It's been a few months since I was last in the hills in Scotland, and hadn't been out in winter once, so I planned my next trip for February thinking there would be loads of snow and winter conditions....wrong! Seems I picked the week where spring had arrived early! Still, with Munroes to be climbed I didn't let this deter me. I decided to base myself in Dalwhinnie. Given the mild conditions, the weather was still being temperamental, with gales and rain forecast so decided on a relatively easy route to do Geal Charn and A' Mharconaich from Drumochter Pass just south of Dalwhinnie. I met my mate Mat and we started from Balsporran Cottages (627792). A white cottage with a big car park, its hard to miss.
We crossed over the bridge, passed the cottage and crossed the railway tracks. A good track climbed slowly SW. Take the 2nd right to follow the track up the main shoulder of Geal Charn.
This peters out after 1/2 hr or so but there is still a somewhat smaller track to follow.
Eventually at around 800m you come to 2 cairns, one in better shape than the other, and a small wall to shelter in. At this point the rain had come in and visibility was poor.
We took the time to refuel, and took a bearing to the top given that the climb plateaued out with indistinguishable features. 15 Mins later we arrived at the first Munro, Geal Charn.
From there to avoid the steep section on the southern face, we took a bearing SW for a bit and then S. There was a small track which came and went on the descent to the bealach at 593770.
At the bealach there was a large track which headed back to the start or continued towards Beinn Udlamain.
We decided not to go to the other option of Beinn Udlamain a further 2km away given the horrible conditions, which is a shame as on the map it looked relatively easy from the bealach. Instead we continued SE to climb slowly up to A' Mharconaich. There was a bit of snow here, but certainly not enough to make you think it was a Scottish winter!
We did see some confused hares in their white coats, sitting out like a sore thumb and some ptarmigans.
Once the climb flattend out at around 950m we headed NE to reach a rather boring cairn.
After a spot of lunch and with no will to hang around in the wet gale, we knew that coming off this hill needed further care. From the top, we knew there was a cliff on the Northern face. So to avoid that and the steep section on the NW face we slowly made our way down WNW towards the Allt Coire Fha'r.
The plan was to cross the river near the top of the glen to reach the track on the other side to take us back. This worked out well, and we were able to cross the river near the top.
As we descended along the track, the weather broke a couple of times with scenic rainbows. I think I got a glimpse of the supposed 'splendid' views of Loch Ericht and Ben Alder in the distance, but it was only a glimse!
Still, it was one of those walks just to get some fresh air and bag a couple more hills! In the end I was glad I hadn't done the 3rd Munro so I'll have to come back and try and grab a glimpse of those views for another time!
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.