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

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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...