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Glen Tilt Munro Marathon and Beinn a'Ghlo Stroll!

Glen Tilt Munro Marathon and Beinn a'Ghlo Stroll!

Postby gadamson » Thu May 26, 2016 7:48 pm

Route description: Beinn a'Ghlo

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

Date walked: 19/05/2016

Time taken: 19 hours

Distance: 65 km

Ascent: 2700m

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First walk report on Walkhighlands for years but I think our trip merits one!

A few months back, a friend of mine got in contact to arrange a munro-bagging session and after a bit of jiggery-pokery with work rotas we managed to get a couple of days off at the same time. With myself travelling up from Lockerbie and my mate coming down from Inverness, we set our sights on Glen Etive. The Ben Starav five was the main target with something lighter planned for the other day. However, as the dates approached, the forecast looked increasingly grim. We were on the verge of cancelling the trip, but with the chance of a half decent day in the southeast on Friday we decided to go ahead, the Blair Atholl munros becoming the new target.

The new plan was to climb Beinn Dearg on the Thursday, the reason being that this path consisted of good paths and should therefore be easy to navigate in the poor conditions forecasted. Being a relatively indistinct munro, it seemed a reasonable choice to ‘tick off’ on a bad day. We would then climb Beinn a Ghlo on the Friday.

Day 1:
We met at the Glen Tilt carpark at 7.30am on the 19th. My mate had slept in his car overnight. It looked fairly comfortable- he had removed the back seats and replaced them with a mattress. We were soon ready and headed off around 8am.

The track made for quick progress through the pleasant woodland. We met one lady walking her dogs- the only person we would see during our mammoth day in the mountains. Leaving the woodland behind, we made our way across the large expanse of heather, the tops well and truly shrouded by the clouds- hence no pictures! This was to be a recurring theme of the day!

Soon we came upon the Allt Sheicheachan bothy. We had a quick nosey inside, discovering it was impressively well stocked with food supplies! I love the sense of refuge in bothies like this. Having made quick progress so far, my mate suggested we tackle the neighbouring Carn a’Chlamain too. To say I was not keen would be an understatement! During our last minute planning I hadn’t come across a single walk report linking the two summits on foot. Doing both would mean a very long day in terrible weather! Diplomatically, I said we would make our decision after reaching the first top.

Before long we were leaving the track and making our final approach to the summit. Again, the path was good but by now the forecasted rain was beginning to set in. As we approached the summit, conditions really deteriorated. Sheltering behind the summit cairn, another suggestion to bag the neighbouring munro was made. My mate argued that if we just headed back now, we would be back by mid afternoon and have a whole afternoon to kill- why not make use of our time? I, however, liked the idea spending the rest of the day in a warm pub with hot chocolate, coffee, a pub dinner and a pint! I guess that is the reason that this hill marked my 50th munro whilst it represented my mates 150th! Not fully understanding what we were getting ourselves into, I agreed to tackle the second hill. How I would come to regret my decision!

Heading off the summit, we soon ran into difficulties. Visibility was poor and before long we were lost. We eventually dropped below the clouds and saw a large burn in front of us. It was running west to east, but we couldn’t see a stream matching its appearance on the map. It began to dawn on us that we had gone off the north edge of the map we had been using. Hastily, with the rain pelting down, we took the map out of its cover and discovered what we were looking at was the upper reaches of the Tarf Water! Despite having decent waterproof gear, I was now soaked to the skin and I could barely feel my fingers. Between us, we somehow managed to refold the now soggy map and ram it into the waterproof case before it completely disintegrated. This was a particularly stressful experience- the thought of the map falling apart and being lost without any means of navigating out was concerning. Thankfully, there was not a soul for miles to hear us blurting out dozens of profanities during this ordeal!

We decided to head east following the Tarf Water until we reached a building marked on the map south of Carn a’Chlamain. We would then follow another stream from there up to the summit.

Following the stream was a convoluted approach but the going was good and there was virtually no chance of getting lost again! We followed the pleasant burn downstream as it slowly grew in size, fording it several times as we went. However, after several kilometres its beauty soon wore thin and all I wanted was to get to the building ASAP! I just hoped it was some sort of shed with a wall we could shelter behind and not a decrepit old ruin.

Finally, the building came into sight, with what appeared to be a well-constructed roof. We had seen numerous grouse that day, and I wondered whether it was a hunting lodge. However, as we approached, I was delighted to see it was another MBA bothy! Initially, I thought it was strange that there were two MBA bothies so close together, before realising just how far we had come since the last one! It was a huge relief to get inside and find some respite from the elements we had been exposed to for the last 7 hours or so. I was amazed at the size of the bothy, which has several separate rooms. As it was 3pm, and with quite a healthy ration still in my bag, I half joked/half suggested we lit the fire, dry our clothes and sit out the storm in the bothy overnight. Unfortunately, I was over-ruled!


Welcome respite in the bothy.

I had been cold ever since the first munro summit so I took the chance to put on a dry fleece and t-shirt from my rucksack, which made a massive difference. I was glad I hadn’t put it on earlier as it would have just got soaked too!

Aware time was ticking and with morale boosted after our break in the bothy we tackled the second summit. It was straightforward approach, following the small stream uphill before taking a bearing to the summit. As we crossed the large 4x4 track, we knew we were close. Again, the view from the summit was non-existent and after touching the summit cairn we immediately returned to the track to begin our descent. I think it is the least time I have spent on a summit yet!

It was strange to have such a good quality track going all the way to a munro summit, but it was very welcome and allowed easy navigation and a rapid descent. More than anything, I just wanted to get below the clouds and out of the worst of the rain and wind, but the track just seemed to stretch on and on into the clag ahead. Finally, we dropped down into Glen Tilt.


Finally we can see!

My walking buddy was suffering badly from chaffage and had to take off his outer waterproof trousers. The full extent of the damage he had caused his legs only became clear once back at the car! But first we still had a long walk out to confront. The river Tilt was beautiful, with sections of gentle runs and deep pools giving way to sections of steep sided gorge and rapids. There were several people camping, and it was clear why with this gorgeous river close by. As a keen fisherman, I made a mental note to myself to research the river later once I finally returned to civilisation!


River Tilt

The grind out to the car was long and exhausting- by far the hardest walk or in fact any physical activity I have ever done. But despite what had gone before we set a good pace. We longed for a car to drive along the track and allow us to hitch a lift, but it never came. I was adamant that instead of camping, I would get a B&B that night, as setting up a tent was the last thing I wanted to do! As we approached the village, the smell of woodburning stoves drifted towards us and the din of the a9 could be heard in the distance. The relief in getting back to the car was huge! I had recently bought new Scarpa Activ boots, breaking them in on several hillwalks before this trip, but despite this taking them off was blissful, even more so than taking a pair of ski boots off after a long day on the slopes!

After changing into dry clothes (and my mate discovering some very nasty looking chaffage ulcers on his thighs!) we made our way into Pitlochry for a well earned chippy. It was too late to book into a B&B now and feeling a lot better after our dinner we decided to head to the start of the next days walk and pitch camp below Beinn a Ghlo. It was going to be a real mission to dry our kit for the next day, but we tried our best by stuffing our boots with newspaper and leaving the car heating on full blast until we hit the hay for the night.

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Day 1 summary (approx.): 43km, 1400m ascent, 12.5 hours.

Day 2:
With a full belly and tired legs, I expected to sleep well, but even wearing a hoody and trackies inside my sleeping bag wasn’t enough to keep out the chill. After a restless nights sleep, we woke at 7.30am. To our disappointment, the tops were still in the cloud, but thankfully the weather looked more benign.

We set off at 8.30am. Surprisingly, my muscles felt fine, however my left ankle was quite swollen and uncomfortable. The ascent up Carn Liath had been described as very eroded, which it was, however it wasn’t particularly difficult route to get up. Yet again, there was no view to be had at the summit when we arrived. We took a short break on the top, and finally we were rewarded with a view! I had been disappointed to miss the views the day before, so it was great to see what we had walked yesterday as well as the route ahead.


Summit 1. The munros from the day before behind.


The route along the ridge ahead.

Yet the brief weather window didn’t last long. As we descended from Carn Liath, the weather drew in again and a ferocious rain shower began. Within minutes, I was soaked to the skin yet again. Luckily, the shower soon passed, the last of the day, and we soon dried in the breeze. Although my legs weren’t tired, the ascent to the second munro, Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, felt slow.

Another munro summit and another foggy view was awaiting! Our notes from the site suggested there might be a tricky section of navigation coming up, but luck was finally on our side and the clouds lifted to reveal the route ahead. As we descended to the bealach before the final summit, views open up right across to the high cairngorm plateau, with Ben Macdui and Braeriach easily visible. Seeing these mountains from such a distance illustrated just how large the Cairngorms national park is!


The ascent to the final peak was straightforward, with only a large cairn and a trig point acting as false summits before the true summit was reached. The views were at their best of the trip so far, so for the first time of the trip we spent some time on the top soaking up the views.

The return to the car was straightforward and we were back for 3pm. On the second day we have covered 22km and 1300 ascent in 6.5 hours- not bad given what went before!

After walking a total of 65km in 2 days, I spent the weekend moving as little as possible and recuperating. My left ankle was swollen for a couple of days but back to normal for the start of the next week! All in all a tricky but rewarding trip with another 5 munros ticked off.
Posts: 7
Munros:89   Corbetts:11
Sub 2000:4   
Joined: Jun 27, 2011

Re: Glen Tilt Munro Marathon and Beinn a'Ghlo Stroll!

Postby Addie2020 » Mon May 30, 2016 9:23 pm

Nice one Gregor, but a bit mad!
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 19, 2010

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