Saturday 16 January 2016

Carn Dearg (Monadhliath)

At the bridge over Allt a'Chaorainn in Glen Banchor

We set off from the little car park a couple of kilometres up the road from Newtonmore, with a covering of snow on the ground. The car had said -5 celsius as we parked up, but it didn't feel all that cold, as the air was still. We were optimistic that the forecast sunshine would soon break through.

Rafe and Jim walking west up Glen Banchor

The track was clear and obvious along the banks of the River Calder along the lovely Glen Banchor - if a little slippery.

Creag Liath and Creagan Dearg above Glenbanchor

We soon turned north along Allt Fionndrigh, through the old ruined township of Glenbanchor and up into the Monadhliath along a good landrover track.

Rafe and Jim - Creag Liath, Gleann Fionndrigh and Creagan Dearg

Glen Banchor - looking west from NN677997, by the old township

As we started up the hill, the sun rose over the hills to the south east - only a brief sighting and the only view we had of it today...

The sun rises over Creag Dhubh above Glen Banchor

Looking east along Glen Banchor

The Monadhliath from Glen Banchor

Gleann Fionndrigh was a monochrome landscape.

Gleann Fionndrigh - looking north west

We continued along the landrover track up the glen, making good time and taking in the wintry views. Rafe was running about, flicking up the snow and catching it...

Allt Fionndrigh

Jim - Gleann Fionndrigh

One of the burns feeding Allt Fionndrigh

We spied a herd of red deer stags strung out across the hillside above us. They stopped and watched us for a moment, before making off at speed into the east.

Stags on Creag na h-Iolaire

Gleann Fionndrigh - looking north west

About 3km along Glen Fionndrigh, we crossed the burn on a slightly rickety bridge. Rafe, as usual, hesitant over the gaps. We headed up a burn cutting in an embankment and onto the wide bealach between Meall na Ceardiach and Creag Liath.

Crossing Allt Fionndrigh - looking south east

There was much more snow up here...

Looking north west along Allt Fionndrigh

We started a slog up the glen. The track marked on the map was invisible - we yomped off across the snow towards our goal, obvious to the north - Carn Dearg.

Rafe and Jim - Looking north west into Gleann Ballach

The views all around were unreal and amazing...

Looking south west from the bealach between Meall na Ceardiach and Creag Liath towards Strath Mashie

It was hard going, the snow deep over heather and peat hags. Sometimes it was just about hard enough to hold our weight. But most of the time, we were wading through knee deep snow (Rafe bounding about) and occasionally going through into bog and mud.

Jim and Rafe in Gleann Ballach

We were lucky to find the tracks of two other walkers through the snow - someone else breaking trail made things so much easier - but there was nobody else in sight.

Jim and Rafe - Carn Dearg above Gleann Ballach

We crossed the Allt Ballach easily, before heading off, up through the most northerly of the crags of Carn Dearg - the thought of slogging through the deeper snow in the upper glen seemed just too much like hard work.

Jim in Glean Ballach from the start of the ascent of Carn Dearg

The going was slippery and occasionally steep, but the snow was soft and we managed to kick in good steps and we made reasonable time.

We had a brief view of the two other walkers, tiny, up on the summit ridge, giving a sense of perspective.

Jim cutting steps nea the summit of Carn Dearg

Once beyond the crags and onto the north east ridge, we noticed it was snowing, the wind had got up appreciably, the cloud had come down and visibility was deteriorating - so much for the forecast of sunshine and excellent visibility.

The snow had also frozen solid. There's nothing like a bit of step cutting to warm up...

Jim and Rafe - Carn Dearg summit (Munro 224, 945m)

We were soon at the summit (Carn Dearg, Munro 224, 945m), an icy cairn hanging over a slippery drop above the crags.

A few photo's, a check of the map and compass and we were off again, back north along the top of the crags and down into Upper Glen Ballach.

A snowy Rafe on Carn Dearg

The snow fall was increasing and the snow was very deep - but it was quite fun leaping about and falling in the drifts...

Looking back to Carn Dearg summit crags

Jim descending from Carn Dearg

Carn Dearg summit crags

Back in the glen, it was a bit of a chore wading back to our outward track.

Jim and Rafe descend into Upper Glen Ballach

Carn Dearg from Upper Glan Ballach

Once below the cloud, although it was still snowing, it felt relatively warm. We found a likely spot by the burn and dug a couple of seats - time for a spot of (rather late) lunch. Definitely ready for a hot drink.

Allt Ballach

Icicles by Allt Ballach

It was easier going once we found our outward route, but we were aware that the afternoon was waning. We went up a gear to get across the snowy glen and down the cutting to the bridge before dark.

Burn in the bealach between Meall Ceardiach and Creag Liath - looking east

Very briefly, there was a pink tinge to the snowy hills, before the light waned and the temperature dropped, but we were already at the footbridge and then onto the better track.

It was very beautiful...

Jim - Footbridge over Allt Fionndrigh

We met up with the two other walkers at the track junction. They had been trying to pick up the two other Munro's in the area, but had realised that they would run out of daylight due to the snowy conditions. They had come down another glen, back into Gleann Fionndrigh. Aww well, the hills'll be here another day.

Gleann Fionndrigh - looking south east

They headed off down the glen.

We sat on a rock and watched the gloaming, whilst sipping the last of our tea and nibbling on a choccy biscuit.

We skated down the track as the sky darkened and the moon came out over the snowy hills. (I only fell on my backside once!).

And it was by torchlight that we arrived back at the car...

Gloaming - Creag Liath

Route:  Car park in Glen Banchor (NN693998), track SW over fb (NN692997) and continue on track W along Glenbachor to NN68994 and turn NW on track along E bank of Allt Fionndrigh to fb at NH659019, cross fb, SW on stalkers path, up out of the glen, from NH657015 take track NW initially contouring around Upper Gleann Ballach, crossing Allt Ballach at NH640027 approx, continue NW on pathless terrain through northern crags on Carn Dearg onto NE ridge at NH637029 approx, continue SW then S above crags, Carn Dearg (Munro 224, 945m), return N then NE above crags, descend NE into Upper Gleann Ballach, across boggy terrain and cross Allt Ballach at NH640029 approx, continue S to pick up outward route, return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 19km  Ascent: 650m  Time: 7 hours 50 minutes

Map:  OS Explorer OL 56 Badenoch & Upper Strathspey

Carn Dearg (Monadhlaith)

Friday 1 January 2016

Glen Nevis

Here's a few pics from our New Years Day trot up through the Nevis Gorge to Steall Falls - never fails to impress - whatever the weather...

Sgurr a'Mhaim and Stob Ban from Glen Nevis

Carn Dearg and Allt Coire Eoghainn from Glen Nevis upper car park

An Gearanach and first glimpse of Steall Falls from Nevis Gorge

West down Glen Nevis from Nevis Gorge path

West down Glen Nevis from Nevis Gorge path

An Gearanach and Steall Falls in Upper Glen Nevis

Rafe, Jim and Freddie in Upper Glen Nevis - Steall Falls and Sgurr a'Mhaim

Route:  Glen Nevis upper car park (NN167691), fp initially E through Nevis Gorge to Steall Bridge (NN178685), return to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 3.5km  Ascent: 220m  Time: 2 hours (including messing about at the bridge!)

Map:  OS Explorer 392 Ben Nevis & Fort William

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...