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The Road to Hell? - Beinn Iutharn Mhor & pals

The Road to Hell? - Beinn Iutharn Mhor & pals

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:00 pm

Route description: Glas Tulaichean and Carn an Righ, Spittal of Glenshee

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Iutharn Mhor, Carn an Righ, Glas Tulaichean

Date walked: 13/08/2016

Time taken: 8.75 hours

Distance: 25.6 km

Ascent: 1460m

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This was another Bearsden Basses outing, but not a fully 'quorate' group :lol: . As ever, I only had one weekend day free this month and I was keen to get a walk in, but it is Holiday Season and Donald was the only fellow chorister who was free. Luckily he took pity on me and agreed to tag along round these three rounded moorland lumps, despite already having done them himself back in the early 1990s!
They're an interesting group of hills these, in their way - arguably of course there is no such thing as a Dull Hill, although some are admittedly less non-dull than others :lol: - but the fun with these three is really in how you choose to tackle them. Tellingly, the various Munros guides don't really come up with a consensus, particularly as regards Beinn Iutharn Mhor, 'Big Hell Mountain', which despite its intimidating Gaelic name is rather a rounded lump of a thing, but plonked in the middle of some fairly remote Back Country well west of Glen Shee. The 'official' SMC book predictably hedges its bets with a choice of routes from north or south. 'Walkhighlands' pairs Glas Tulaichean with Carn an Righ from Spittal of Glenshee, and leaves Iutharn Mhor to be tackled along with the even more rounded lump of Carn Bhac via a long walk-in from Inverey in the north :? . Steve Kew's Cicerone guide does the same. Cameron McNeish, in his big hardback tome, gives an utterly bonkers route taking in five summits including not only these three but also Carn Bhac and An Socach - well over 30km walking and 2000 metres of vertical ascent; okay for Mountain Athletes in their twenties but count me out :shock: ! Ralph Storer, in his 'Ultimate Guide', gives the same pairings as 'Walkhighlands', but does devote a couple of pages to the option of combining Iutharn Mhor with Tulaichean and Carn an Righ instead. After due consideration (I'm very much an Armchair Bagger, as you can tell from the list of books here :lol: ), and after reading a couple of very good previous WRs of this route on the website, I went for this three-bagger from the Spittal of Glenshee, which looked to have a lot going for it. Funnily enough, Donald had taken exactly the same route for these three back in the Nineties...

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Given that this is a relatively long round as a Day Trip from Glasgow, we decided to shorten it a bit by driving up to Dalmunzie Castle Hotel (formerly Dalmunzie House Hotel) and paying the very reasonable £2.50 parking fee. The hotel is a pleasing old baronial pile: if you were feeling flush, it would be great just to stay here so you could stoat back for a nice meal and a few beers at the fireside after completing this round ... sadly not today though :( . Despite a fairly naff forecast, the sun was actually shining as we set off, and there was a grand view down Glen Taitneach, our return route. Well, it was intended to be our return route, but a wee navigational indiscretion going through the farmyard at Glenlochsie Farm very nearly took us up it instead :lol: ! Luckily Donald was a bit more switched on than I was, and quickly picked up the error :roll: . I think the farmer, who got to wish us Good Morning twice, found the whole thing very entertaining :lol: ...
WR1 - looking up Glen Taitneach with Glenlochsie Farm house in foreground.jpg
On the map, the long walk-in up a Landrover track looks a bit unappealing, but actually lower Glen Lochsie turned out to be rather scenic, with a tumbling burn and the heather in full bloom on the hills. It is possible to avoid some river crossings by cutting up to a higher track (actually a dismantled railway that was formerly used to ferry portly Victorian gents up to the hunting lodge), but we just stuck with the track and tackled the three river crossings - actually rather good fun, and we managed to keep our feet more or less dry.
WR2 - lower Glen Lochsie.jpg
The track makes for almost imperceptible height gain, and in what seemed like no time we were up at the scenic ruins of Glenlochsie Lodge, admiring the Bonny Blooming Heather on the foothills of Glas Tulaichean.
WR3 - Glenlochsie Lodge ruins.jpg
The track got a bit steeper from here on, cutting up Tulaichean's SW ridge which is named as Breac-reidh on the OS Landranger map. It was a bit of a plod, but there was a fine view back down Glen Lochsie by way of consolation :) .
WR3a - nice view back down Glen Lochsie on ascent.jpg
Soon enough, the summit environs came into view. So rounded and grassy is Glas Tulaichean, however, that we initially mistook it for a minor sub-hump, thinking that the stonier summit dome of Carn an Righ (visible away off in the left in this photo) must be the summit of the first, rather than the second, Munro. It was a pleasant surprise to realise that Glas Tulaichean was in fact that first grassy hump after all!
WR4 - levelling before Glas Tulaichen summit with CAR summit in background.jpg
The track goes within 50 metres of the Trig Point, making for an almost embarrassingly easy ascent. It was a scenic enough summit, all the same, with the best of the views probably being to the south, where there looked to be a fair bit of sunshine.
WR5 - GT trig point looking south-ish.jpg
Looking west, however, there was quite a bit of the dreaded Clag about :? ...
WR5a - GT trig point looking west with quite a bit of cloud.jpg
Rather deceptively, Carn an Righ looks nothing much from Tulaichean's summit cairn, with Tulaichean's convex slopes concealing the true degree of height loss between the two.
WR6 - CAR from GT summit.jpg
Again rather deceptively, Big Hell Mountain was looking rather bulky and intimidating from this angle, and I was starting to doubt whether my legs were going to hold out for the third Munro :shock: .
WR7 - BIM from GT summit.jpg
The link from Tulaichean to Carn an Righ is a slightly awkward one, as all the Munros books emphasise. Option One involves heading right down to the bealach between Tulaichean and Mam nan Carn, a southwestern Top of Iutharn Mor, to pick up a stalkers' path heading west towards Carn an Righ. This minimises height loss but adds quite a bit of distance, since the first part of the route goes in completely the wrong direction for Carn an Righ (NE rather than west), and by all accounts it also involves crossing a boggy hellhole down at the bealach :shock: . Option Two, cutting the corner and heading directly across to pick up the stalkers' path further west, involves a bit more descent and re-ascent but avoids the worst of the bog and probably saves some time. Needless to say, we took Option Two, and I'm glad we did on the whole. This was the view down the well-trodden 'Option One' path from just below Tulaichean summit: there was a fine view of Loch nan Eun away in the distance, but it did look very squelchy down there :lol: !
WR8 - descending from GT summit with Loch nan Eun in distance.jpg
Soon enough we had crossed the peat-haggery around the upper Allt a'Ghlinne Mhoir to pick up the stalkers' path running westwards round the southern flanks of Mam nan Carn. The stalkers' path was also a bit boggy in parts, and at one point I almost disappeared up to my oxters in peat, but Donald was very polite and didn't guffaw too much :lol: ... Soon enough we were at the higher bealach between Mam nan Carn and Carn an Righ, with an obvious stony path heading up to the second Munro's stony summit dome. From just above the bealach, we got a good look at the onwards route to Beinn Iutharn Mhor, which involves taking a developing path that traverses the other (northern) flank of Mam nan Carn to reach the bealach between the Mam and Iutharn Mhor, then on up to the third Munro summit from there. All very well on paper, but it looked a bit of a trek :? .
WR9 - looking back from the bealach to Mam nan Carn & BIM.jpg
I found it quite a plod up to Carn an Righ's big summit cairn, but it proved to be another fine viewpoint, with a more remote feel to it than Tulaichean's well-trodden summit. Here's Donald enjoying the view, with the Clag having well and truly descended on Beinn Iutharn Mhor behind him:
WR10 - Donald at CAR summit.jpg
On the other hand, looking back to Glas Tulaichean it was still completely cloud-free, and even enjoying the odd patch of sunshine by the looks of it.
WR11 - GT from CAR summit.jpg
The views here were of familiar hills from rather unfamiliar angles, and it took me a bit of time to work out that this group of summits was (I think) Beinn a'Ghlo :? .
WR11a - Beinn a'Ghlo I think from CAR summit.jpg
We had a third hill to climb, however, so we didn't linger too long before setting off back down to the bealach with Mam nan Carn. Thankfully, the Clag was starting to lift a bit from Iutharn Mhor. This was us truly on the 'Road to Hell' now, and I found that dodgy old Chris Rea track from my mis-spent youth going round and round my head :lol: ...
WR12 - cloud clearing from BIM on descent.jpg
I had found the link-up between Tulaichean and Carn an Righ much more of a slog than I'd anticipated, and I really wasn't sure that I'd have the energy left for Iutharn Mhor, but in fact it turned out to be much more straightforward than it looked at first. The developing traverse path round the other side of Mam nan Carn was a lot better than it initially looked, giving pleasantly gentle height gain, and even when it eventually petered out in the vicinity of the bealach with Iutharn Mhor, the onward route was obvious. I had to sit down on a boulder at the bealach for a quick breather, but thereafter it wasn't too bad a plod up through a bit of boulderfield to Beinn Iutharn Mhor's pleasingly remote summit cairn, which really had a grand Back Country feel to it :D .
WR13 - BHK at BIM summit.jpg
I was still having trouble identifying the hills round about, however - Donald pointed out Carn Bhac to the north, and the Lairig Ghru as an obvious notch in the distance, but was that Lochnagar away over to the east? I'm still not sure.
WR14 - Lochnagar probably from BIM summit.jpg
The descent from Iutharn Mhor proved a pleasantly scenic and straightforward one, traipsing back down to the bealach with Mam nan Carn, then completing the circumnavigation of the Mam by traversing round its northeastern slopes to reach the lower bealach between the Mam and Beinn Iutharn Beag, which is another Top of Iutharn Mor to the east of the Mam. From this lower bealach, it was reasonably straightforward to cut down steep grassy slopes to reach Loch nan Eun. We stopped for a belated lunch at some boulders halfway down, with a mountain hare sitting watching us eat our sandwiches.
WR16 - hare posing with LnE peat hags.jpg
There was an interesting view across the very scenic Loch na Eun (which even has a couple of wee islands) over to Carn an Binnein, a famously breast-like western Top of Carn a'Gheoidh of the Cairnwell group, complete with 'nipple' : a bit Monty Python somehow lol: !
WR15 - Loch nan Eun with Carn an Binnein complete with nipple.jpg
We cut across the rough and pathless terrain around the western edge of the loch, to reach the path that starts down its outflow burn, the Allt Easgaidh. I expected this to be a bit of a Plod at the end of a long round, but actually the wee mountain path was a delight, with some funsome but not too challenging scrambly bits, and lovely waterfalls on the tumbling Allt to the right of the path. The biggest waterfall was right at the top.
WR17 - waterfall at top of Allt Easgaidh.jpg
However, there were a series of smaller ones right the way down to the flat floor of the steep-walled and classically U-shaped glaciated valley of Glen Taitneach, where the path evolves into another Landrover track leading all the way back to the Spittal of Glenshee.
WR18 - tumbling Allt Easgaidh beside descent path.jpg
. It was a scenic and pleasant stoat all the way back, with the only fly in the ointment being that the wooden bridge marked on the OS map at NO 088724 or thereabouts has largely collapsed and isn't much help to anyone nowadays, so that we had to wade the Allt Ghlinn Thaitneach just short of the pine plantation around Dalmunzie Castle Hotel. No great hardship getting wet feet when we were within a couple of hundred metres of the car, however :lol: !
A thoroughly enjoyable round, this, with the whole being much greater than the sum of its parts. Surprisingly, Iutharn Mhor was arguably the easiest hill of the three when tackled from the high bealach with Carn an Righ, with good paths almost all the way up. Once you've gone to all the effort of linking Carn an Righ to Glas Tulaichean, I'd say it's a bit daft not to do the third one as well, on the whole. Despite the poor forecast, we even managed some summit views, too :D !
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Re: The Road to Hell? - Beinn Iutharn Mhor & pals

Postby GillC » Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:46 am

Good report,,on what is a long walk lol..I did the same trio last year, but my biggest error was right at the start,,,I missed the landrover track up to the lodge and ended up squelching and hopping up the riverside, took more time and energy than I wanted to spend at the start of a long walk lol.

Did the compulsory river wade at the end too,, as you say,,whats wet feet for a couple of hundred yards lol Well done.

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Re: The Road to Hell? - Beinn Iutharn Mhor & pals

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:19 pm

GillC wrote:Good report,,on what is a long walk lol..I did the same trio last year, but my biggest error was right at the start,,,I missed the landrover track up to the lodge and ended up squelching and hopping up the riverside, took more time and energy than I wanted to spend at the start of a long walk lol.

Did the compulsory river wade at the end too,, as you say,,whats wet feet for a couple of hundred yards lol Well done.


Thanks! Yes, as ever, it's easier to get lost at the very start of the route than at any point thereafter :lol: - finding one's way out of the car park is often the real challenge!
The secret for this route is to leave the correct corner of the farmyard at Glenlochsie Farm (it's the corner diagonally across the yard rather than straight ahead, if I recall correctly) - after that it should hopefully just be a matter of sticking with the track...
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Re: The Road to Hell? - Beinn Iutharn Mhor & pals

Postby martin.h » Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:10 pm

A very good and timely report. we're hoping to do these this Fri (19th), some useful information here, all we need is the weather to behave :D
Looking forward to it, especially after reading this.
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