Monday, October 22, 2007

Laggan and the Monadh Liath: A' Chailleach (251), Carn Sgulain (271) and Carn Dearg (225)

Walk date: 22/10/07
My Munro #'s: 136, 137 and 138

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
A kaalyach - red hill - 930m
Kaarn skoolin - the old woman - 920m
Kaarn jerrack - hill of the basket or of the old man - 945m

Duration - 09:15 - 16:55
Distance - 24.5 km
Total ascent - 838m
Weather - Still, but overcast in morning. Cloud came in on Carn Sgulain and stayed almost to Carn Dearg with strong cold wind and some rain. Came fine during descent.
Team - with Steve W.
Other hikers: none

A long route round, but a nice short-cut at the end:

Well, my book had certainly got this weekend's two walks the wrong way round! Yesterday's was supposed to take at least 8 hours and today's as low as 6, but the only way this latter could happen is with a pair of trainers and a lot most fitness than me and my compadré Steve W had, especially given the liberal wine and whisky at the big meal on the Saturday night! That being the case, we only set off today a little after 9am; no pre-dawn hiking today.

No matter though, the carpark was much nearer to Newtonmore and good progress was soon being made up a good wide track. A small cairn marks a subtle departure from this track leading to a crossing of Allt a' Chaorainn. It's here that the bog for which these hills are well known first becomes evident. It did impede our progress today, even given how dry it had been lately. Definitely one to avoid if it's been wet.

After the crossing, the path can become indistinct, but keep on a heading through the shielings and then past the "bothy" which in reality is a rusty shed with a table in it and not a welcoming place to spend the night! All this takes you to the main plateau and then a brief further climb of 150m or so to the summit cairn of A' Chailleach is all that's required. We heard many a randy deer on this section, but fortunately weren't challenged!

Autumn just seems to suit Munros:

A quick geology lesson from Steve, some folding rock:

Fixer-upper? That impressive bothy:

The summit of A' Chailleach:

A good corrie is found on A' Chailleach's eastern edge:

After A' Chailleach, a good path starts off north toward Carn Sgulain but soon runs out. We then dipped north-west to more gentle slopes and made a free-style route over some wide bog and onto the broad rocky back of the Munro. Interestingly we headed for the second cairn and lunched there as it appeared the uppermost, but my map places the first cairn as the higher! It's academic as we had a good stomp over both.

The 'second cairn' of Carn Sgulain:

It was whilst sat on Carn Sgulain that the thickening clouds finally dropped down and with then came some cold wind and light but stinging rain. In very low visibility then we pressed on along the path that religiously follows the fence-line marked on the map. The walking was mostly good and fast but included in each dip was a wide and challenging bog (and remember this was the dry version!). At one point a gallant attempt by myself lead me to having one leg stuck up to the knee, it taking me three attempts to pull clear!

There had been a rough plan to meet our friend Dennis on the one-time Munro Carn Ballach, however after waiting 15 minutes to no avail (and with very good visibility at that point), we pressed onward to Carn Dearg, by far the best hill of the day. Dennis, it later turned out, had turned back expecting no views due to the enclosing weather).

Carn Dearg was a welcomed relief after the day's walking thus far. Not only was the weather improving, but Carn Dearg is no gentle mound. Instead sharp characterful crags curve high over Gleann Ballach giving wonderful views and a satisfying summit to take in. This would be the only one of these three hills I would be up for repeating.

Carn Dearg from Carn Ballach:

Just simply superb views over Gleann Balloch:

The only issue regarding Carn Dearg is getting off it. The lower slopes and Gleann Lochain having no distinct route as such, although I feel we did very well on this day and would recommend our track (in red in the map).

Instead of dropping off the western side of Carn Macoul as my book suggested, Steve suggested we head east as it was certainly shorter, and then to our surprise we found a path heading off to the east in the bottom of the rut at Carn Macould's base. This soon runs out, but we headed for a square patch of grass on the opposite side of Allt Ballach, treading over Ruigh Gleann Ballach. This allowed us to cross the river easily where it was still young.

Then, instead of heading to the farmstead and following the river further, we followed what was initially a very hard to follow path which flanked the base of Glac nan Gamhna. The path firmed-up however, and indeed kept strong after a fence where the map marks it as stopping. This quickly takes you to the abandoned Glenballoch farmstead where a good bridge takes you over Allt Fionndrigh and onto an even better path that hands you the carpark on a silver-platter! A good healthy stomp that makes the end of this long day just that little bit better.

Gleann Ballach once the work had been done:

L-R, Steve, Carn Macoul and Carn Dearg:

Those randy deer making a run for it:

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Blogger eric said...

Wow! - these reports of your hikes are so well done - really slick and highly enjoyable.

I especially liked the photo of the cairn atop the munro and the video of the deer.

Very nice - keep up the good work!

29 October 2007 at 19:12  
Blogger George Walks said...

Cheers dude. I started this blogging as just a way to keep a log of my travels but it gives me great satisfaction to have other people enjoying them.

I very much like the photo of your kid out hunting, start 'em young!

29 October 2007 at 19:30  

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