Tuesday 30 December 2014

Geal Charn (Monadhlaith).

We've had the dreaded Christmas bug! We watched the excellent (hill walking weather) weather forecasts and saw the glorious photographs on Walkhighlands et al, hoping that we would feel better before the usual Atlantic depression conveyor belt kicked back in.

We were in luck. The forecast was for the weather to stay fine, clear and cold until late on Wednesday - so with high hopes we got an early start on Tuesday...

West into the Monadhliath from Garva Bridge 

We set off from Garva Bridge and crossed over the River Spey in a light drizzle, dark cloud and mist enveloping the summits - perhaps it would get better.

Garva Bridge over River Spey (NN522948)

Never mind - the air was fresh the walking good and the moody views just added to the feeling of being in an area of wild land - love the Monadhlaith - and we could see that there was quite a bit of snow further up...

Feith Talagain looking west into  Monadhliath

Once we had crossed the Allt Coire Iain Oig on a good bridge, we headed off up its east bank, crossing a fence and across rough ground. A path gradually appeared amongst the tussocks, but the going was a touch rough in places and it was a bit "dancing on ice" at times.

Icy path - views west over Feith Talagain

It wasn't long before we came to Feith Talagain joining Allt Coire Iain Oig from the north east. Our route lay along its banks for a time - It felt like we were really heading into the wilds, a place where there is little or no sign of man - no roads, buildings, not even much of a path - and on a day like today it felt even more primeval and raw...

Feith Talagain - views north


Jim - Feith Talagain - views north

Patches of snow started to appear - much to Rafe's delight.

Lethad Gaothach and Feith Talagain - views north

The Allt Coire nan Dearcag had a bit of water in it! It was rushing and gurgling between it's boulders, and it's boulders were a touch on the icy side. We had to bash upstream a few metres to find a safer place to cross - it wasn't very wide, so a couple of flat stones and walking poles for steadying purposes and we were over.

 Views south over Allt Coire nan Dearcag and Lethad Gaothach

It was obvious that there was a there was a bit of a thaw - the temperatures were rising, it felt quite warm and the snow slushy.

Rafe by a small shelter on the SW shoulder of Geal Charn (NN550978)

Our ascent was really just beginning now, we took a bearing and yomped off across the heather and the snow (the path had disappeared), north east into the grey blanket of mist, thick and complete at about 500m.

Ascent of Geal Charn

The snow was patchy and the ascent never steep enough to require us to get our ice axes out, let alone the crampons (much to Jim's disappointment). We slogged on upwards in the grey - it was only 650m of ascent, for Pete's sake - we must be nearly there!

Jim and Rafe ascend Geal Charn

We met a couple of other walker's appearing out of the clag, on their way down - Yep, they confirmed that we were just below the summit plateau.

Jim and Rafe on Geal Charn summit plateau

The ascent relented and a path reappeared, where the snow had been blown off the plateau, no thaw up here! A raw wind kept us moving.

Geal Charn summit cairn - Munro 260 - 926m

Another 500m or so and the summit cairn loomed out of the cloud, a 6 foot, well built dry stone construction - well, what we could see of it was! Most of it was buried in a drift, a very climbable drift - an excellent photo op... Geal Charn summit (Munro 260, 926m).

It wasn't a day for messing about on the summit though. A couple of pictures and a quick sarnie along with a warming cuppa and we were on our way down.

Jim and Rafe - views south west over Feith Talagain to Lethad Gaothach

But it was definitely a day for walking on a bearing - the very intermittent path, patchy snow and the consistent murk - it was definitely a day for walking on a bearing!

Feith Talagain and Lethad Gaothach from our decent from Geal Charn 

It sounds like we weren't enjoying it - we were! Really!!

 Red deer hinds on our descent from Geal Charn

It seemed like the cloud base had risen slightly - suddenly we had views.

Rafie was on point - a herd of red deer stags in the glen by Feith Talagain and hinds on the skyline to our south.

Feith Talagain on our decent from Geal Charn

There was considerably more water in Allt Coire nan Dearcag on our descent - our outward rocks were now impassable (without getting rather wet!). But there were plenty of crossing places just a bit further upstream.

But despite the thaw, there was still plenty of ice for us to slip about on - hilarious...

 West over the Monadhliath from our descent from Geal Charn

The sun wasn't exactly out, but it was brighter. There were colours across the moor, gold and green to contrast with the monochrome of the mountains.

Allt Coire Iain Oig to the northern Monadhliath 

A gentle stroll out along the banks of the Allt Coire Iain Oig again and over the Spey and we were back at the car - a lovely finish to the walk.

Coffee and cake always go down well at Active Cafaidh in Aviemore.

 West to the Monadhliath over the River Spey by Garva Bridge

Route:  Car park E of Garva Bridge (NN521948), cross bridge (NW), turn NE on track just beyond bridge, cross bridge over Allt Coire Iain Oig (NW524953), cross fence to the left just beyond bridge, follow faint path along E bank of Allt Coire Iain Oig and then S side of Feith Talagain, continue on path to confluence of Feith Talagain and Allt Coire nan Dearcag (NW540967), cross Allt Coire nan Dearcag, ascend NE on faint/intermittant path, to Geal Charn summit (Munro 260, 926m). Return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 12.5km  Ascent: 650m  Time: 5 hours

Geal Charn (Monadhlaith).

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