzite-topped hill in the photo below was a falsie and the true bulk of the mountain lay behind it, but on checking the map, this actually WAS the summit. This was a massive bonus.

Carn Bhac and one of many grouse butts
Image

There are plenty of grouse butts here and the ATV track nicely climbs past them all, before finally disappearing in the small area of peat hags 90m ascent before the summit. There is a path through them which is easier to follow on the return, however, the recent spell of good weather rendered them less horrific than I'd imagine they would be after a traditional scottish summer.

By now, excellent views had opened up of Beinn Iutharn Mhor, and the Beinn a'Ghlo range.

Beinn Iutharn Mhor
Image

Beinn Iutharn Mhor and the Beinn a'Ghlo range
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BIM in particular had some hugely impressive cornices. I could also see why there are so many negative walk reports on the Carn Bhac to BIM Route. It's defended by a veritable sea of peat hags. I still have that one to do, but I'll be doing it from Loch nan Eun!

The paths on the latter sections are very pleasant, and dry!

Path between Grouse Butts and Peat Hags
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The final pull to the Summit
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The short path to the summit is both dry and pleasant underfoot, and pretty easy-angled. Carn Bhac's summit is a weird one, almost a sprinkling of quartzite stones and boulders to ice a fairly peaty-looking hill. The summit plateau itself is pretty flat so robs the views of any real depth, however it does have a great viewpoint to the high 'Gorms.

Summit Plateau & Cairn
Image

I carefully wandered over the sharp quartz boulders and touched the cairn of my 131st and surprisingly, one of my most enjoyable munros. The views north were tremendous, the high cairngorms looking atmospheric, and holding plenty of snow. I took a couple of pictures and sat down out of the breeze in the warming sun for over half an hour, fully enjoying being back on the hills. At least I did until I delved into my rucksack only the discover my staple cheese and jam piece (yes, this combo does work) was still sitting on the front seat of my car. Instead I wolfed down a Cocoa Protein bar which was not nearly as satisfying. Bugger.

Lairig Ghru
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Beinn a'Bhuird & Ben Avon
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Reluctantly I dragged myself away from the cairn, and started back down the same route. I know a few walkers head back via the bealach with Carn Creagach but I didn't want to chance any dodgy terrain and headed down the path, which again was much easier in descent to follow through the peat hags.

I stopped off at one of the grouse butts to "enjoy" another protein bar in the sunshine. By now I was fully aware I was probably going to be sunburned :lol:

An Socach
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I continued on down, easily re-crossing the Alltan Odhar, though I can imagine that one being fun after heavy rain, and used the brief rough traverse path this time to avoid the completely unnecessary and brief ATV track ascent I'd made on the way up.

The Alltan Odhar
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The walk back was pleasant in the warm sunshine as I neared the lodge remains, passing some old sheilings on the way.

Old Sheiling
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It was here I saw my first other walkers of the day, a couple of guys who looked to be heading up Beinn Iutharn Mhor. Finally the lodge was at hand.

Back to Altanour Lodge
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I arrived at the lodge and decided to have another lounge around in the sun, just as a large group of walkers arrived for lunch. There was a stiff breeze coming down Glen Ey, and I half-hoped it would die out before I had to cycle out back into it. Eh, no. Didn't happen. Within about 30 seconds of setting off on the bike, my hands were absolutely freezing and the tears were streaming from my eyes :lol: Thankfully, most of the route was downhill, with the wind making some work of it. I'd also worked out the gearing and made fairly short work of the uphill sections.

I'd learned a couple of lessons though.

1. Even boring hills can be awesome on a nice day (I draw the line at Tom Buidhe though)
2. I should really invest in a saddle cushion type thing. I'm almost sitting on a rubber ring here.


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jupe1407
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby Jaxter » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:22 pm

Yay you're back! :D Good effort for a first outing :shock: :clap:

Totally sympathise with the sore backside thing....my Creag Pitridh outing a month or so back was my first cycle in a long time. Ouchies :crazy: :crazy:

Glad you had a good day for it :thumbup:
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:27 pm

Jaxter wrote:Yay you're back! :D Good effort for a first outing :shock: :clap:

Totally sympathise with the sore backside thing....my Creag Pitridh outing a month or so back was my first cycle in a long time. Ouchies :crazy: :crazy:

Glad you had a good day for it :thumbup:


Cheers Jaxter. I'm heading in to Culra on Thursday, 10 miles on the bike. I think I might have to staple a pillow to the saddle :lol: I can imagine the Creag Pitridh track being unpleasant, I remember it being rough in places walking out from Binnein Shuas. That route might be on the itinerary for next week's holiday as well :?
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby Jaxter » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:53 pm

jupe1407 wrote:
Jaxter wrote:Yay you're back! :D Good effort for a first outing :shock: :clap:

Totally sympathise with the sore backside thing....my Creag Pitridh outing a month or so back was my first cycle in a long time. Ouchies :crazy: :crazy:

Glad you had a good day for it :thumbup:


Cheers Jaxter. I'm heading in to Culra on Thursday, 10 miles on the bike. I think I might have to staple a pillow to the saddle :lol: I can imagine the Creag Pitridh track being unpleasant, I remember it being rough in places walking out from Binnein Shuas. That route might be on the itinerary for next week's holiday as well :?

oooft! Yeah it was quite bumpy...was doing fine until I had to get back on the bike to cycle back down :shock: :shock: :shock: :lol: Great wee walk/bike though :thumbup:
Hill fit does not = bike fit apparently :shock: :lol:
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:55 pm

Great day for your last walk before the lay off and another good one for the return - hope you don't think it's always like that :lol: :lol: :lol:

Welcome bhac!!
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby dogplodder » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:05 pm

Beautiful photos bringing back fond memories of this glen last June. :D
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby Silverhill » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:04 pm

Welcome back! You made quick work of your recovery, and this hill!
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:39 pm

Jaxter wrote:oooft! Yeah it was quite bumpy...was doing fine until I had to get back on the bike to cycle back down :shock: :shock: :shock: :lol: Great wee walk/bike though :thumbup:
Hill fit does not = bike fit apparently :shock: :lol:


No it certainly doesn't :lol: :lol:

Gordie12 wrote:Great day for your last walk before the lay off and another good one for the return - hope you don't think it's always like that :lol: :lol: :lol:

Welcome bhac!!


Cheers Gordie :D I've been quite fortunate that my only bad weather day so far this year was a winter storm on Binnein Shuas. I'm away to Culra then Fort William for a week, so I'm quite confident the weather gods will more than even things up :lol:

dogplodder wrote:Beautiful photos bringing back fond memories of this glen last June. :D


Thanks Dogplodder. I read your report a few times on this one when trying to decide which hill to try. Like you I had a wee think about what life must have been like for the population of this remote place all those years ago. It's a beautiful glen.

Silverhill wrote:Welcome back! You made quick work of your recovery, and this hill!


Thanks Silverhill. Probably back a little earlier than I was advised to, but I felt good and went for it. A thoroughly enjoyable day :D
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby ancancha » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:26 pm

I really enjoyed Carn Bhac as well, biker hiked too :wink:
Fabulous although as you say a couple of steep bits at the start in, but a fabulous roll back again from the lodge 8)
Loved the flat section of the Ey

Views are stunning from up top, assuming no scotch mist :lol:

You can biker hike Beinn Iutharn Mhor from the other side if you are enjoying your bike Carn an Righ
A long cycle and a short steep walk, although I only managed Carn an Righ on the day.

My car had some digestion problems with the 29ers as well :roll:

Nice report and photos :clap:
Hope the recovery goes well :thumbup:
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby jupe1407 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:34 pm

ancancha wrote:I really enjoyed Carn Bhac as well, biker hiked too :wink:
Fabulous although as you say a couple of steep bits at the start in, but a fabulous roll back again from the lodge 8)
Loved the flat section of the Ey

Views are stunning from up top, assuming no scotch mist :lol:

You can biker hike Beinn Iutharn Mhor from the other side if you are enjoying your bike Carn an Righ
A long cycle and a short steep walk, although I only managed Carn an Righ on the day.

My car had some digestion problems with the 29ers as well :roll:

Nice report and photos :clap:
Hope the recovery goes well :thumbup:


Thanks Ancancha :D

My plan for BIM is to walk up the Glen to Loch nan Eun from Dalmunzie, wild camp there and do BIM and CAR, then walk back out over Glas Tulaichean the next day. My other half still has all these hills to do. Mind you, given her hatred of bogs, I might make her do CB and BIM the "traditional way" :lol:
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby ancancha » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:43 pm

jupe1407 wrote:
ancancha wrote:I really enjoyed Carn Bhac as well, biker hiked too :wink:
Fabulous although as you say a couple of steep bits at the start in, but a fabulous roll back again from the lodge 8)
Loved the flat section of the Ey

Views are stunning from up top, assuming no scotch mist :lol:

You can biker hike Beinn Iutharn Mhor from the other side if you are enjoying your bike Carn an Righ
A long cycle and a short steep walk, although I only managed Carn an Righ on the day.

My car had some digestion problems with the 29ers as well :roll:

Nice report and photos :clap:
Hope the recovery goes well :thumbup:


Thanks Ancancha :D

My plan for BIM is to walk up the Glen to Loch nan Eun from Dalmunzie, wild camp there and do BIM and CAR, then walk back out over Glas Tulaichean the next day. My other half still has all these hills to do. Mind you, given her hatred of bogs, I might make her do CB and BIM the "traditional way" :lol:


That's the way I did BLM and very enjoyable as well.
From memory I think there was someone wild camping east side of the Loch.
Good luck and hope you get good weather; fabulous views from all three of these, I do miss some of Scotland :(
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby litljortindan » Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:57 pm

Great to get a new lease of hillwalking life. That looks a great walk and one I can probably drag the wife up.
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:27 pm

Nice report, and good to see you back on the hills.


The cycling thing is interesting. Even when pretty cycling fit, I've often found it harder than I expected as a way to shorten a day. Must be the altitude! Its great on the return though, and has made some long days in winter doable which otherwise might have been 2 dayers.

A good saddle is worth investing in, though you'll also find the current one may get better as you break it in. Or it breaks you in! :shock: Gel saddle covers can help. Softer stuff like foam is less good, firm and supportive but not too hard is what you want. Shape is the most important bit. When just out biking, I always wear the proper padded shorts, but on a cycle in to a hill I put up with a bit more discomfort rather than have to change.
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby Graeme D » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:31 pm

Good to see you back on the hills JP! :clap:
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Re: It's So Good to be Bhac

Postby jupe1407 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:03 pm

ancancha wrote:
That's the way I did BLM and very enjoyable as well.
From memory I think there was someone wild camping east side of the Loch.
Good luck and hope you get good weather; fabulous views from all three of these, I do miss some of Scotland :(


Yeah, there's a little area that sticks out into the water which is the usual spot. We'll definitely be saving that for a good day. I barely got any decent views on Glas Tulaichean or Carn an Righ.

litljortindan wrote:Great to get a new lease of hillwalking life. That looks a great walk and one I can probably drag the wife up.


If she doesn't like bogs, choose a post-dry spell date. It'd be torture after a few days of rain.

Mal Grey wrote:Nice report, and good to see you back on the hills.

The cycling thing is interesting. Even when pretty cycling fit, I've often found it harder than I expected as a way to shorten a day. Must be the altitude! Its great on the return though, and has made some long days in winter doable which otherwise might have been 2 dayers.

A good saddle is worth investing in, though you'll also find the current one may get better as you break it in. Or it breaks you in! :shock: Gel saddle covers can help. Softer stuff like foam is less good, firm and supportive but not too hard is what you want. Shape is the most important bit. When just out biking, I always wear the proper padded shorts, but on a cycle in to a hill I put up with a bit more discomfort rather than have to change.


Thanks Mal. I think it's possibly a case of getting used to being on a bike again tbh. I may yet invest in a gel saddle though.

It is also harder than expected, but I put that down to the fact that I daftly assume it would be an absolute coast, having never used a MTB before I didn't really appreciate how much the rougher or bumpier bits slow you down and are harder work to get through. Coming back out was fantastic though. 35 mins cycling versus at least 90s mins walking. No contest :lol:

Graeme D wrote:Good to see you back on the hills JP! :clap:


Thanks Graeme, it was only 7 weeks but it felt damned longer. It's great to be back :D
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