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Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh from Kinloch Laggan

Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh from Kinloch Laggan

Postby malky_c » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:46 am

Munros included on this walk: Creag Pitridh, Geal Charn

Date walked: 02/01/2017

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 26 km

Ascent: 1250m

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Munros: Geal Charn, Creag Pitridh.
Date: 02/01/2017.
Distance: 26km.
Ascent: 1250m.
Time: 6 hours, 55 minutes.
Weather: Cold, breezy, largely cloudy with occasional breakthrough of sun.

Funny how your perception of what bad weather is changes with mood. Last week, I had rounded out 2016 by wandering up Beinn Mheadhoin, a Graham in Strathconon, which was chosen as a plan C due to the uninspiring weather. Today, with a similar weather outlook, I was happy to drive further, walk longer and go higher. Perhaps being the first walk of the year, I was keen to get things off to a more energetic start. Not punishment exactly, but I though all that howling wind and driven snow would make me feel a bit cleansed after the excesses of the Christmas holiday.

Ardverikie.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Getting out of bed was still an issue though, and I wasn't walking from Kinloch Laggan until 10:20am - later than I would have liked. A bike is an obvious solution here - there are almost 3 miles of lovely flat tarmac to Ardverikie Castle, which would have saved a good hour, but for various uninteresting reasons, I was on foot the whole way today.

Beach at east end of Loch Laggan:


The weather wasn't looking great, but it held the promise of the occasional break. After a 45 minute stroll to the castle, it was up decent forestry tracks (also fine for cycling) to Lochan na h-Earba (although I took a couple of wrong turns briefly as the map is slightly out of date).

Spot of sunshine below Carn Liath:

Ardverikie Castle:


I had spotted Creag a' Chuir last time I was up this way (a memorable walk/cycle of Binneins Shios and Shuas starting at Kingussie railway station), and decided that it would be an interesting way up onto Geal Charn.

Lochan na h-Earba:

Although a bit squelchy in places, the route wound up through delectable stands of Scots Pine and over rocky outcrops, ending suddenly on a rather sharp summit sooner than I expected. At least there were a few views from here, although it didn't look like I'd be seeing much from the higher summits.

Creag Ruadh from Creag a' Chuir:

Lochan na h-Earba from Creag a' Chuir:

A steep descent (dodging outcrops) took me down to Loch Coire Chuir, with its own miniature sandy beach. Then it was up through heather, steepening suddenly, to take me onto the end of Sron nan Tarmachan.

Loch Coire Chuir:

...with Creag a' Chuir and a sliver of Loch Laggan:

Time to get the map and compass out to take bearings along the winding ridge from here to Geal Charn. There was an unavoidable steep section of older snow on Geal Charn that I was just able to teeter up without getting the ironmongery out, then I was on the summit. It didn't feel that wild on Sron nan Tarmachan, but the cold and wind gradually increased as I got higher, until it was definitely not hanging around weather on top of Geal Charn.

Steep section on Geal Charn:

Summit of Geal Charn:

Fortunately there was a bit of shelter round the side of the cairn, so I was able to have 5 minutes to eat a sandwich. On the whole, the Geal Charns seem to have a bad reputation. While rather domed, this one has plenty of interest, not that I was seeing much of it today! My previous visit on a sunny August day in 2004 was definitely a bit easier going.

Sunshine and blue skies are frustratingly close:


Despite the lack of views, the conditons were far from white-out, with only a thin dusting of snow, and some quite long visibility to other parts of the ridge at times. In fact with patches of blue sky occasionally scudding overhead, it was frustratingly close to being a nice day.

I went a bit off bearing while descending towards Creag Pitridh, and crossed the stalkers path below its high point. Initially I started striking out towards Creag Pitridh on a new bearing, but decided this was a recipe for getting lost as I wasn't 100% sure where I had started. So I climbed up a bit and got back on the path, leaving it again as it leveled out. Slightly more effort but probably worth it to avoid being misplaced.

Fog bow on the way up Creag Pitridh:

The sun was really threatening to break out on the summit, and while it didn't quite, the clouds cleared to give me a view of the Binneins and Lochan na h-Earba - rather nice.

Near the summit of Creag Pitridh:

Creag Pitridh summit views - Binnein Shios, Loch Laggan and Lochan na h-Earba:

Meall Buidhe and Geal Charn:

Creag Pitridh:

I dropped down the NE ridge a short way while I could still see where it was, and stopped for a second lunch. Creag Pitridh is quite an interesting little knoll - a bit simpler, but made up of similar outcrops as Binnein Shuas opposite. As the ridge petered out, I ploughed down through heather and grass to meet the stalkers path near Lochan na h-Earba. As I had hoped, it was still light at this point, with a long but easy walk along the side of the lower Lochan na h-Earba and Loch Laggan back to the car. I was hoping for some interesting sunset colours like last time, but didn't really get anything.

Binnein Shuas:

Creag Meagaidh:

Lochan na h-Earba and Binnein Shios:

Lochan na h-Earba and Binnein Shuas:

The road back to Kinloch Laggan was mostly followed in the dark, but being tarmac, I didn't need the torch. Almost 7 hours later, I was back at the car feeling quite satisfied. Not the longest walk, but a reasonable day out for this time of year. I suppose this starting point doesn't attract as much interest as the one at the other end of Loch Laggan as it is more difficult to shoehorn Beinn a' Chlachair into a route from here. However approaching Lochan na h-Earba from Ardverikie Castle makes it a place to return to for me.
Last edited by malky_c on Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh from Kinloch Laggan

Postby JEfoundmybootsagain » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:39 am

Better views than I got. I think I only saw lochs as we walked in out. I did in September I think so was able to do all 3. However I would rather have one wi view over 3 wi nothing. Kept walking as hoped crap would lift.
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Re: Geal Charn and Creag Pitridh from Kinloch Laggan

Postby lochlaggan » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:20 pm

What a great report :clap: :clap: and interesting as I much prefer this approach to these hills. You might have noticed that at Lochan na h-Earba the tree line strangely starts some distance up the hillside. Apparently this is because there was due to be a huge dam constructed at the east end of the loch and the trees felled in anticipation. After further investigation the rock structure wasn't suitable and the dam didn't appear.

If your ever on Geal Charn again its worth finding the old stalkers path (not possible with lots of snow) leading from the corrie east of the summit to Lochan na h-Earbadown. Or coming off the ridge Sron Garbh which is just a bit different and offers a slightly airy feel.


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