Madness on the Monadhliath

Route: Corrieyairack Pass: Laggan to Fort Augustus

Corbetts: Carn na Saobhaidhe

Date walked: 19/03/2016

Time taken: 13 hours

Distance: 125km

Ascent: 2100m

It's not often that Mum and the girls want to go away, but when they do, Dad and I always seize the rare opportunity and go very ambitious with where we can go with a weekend. So this time, we decided to do the Corrieyairack Pass on mountain bikes like we had last September, but this time we decided to follow it up with cycling over a corbett :roll: rather than the flat journey down the Great Glen like last time.

But because that wasn't enough, we firstly decided to do Perth parkrun, which I won 8) before heading up on the train to Dalwhinnie.

Dalwhinnie to Whitebridge.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We were aware that there would still be snow at this time of year, and quite a lot given a week ago none of it had started to melt, but we hadn't anticipated how much there would be, which we were later made to regret :( .

We set off down the hill to the Spey at Laggan, where we then picked up the Scottish National Trail on the road to Garva Bridge. Cycling along it was a nice way to begin the cycle and it was amazing to see how high the river had been during the recent heavy rains.

Spey Dam and snow on the hills

The locals were quite inquisitive

We reached the end of the road at Melgarve where the road closed signs were (the debate surrounding 4x4s is something I'm not going to get involved in) and stopped for a snack in the bothy, before following the track up and out of the glen.

Back to Melgarve and down the Spey

We then headed into Corrie Yairack and began to see that there was a lot more snow that we (foolishly) expected :o :shock: .

Pylons for company

We began to encounter places where the snow had drifted all the way across the path, and we had to get off and walk. The snow was of that perfect consistency that makes it an absolute nightmare to walk on :(

It's quite deep

We then realized that the problem of snow was a lot worse higher up :shock:

Zig zags full of snow

We had passed a couple in their car who had given up trying to get up at the bottom of the zig zags where the deep snow starts, but given our hotel was on the other side, we had to carry on upwards. We ended up ploughing straight up, ignoring the zig zags as following them was no use at all.

There may have been swearing at this point

We eventually reached the watershed/summit (ok, it's not quite the actual summit, but it's more significant), where the views opened out over the hills to the west of the Great Glen.

Not sure what exactly they are?

We started to head down the other side after the true summit, but only encountered the same problem of the snow across the track that we'd encountered on the way up. As we got further and further down, the snow thinned, so it became more rideable.

Snow across the track

We saw a mountain hare on the way down, which showed us its heels. Lower down, the light began to put on a display before the sun went down.

Those hills are.....?

We managed to get past where Dad's tyre got a puncture in September when we had no spare tubes :crazy: and began the final descent to Loch Ness.

Loch Ness

The next problem we then encountered is that we were staying in the Whitebridge Hotel, along General Wade's Road. The Wadester (aka Big Wadey, The Wadinator etc.) had unfortunately decided to build his road over near enough 400m at the Suidhe viewpoint, so we had a fair bit of ascent still to do :( . Cycling up there in the near enough dark was torture, and a pint (of lemonade! :wink: ) was well received when we finally reached our hotel, just in time to watch the 6 nations.

After refuelling with a full Scottish breakfast, we then set off the second day for Carrbridge, the hard way.

Whitebridge to Carrbridge.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We began by heading out to Corriegarth, then up the brand new wind farm track (another debate I'm not going to get involved in), which proved to be quite useful as the snow was cleared off it.

Back to Stratherrick

We eventually reached the wind farm itself, where we turned off onto the original grouse stalkers' track shown on the OS maps just above where the Allt a' Ghille Charaich meets the River E, although we could have stayed on the wind farm tracks until further up if we'd known. The grouse track was horrible to cycle on firstly because the surface was all soft, then further on because it was covered by snow... again! :roll: :(

Not again!

Back to the wind farm

We eventually reached the top of the track, which goes nearly right to the top, further than the OS shows, after a stop at one of the beaters' bothies, which was open. From there, it was an easy walk across the shallow bogs to the summit of Carn na Saobhaidhe, which we still can't pronounce :? .

A corbett... with bikes!

The track to Dunmaglass

Remembering back to the last hill that we had the bikes at the top of, the future wasn't looking up with 3km of cross country to do to get to the trail head at the Allt Odhar.

What's coming up... a lot of snow

The snow that had so far only hindered our progress now repaid us by allowing us to walk straight over the peat hags and bogs and made for much quicker progress to the track.

The end of the track with a load of snow on it

This tack, like all the other high altitude tracks we'd encountered, was covered with snow :roll: , which lead to more walking until we reached the Allt Creagach.

A lot of snow!

We then managed to get a good spell of downhill riding to Dalbeg, in between the short killer uphill sections.

Dalbeg and the Findhorn

We then cycled the 25km down the Findhorn and Strathdearn, which is a beautifully variable glen.


Coignafearn is huge!

We then saw a red squirrel (my first :D ) before heading over the Findhorn Bridge and up to the Slochd, which wasn't too hard. From the summit, it was all downhill on NCR 7 to the River Dulnain and Carrbridge.

A very Caringorms wood

We headed over Sluggan Bridge and down to Carrbridge, where all that was left to do was to get the train back to Glasgow (Central due to the Queen Street closures).

My legs, and more importantly my ar$e, will take a while to recover from that! :( :roll:

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Comments: 3

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User avatar
Location: Glasgow
Interests: Running, cycling
Activity: Mountaineer
Mountain: Rum Cuillin
Place: Skye
Gear: Compass
Member: None.
Ideal day out: Geocaching, trigpointing, hillbagging route!
Ambition: Complete all the munros

Munros: 132
Corbetts: 31
Grahams: 29
Donalds: 21
Wainwrights: 31
Hewitts: 18
Sub 2000: 48

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