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Four walked the long way from Glen Ey

Four walked the long way from Glen Ey

Postby Driftwood » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:56 pm

Route description: Beinn Iutharn Mhòr and Càrn Bhac, Inverey

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Iutharn Mhòr, Càrn an Rìgh, Càrn Bhac, Glas Tulaichean

Date walked: 15/06/2015

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 38 km

Ascent: 2040m

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Heading west from Aberdeen, I wanted to fit in a walk while the weather was settled, since MWIS were warning of cloud and wind affecting the tops for the few days following.

This meant another late start (it was about 11:20 AM by the time I set off), so it looked preferable to aim for the Glen Ey hills rather than heading around to Linn of Dee for the central Cairngorms. My chosen route has a long approach, but I am comfortable with the terrain in this area and there was the option of leaving Glas Tulaichean and Carn an Righ to walk from the south if time was running short.
I had previously walked An Socach (a natural addition to this group, at least for those fond of long distances) from Baddoch to the east, but there are three Munro Tops that looked like ideal add-ons, involving a bit of extra height but minimal additional distance.

The morning had been bright and warm for the drive and remained so for over an hour (which wasn't ideal for the gradual uphill stage), but became cloudier and cooler as the afternoon went on. I took care to apply plenty of sun-block and wore a cap, though there was to be little need for sunglasses even on the stages heading into the sun, as overcast conditions took over.

There is a handy free carpark at Inverey, a few steps from the track leading down the glen. I followed the lower track on the east side of the river, which soon reaches a bridge then continues southwards at a gentle pitch.
Lower Glen Ey

After counting past several hills on the west bank, I set off uphill through an area of rough pasture, then joined a side track to climb Can nan Seileach. This climbs easily (with a few slight descents) towards the substantial Carn Creagach, with the first Munro, Carn Bhac, topped with banks of light grey stones beyond.
Track approaching Carn Bhac

There was a Golden Plover in clear view at this point, close enough for photos (though quite camouflaged against the slopes behind). Another was even more obliging later, so no snap here.
I opted to leave the track and make a rising traverse of Carn Creagach, hoping to save a lot of ascent and distance that way. There was some evidence of boots in places - and also signs of hooves - over the ground which wasn't excessively boggy or steep, but soft enough to be quite gentle underfoot. More of a path leads up from the bealach, though with just enough stone to call it marked rather than quite built.
Ascending Carn Bhac

There is a bank of quartzite rubble to climb, then the hilltop becomes rounded. This does mean that the views are broad, rather than dramatic, but I could clearly pick out the west Top (with a mild descent and minimal ascent to reach the cairn). Another Top stood further off southwest, but the map reassured me that it falls just short of that magic 3000 feet. There were views of Beinn a'Ghlo, though from an angle new to me - and it almost goes without saying, Schiehallion far beyond it.
Summit view

A bit of lunch, then short stroll, brought me to the lower West Top. The modest cairn had a gristly top (clean of gristle and bleached by the elements), while the day's next hill looked rougher walking with an expanse of peat hags then steep scree slopes above.
Beinn Iutharn Mhor from the west Top

I encountered some live sheep grazing over the open grassy slopes, which gave way to more heather and peat around a low rounded hill between the two Munros. I attempted to contour that, then pick through the peat hags guarding the lower flanks of Beinn Iutharn Mhor. I had noticed a grassy stretch to the east of Lochan Uaine which seemed to avoid most of the scree, steepness and was also far distant from a lingering snow cornice. So I heading into the northern corrie, intending to turn left and ascend by that way.
Beinn Iutharn Mhor looking unwelcoming

That also involved a brief looser stretch before the top, but most of the way was firm underfoot (even the peat hags at that point). It did feel a slog - after the long but gradual approach to Carn Bhac, the succeeding Munros each involve 250 to 300 metres of ascent. This was eased by overcast conditions and temperatures cool enough that I wore a jacket for this later part of the afternoon onwards. Despite the clouds, it felt like the weather was going to hold for a while, so I decided to try for the longer route.
Summit ridge from the grassy ramp

Once onto the summit ridge, I noticed movement near the cairn, which proved to be a woman walker, descending by the same path along the top. She was the only other person that I met all walk, confirming the WH suggestion that these are quieter hills.
I took a brief break at the cairn (just over 4 hours into the walk), then headed down the green and broader southern side. There is a path, although I left this to head up the side of Man nan Carn, a Munro Top. It's an easy ascent from this direction, though the southwest ridge (to the next bealach) proved much steeper and rockier. Even so, it probably only added about 10 minutes compared to traversing the flank.
Mam nan Carn from the bealach with Carn an Righ

Carn an Righ is another significant ascent, but easier-pitched and with a path, making it much more straightforward. The scattered stone path does wear thin (and grow boggier) partway up, then the ground turns stonier as it follows a southeast flank. Still going comfortably, I reached the top in under 30 minutes, then took a further break to snack and make my mind up about Glas Tulaichean. A burn flows west-southwest between the two hills, so it looked easiest to follow paths for most of the way and cross that higher up, rather than save distance but add extra ascent/descent and maybe more rough ground.
I did make my own descent route from Carn an Righ, heading north of the path to use good grassy slopes, with the added advantage of picking up a small burn where I could top up with water. Then, cutting across to the bealach, it was onto the obvious and well-worn path that contours Mam nan Carn.
Carn an Righ towards Glas Tulaichean

This path gradually approaches the burn, but I didn't notice a route crossing that. With good dry conditions, I headed over, then slogged up the north ridge of Glas Tulaichean. This became much easier after reaching the top of the ridge (which has a path, though that felt hardly necessary), bringing me to the last and highest Munro of the walk. It was now after 6 PM, with a very long walk out, so I didn't linger there for long.
During the descent, I noticed another plover not far ahead. Picking which side to approach, as well as the bird's avoiding me, brought us into position for a better view against the clouds.
Golden Plover on Glas Tulaichean

I continued with the path to cross a peaty bealach, then contoured a heathery lump northeast of that. Another peaty stretch northwards brought me to a path around the east side of Mam nan Carn, above Loch nan Eun. There was a snow bank to negociate, filling much of the cleugh before Beinn Iutharn Bheag. I took the cautious option of walking around above it, rather than risk crossing and having it give way and deposit me into a burn below.
Loch nan Eun

From there, about 15 minutes' ascent brought me to the final Top of the day. This is a little stony, but not too much of a stretch after the walking before. The clouds did seem to be drawing in more, so I needed to get this toughest descent done, since the rest would all be strolling down the glen.
Beinn Iutharn Bheag

Beinn Iutharn Bheag has several steep sides, giving me a couple of obvious options. There was an east ridge or, more steeply (but directly), heading north and making sure to stay out of the northeastern corrie. I opted for the straighter route, with grass and heather most of the way to offer a fair footing. There were old pine stumps exposed in the peat lower down, then a burn to cross (easily on stones) to reach the north bank.
From here, there is a path - faint at points, worn and boggy elsewhere - along the west bank of Allt Beinn Iutharn. Not perfect, but it made for easy walking as I tried to hasten back along the glen.
The Beinn Iutharns and upper Glen Ey

There is a bridge over the Alltan Odhar, with a wet erroded track to the ruins at Altanour Lodge. The light didn't suit photos, though there was still plenty to see and walk by, as well as a firm vehicle track from that point. The soft ground before had been easier in its way, since I found the hard track warm going for my feet, too much like walking on tarmac.

One benefit of walking such a quiet glen at this hour (just past 8 PM at the Lodge) was the amount of wildlife evident. There were curlews, grouse, oyster catchers, to name only the few that I could recognise. At one point, following an earth path by the track, a grouse took off just in front of me and I had to move quickly to the side in order to avoid some chicks that she had been sheltering.
I kept with the track as that crossed, then recrossed, the substantial Ey Burn. There was often a grassy verge for softer ground underfoot and, lower down, one long curve cut short by a foot path. At last I reached Inverey again, three hours from Glas Tulaichean, but still in time to drive into Braemar while the Co-op was open. The clouds did start to drizzle, which developed into rain as night fell, but it had held off for long enough.

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Re: Four walked the long way from Glen Ey

Postby ancancha » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:27 am

A long trek and an interesting route, plenty of wildlife and interest in that area :clap:
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Re: Four walked the long way from Glen Ey

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jul 13, 2015 3:47 pm

As you say that was a long walk. We walked up Glen Ey just to climb Carn Bhac and saw an eagle which we assumed was a golden but estate workers said it was probably a white tail as they're nesting there. :wink:
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Re: Four walked the long way from Glen Ey

Postby Driftwood » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:22 pm

I don't spend enough time sky-gazing, as I missed out spotting any signs of eagles on this walk, but was glad to encounter all of the humbler bird-life as it was. I still want to walk Carn Bhinnein (a Top just west of the Cairnwell three), as well as the remote An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir, so should try to keep an eye out then.

Using a bike for these is popular (and practical, given the good track. I got the chance to speak the next day with another walker planning on cycling in to the northern pair of them). I didn't wish for wheels (much), since walking meant I could start uphill sooner and pay more attention to my surroundings on the return.
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