Sgnairneach Mhor, Beinn Udlamain, A'Mharconaich, Geal Charn

Munros: A' Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Geal-charn (Drumochter), Sgairneach Mhor

Date walked: 03/08/2010

Time taken: 7 hours

Extract from our blog, found at : http://verdesadventuretherapy.blogspot.com/

Many’s the time I have driven through the Drumochter Hills on my way up to the Cairngorms. In winter they carry a lot of snow and beguilingly look very tempting and due to this they have been on my ‘must do’ list for some time.

The Drumochter Munros are split either side of the A9 with four on the west side, two directly opposite on the east side and a further one about 3 miles up the road, again on the east side.

Ideal for a three day trip.

Staying at the Balsporran Cottages, it was my intention to tackle the first four anti clockwise, starting with Geal Charn (pale hill, 917m). However, the forecast for the three days was atrocious with gale force winds from the SW so I changed my plans to a clockwise direction in order to have some wind at my back for the return leg. The circuit was around 16 miles and completion time estimated at 8hrs.

The next day was exactly as forecast. Awful. The wind was blowing a hoolie and the cloud was thick and low. As I marched down the A9 to the track I needed, I caught occasional glimpses of my goals for the day, lurking behind the clouds and other lesser hills.

Finding the track I followed it for a couple of miles, hood up and leaning into the wind trying to decide when to break from the path to find a way up the first, Sgnairneach Mhor. As I stopped for a drink, right beside me on the path was a tiny cairn. Taking a chance, I decided to follow a route from this point up the hillside and lo and behold a stream/path led from here to up onto the summit. It was really boggy and not a path as we know it, but still better than heather bashing.

There were some good views momentarily from the summit, but I could see a really thick cloud bowling in from the south, estimating an arrival time of about two minutes. Getting to the next summit required a dogleg route to be taken so I hastily got the map out and worked out bearings and pacing as I figured visibility would disappear as the clag hit. As I was putting the map away I felt the first big drops hit my hood and as I turned the world just went grey and very wet. After two or three paces the trig point had almost disappeared and I was back in the surreal ‘hood up world’ of walking on a bearing for a set number of paces, desperately trying not to be distracted by the wind.

When the time arrived to take my next bearing to complete the dogleg, the cloud got thicker and the wind was on my left shoulder. The required number of paces taken, I stopped to establish my position. After a few minutes, the wind had blown a gap in the cloud and I found myself in exactly the right spot for the ascent to Beinn Udlamain. I had been trying to get to a spot that avoided losing too much height and thankfully had nailed it on the first attempt. Picking up the metal fence posts that mark the Inverness shire/Perthshire borderline, I wended my way to the summit, taking in both shires as I zigged and zagged upwards.

At the summit, I met a guy who was taking my original route and who had decided to pack it in because of the wind in his face. Nice to know I had made the right choice!

The walk over to A' Mharconaich was straightforward and at last the gale was at my back. The heavy rain had dispersed to the odd shower, but the temperature had fallen a few degrees too.

All day long there was a pair of RAF Tornados exercising in the area which could be heard but not seen. As I made my way along the ridgeline to the summit, I could hear them again and stopped to see if I could see them. As I looked left and right, trying to catch movement, I noticed two black specks coming right at me. They passed over me, one either side, and very, very close.

Similar to the special flypast when we were coming off InPin, only more personal.

Ten minutes later, I could see Balsporran Cottages from the summit and Geal Charn across the valley; still a long way to go.

Instead of following the path all the way back along the ridge and I decided to cut the corner, heading off down the slopes to the start of Geal Charn’s ridgeline. This saved me about 20 minutes and it was a straightforward walk to the summit. I again elected to avoid reversing my route and therefore the track and chose instead to take the direct route back to the cottages.

I arrived back safe and sound in 7hrs 30 mins having only met three people all day.

An excellent walk and having seen the lie of the land, the best route to take is anti clockwise.

Posted by David Thomson at 12:29 0 comments

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David Thomson

Location: Yorkshire Dales
Occupation: Management Consultant and Performance Coach. Qualified EMT, MR Cascarer and First Aid Instructor. Mountain Leader and Training Officer for Swaledale MRT.
Interests: Climbing, Walking, Fishing, Mountain biking, golf rugby and reading. All things first aid and medical.
Activity: Munro compleatist
Pub: Various
Mountain: Sgurr Dearg
Place: Skye
Gear: My silva compass
Member: MLTA, BMC and Training Officer, Swaledale MRT
Ideal day out: A scenic walk in, gradually getting steeper until it's more scrambling than walking. A nice lunch on top, followed by a gentle descent to some VDiff climbs. A pub supper, a pint and a rest by the fire.
Ambition: Climb an E1...once

Munros: 30
Corbetts: 3
Donalds: 2
Wainwrights: 27
Hewitts: 28


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Trips: 5
Munros: 9

Joined: May 09, 2010
Last visited: Jun 25, 2013
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