Saturday 24 April 2021

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 Auchlean

Another one of those Munro walks for which we've been waiting for a perfect weather day - the long tramp over Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor with the high level traverse of the Moine Mhor - hours and hours spent at over 850m. All the guide books and websites stating ghastly conditions if the weather is windy and horrendous navigation issues if the clag is on the hills. 

Today looked like we would avoid both.

Jim - ascending through the woods above Auchlean

Since our last outing in the area (Mullach Clach a'Bhlair) the path at the farm at Auchlearn had been diverted - it was well signposted - and we headed off into the woods on a good, well made path. It made for quick walking.

Views south across Glen Feshie from the woods above Auchlean

Glen Feshie gradually brightened as the sun rose higher - the sky was clear - it all boded well for a day of huge and sweeping Cairngorm views.

Jim - Onto the open hillside above Auchlean

It wasn't long before we were out of the trees and onto the open hillside. The path stretched ahead through the heather, brown and dun, well above Allt Fhearnagan - patches of snow glowing in every fold in the terrain.

Views south west over Glen Feshie from ascent towards Carn Ban Mor

We were soon high - walking into the sun.

Views east over Glen Feshie from above Allt Flearnagan -  ascent towards Carn Ban Mor

The path was good, the ascent gentle - the shallow bealach, south of Carn Ban Mor, soon emerged from the eastern (and blinding) brilliance - a cairn marking the convergence of five paths.

Jim - nearing bealach south of Carn Ban Mor 

The views were enormous - the whole expanse of the Am Monadh Ruadh stretched out before us - and the giants of the Cairngorms were lined up across the sky. It was cryingly beautiful.

First views of Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Carn Toul and Monadh Mor from bealach south of Carn Ban Mor

We were already at over 1000m, but the Cairngorm biggies were well above us. We could see Monadh Mor ahead across the wide Moine Mhor - it looked a long way away - and Beinn Bhrotain was still further away, out of sight, beyond Monadh Mor. 

Better get going then...

Jim - south across the moor to Meall Dubhag

We took a little detour to pick up the Munro Top of Meall Dubhag (Munro Top 88, 998m) just over a kilometre to the south - with great views across Coire Garbhlach with Mullach Clach a'Bhlair beyond - and hazy mountains going on forever into the south. 

Coire Garbhlach with Mullach Clach a'Bhlair from Meall Dubhag summit (Munro Top 88, 998m)

The summit was a good spot for a quick break and we ate a first lunch, taking it all in...

Contouring around Carn Ban Mor above Moine Mhor

...before heading back across the open hillside, contouring around to the south east slopes of Carn Ban Mhor - to pick up a rough stalkers path across Moire Mhor. There were plenty of snow patches spreading across the moor - firm, but not slippery thank goodness.

Jim - crossing Moine Mor - views north east to Monadh Mor

Once on the stalkers path we wound our way across Moine Mor, watching the snowbound bigger hills looming nearer with every step. Winter was definitely still in charge up here.

Bulldozed track across Moine Mor - views east to Braeriach massif

The scar of a bulldozed track was soon reached - not very pretty, but it made for good walking - taking us onward to the little gorge of Allt Sgairnich (an easy crossing) and to a much muddier and somewhat indistinct path through the mire beyond.

Allt Sgairnich - en-route to Tom Dubh

We somehow managed to lose the "path" as we ascended Tom Dubh, and reached the summit plateau a bit further south than we should have - but crossing this little hill was a delight (it was only little in the context of being surrounded by the Cairngorm biggies!) - the views, the tiny lochans reflecting the heavens, and the hundreds of amorous frogs churning every pool. And Tom Dubh was our second Munro Top of the day (Munro Top 217, 918m). Photo's were taken!

Tom Dudh summit (Munro Top 217, 918m) - views north east

It was a quick descent to Allt Luinaeg - edged with deep drifts and somewhat disquieting overhanging snow above the water - although the sight was just glorious.

We mooched along, up the river for a short distance, looking for a good place to cross. 

Jim - Allt Luinaeg - views north east

We soon found a likely point to get across and, with the help of poles for balance and a few handy rocks, we were over in a jiffy.

Allt Luinaeg crossing point

Allt Luinaeg - views south west

Then it was time to start the final ascent to Monadh Mor along the wide north west ridge.

Ascent of Monadh Mor - views north west over Coire Odhar to Sgor Gaoith

It wasn't very steep, but it was bouldery in places. The wide snow patches made for easier going and we were very soon on the summit plateau and enjoyed a gentle stroll to the summit cairn, with snowy mountains and blindingly blue skies all around.

Jim - ascent of Monadh Mor

Beinn Bhrotain emerged from behind Monadh Mor's eastern escarpment - it still looked a long way off...

Monadh Mor summit plateau - views nort to Braeriach

Jim - Monadh Mor summit - first views of Beinn Bhrotain

But the summit cairn was ahead and our first Munro of the day soon bagged - Monadh Mor (Munro 41, 1113m). Deep breathes were taken as we drank in the views.

Monadh Mor summit (Munro 41, 1113m) - views to Beinn Bhrotain

Wandering onward we met our first other walkers of the day - a couple who had run in from the Linn of Dee - there's always someone stronger/fitter/faster!!! :)

Jim - crossing Leac Ghorm with Beinn Bhrotain in sight

Beinn Bhrotain suddenly looked nearer...

Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Carn Toul and Devils Point from Leac Ghorm

And it was - very soon we were descending from Leac Ghorm into the bealach between it and Beinn Bhrotain - probably the steepest stuff seen all day.

Jim - descent into Bealach Coire Cath nam Fionn with Beinnn Bhrotain beyond

There was a bit of a cornice hanging over the edge, but the path was clear of snow. 

We met a couple of lads, ascending as we made our way down. Ahhh young people! they kindly warned us of the steepness and the difficulty of the boulders on the climb up Beinn Bhrotain... 

What we would have done without their wisdom and experience, I just don't know.

Views south along Allt Dhaidh Mor to last weeks hills

Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Carn Toul and Devils Point from Bealach Coire Cath nam Fionn

More great views from the bealach...

Ascent of Beinn Bhrotain - views north to Braeriach massif

It was fairly steep and it was definitely quite bouldery - but there was an intermittent path picking it's way through the worst of it - and we were soon on the summit plateau, ambling across the rocks to the trig point within its summit shelter.

Jim nears Beinn Bhrotain summit

And the sky was even bluer! - Beinn Bhrotain (Munro 19, 1157m) was a dazzling place for a second lunch.

Beinn Bhrotain summit (Munro 19, 1157m) - views south east

We had the summit plateau to ourselves - with little or no wind - the silence was complete.

Beinn Bhrotain summit - views north to Braerich massif

Perfectly peaceful.

Jim - descent from Beinn Bhrotain into Bealach Coire Cath nam Fionn with views to Monadh Mor

But we were only half way (distance if not ascent) - and the day was wearing on. Off we go again.

Descent from Beinn Bhrotain into Bealach Coire Cath nam Fionn with views to Monadh Mor

Back across the boulders and down into the bealach, along our outward route - there were a few more people about now...

Jim - crossing the Monadh Mor summit plateau again

Across Monadh Mor - the views just as wide and impressive as on the way out - and back down to Allt Luinaeg.

Jim - descent from Monadh Mor towards Allt Luinaeg 

Once past Monadh Mor summit we made more of a bee line for the crossing point of the burn, descending diagonally across a smooth expanse of unsullied snow - quicker than it would have been to walk right along the summit plateau.

Snow melt - Monadh Mor lower slopes

We crossed the Allt Luinaig at the same place as before - the water was definitely a bit higher with todays snow melt - but we managed to avoid wet feet again.

Crossing Allt Luinaeg again

Over Tom Dubh and the Moine Mor, we were making good time...

Lochan on Moine Mor

Crossing Moine Mor - views north west over Coire Odhar to Sgor Gaoith

There were a few more clouds now - and it was chilly in the shade (but not cold enough to put on a jacket!) - Sgor Gaoith stood out, shining in the sun over Coire Odhar. When we climbed the hill in 2014, it was a different sort of a day, the hill certainly lived up to its name.

Views back over Moine Mor - views north east

Once back at that shallow bealach (the one with the cairn and the five paths), we took a right and headed north on a sort of path and then across the open hill, springy grass with stony patches -  with Carn Ban Mor in our sights. It was to be our last summit of the day. The 30m, or so, of ascent felt like a lot more :)

Jim - Carn Ban Mor summit (Munro Top 45, 1052m) - with views to Sgor Gaoith

West from Carn Ban Mor's wide summit (Munro Top 45, 1052m) were new views over Glen Feshie to Ben Alder, Creag Meagaidh and the Monadhliath - clearer than they had been this morning. Definitely a place for a third (and very late) lunch.

Jim - descent from Carn Ban Mor to pick up stalkers path above Allt Fhearnagan and Glen Feshie

We headed back to the track into Glen Feshie and strolled on down, gently and easily.

Descent into Glen Feshie - views west

Even though we had walked a long way, we felt surprisingly fresh - maybe we're fitter than we had thought! - the good path and the easy descent certainly helped.

Descent into Glen Feshie

Back in the woods - cuckoo's a calling...

Back into the woods of Glen Feshie above Achlean

The woods of Glen Feshie above Achlean

And a final kilometre or so along the road. 

We were sunburned and snow burned, had slightly sore feet and achy shoulders - but we had the biggest grins - what a day?!?

Near Achlean - a final 800m along the road!

Route:  Car park on unclassified road S of Feshiebridge, 1km N of Achlean (NN850984), follow road S to just before Achlean, and take fp SE (left) (sp "All Routes Please. Carn Ban Mor and Sgor Gaoith"), follow this fp through a gate at the edge of the woods and straight on at a minor junction (NN855975), follow obvious and well made fp through the wood and onto open moor, ascending to cairn at shallow bealach south of Carn Ban Mor (NN892968), take rough fp right (SSW) crossing a minor undulation to another shallow bealach (NN888959), head SW then W on pathless hillside to Meall Dubhag (Munro Top 88, 998m), return to last shallow bealach (NN888959) and contour around S slopes of Carn Ban Mor to pick up rough path (NN899961), head SSE across Moine Mhor to pick up bulldozed track near summit of minor top (sh 957m) and head left (E) to Allt Sgairnich at the end of the bulldozed track, descend on rough fp and cross burn and ascend other side on very boggy and indistinct track, head to bealach (sh 876m) and continue on indistinct path to near Tom Dubh summit, detour a few m S to Tom Dubh summit (Munro Top 217, 918m), return N to indistinct path and descend to Allt Luineag (NN925954), cross where possible and ascend NW slopes of Monah Mor on very indistinct path, continue SE then S along wide ridge to Monadh Mor summit (Munro 41, 1113m), continue S on rough path across Leac Ghorm and descend to bealach between Leac Ghorm and Beinn Bhrotain (sh 975m), ascend Beinn Bhrotain steeply, initially on rough path and increasingly into boulderfield, Beinn Bhrotain summit (Munro 19, 1157m). return to bealach and across Monadh Mor, descend to Allt Luineag again (we descended more directly than on  ascent route), cross burn and follow rough path over Tom Dubh again and continue to Allt Sgairnich, crossing and ascending bulldozed track to minor top (sh 957m) and at cairn, head on rough path across Moine Mhor ascending to bealach below Carn Ban Mor (NN892968) head NE initially on rough path and then across open hillside to Carn Ban Mor summit (Munro Top 45, 1052m), descend SW across open moor to pick up well made path used on ascent and descend to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 34km  Ascent: 1650m  Time: 10hrs 45mins

Map:  OS Explorer OL57 Cairn Gorm and Aviemore

Monadh Mor

Beinn Bhrotain

Saturday 17 April 2021

Glas Tulaichean, Carn an Righ and Beinn Iutharn Mhor - three for the price of two.

Dalmunzie Castle Hotel

I'd emailed the Dalmunzie Castle Hotel earlier in the week to double check that it would be OK for us to park in the car park, how much this would cost and how we would need to go about paying. We had just gone from full lockdown, level four, on Monday down to level three - allowed out of Moray for the first time since Boxing Day - and we weren't going to miss our first chance to pop up a new Munro or two. But we weren't sure how the hotel would be handling parking and payment. We were feeling a bit on the feeble side of things and felt that shaving 5km or so off our first hill walk for a while, might be a good idea.

A very nice employee had emailed back, informing that we were welcome to park and that they were not currently charging as the hotel was not open - so good news on the parking/payment - but we had kind of been hoping that a take out coffee might be on the offing at the end of the walk - mixed blessings :) 

We'd picked this two Munro walk - Glas Tulaichean and Carn an Righ - as a relatively easy one, according to the guide books - to ease us in slowly. We shall see...

Setting off from Dalmunzie Castle Hotel

The weather forecast was excellent, so with a very early start from home, we were parked up around the back of the hotel, booted and ruck-sacked up, setting off by 7.30am.


Along the road towards Glenlochsie farm and cottages - the sky was a perfect azure and there was hardly a breath of wind - my jacket was already off and back in the bag! - we took the waymarked path across the field bypassing the settlement, and were soon on our way up Glen Lochsie.

On the Glenlochsie bypass path

The track was good and we strode out - the zig-zag up onto the old railway track was signposted and we took that route - avoiding a few kilometres of the wide track up the glen and a couple of river crossings. We wandered on, taking it all in - and thinking about spring... 

The track up Glen Lochsie - views NW

Jim - On the old railway track up Glen Lochsie - views NW

The old railway track was a touch boggy and somewhat uneven in places (and very boggy and even more uneven in other places) but we were soon relieved that we had chosen it - we could see a couple of walkers ahead of us, but down in the glen on the track, screaming and shouting (no exaggeration!) about the river crossings.

Crossing the burn above Glenlochsie Lodge

We soon reached the very ruinous Glen Lochsie Lodge, crossing the burn (the footbridge marked on the map wasn't to be seen, but it was a very easy crossing) and descending slightly past the pile of stones with a view - and back onto the bulldozed track, which was to take us onward to our first Munro of the day (and of the year!) - Glas Tulaichean

Glenlochsie Lodge ruins and views back down the glen (SE)

It was easy walking - not too steep and solid and even underfoot - we made good time.

Ascending the bulldozed track up Glas Tulaichean


Views SE along Glen Lochsie from ascent to Glas Tulaichean

We passed the shouting/screaming couple as we ascended, and were passed in turn by a runner with a lovely collie...

The ascent of Breac-reidh and Glas Tulaichean

The views opened up as we ascended - a bit hazy, but far reaching...

Jim - the ascent of Glas Tulaichean

And we were soon on the summit plateau, with a gentle stroll to the trig pointed summit.

Looking back to Breac-reidh, along the ascent route of Glas Tulaichean

Nearing Glas Tulaichean summit - views west to a distant Beinn a'Ghlo

Jim - Glas Tulaichean summit - views east

There were a few other walkers about, appearing from all directions. But we had the summit to ourselves for the obligatory photo.

Glas Tulaichean summit (Munro 79, 1051m) - views west to Beinn a'Ghlo

First lunch was eaten, a quick sarnie, just to the north of the summit. There wasn't too much wind, but it was worth tucking down out of the slight breeze, for it definitely still held a chill.

The views were glorious - Carn an Righ to the north west, our next objective across Gleann Mor - with the Cairngorm biggies to the north, beyond more undulating hills - as well as a snowy Beinn a'Ghlo in the west.

Descending from Glas Tulaichean along the NE ridge

Onward. We descended the north east ridge, along the edge of a fairly substantial cornice. 

Looking back to Glas Tulaichean summit from the NE ridge

There was a bit of a path, but as we veered towards the descent into Gleann Mor, it became more indistinct and eventually disappeared.

Descent from Glas Tulaichean - views NE to Loch nan Eun

Jim - descent into Gleann Mor - views to Carn an Righ and Mam nan Carn 

It wasn't a problem - we just trotted on down into the glen. We could see the stalkers path running across the lower slopes of Mam nan Carn, so we picked a reasonably dry route across the watershed and picked up this path - and headed west along Gleann Mor.

Jim - Gleann Mor - views to Carn an Righ

It was a pretty rough path - but it was taking us to our next Munro objective - and we seemed to have the glen to ourselves...

Until a very big bird soared down from the heights, wheeling and sailing above us - our first golden eagle of 2021.

Golden eagle above Gleann Mor

We were soon at the western end of Mam nan Carn and at a junction of four paths - Carn an Righ was ahead, but the path up the western ridge of Mam nan Carn looked inviting - perhaps we would have a little jolly up there on our way back rather than walking the length of Gleann Mor? We agreed to have a look at the map and to check the lie of the land once we got to the summit of Carn an Righ.

Looking back (east) to Mam nan Carn and Gleann Mor from ascent of Carn an Righ

More up.

Looking back (east) to Mam nan Carn, Gleann Mor and Glas Tulaichean

It was an easy ascent up the rough path - the views just getting better and better.

Jim - ascent of Carn an Righ - views NE to Beinn Iutharn Mhor

What's that big hill over there? (NE) - it can't be Beinnn Iutharn Mhor, Munro, can it? It looks too close.

Carn Bhac and Beinn Iutharn Mhor from near the summit of Carn an Righ

We were soon at the summit of Carn an Righ (Munro 102, 1029m) - with it's rough rocky cairn and very broken down shelter. Time for a second lunch!

Carn an Righ summit (Munro 102, 1029m) - views SW to Beinn a'Ghlo

Carn Bhac, Beinn Iutharn Mhor and Mam nan Carn from near the summit of Carn an Righ

Yep - that's definitely Beinn Iutharn Mhor! It looked far too close to miss - and it was still fairly early in the day. After a conflab, a little look at the map and lots of pointing and gesticulating, the decision was made. We would take the path we had seen, ascending the lower slopes of Mam nan Carn, and continue on a slant track heading up to the bealach between Beinn Iutharn Mhor and Mam nan Carn. Easy...

North to the Cairngorm biggies from near the summit of Carn an Righ

Off we go...

Descent from Carn an Righ - views to Mam nan Carn and Gleann Mor.
Ascent route to Beinn Iutharn Mhor can be seen up and across Mam nan Carn

There were a few more people about now, time for a chat - everyone was so pleased to be allowed out on such a lovely day.

Looking back to Carn an Righ from ascent of Mam nan Carn

The path up Mam nan Carn was the steepest of the day so far - but it was only brief. We were soon  contouring around it's northern slopes with Beinn Iutharn Mhor in our sights.

Glas Tulaichean from initial ascent of Mam nan Carn and Beinn Iutharn Mhor

The path deteriorated and disappeared as we wandered into the upper coire - which was decorated by a a couple of big snow patches - so we had a brief, steep, pathless ascent up to the bealach.

Jim - contouring around Mam nan Carn with views to Beinn Iutharn Mhor

Carn an Righ from ascent to bealach between Mam nan Carn and Beinn Iutharn Mhor

And then it was an easy pull up to the summit of our third Munro of the day.

Nearning Beinn Iutharn Mhor summit - views back (SW) over Mam nan Carn to Glas Tulaichean and Carn an Righ

The views from Beinn Iutharn Mhor (Munro 88, 1045m) were just dazzling - particularly to the north, to the Cairngorm biggies. The Lairig Ghru was obvious against the horizon - making it easy to pick out  summits.

Beinn Iutharn Mhor summit (Munro 88, 1045m) - views north

We could see Carn Bhac across to the east - another Munro, usually walked with Beinn Iutharn Mhor - it just looked a bit too far off for today - and it would have been quite out of the way to get back to the car. Aww well - another day!

Views east across Beinn Iutharn Mhor summit plateau to Carn Bhac and An Socach

We headed south, with the Munro Top of Mam nan Carn as our final summit of the day - it looked like a gentle undulation, but that final few metres of ascent on tired legs seemed harder than expected.

Beinn Iutharn Mhor from ascent of Mam nan Carn

But the 360 from the summit was definitely worth that bit of extra effort - Mam nan Carn (Munro Top 99, 986m)

Mam nan Carn summit (Munro Top 99, 986m) - views south to Glas Tulaichean

We mooched on along the north east ridge with a distant Lochnagar to keep our chin's up - and once the gradient of Mam nan Carn's southern slopes relented a bit, we headed down, descending towards Loch nan Eun - it looked like an excellent spot for a third lunch.

Jim - descent from Mam nan Carn into Gleann Mor

There wasn't a path - I'm glad we were descending across the rough ground and through the heather - but it wasn't far and we were soon doing a bit of bog trotting in the glen bottom.

Glas Tulaichean and Gleann Mor from descent from Mam nan Carn

Loch nan Eun from descent into Gleann Mor - views east

Across a couple of big snow patches and we were at the loch - what a glorious spot!

An Socach over Loch nan Eun

Third lunch by Loch nan Eun

There was a cold wind blowing along Gleann Mor - a sheltered spot took a bit of finding - but once tucked in on a grassy bank just above the water, we were well set - we could have sat there all day. A sandwich was very welcome.

Descent into Gleann Taitneach

But there was still some way to go. So, with slightly stiff legs after our rest, we headed to the burn flowing out of Loch nan Eun into the long and rather lovely Gleann Taitneach.

Jim - Gleann Taitneach - views south

The path was a bit rough and eroded in places - but there were a few waterfalls on Allt Easgaidh, which kept the interest up and the camera snapping - as well as the blueness of the sky and the hills enveloping us on all sides - it was great to be allowed back out here :)

Waterfalls - Allt Easgaidh

Jim - the walk out via Gleann Taitneach

The watercourse widened and became Allt Ghlinn Thaitneich and the path improved gradually - which I have to say our legs and feet were really pleased about - we were still making good time - and it soon improved further, into a decent track.

Looking back (north) along Allt Ghlinn Thaitneich

We nearly missed the footbridge over the river, about a kilometre north of the hotel - we were a bit "heads down and get back" at that point! But a quick check of the map showed there were no other crossing points for quite a while, so we were glad to have spied other walkers on the other side of the river.

Allt Ghlinn Thaitneich from the footbridge near Glenlochsie

The final kilometre was a joy (despite the sore feet) - a soft grassy trod along the river and through a couple of fields - it was pleasantly warm, feeling like spring after a long lockdown winter. It was wonderful to be back in the hills.

Gleann Taitneach north of Glenlochsie

And we were back early enough to get coffee on the way home.

Looking back (north) along Gleann Taitneach from Glenlochsie

Route:  Dalmunzie Castle Hotel car park (nr Spittal of Glenshee NO090713), NE along road/track to Glenlochsie Farm and follow sp's through gate on left, and then across field to avoid farmyard and houses and rejoin track (NO086714), NW to just before 1st ford and take sharp switchback N sp "railway track" (NO080717) and follow the rough track, after 150m turning sharply back NW, following Glen Lochsie to a very ruionous Glenlochsie lodge, crossing Allt Clais Bheag (no fb), where the route rejoins the main track NW ascending Breac-reidh and almost to the summit of Glas Tulaichean, at NO048759 take rough path E to trig point on Glas Tulaichean summit (Munro 79, 1051m), NE on rough path skirting Glas Choire Mhor and continue on rough path N skirting Glas Choire Bheag descending steeply into Gleann Mhor (path becoming indistinct and eventually disappearing), aiming for confluence of two burns (NO050773) and picking up stalkers path at the other side of the glen, W along rough path along Gleann Mor to sh 771m (NO038771), continue W then NW along rough path (sometimes indistinct) to Carn an Righ summit (Munro 102, 1029m), descend, returning to sh 771m, continue on rough path E, ascending steeply the lower slopes of Mam nan Carn, then take a slant path at 850m contour (approx) N then NE, gradually ascending around Mam nan Carn, to bealach between Mam nan Carn and Beinn Iutharn Mhor (the path becomes increasingly indistinct), once in bealach, take rough path N to Beinn Iuthan Mhor summit (Munro 88, 1045m). return S to bealach and continue S on indistinct path to Mam nan Carn summit (Munro Top 99, 986m), descend diagonally E on pathless ground to pick up stalkers path at highest point in Gleann Mhor (800m, NO059779), follow rough path SE then E to outflow of Loch nan Eun, and then SSE along the whole length of Gleann Taitneach, path eventually improves to a track, cross fb near Genlochsie Farm (NO088723) and follow river back to the road by the farm and turn left (SE) and return to the hotel and start point.

Statistics:  Distance: 28km  Ascent: 1500m  Time: 9 hours

Map:  OS Explorer OL52 Glen Shee & Braemar

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...