walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
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.

Not so remote after all

Not so remote after all


Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:08 pm

Munros included on this walk: Carn Dearg (Loch Pattack), Geal-charn (Alder)

Date walked: 30/06/2018

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 34.3 km

Ascent: 1132m

5 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

The hills around Loch Pattack are known as some of the more remote Munros, ones that require an overnighting trip, possibly a cycle-in or a multi-day traverse. But we believed we could "bite them off" in chunks as long as we had good weather in summer time. Last year in spring, we approached Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn from Moy via the Lubvan track and we liked this route so much that we began seriously thinking of re-visiting the area to climb the other two M's on the ridge, Carn Dearg and Geal-Charn. The walk is long, it has to be said. Nearly 35km and over 1100m of ascent so it should not be underestimated. But it can be walked in a single day as we proved. I don't recommend doing this in wet weather though, as the upper reaches of An Lairg are extremely wet, boggy and peat hag ridden. We were lucky that it's been so dry this summer.
Another thing we didn't know about, there is a brand new stalkers path, well made for walking and probably for using quads, so it can be easily cycled. Last year, when we visited Beag and Eibhinn, the good track ended at Lubvan ruins, now the path is cyclable all the way to the river crossing at 444766. Had we known that, we'd have brought bikes. Anyway, on the good surface, walking is quick and easy. After crossing Allt Cam, the path disappears altogether and the rest of the ascent is pathless, but not drastically steep. After traversing the two Munros, we dropped to upper An Lairg and after nearly two hours of trudging through peat hags, we returned to the river crossing. With the use of bikes, this would be an interesting way of climbing all four Munros on the ridge, but because we had already done Eibhinn and Beag, we could concentrate on the two more remote hills. And they were fantastic!

Track_GEAL CHARN MOY 30-07-18.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


We started from the layby on the A86 near Luiblea (used normally by walkers heading for Beinn a'Chlachair & friends). There were a few other walkers getting ready, but none of them had a crazy walk like ours in mind! Funny, from the starting point, you can't even see our target summits :lol:
Abhain Guilbinn and Eibhinn-Beag ridge on the horizon:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 001.JPG

Binnein Shuas, a craggy Graham, well worth climbing on a shorter day :D
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 008.JPG

We took the track towards Lochan na h-Earba, but soon turned right onto another track, leading to the ruins of Lubvan:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 018.JPG

By the time we reached the ruin, clegs were already out and biting. Thankfully we had a bottle of our good old friend deet with us, but despite spraying repellent everywhere, the nasty b**ers were still buzzing around, looking for places on our bodies where deet didn't reach. They were biting through clothing and their bites felt very unpleasant. I hate midges but at least their bites don't bleed!
On the bright side, we discovered the new stalkers track, which was so much better than the previous boggy path :D
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 034.JPG

The new track/wide path goes almost all the way to the river crossing at the turn of Allt Cam. Just before descending to the river, it shrinks to a narrow path:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 037.JPG

We stopped by the river for a short snack break and to refill our bottles. It was incredibly hot and we had already drunk half of our water supply. At least we had a fresh source for a refill, I can't imagine how we would manage without it. We were swallowing water like a pair of mad elephants just to sweat it out five minutes later. And of course, the sweat attracted even more clegs :lol: :lol:
Kevin refilling his bottle:
DSCF0932.JPG

After replenishing our liquid supplies, we crossed the river...
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 045.JPG

...and aimed for the eastern shoulder of Geal-Charn:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 048.JPG

En route, we crossed three streams, slowing down the slopes in shallow gorges. They provided us with more fresh water. I was so glad that we picked a route with live streams. I can't even imagine how people could cope on long dry traverses, like CMD arete or Sgurr na Ciche ridge, in such temperatures. I don't know how hot it was but it felt like oven :?
One of the gorges:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 061.JPG

Panoramic view of the southern side of Beinn a'Chlachair:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 059.JPG

The slopes we climbed (the left hand side of Coire na Coichille as you face the summit) were easy enough, mostly grass and moss. I must admit, I expected much tougher terrain so I was pleasantly surprised.
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 064.JPG

Looking back at our ascent route:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 066.JPG

Once on the ridge, we walked the final 200m to the summit cairn, where Lucy was of course first to pose for photos! Her 76th Munro :D
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 100.JPG

The views from Geal-Charn are not as dramatic as I expected, the most interesting features being the edge of Coire na Coichille leading to Aonach Beag and Beinn Eibhinn:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 076.JPG

Panoramic snap:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 104.JPG

Distant mountains of Glen Coe and Etive:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 085.JPG

The wide flat plateau-like ridge "cuts" the view towards Ben Alder from the summit cairn of Geal-Charn, but be patient. Much better vistas of the notorious Munro will come later :D
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 075.JPG

From our first Munro we followed the wide ridge in north-eastern direction, to pick a path descending Aisre Ghobhainn, a fantastic, narrow arete-like shoulder, connecting Geal-Charn to Carn Dearg. The second Munro didn't look very appealing from this perspective, but I was not in the mood to surrender!
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 114.JPG

Kevin was lagging behind, spending far too much time photographing the northern cliffs of Geal-Charn, but I can't really blame him. It's not a place we are likely to visit again :wink: and on a good day it would be a sin not to take pictures:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 121.JPG

In the corrie at the foot of the northern cliffs (Coire Cheap), sits Loch Coire Cheap, a lovely blue splat in the ocean of green and grey... It may be a small loch but it does not sell itself cheap :wink:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 123.JPG

Carn Dearg (left) and Ben Alder (far right), Loch Ericht on the horizon:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 127.JPG

As we approached the steeper descent down Aisre Ghobhainn, the full extent of views in the eastern direction was revealed, including the secretive Loch an Sgoir and the Lancet Ridge (the steep cliff to the right):
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 131.JPG

The path zig-zags down the steep slopes, it's a bit eroded in places but makes for relatively easy going. In wet weather it could be slippery and dangerous, but on a dry day like we had, we kept stopping every 5 min for more photos, as well as loud ahhhs and ohhhs :D
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 138.JPG

Walking down the "arete":
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 140.JPG

The ridge to Carn Dearg is wide and requires less than 200m of reascent, so pure pleasure for ridge walkers :D
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 148.JPG

Looking back to the "arete" of Aisre Ghobhainn and Loch Coire Cheap:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 159.JPG

It didn't take us long to traverse to Carn Dearg (there is an obvious path along the ridge). The fresh wind woke up and kept clegs at bay, at least for the time being, so we enjoyed a rare moment: a good summer day on a remote Scottish mountain!
Looking back to Gea-Charn and its fantastic eastern corries from near the summit of Carn Dearg:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 165.JPG

The summit cairn is situated at the opposite (eastern) end of the long ridge:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 175.JPG

Our future descent route into An Lairig:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 179.JPG

At last! Summit of my 234th Munro (77th for Lucy). It felt like a big achievement, maybe because it's not a typical route for this duo. I know most folks prefer the Loch Pattack approach and an overnighting trip to Culra Bothy, but we wanted to do something original. Not that we were the first baggers to walk this way, but it was still a nice thought that we managed something different :D
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 222.JPG

Kevin on the summit, waving his sunhat as clegs were out again, making our life a misery :?
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 224.JPG

Speaking of Culra Bothy, we noticed there were walkers camping by the river. I hoped for their sake that they had plenty of repellent. Clegs seemed to be the worst in the glens, especially close to water sources. Higher on the ridge they were less frequent but still annoying.
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 217.JPG

Kevin didn't wait for long, he grabbed his camera and went on to record the views :D
DSCF0947.JPG

Summit panoramas:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 184.JPG

2018-06-30 geal charn moy 204.JPG

2018-06-30 geal charn moy 192.JPG

Wish we could have spent more time on the summit, enjoying the silence and solitude, but we still had a very long walk back to Moy... 15km roughly :roll:
We dropped down the northern slopes of Carn Dearg, aiming for Dubh Lochan. There is a path marked on 1-25k map but we doubted it really existed. The slopes were mostly grassy, a few scattered boulders. The sun was still merciless and we happily refilled our bottles from Allt Coire Cheap.
The south face of Beinn a'Chlachair from half way down:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 227.JPG

Having reached the bottom of the glen, we were surprised to find out that the path does indeed exist! It is actually a faint ATV track. In wet weather it would be a boggy nightmare, but on a dry day it really made walking so much easier.
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 233.JPG

We took a final rest break by Dubh Lochan, watching the vertical cliffs of Garbh Bhruthach. Last time, we saw an eagle circling the cliffs here, but no luck today.
Dubh Lochan:
2018-06-30 geal charn moy 236.JPG

Past the loch, the path peters out and the bottom of the glen becomes very peat haggy. In wet conditions this stage would be sheer hell to cross, so I think this whole route is best left for dry times, when it can be enjoyed rather than suffered through :lol:
We crossed Allt Cam earlier on as the terrain was a bit easier on the other side. Once near the stepping stones, we picked the stalkers path again. We still had 9km to go, but we were all smiles :D :D
Looking back at the peat hags, the cliffs of Meall Nathrach and Geal-Charn (left):
Image2018-06-30 geal charn moy 242 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
The final walk back to the car park was sadly spoiled by another attack of clegs. We returned to the car bitten and bleeding, but still very glad that we used the day to the full!
.........
So we started on a high. This route is an excellent way to approach the Alder outliers from the north and now, with the new path, half the distance can be cycled. We took 11 hours walking it, but on such a nice day we didn't hurry. Now we only have Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil left to bag in this whole area, most likely we will leave this duo for next year. Maybe a good idea for our final M's? Time will tell.
.........
My next story will take us up some very obscure Grahams - so obscure that they couldn't be more obscure even if they wanted to :lol: :lol: :lol:
Last edited by BlackPanther on Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3464
Munros:260   Corbetts:165
Grahams:114   
Sub 2000:48   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby rockhopper » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:30 am

That's an interesting way to approach these hills - a bit different to the norm. Still a fair way to go at the start but probably nicer than the route from the north along Loch Ericht. Think I'd probably cycle but, as you say, if you have the time to spend then why not take the time - cheers :)
User avatar
rockhopper
 
Posts: 6631
Munros:282   Corbetts:218
Grahams:64   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:19
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:26 am

rockhopper wrote:That's an interesting way to approach these hills - a bit different to the norm. Still a fair way to go at the start but probably nicer than the route from the north along Loch Ericht. Think I'd probably cycle but, as you say, if you have the time to spend then why not take the time - cheers :)


Thanks :D I'd recommend taking the bike. We would have done that had we known about the new improved path. You could do all 4 Munros on the ridge then. Another option would be to approach Carn Dearg via the high col between Beinn a'Chlachair and the other Geal Charn, but that adds 250m each way to the ascent, so I guess our version is easier.
Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil are more tricky, basically the Pattack approach is the only reasonable one, so we will take bikes for this trip :D
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3464
Munros:260   Corbetts:165
Grahams:114   
Sub 2000:48   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby malky_c » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:34 am

A typically unusual direction of approach for you and Kevin 8) :lol: . Looked like a good day out.
User avatar
malky_c
 
Posts: 5980
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:74
Sub 2000:272   Hewitts:269
Wainwrights:122   Islands:35
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Glasgow

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby Sgurr » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:17 am

When we were up there we met someone who had come from this direction. It had never occurred to us before that someone might do this. Interesting to see the route. Almost as impressive was that he had driven from Glasgow, and intended getting back there that night.
User avatar
Sgurr
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 4364
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:569   Hewitts:139
Wainwrights:160   Islands:58
Joined: Nov 15, 2010
Location: Fife

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby PeteR » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:16 pm

Good to see someone else tackling these hills from this direction. I included Beinn Eibhinn and Aonach Beag to my route on a very warm day a few years ago and back via Loch a'Bhealaich Leamhain. It was nuts, but great fun
User avatar
PeteR
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 2054
Munros:282   Corbetts:158
Grahams:89   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:176   Hewitts:3
Islands:9
Joined: Jan 27, 2010
Location: North Ayrshire

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby Yorjick » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:47 pm

I confess I never considered doing these hills from the north! Clearly a great option, especially with Culra officially closed. Wonderful photos too!
User avatar
Yorjick
Stravaiging
 
Posts: 199
Munros:282   Corbetts:208
Grahams:55   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:20   Hewitts:159
Wainwrights:173   Islands:19
Joined: Sep 17, 2008
Location: Dornoch

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:34 pm

You're having some pretty remarkable weather up there this year folks!

Excellent looking bit of wild country to explore. Looks like you had a great day.

Funny how most folk seem to do these from the east. I've not been there yet, but had looked at the maps, and assumed I would do them from the north, with an overnight camp somewhere near the river crossing. Just looks more interesting than the long way in from Ericht! Misses the option of Lancet Edge though I guess.
User avatar
Mal Grey
Wanderer
 
Posts: 3397
Munros:110   Corbetts:20
Grahams:9   
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:113
Wainwrights:71   Islands:5
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, probably in a canoe! www.wildernessisastateofmind.co.uk

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby prog99 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:56 pm

BlackPanther wrote:
rockhopper wrote:Ben Alder and Beinn Bheoil are more tricky, basically the Pattack approach is the only reasonable one, so we will take bikes for this trip :D

First time I did these I came in from Loch Ossian YHA. Also did the ridge to the north from there too.
User avatar
prog99
Walker
 
Posts: 1307
Joined: Aug 14, 2013

Re: Not so remote after all

Postby BlackPanther » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:21 pm

Thnx all :D :D
Funny how most walkers assume that the route given by the Munro book is the only possible one :lol: We just thought this approach would be more interesting. I agree that doing all four Munros on the ridge this way in a single day is bordering nuts :lol:

Weather has been fantastic recently and another high pressure front is coming next week. We have used all hols, but still will bag hills on weekends, off to do Beinn Chabhair tomorrow!
User avatar
BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3464
Munros:260   Corbetts:165
Grahams:114   
Sub 2000:48   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

5 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: johntait, KevBo, lesmcdougall, yellowbelly and 82 guests