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Ben Gulabin in a circle

Ben Gulabin in a circle

Postby nigheandonn » Mon May 27, 2019 2:00 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Gulabin

Date walked: 26/05/2019

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(Or at least an irregular shape)

When the Corbetts for Courses thing first came round, I cheerfully signed up for Ben Gulabin, because I'd already planned a kind of Munro mini-epic from Spittal of Glenshee for May, with the Corbett tagged on.

But then two of the free Saturdays were cold and snowy and unsuitable for any size of epic, and I ended up with dinner plans for the third, and I did quite a bit of angsting and looking around for unclaimed hills before deciding just to go for my original hill and back on the lunchtime bus, and ignore the fact that I would be travelling to Spittal of Glenshee and back for about twice as long as I would be climbing it, because actually travelling to places I've never been is one of my favourite things.

Getting up at 5am is not one of my favourite things, but I can handle it occasionally, and even made it efficiently to Haymarket with 5 minutes to spare for a 5:35 train to Dundee. Fortunately the bus stop there was right outside Tesco, so I managed to grab a kind of breakfast, but utterly failed to find the bacon roll I was hoping for in Blairgowrie.

The bus to Blairgowrie had already been a nice wander through places I knew nothing about, before the Spittal of Glenshee bus headed further on into relative emptiness. There was only one other person on the bus - I'd seen him get on with boots and rucksack at the edge of Dundee, and when he also asked for a Tayside day ticket I thought 'I know where you're going', although since he shot off ahead of me and vanished, I don't know where exactly!

The bus stops outside the burnt down hotel, which is a mess that someone should do something about - there doesn't seem to be much else there except places for visitors to stay in, but presumably some people do live somewhere.

You could climb Ben Gulabin directly from Spittal of Glenshee, but it doesn't look particularly appealing - the long way round looked like a better option.

Brn Gulabin from Spittal of Glenshee

Wandering round brought me to a nice old bridge, belonging to one of Major Caulfield's military roads - which would seem to suggest that the dogleg through the village is the original route of the main road, which seems a bit odd. Maybe it was just to reach a better bridging point.

Caulfield bridge

So many people have moaned so much about these hills that I was expecting them to be smooth and dull, and so I was really surprised by the pointy shape of the Cairnwell ahead as I walked up the road - I thought it was all quite scenic.

Looking along the road

The road was relatively quiet - a steady but light stream heading north, but only a handful of cars coming south for me to dodge, and I was soon at the start of the track, a stony line winding its way up the hillside.

Up the track

There was only one bit that was at all steep, climbing up to a little ford where a burn crosses the track, and beyond that is a last climb to where the track starts to level off at the top of the little bealach.

Reaching the top

From here a track leads up onto Ben Gulabin, although it's not nearly as nice as the main track which goes wandering on towards Carn a' Gheoidh - less nice firm stones and more worn earth.

Rageed track

It was a bit steeper here, but I knew I'd done more than half the climb already, and also that I only had to get up higher than Creagan Bheithe opposite to be near the top - half an hour of toiling brought me up to where the slope eased off, and on track for two hours from bus to summit.

Flat top

One of the things that had helped to make my decision was that the weather was supposed to be decent in the morning and bad in the afternoon, but the wet weather seemed to have sneaked in earlier than expected - nothing much more than drizzle in the air, but it was taking the distant views.

There still wasn't a bad view to the immediate north, Carn Mor running up to Carn a Gheoidh and Cairnwell with the masts well in view.

Carn Mor and Cairnwell

The track kind of splits into two paths, but I ignored the path to the left hand summit, being more concerned about taking a more interesting route down, and headed to the right towards the true summit.

Path to the summit

There's a definite summit and a decent cairn with a stick for a marker, although the absolute highest point is a rock a little bit to the north.

Ben Gulabin summit

One hill had been standing out as the most distinctive thing in the view, with a little triangular peak on top, but it wasn't until I got up here and sorted out my directions that I could work out that it was only the Munro top Carn Bhinnein - one of those hills that deserves better.

Carn Bhinnein and Carn a' Gheoidh

Further to the west was Glas Tulaichean, with the great scoop of Glas Choire Mhor showing.

Glas Tulaichean

A very distinct path led straight on from the summit, and I followed it mostly to see where it went - if there was a definite way directly to the bridge I didn't mind following it, although it looked a bit steep on the map for me to want to head into uncharted territory.

Misleading path

Instead, however, it led on to the top of the bumpy ridge which points directly towards Dalmunzie, and kind of fizzled out there. From above it looks deceptively tempting, but I'd looked at the lower part, currently out of view, on the map, and I was having nothing to do with it. It seemed quite possible that the visible path had been made by people like me following it to see where it went and turning away!

Looking down to Dalmunzie

Instead I went back to plan A, wandering round until I came to the easier slopes above the right hand bend in Allt Coire Shith - sometimes there were traces of probably sheep path and sometimes not, but generally I was descending gently, aiming towards the upper part of the burn.

Descending gently

The very last part of the slope, where the heather ran out and wet grass took over, was a bit slippery, but generally it was an easy enough descent to come down and find a way over the burn at the bend.

By the burn

At first there was just room to walk beside the burn, although no trace of a path; further on there was sometimes a faint trace of sheep path keeping well above the burn on easier ground, and getting further above it as the valley fell. I wasn't sure whether the path marked on the map really existed or not, but after a while I did pick up a clearer path which looked like it might have been walked on by humans - it still kept well above the burn, but that was the easiest line, and I could see it dropping gently further along.

Finding a path

At a little outcrop the heather ran out and something astonishingly green took over - the path more or less ran out too, but from here it was only an easy walk down a steeper slope aiming for the bridge.

To the bridge

It was about quarter past 12 by now, so not much more than half an hour before I would have to be out of the hotel again and heading back to catch the bus, but I was very keen by now on the idea of coffee, and I could just fit it in if I made decent time.

The way along the other side of the burn was easier than it looked on the map - clear line of path, and no trees in the way. I came up to what I thought must be the hotel, because of the number of cars parked round about - through a field gate towards the road, and then a smaller back gate, only to find myself in someone's garden!

So I extricated myself into a space where various people were hanging about, and asked one of a cluster of men which building was the hotel, but he said that it was down the road a bit, and that all the cars belonged to a hill race, so I headed on.

There was a good view down Gleann Taitneach from a bit further down the road, all the steep sided hills plunging to the valley.

Gleann Taitneach

The hotel was quiet but friendly - apparently all the Friday night guests had left and the Saturday night guests not arrived, but it felt more peaceful than ghostly. I sat by a window and drank my coffee - I did pay £3 for it this time, but it was good, and came with a little square of mysterious but lovely chocolatey butterscotchy stuff.

From the road down to the village the direct route to the hotel looked much less appealing than it had from the top.

Not a good way down

I'd left myself half an hour to walk a mile and a half to the village, and was worried I'd run slow, but instead I confused myself the other way by walking a mile and a quarter in 20 minutes without any particular effort. So I had a little while to wait for the bus, and a return via the David Douglas monument in (New) Scone, and Perth, just because the trains fitted better at that side.

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Re: Ben Gulabin in a circle

Postby Sgurr » Mon May 27, 2019 2:33 pm

That IS dedication for you: getting up at that time. I do it occasionally to take a Weather Watcher picture of the sunrise, but end up rolling back into bed again. Nice , if unexciting wander, but who needs exciting? I am fairly sure that I walked into that hotel a very long time ago and said "I've just been hill-walking, what can I have for £1?" (all I had in my pocket) and they gave me a pot of tea and the spare scones that people had decided not to attempt with fresh butter and jam.
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Re: Ben Gulabin in a circle

Postby nigheandonn » Mon May 27, 2019 6:08 pm

It was fine once I was up, and a nice wandery day :-)

Do not talk to me about scones. I followed a sign promising me scones for nearly a mile in Scone (of all places), and saw nothing but trees!
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Location: Edinburgh

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