Clear skies on Carn Ban

Route: Carn Ban via Alladale

Corbetts: Carn Ban

Date walked: 26/03/2017

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 38.5km

Ascent: 935m

It’s been 3 years since I last wrote a trip report, in March 2014, of a walk up Gairich which almost ended badly thanks to me slipping on slushy snow and grass https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=40553. I was lucky enough to win the monthly Walkhighlands trip report competition then, so I’m not sure why it didn’t inspire me to write more reports!

Since that time, I’ve completed my Munros – and then started doing them again (I know, what a lack of imagination!) and also started to look out for Corbetts. So when I was researching Carn Ban last month, I was surprised at the lack of trip reports for the Alladale approach and that has spurred me into action, though admittedly it’s taken me 3 weeks after the walk to do it. Hope it helps others with their planning. It ended up taking us 8.5 hours but it was the first day of our holiday and we were quite weary so didn’t push the pace, and we also lounged around a bit on our breaks as the weather was so good.

It’s 9 years since Malc & I had been in this area, doing a fab cycle trip from Ardgay station via Croich church to Ullapool on offroad tracks with a wild camp in the middle. That had been the most amazing trip and the start of a 2-week cycle tour from Ullapool to Thurso/John O’Groats (which is now mostly the NC500 and probably too busy with vehicles for an enjoyable cycle). I’d never actually been on Alladale estate, though for years I'd read various reports about their wolf reintroduction plans so I was curious about what it would be like. In fact I was totally unprepared for how beautiful it is - stunning landscape and ancient Caledonian pinewoods, lots of new trees coming through. Mind you, with the sun shining from a cloudless sky, I challenge anywhere in Scotland not to look gorgeous on a day like that.

We parked at the end of the public road by Glencalvie estate, the temperature was just above zero. We got on to the bikes by 9am to follow the Walkhighlands route and soon warmed up as there's a big hill early on.
Setting off through the pinewoods

It’s a 9-mile cycle down Gleann Mor to the bridge after Deanich lodge where you enter Gleann Beag. Mostly the road is in good condition, and relatively flat, just a few ups and downs. There’s a number of fenced enclosures – possibly for wild boar? – and some extensive native tree planting which is already beginning to change the character of the glen in a very interesting way. Lots of birdlife as we cycled through, feeling that we were getting into more and more remote country. We never saw a soul all day.
Deanich Lodge, looking back down Gleann Mor

After the bridge was reached we had an early lunch break and then continued on foot along the road to finally climb up the side of the glen just before a hydro scheme and weir. It was a fairly steep pull up, and really hot in the sun on a southerly slope, but the views were getting better and better.
Setting off on foot down Gleann Beag, Cona Mheall in the distance

Dornoch spring 2017 151.JPG
Starting the climb

First was Cona Mheall and Am Faochagach then Beinn Dearg (with its wall) and Meall nan Ceapraichean, and Eididh nan Clach Geala … and then finally Seana Bhraigh, all touched with snow and looking amazing, bringing back lots of memories.
Brief rest at Loch Sruban Mora

Dornoch spring 2017 156.JPG
Looking back to Beinn Dearg and the Fannaichs

By this time we’d passed Loch Sruban Mora and were heading up the first top. Fortunately most of the snow had gone underfoot but there were plenty of drifts which meant a meandering route. Carn Ban summit looked an awfully long way away but the views had opened out all around and our heads swivelled all the way along the ridge.
Across Seana Bhraigh to the hills of Assynt

To the west as well as those already mentioned we had all the Assynt hills laid out in front of us, plus the Summer Isles and Outer Hebrides. To the north, Ben Klibreck and Ben Loyal stood out. To the south the Fannichs and even An Teallach peeping through, and to the east Ben Wyvis. By this time it was slightly hazy but I really think we were seeing the sea on both sides of the country, it was utterly fantastic, such a sense of space and peacefulness!
Dornoch spring 2017 168.JPG
An Teallach peeping through behind Beinn Dearg

Dornoch spring 2017 170.JPG
Malc walking along the summit, looking to Assynt

Dornoch spring 2017 172.JPG
Carn Ban summit looking north to Ben Klibreck

Dornoch spring 2017 003.JPG
Looking east to Ben Wyvis

We decided just to head back to the bikes from the summit, but this ended up taking a fair bit longer than hoped due to lots of soft snow drifts and peat hags to plough through on this north east side of the hill above Coire na Feithe Riabhaich. Because it was so hot I wasn't wearing gaiters and got loads of snow inside the boots. Finally, we luckily picked up the stalkers’ path which zig zags down the side of the glen beside a hydro scheme to where we’d left the bikes.
Dornoch spring 2017 007.JPG
Back down the stalkers' path to the bikes

Back on the saddle and then a mostly downhill ride all the way back to the car for 17.30. We’d had a stunning, blue sky day in really remote country right in the centre of Scotland, and had the hill all totally to ourselves. A great start to our holiday!

Click to mark this as a great report. Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Comments: 2

1, 2, 3

Gairich, my 1st Munro this year, almost my last ever ...

Attachment(s) Munros: Gairich
Date walked: 26/03/2014
Distance: 15km
Ascent: 870m
Comments: 32
Views: 11553

Mis-navigation scare on Maoile Lunndaidh

Attachment(s) Munros: Maoile Lunndaidh
Date walked: 13/10/2013
Distance: 26km
Ascent: 1139m
Comments: 2
Views: 2451

Carn Eighe group from Strawberry Cottage

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Fhionnlaidh (Carn Eige), Carn Eige, Mam Sodhail
Date walked: 26/05/2013
Distance: 21.5km
Ascent: 1725m
Comments: 8
Views: 3859

Fab 208 Sgorr Ruadh - and #207 Beinn Liath Mhor was fab too!

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Liath Mhor, Sgorr Ruadh
Date walked: 23/10/2012
Distance: 17km
Ascent: 1320m
Comments: 11
Views: 4426

Two lovely surprises, Sgurr Choinnich & Sgurr a'Chaorachain

Attachment(s) Munros: Sgurr a'Chaorachain, Sgurr Choinnich
Date walked: 22/10/2012
Distance: 20km
Ascent: 1230m
Comments: 4
Views: 2636

Sunshine on Maol Chean-dearg

Attachment(s) Munros: Maol Chean-dearg
Date walked: 21/10/2012
Distance: 14km
Ascent: 932m
Comments: 9
Views: 2859

Four have a jolly nice time on Sgurr Mor

Attachment(s) Munros: Sgurr Mor (Loch Quoich)
Corbetts: Sgurr an Fhuarain
Date walked: 26/08/2012
Distance: 24km
Ascent: 1510m
Comments: 4
Views: 3570

What I learned in Fisherfield

Attachment(s) Munros: A' Mhaighdean, Beinn Tarsuinn, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Ruadh Stac Mor, Sgurr Ban
Corbetts: Beinn a'Chlaidheimh
Date walked: 31/05/2012
Distance: 29km
Ascent: 2254m
Comments: 7
Views: 4962

Beinn Bhuide and two glens

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Bhuidhe
Date walked: 28/04/2012
Distance: 15km
Ascent: 955m
Comments: 2
Views: 3224

Helen Bruce

User avatar
Location: Edinburgh
Munro rounds: 1

Munros: 90
Corbetts: 54
Donalds: 4

Filter reports



Trips: 1
Distance: 38.5 km
Ascent: 935m
Corbetts: 1


Trips: 1
Distance: 15 km
Ascent: 870m
Munros: 1


Trips: 2
Distance: 47.5 km
Ascent: 2864m
Munros: 4


Trips: 7
Distance: 132.5 km
Ascent: 9146m
Munros: 13
Corbetts: 2

Joined: Jul 17, 2011
Last visited: Apr 23, 2019
Total posts: 91 | Search posts