Saturday 1 June 2019

Beinn Dearg (Atholl) - like the North York Moors, but on steroids

Road leading to Old Blair from the car park at Old Bridge of Tilt at the beginning of the walk

It looked like the best chance of a view from the top was the southern Cairngorms again - Beinn Dearg from Old Bridge of Tilt was the hill of choice. A long walk in, but we need the practice!

After a week of rain across Scotland, and with more forecast, we were lucky to get a bit of reasonable weather at the weekend at all - off we go...

A few weeks ago, Old Bridge of Tilt was also our start point, when we climbed Carn a'Chlamain - we were hoping for better weather and some good views today!

Track into the woods at The Den east of Old Bridge of Tilt

At least it wasn't raining when we set off...

Pleasant walking past farmland and through woodland, gradually ascending above the village. The road changed to a forestry track once past a crossroads, and this led us onward towards the open moors.

Looking back towards the Old Bridge of Tilt

Jim - nearing the gate onto the moor (NN854677)

The track continued on past a gate, clear and obvious through the heather clad moor between the rolling hills. It looked like the North York Moors, but on a grand scale! - on steroids!!

Looking back (nouth east) towards the woods in Glen Banvie

The Banvie Burn near Old Blair

The walking was easy, the track undulated gently - it was obvious that the local estate maintained the road regularly and it was obvious that grouse shooting was the name of the game.

Jim - crossing the moor above the Allt na Moine Baine

Definitely feeling that this sort of monoculture needs some reform... Revive

Waterfalls on the Allt na Moine Baine

The views were pleasant - the burns tumbled between the hills, small waterfalls channelling last weeks rain to the sea. The sky was moody, the highest hills shrouded - but it was bright, we still had hopes for views from the top of Beinn Dearg.

Jim - heading north along track - by the large cairn above the Allt na Moine Baine (NN851690)

Crossing the Allt na Moine Baine (NN850694)

We were gradually overtaken by a couple of cyclists - their aim was to climb Beinn Dearg also.  Their ascent didn't seem much quicker than ours, but we were sure that they would be somewhat speedy on the way out!

Jim - further north on the track! 

A good place for a first lunch - the bridge over the Feith Thuire - views north towards a misty Beinn Dearg

We stopped for a quick first lunch on the bridge over the Feith Thuire - the landscape had very little in the way of somewhere dry to sit - so swinging our legs over the side of the bridge was the best a derriere could get.

Views north across the moors towards Beinn Dearg and Dalnamein Forest

It was mild and muggy - I was down to a tee shirt.

Jim, as usual, was still in his winter jacket and gloves!

Jim - descending towards the Scheicheachan Bothy with Beinn Dearg beyond

A few more kilometres over the moor and we crossed a low bealach and descended into the little glen on the Allt Scheicheachan - the bothy only becoming visible about half way down the hill.

Scheicheachan Bothy

Scheicheachan Bothy was in a delightful spot, just beside the burn, nestled below the hills. Shame about the Glen Bruar Hydro Scheme scars!

Views north east from Scheicheachan Bothy

In Scheicheachan Bothy

We had a bit of a mooch about the bothy - thank you to the Mountain Bothy Association.

Looking back towards Scheicheachan Bothy

Before moving on, crossing the burn and continuing on along the Allt Scheicheachan on a path much more in consonance with the landscape - lovely.

Jim - continuing north east along Allt Scheicheachan

Looking back (south west) along Allt Scheicheachan from the start of the ascent of Meall Dubh nan Dearcag and Beinn Dearg

We were soon at the bottom of the zig zags - and the first proper bit of ascent all day. It wasn't much at all, don't think we even broke into a sweat.

Jim - ascent of Meall Dubh nan Dearcag and Beinn Dearg

Looking back over Allt Scheicheachan from ascent of Meall Dubh nan Dearcag and Beinn Dearg

The ascent relented at about 800m and we pressed on, still on the obvious path, over a couple of minor undulations towards the Bean Dearg summit.

Looking back (south west) from ascent of Meall Dubh nan Dearcag and Beinn Dearg

Jim - ascent of Slaibh na Cloiche Moire and Beinn Dearg summit

There were a couple of rather boggy bits to negotiate over Slaibh na Cloiche Moire (not surprising after last weeks weather) but there were no difficulties.

Looking back from our ascent of Beinn Dearg

Jim - ascent of Slaibh na Cloiche Moire and Beinn Dearg

The summit was in and out of cloud - would we get any views?

Slaibh na Cloiche (931m)

We met the two cyclists again. They were just walking down from the summit, having left their bikes at the bothy. We stopped to chat briefly, but the chilly wind was getting up and cloud was moving in. It was too cold for much of a conflab.

Jim - ascent of Beinn Dearg

Ascent into the mist - Beinn Dearg

The summit was shrouded in mist.

Jim - nearing Beinn Dearg summit

We picked our way through the boulders to the trig point, surrounded by a wind shelter - Beinn Dearg (124, 1008m) - took some pictures and retreated to the north side of the hill, amongst some big rocks. We had a second lunch whilst waiting (hoping) that the clag would clear.

Near Beinn Dearg summit

Beinn Dearg summit (Munro 124, 1008m)

Excellent views for our second lunch, just below Beinn Dearg summit

But no - ten minutes for a sarnie and various sweet treats and we were on the move again.  It really was biting cold.  Hats, gloves and several extra layers definitely required.

Jim - descending from Beinn Dearg summit

We were returning down the way we had ascended - only this time, the raw wind was blowing into our faces. And as we made our way off the summit the rain started.

Jim - descent from Beinn Dearg
Slaibh na Cloiche in really nasty weather

It really wasn't very nice!

Jim - coming out from the cloud - descent from Beinn Dearg

There was no messing about - it was a speedy descent - good job it was easygoing underfoot.

Boggy - descent from Beinn Dearg

It wasn't long before we dropped out of the cloud - the change was immediate, the wind dropped, the rain eased off and the temperature rose - what a relief.

Views into Glen Bruar from descent from Beinn Dearg

The views opened up to the south and west. Still moody, but there was some colour to the landscape.

Jim - descent from Beinn Dearg - views south

The path was followed across the hillside, down the zig zags and into Glen Scheicheachan, until we picked up a rough path (very rough - heather roots!!) which took us diagonally up the glen to meet another path on the other side of the burn.

Jim - on the rough path descending into upper Glen Scheicheachan

Allt Scheicheachan

Jim - Allt Scheicheachan

And up the other side on an equally rough path...

Jim - ascent out of upper Glen Scheicheachan

It avoided a certain amount of descent and re-ascent to get us to another stalkers track across the moor.

Jim - heading south on a different track across the moor - below Beinn a Chait

This track was further east than our walk in route, passing to the east of Carn Dearg Mor and eventually down into Glen Tilt.

It was equally excellent underfoot, but we enjoyed this track more - the views were more expansive and engaging, and we had several fords to cross - interesting with all the water flowing off the hills.

Lots of grouse moor!

Third lunch - beside a ford across Allt Slanaidh - views east

We had a third lunch on some well placed rocks, just beside one of the fords - it was almost warm.

Further south - views south to Tay Forest Park

Moody views south from our route over the moors back to Old Bridge of Tilt

Allt Slanaidh - views south (NN867717)

Surprisingly quickly, we found ourselves descending towards the rifle range in Glen Tilt - the miles had flown by...

Nearing the woods - Allt Slanaidh above Glen Tilt

Jim - above the Croft Crombie Rifle Range in Glen Tilt

The track ran along the top of the rifle range - no shooting today - we looked back to see Beinn Dearg peeping over the top of nearer hills.

Once we were past the rifle range, we were back on known paths...

Looking back over the Croft Crombie Rifle Range to Beinn Dearg

We cut back through the woods and descended steeply through Scots pine and birchwoods...

Jim - Blairruachdar Wood

Just lovely.

Jim - Blairruachdar Wood

Jim - Lethad Mor Wood near Old Bridge of Tilt - nearly there...

Our feet were a bit sore - but feeling pretty fit after 30km - a great day.

Old Bridge of Tilt Woods

Route:  Car park at Old Bridge of Tilt (NN874662), from the car park entrance, take the road left, following this to the end of the public road, continue straight on over a crossroads (NN867660) onto a track and follow this to gate at the end of the forest (NN854677), continue straight on after the gate along track above east bank of Allt na Moine Baine over open moorland, follow this N, then NE, crossing the burn at a bridge (NN850694) and N again over wide bealach (sh 514m), and descending to Allt Scheicheachan Bothy, take path NE along Allt Scheicheachan, crossing the burn and continuing up the glen, take stalkers path N zig zagging up Meall Dubh nan Dearcag, head NE towards summit, once the ascent eases, along rough path over sh 931 and onto Beinn Dearg summit (Munro 124, 1008m), descend by same route towards Allt Scheicheachan, but take faint (rough) path at NE end of zig zag (NN847753) down to Allt Scheicheachan further up the burn (NN854754), cross burn and take another rough path SW to pick up track heading SSE across moor (at NN889747), continue on this track crossing several fords through gate onto forestry (NN873774), along boundary fence of Croft Crombie Rifle Range, after the range this track meets another, turn left back towards the range then after a few metres, right to descend through the woods towards River Tilt, continue on track past fields and woods to Old Bridge of Tilt car park

Statistics:  Distance: 30km  Ascent:1030m  Time: 8 hours

Map:  OS Explorer 394 Atholl

Beinn Dearg (Atholl)

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