Lindsay Boyd's Trip Reports

.

Section 5 - The Drumochter Hills

Geal Charn
Geal Charn
Beinn a'Chuallaich
Beinn a'Chuallaich
Pass of Drumochter
Pass of Drumochter
Loch an Duin
Loch an Duin

This section refers to the hills and mountains around Drumochter. They cover the Corbetts, Grahams and Munros that I have climbed in this area since 2003.


Section 5 - Index

Corbetts Grahams Munros
An Dun Creag a'Mhadaidh A'Bhuidheanach Bheag
Beinn a'Chuallaich Creag Ruadh A'Mharconaich
Beinn Mholach   Beinn Udlamain
Meall an Dobhrachan   Carn na Caim
Meall na Leitreach   Geal-charn
Stob an Aonach Mhoir   Meall Chuaich
The Sow of Atholl   Sgairneach Mhor

Section 5 - Trip Reports

Carn na Caim and A'Bhuidheanach Bheag

13 December 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 42. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 18.75 kilometres. Ascent - 835 metres.

It was -8C when I parked in Lay-By 87 on the west side of the A9 Perth to Inverness Road just south of the turn off for Dalwhinnie. I then walked north for a short distance before crossing the A9 and onto the Quarry Track which would take me to the 902 metre knoll south-west of the Munro, Carn na Caim. There had been improvements to the start of this track due to the construction of the massive pylons through the Pass of Drumochter.

Initially there were some vehicle tracks through the snow but beyond the pylons just bootprints. Once a bit of height was gained there was drifting snow to contend with and further on the track was filled with snow and eventually it was difficult to tell the exact position of the track.

The 902 knoll was reached then a short drop north-east took me across some frozen bog before following old fence posts onto the Munro Top, Carn na Caim South Top. These fence posts continued towards Carn na Caim but those who broke trail through the snow, probably the previous day, made a more direct ascent. It was easier to follow this trail although at times the snow was knee deep and occasionally thigh deep but I managed to avoid the latter. A couple of guys and their dog, who were on their descent, passed me before I finally reached the summit cairn where I had views across the Pass of Drumochter to Ben Alder and north to the Cairngorms.

After a short break I returned to the 902 knoll by the upward route then along the edge of a quad vehicle track as I descended to the col with A’Bhuidheanach. From here I continued to follow the bootprints below this hill then through some more deep snow and onto the south-west ridge of A’Bhuidheanach Mhor. It was then a short walk to the summit of the Munro, A’Bhuidheanach Bheag. Here I took another break looking south towards Schiehallion.

Later I retraced my steps to the 902 knoll then down the Quarry Track to the A9 where the temperature had risen to a balmy -4C.

previous ascent

Carn na Caim Munro sixth ascent 940.8 metres.
A'Bhuidheanach Bheag Munro sixth ascent 936.1 metres.

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Meall Chuaich

30 November 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 42. Time taken - 7.5 hours. Distance - 25.25 kilometres. Ascent - 1110 metres.

A fine day was forecasted for the Central Highlands so I drove south on the A9 to Lay-by 94 which was located on the east side of the road just south of Cuaich Cottages. Once geared up I set off along the road leading to the Aqueduct. The gate at the start of this track was padlocked but a new pedestrian gate had been installed to its right.

This short section of track soon joined the vehicle track on the north side of the Aqueduct where the water level was low. This track had lots of pot holes and led to a bridge crossing and the Cuaich Power Station. Beyond there were a number of vehicle tracks but keeping left I followed the south side of the Allt Cuaich which took me towards Loch Cuaich. Another track led me along the side Allt Coire Chuaich and to its crossing via a road bridge.

A few metres further on I commenced the ascent of the Munro, Meall Chuaich. Initially it was a steady climb on an eroded, muddy and in places wet path. Higher up the gradient eased and although the path was still eroded it wasn’t as muddy. After Stac Meall Chuaich the gradient increased again with a few boulders to cross to reach the summit cairn as some thin cloud floated around. Here I met a couple of chaps who had set off from the A9 just before me. They were the only folks I saw or met that day. I took a break here and after several minutes the cloud disappeared and I had good views including the high tops of the Cairngorms which appeared above low lying cloud.

On departing the summit I descended south initially over moss and short vegetation then a mixture of heather and a few boulders. Old metal fence posts were reached and here there was a narrow path which I used to approach Coire Chuaich and the end of a vehicle track from Loch Cuiach. On the descent I could see what appeared to be the line of the stalker’s path on the west face of Bogha-cloiche but locating it on the ground wasn’t so easy and at times I may have been using deer paths.

Anyway they led to rocks above Coire Chuaich where I left the path, climbed through some long heather and to a small lochan marked on my map, although it was just a bog pool amongst an area of peat hags. It was then an easy walk over the West Top of Bogha-cloiche, a Sub Corbett Top, and to the Corbett Top and Hump, Bogha-cloiche. With the fine weather continuing I sat at the summit for a while before returning to the bog pool. From there I descended south to the col with A’Marconaich and was engulfed by cloud.

Three wee gullies were crossed then I passed above Creag Tharsuinn, and still in cloud, onto the north ridge of A’Mharconaich. I located the summit of this Corbett Top, an old metal fence post, amongst some tussoky heather. With no views I continued south before changing direction to make the easy ascent of Creag Liath where I had a brocken spectre. I descended its north-west ridge then dropped west to the Allt a’Choire Chais where a new vehicle track had been constructed. This track appeared to run well up the glen but I headed in the opposite direction, north-west, to return to the Power Station and my car as dusk fell. The Aqueduct was in full flow.

There were lots of wildlife around and included grouse, ptarmigan, deer and mountain hares in their winter plumage.

previous ascent

Meall Chuaich Munro sixth ascent 951 metres

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Geal-charn and A'Mharconaich

20 September 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 42. Time taken - 5.75 hours. Distance - 16.75 kilometres. Ascent - 920 metres.

My brother and I travelled south on the A9 from Inverness and parked in the large parking area beside Balsporran Cottages, a few miles south of Dalwhinnie. We then set off along the vehicle track passed the cottage and across the railway line at the level crossing.

At the first track junction we took the right fork and headed up the north side of the Allt Beul an Sporain. The gradient soon increased and the track across the heather moorland became fairly rough before gradually swinging away from the stream. Another junction was reached and here we headed north-east before leaving the vehicle track and climbing to the summit of the Corbett Top, Creagan Mor. There was a cairn, with views north to Dalwhinnie and Glen Truim, but the highest point was somewhere amongst the moss to its south-west.

We returned to the second junction of tracks then walked along the south-west one as it headed above Coire Beul an Sporain where it came to an end. Here there were excellent views down Loch Ericht and across to Ben Alder. Geal-charn was ascended by crossing some rough and in places bouldery ground. The two cairns were visited but the southerly one appeared slightly higher.

The descent of Geal-charn took us across more boulders then south to the col with A’Mharconaich where we briefly joined another vehicle track that came up from Coire Fhar. A fairly dry peaty walker’s path then led south-east up the heather hillside where a covey of ptarmigan were spotted and photographed. A’Mharconaich’s south-west ridge was reached but rather than stay on the path we kept to the ridge line and ascended Bruach nan Iomairean, an ex Munro Top, before continuing to the Munro, A’Mharconaich. Again there were two cairns with possibly the southerly one being the highest.

After speaking to four chaps whom we had followed from Geal-charn, although they took a slightly different route, we walked along the head of A’Mharconaich’s East Face before swinging round and descending fairly steeply over some long heather to the col above Coire an Tuirc. Here we crossed several peat hags before climbing An Torc. This Graham Top is also known as the Boar of Badenoch as opposed to the Sow of Atholl on the other side of the Highland/Perthshire Boundary.

The descent north was steep and we disturbed hinds resting on the ridge. Lower down the gradient eased then crossed some rough ground to reach a peaty quad vehicle trail. This took us to the vehicle track that led to a communications tower. We travelled in the opposite direction crossing the Allt an Tuirc twice to reach a level crossing. The path on the west side of the A9 was then followed back to the start.

previous ascent

Geal-charn Munro sixth ascent 917 metres.
A'Mharconaich Munro sixth ascent 975 metres.

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Creag a'Mhadaidh

15 November 2012

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 42. Time taken - 6 hours. Distance - 18 kilometres. Ascent - 625 metres.

My initial thought was to head for Victoria Bridge and climb the Graham, Meall Tairbh, but forecasts indicated that better weather may be found further east. We therefore settled for an ascent of the Graham, Creag a’Mhadaidh, located to the north of Loch Rannoch, and to include the Hump and Graham Top, Gualann Sheileach. Although shown as the same height as Creag a’Mhadaidh it is related to the Corbett, Beinn Mholach to its west.

The starting point was the vehicle track just east of the bridge over the Allt a’Chreagain Odhair but there was no room here to get my car off the road. Previously I parked opposite an empty cottage further west but this was now a rather grand house with the parking area sealed off. I eventually managed to leave my vehicle a few hundred metres east of the above stream.

We walked back to the track and followed it towards Craiganour Lodge and round its west side. Once beyond a deer gate there were some young cattle within the forest then near a cattle grid cows with calves looked rather ominous. Beyond a second cattle grid we left the forest and entered the open moorland and made good progress along the vehicle track.

A small dam to the east of the track was passed and beyond this barrier a large aerial had been erected. Nearby work to construct a deer fence was in its initial stages. A Google search later revealed a proposal for the Rannoch Wind Farm to be constructed on Craiganour Estate so this may be the start of another part of my country being ruined.

As the track levelled out we left it and walked through a mixture of rough vegetation onto the south-west ridge of Gualann Sheileach. The cloud lowered and our views were now restricted as we made our way along this ridge. After a few undulations the pinnacle summit was reached where the top was marked by a small pile of stones.

Rather than making a direct descent to the bealach with Creag a’Mhadaidh we followed the north-east in the hope of some views. Lower down we saw Duinish Bothy and a section of Loch Garry. An ATV track was later followed and this led to an area which had recently been fenced off from the deer although the gates were still to be installed.

The vehicle track leading to Duinish was crossed as was a wee burn several metres lower. This led to an ascent of the north-west face of Creag a’Mhadaidh and back into the cloud. The summit cairn was located where we found some shelter for lunch. Unfortunately it soon started to drizzle and this got heavier.

After lunch we descended south-west over rough ground as the drizzle ceased. We emerged from the cloud and aimed for the construction vehicles beside the dam, crossing some wet terrain en-route. On regaining the vehicle track it was followed back to the start.

previous ascent

Creag a'Mhadaidh Graham second ascent 612 metres

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Meall Chuaich and Creag Ruadh

5 September 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 35 and 42. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 1030 metres.

I met a friend in Perth and we drove north on the A9, Inverness road, to beyond Dalwhinnie. Just south of Cuaich Cottages we parked on the east side of the road, in Lay-By 94, where there was parking for several vehicles.

Once geared up we walked back along the A9 towards the cottages before passing through a gate and following a track to the Aqueduct, which takes water from Loch Cuaich to Loch Ericht. Here a vehicle track ran along its north side to just before the Cuaich Power Station where it crossed the Aqueduct via a bridge and headed towards Loch Cuaich. We used this track to gain access and prior to the loch another track took us past the Allt Coire Chuaich private bothy and across the stream of the same name.

Here we left the track and commenced the ascent of Meall Chuaich where a walker’s path, boggy in places, headed up its south-west ridge. It was rather windy and there were a couple of steeper sections to ascend. Higher up the gradient eased but there was a lot of cloud blowing around and we were soon engulfed by it. Before reaching the summit we were overtaken by a father and son.

It was cold and windy when we reached the large summit cairn so we took a bearing and descended north and later north-east out of the cloud. A few old fence posts marked the route, which was stony in places, with some long heather in the lower reaches. Several mountain hares were spotted and a herd of deer ran off towards Glen Tromie.

The col with Clach-mheal Dubh was rather wet and boggy but we managed to find a route between an old fence and the deer fence before following these fences onto the shoulder of this Graham Top. It was then a short walk onto Clach-mheal Dubh’s highest point, or what appeared to be the summit as it was unmarked.

We returned towards the deer fence and found a dip in the heather to shelter from the wind while we ate lunch. Thereafter we climbed over the deer fence and made our way across a wide watershed with its mixture of vegetation and a few drainage channels. A slight climb took us to what was shown on my map as a path but was in fact a vehicle track that appeared to go all the way to Strathspey. We crossed this track and continued onto Gualan nan Sac.

It was now head on into the wind as we ascended the second Graham Top of the day, Druim nan Sac, but at least the underfoot conditions weren’t difficult as it was mainly wind blown short vegetation with only the occasionally boggy section. The weather had improved, except for the wind, and from the summit cairn we had views of Loch Cuaich and across to Meall Chuaich.

We continued along the ridge, over a knoll, through a gate in an electric fence and onto the final ascent of the day, the Graham, Creag Ruadh. On reaching its summit cairn the sun was sparkling on Loch Ericht and we had views of the A9 around Crubenmore.

The descent was over heather, some of which had been muirburnt thus making for easier progress. Near Cuaich Power Station the deer fence was re-crossed and a steep embankment descended. This led to the Allt Cuaich, which was very low at this point probably due to its water being piped to the power station. Once across this stream we followed the vehicle track back to Lay-By 94 on the A9.

previous ascent

Meall Chuaich Munro fifth ascent 951 metres
Creag Ruadh Graham second ascent 658 metres

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Sgairneach Mhor, Beinn Udlamain, A’Mharconaich and Geal-charn

18 November 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 42. Time taken – 6.5 hours. Distance - 19.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1065 metres.

I had decided to climb these four Munros in a clockwise direction starting on the A9 Inverness to Perth Road, south of Dalwhinnie at grid reference NN632755 where a tarred road headed south and parallel to the A9 on its west side. There was a small lay-by just south of this point. I walked along this road, probably an old section of the A9, to a small stream where some form of works was taking place. I followed this stream to the railway line, which had to be crossed, and found a new deer fence had been constructed on the other side. There was no gate or stile so maybe another starting point further south will have to be considered in future.

Once over the deer fence I walked up the vehicle track in Coire Dhomhain for over a kilometre before leaving this track, crossing the Allt Coire Dhomhain which wasn’t too difficult, and climbing the heathery hillside towards the col west of the 758 knoll. It was a sunny but chilly morning and I was surprised that snow was lying as low as 700 metres in sheltered areas. From the col it was a relatively easy climb of the snow covered north-east ridge of Sgairneach Mhor. Unfortunately on approaching the summit it was engulfed by cloud so there were no views to be had from the trig point.

The descent of Sgairneach Mhor was down its south-west ridge before changing direction and heading for the col with Beinn Udlamain. Although I had been this way several times before I still required to follow a compass bearing until the cloud cleared just before reaching the col. I then climbed onto the south ridge of Beinn Udlamain where fence posts led to its summit cairn. On this ascent I had views of the Corbett, Stob an Aonaich Mhoir, Loch Ericht and the cloud topped Munros, Beinn Bheoil and Ben Alder. Near the summit I observed some fresh boot and dog prints in the snow which gave me something to consider as they didn’t fit into a route normally taken by a hill walker when climbing these hills.

I followed the fence posts north-east to the col above Fraoch-choire and commenced the ascent of my third Munro of the day A’Mharconaich but the cloud had lowered. On reaching the cloud engulfed summit cairn I returned along A’Mharconaich's south-west ridge until I had a view before making a bee-line for Coire Fhar, the col between A’Mharconaich and Geal-charn. I had already photographed the Geal-charn west of Culra Bothy and now had views of the Geal Charn beyond Loch Pattack and my fourth Munro of the day also a Geal-charn, three in close proximity.

On reaching Coire Fhair I could see some activity on the hillside ahead and on getting closer saw that it was a gamekeeper. I spoke to him and ascertained that he had been around Beinn Udlamain earlier so that solved the mystery of the boot and dog prints. He was laying a trap for a fox that was roaming these hills and obviously taking its share of the grouse which the estate wouldn't like.

There was less snow on Geal-charn than on the other three Munros but here I saw a mountain hare and a ptarmigan. The bird, with its white plumage, sat on a small patch of snow ( see photo 19). The summit cairn was reached but the forecasted late afternoon storm could be seen coming in from the west so I descended Geal-charn’s north-east ridge and soon came to a large cairn with a new memorial plaque cemented to it. It was here that the rain started and it was getting dark as I continued my descent on a wide boggy path to a vehicle track near the lower reaches of the Allt Coire Fhar. There were more vehicle tracks being constructed here, probably to access butts for shooting the grouse, but it was now too dark to confirm this. It was then a short walk to the railway crossing and Balsporran Cottages and the car park located between the cottages and the A9.

All that was left was to return to the lay-by further down the A9.

previous ascent Sgairneach Mhor, Beinn Udlamain and A'Mharconaich

Sgairneach Mhor Munro fifth ascent 991 metres
Beinn Udlamain Munro fifth ascent 1011 metres
A'Mharconaich Munro fifth ascent 975 metres
Geal-charn Munro fifth ascent 917 metres

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Stob an Aonaich Mhoir

26 August 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4.25 hours including 2.25 hours cycling. Distance - 27 kilometres. Ascent - 870 metres.

This Corbett is awkwardly placed as it is protected on the west by Loch Ericht and on the north and east by wild pathless moorland. However a tarred road runs from Bridge of Ericht to Corrievarkie Lodge on the east shore of Loch Ericht, a distance of around 12 miles.

I elected to climb this mountain as I still had my mountain bike in my car and as it was a Sunday there would be no problems with stalking. Reaching the start of the walk at Bridge of Ericht, where there are a few habitations, involved a drive along the single track road on the north side of Loch Rannoch from Kinloch Rannoch. There are very few parking areas in the vicinity of the start.

A large locked gate restricted access to the Corrievarkie road but there is a small wicket gate on its east side. Once beyond this gate the cycling commenced, well to be honest a lot of pushing the cycle was involved, as I am not a cyclist, I wish I had been this day.

After around eighty minutes I arrived at the highest point on the road at 630 metres where I gladly dumped my cycle and took a break. Thereafter it was a climb of around forty minutes, over some wet and boggy terrain, to the summit cairn of Stob an Aonaich Mhoir with views up and down Loch Ericht and across to Ben Alder. There was a cool breeze blowing so after taking in the views and a few photographs I returned to my cycle.

The cycle back to Bridge of Ericht was wonderful, freewheeling a lot of the way with a few pot holes to lookout for and lower down startled sheep who decided to run across the road in front of me. In the end pushing the bike to the high point was probably well worth it especially with the time saved on the return route.

previous ascent

Stob an Aonach Mhoir Corbett second ascent 855 metres

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An Dun and A'Chaoirnich

28 - 29 April 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken:
Day 1 - one hour.
Day 2 - 4.25 hours plus 40 minutes cycling.
Distance:
Day 1 - 8.5 kilometres.
Day 2 - 17 kilometres.
Ascent -
Day 1 - 145 metres.
Day 2 - 770 metres.

The starting point for this outing was the A9 Perth to Inverness Road at the junction with the unclassified road to Trinafour. This is on the west side of a section of dual carriageway near to Dalnacardoch Lodge. Parking is available on this unclassified road but extreme care is required crossing this very fast section of the A9 on foot or on a bike.

The weather forecast was for a pleasant weekend although the east coast was to be plagued with haar so I decided on an overnight trip further west to climb these two Corbetts.

It was early Saturday evening when I set off up the vehicle track to the deserted Stronphadruig Lodge where I found a suitable spot to pitch my tent looking north towards the next day's hills.

Low cloud shrouded the hills when I woke in the morning but during breakfast it slowly disappeared and I left my tent and set off up the steep north ridge of An Dun. After an hour I was on the summit in the sun taking in the views of the surrounding mountains.

I descended the steep south ridge of An Dun which was relatively easy as visibility was perfect and I could pick the most suitable route. En route I disturbed some mountain hares and grouse. Once on the valley floor I crossed the Allt Loch an Duin, which was very low, and climbed steeply up the west side of A'Chaoirnich. The heather on the hillside had been burnt by the estate staff so the going was a lot easier than on my previous expedition with lots of animal trails to follow to gain height.

Eventually the going became very easy as I approached the summit of A'Chaoirnich at the same time as another walker who was doing the circuit in the opposite direction. Again in the sun there were some good views but there was now a cool breeze so I headed over to Creag an Loch and commenced the descent back to my tent at Stronphadruig Lodge. I did take what I thought was a short cut but it was very steep and awkward in heather and boulders so descending to the bealach above Stronphadruig Lodge, which I did last time, is much preferred.

Once back at the tent I had a brew and my lunch sitting in the sun before I packed up my gear and cycled back down the glen after a pleasant outing.

previous ascent

An Dun Corbett second ascent 827 metres
A'Chaoirnich Corbett second ascent 875 metres

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Beinn Mholach

25 February 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 18 kilometres. Ascent - 670 metres.

The meeting point was the village of Kinloch Rannoch from where we drove west along the north shore of Loch Rannoch to opposite the derelict cottage west of Aulich, where we found a parking area. There is virtually nowhere to park beside Aulich Farm.

We returned along the road passed Aulich Farm, crossed the bridge over the Allt a'Chreagain Odhair, and immediately left the tarred road and headed for Craiganour Lodge. Just before the Lodge another vehicle track headed north, under a set of pylons and through a forest.

This track was followed out onto open hillside, where we saw some deer, for just under three kilometres until we reached the junction with the path to Annat. At this point we descended an embankment, re-crossed the Allt a'Chreagain Odhair and followed the north bank of Caochan an Leathaid Bhain where we spotted a wren.

We followed this stream passed a small dam, keeping to the north side of any tributaries until north of Sgurran Dearg. At this point the terrain was covered in peat hags, some were relatively easy to cross but others were treacle like and involved small diversions. A slight descent to the crossing of the Allt na Duinish followed before a climb up a gully to the summit of Beinn Mholach.

There is a large cairn marking the summit which was cloud free. However the higher mountain tops weren't although we had views of their lower slopes including the Drumochter Hills and Ben Alder together with Lochs Errochty and Rannoch.

The cairn was large enough for us to shelter from the cold breeze and to partake of some lunch before the long haul back to the start on the shores of Loch Rannoch by the ascent route.

previous ascent

Beinn Mholach Corbett second ascent 841 metres

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A'Bhuidheanach Bheag & Carn na Caim

25 January 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7.5 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 677 metres.

It was just after sunrise when I approached Dalwhinnie from the north. The sky was pink and the mountains around the Drumochter Pass were covered in snow making it an ideal photo opportunity. Unfortunately the electric pylons spoil the view and there is a plan to build new and larger ones here.

I met my client near Dalwhinnie and we parked a vehicle nearby and drove further south on the A9 Perth to Inverness road to just north of North Drumochter Lodge where we parked another vehicle.

At this point there was a gate that led through a narrow band of trees. Once beyond the trees we were onto rough heather covered ground where care was needed as the soft snow hid all the obstacles. Higher up there were less water courses to avoid and we steadily gained height aiming for an unnamed knoll. The views to the west and north were fantastic. The sun was shining on the snow covered Monadhliath mountains and the Short and Long Leachas of Ben Alder stood out well beyond the west Drumochter Munros.

The knoll was reached and everything around this vast sprawling area was white but unfortunately the snow wasn't firm enough to take our weight. Occasionally we found an area of snow pack but the next step we were sinking into the snow. This slowed our progress slightly as we headed for the summit trig point of A'Bhuidheanach Beag where it was cold and windy. A bearing was required to negotiate our way off the summit as there were few distinguishing features to follow although there were some fence posts appearing out of the snow. However the plan was to head to the peat hagged bealach below A'Bhuidheanach so I didn't follow the fence posts for long before descending to the bealach. As well as the peat hags I was aware it was rather wet in this area so we carefully crossed the bealach before taking a break on the other side.

From here we climbed to the bealach north of A'Bhuidheanach where there is a vehicle track but it was mainly concealed under the snow. The fence reappears here and runs to near the summit of Carn na Caim. The weather was deteriorating as the cloud base lowered with fine particles of snow blowing in the wind. Visibility was quite poor as we trudged through the snow following the fence posts. The route was undulating and we crossed over a couple of knolls and through some snow drifts. A number of the fence posts were missing so we were also walking into a white abyss, keeping on a bearing, until we picked up the next fence post.

This continued for around 2.5 kilometres until the route of the fence posts changed direction by over 300 degrees, which I was aware of. The map indicated that this occurred at the summit of Carn na Caim but this is not the case as the summit was still over 200 metres away.

We stopped for a few minutes at the summit but there was nothing to see as can be seen from my final photograph of the day. We re-traced our bootprints to the fence and then followed them towards the track above the quarry. Several of our bootprints had already been filled in by blowing snow so I was thankful for the fence posts. On a couple of occasions I thought the cloud was going to clear but it didn't and in fact visibility seemed to be worse as we approached the quarry.

There was no sign of the track or the quarry which was obviously concealed under the snow and as a result I overshot it arriving at a gorge south of the track. It would have been possible to descend here and pick up the track at a noticeable bend but the stream banks would probably have been full of deep soft snow. We returned to where the path should have been and headed downhill. Lower down we found the track but it was full of snow so we continued over the snow covered short heather. An estate vehicle had obviously tried to come up the track and with all the grit, snow and tyre marks it had obviously become stuck. A few metres further down there was evidence that a deer had been killed and taken off the hill so they had to drag it further than planned. We had in fact heard a shot earlier that morning but it seemed to come from the other side of the A9.

The track at the end was a bit slippery with use by the estate staff but it was only a short distance to the A9 where one of our vehicles was parked and the end of a fairly tough day on the hills.

previous ascent

A'Bhuidheanach Bheag Munro fifth ascent 936 metres
Carn na Caim Munro fifth ascent 941 metres

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Creag Ruadh & Meall Chuaich

21 January 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 15 kilometres Ascent - 880 metres.

The start of this walk was the A9 Perth to Inverness road just south of Cuaich. There is some limited parking beside the gate but several cars can be accommodated at Lay-By 94, a few metres south and still on the east side of the A9.

Once through the gate I followed a vehicle track, walking between a herd of cattle, onto the track that ran up the side of the aqueduct which transfers water from Loch Cuaich to Loch Ericht. This track had a light covering of snow and was icy in places. There was also light snow falling and this continued for most of the morning.

After around two kilometres the track crossed the aqueduct just before a dam and I left the vehicle track crossed the Allt Cuaich and climbed up an embankment onto the heather and lightly snow covered hillside of Creag Ruadh. My next obstacle was a deer fence which I had to climb over followed by knee deep heather. I tried to search out what I thought was the easiest route through the heather but it was hard going and I don't think there was an easy way up. As I neared the summit I spotted another walker and her three dogs, although I later learned that there was in fact two walkers, one being out of my line of sight.

I eventually reached the summit of the Graham, Creag Ruadh, but it was snowing a bit heavier so I set off for the bealach between Creag Ruadh and Druim nan Sac before descending steeply through the same knee deep heather to the vehicle track on the west side of Loch Cuaich. I followed this track to the north side of Loch Cuaich where there is a gate to pass through which had a three foot extension on top. I gathered it was for the deer but saw no adjoining deer fence until I noticed an electric fence, which did have the regulatory notices but weren't obvious from my approach. Once through this gate I had another deer fence and a locked six foot gate to contend with so once again I had to climb over a deer fence. I'm sure this locked gate isn't legal in terms of the Land Reform Scotland Act, 2003 as there was no alternative than to climb the fence. To be honest I didn't see the need for these deer fences as there were deer on both sides.

From the head of Loch Cuaich I walked up the side of the Feith na Braclaich before following a tributary on the north side of Stac Meall Chuaich. I was aware that it was going to be a bit steep having studied the map in advance but there was also knee deep heather and soft fresh snow to contend with. Occasionally I thought the snow showers were going to cease as the cloud started to lift but around lunchtime there were a few heavier snow showers.

Higher up I lost the line of the stream in the snow and had to use the compass to navigate towards the summit which is fairly flat and eventually I came to the cairn in wind, snow and poor visibility. I didn't linger on the summit and headed off on another bearing towards the vehicle track that headed for Coire Chuaich. On the descent I came out of the cloud and found somewhere for a bite to eat as it had stopped snowing. Here I spoke to the two females who had also ascended Creag Ruadh. They had descended from Creag Ruadh by their ascent route and ascended and descended Meall Chuaich by the south-west ridge. Probably easier and shorter than the route I took but I had planned a circular route rather than a linear route for both hills.

Once l had a bite to eat I descended to the Allt Coire Chuaich and met up again with these two ladies and together we walked back to the start along the side of the aqueduct.

Creag Ruadh Graham first ascent 658 metres
Meall Chuaich Munro fourth ascent 951 metres

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A'Bhuidheanach Bheag & Carn na Caim

30 July 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4.5 hours Distance - 16.5 kilometres Ascent - 800 metres.

I set off early from the A9, Perth to Inverness road, just south of Dalwhinnie and took the vehicle track uphill through a herd of cattle. Higher up some deer and mountain hares retained by attention. This was grouse area as numerous shooting butts lined the hillside. Well the grouse have only a few day's left in peace as the shooting season starts on 12 August, known as the 'Glorious Twelfth', but not for the birds.

It was a sunny morning and the early mist had cleared although higher up there was a bit of a breeze. Once on the ridge I headed for A'Bhuidheanach Bheag first. It was a pleasant walk, with a couple of undulations until I reached a boggy section at a bealach where I disturbed three or four different herds of deer.

The climb to the summit of A'Bhuidheanach Bheag was fairly gentle and I sat at the cairn looking over to An Dun and Maol Creag an Loch, while I had a second breakfast.

Afterwards I walked back to the vehicle track I had used earlier but the deer had all disappeared. I followed this track and old fence posts to the second Munro of the day, Carn na Caim. The fence posts and track don't go all the way to the summit cairn, but the fence goes very close.

The wind was a bit stronger now so I returned along the ridge to the upward track I used earlier that morning and returned to my car. The cattle had moved to another part of the hillside.

A'Bhuidheanach Bheag Munro fourth ascent 936 metres
Carn na Caim Munro fourth ascent 941 metres

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Sgairneach Mhor, Beinn Udlamain & A'Mharconaich

23 July 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4.5 hours. Distance - 15.5 kilometres. Ascent - 880 metres.

It was cloudy and had rained en-route to the start of this walk on the A9 Perth to Inverness road at the Pass of Drumochter. I parked in a lay-by, crossed the railway line and headed up Coire Dhomhain.

After around a kilometre I left this vehicle track and climbed onto the east ridge of Sgairneach Mhor, through heather, with the occasional animal or walker's path. My interest was maintained by some deer, a grouse and a mountain hare. Once on the ridge there was a more obvious path.

The cloud, which had cleared the summit returned as I approached the trig point, which marks the highest point on Sgairneach Mhor, so I had no views.

I took a bearing and left the summit of Sgairneach Mhor but it wasn't long before the cloud cleared and I could see the route ahead. I descended grassy slopes to the bealach with Beinn Udlamain. This was followed by a climb onto its south ridge where old fence posts lead to the summit. From the south ridge I had great views of Ben Alder, Beinn Bheoil and the Lancet Edge and several mountains in the area. I soon reached the summit of Beinn Udlamain where I took a break sitting in the sun.

Once fed and watered I headed for the bealach with A'Mharconaich. There were now a few more walkers out on the hill as I had started early. There is no problem with navigation as the metal fence posts continue from Beinn Udlamain to the knoll before A'Mharconaich. It was an easy and pleasant walk and on reaching the summit of A'Mharconaich I had some more views.

From A'Mharconaich it is possible to continue to Geal-charn but I didn't need to go there. Instead I headed south-east down some steep grassy slopes to the heather, where I disturbed more deer, and onto the vehicle track up Coire Dhomhain and returned to the start.

Sgairneach Mhor Munro fourth ascent 991 metres
Beinn Udlamain Munro fourth ascent 1011 metres
A'Mharconaich Munro fourth ascent 975 metres

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Drummochter Corbetts

1 May 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4.25 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 760 metres.

It was the first of May and after some overnight snow the hills were white down to around 600 metres when we set off from Dalnaspidal, crossed the railway line and walked along the Right of Way towards Loch Garry. Just short of the loch we crossed a couple of bridges and followed a wet and boggy all-terrain vehicle track onto the east shoulder of Meall na Leitreach and to above the snow line.

The vehicle track took us close to a small knoll before a short descent and the final climb to the summit cairn of Meall na Leitreach. The earlier light rain had stopped and the cloud had lifted off our hill but not on the higher mountain tops.

We returned by the route of ascent, crossed over the Right of Way and headed up the south ridge of Meall an Dobharchain, better known as The Sow of Atholl. This route is pathless so it was the case of searching for the easiest route through the heather and bog before we eventually reached the summit where there was a strong wind blowing. The earlier snow cover had all but disappeared.

There was no lingering at the top due to the wind so we descended back down to the Right of Way and the short walk along this track to the start.

Meall na Leitreach Corbett second ascent 775 metres
Meall an Dobharchain Corbett second ascent 803 metres

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Beinn a'Chuallaich

1 January 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4 hours. Distance - 5.5 kilometres. Ascent - 580 metres.

Overnight frosts and lack of gritting left the roads treacherous as I headed towards Loch Rannoch to climb the Corbett, Beinn a'Chuallaich.

On my previous visit, which I note from below was the first hill I climbed in 2004, I tackled this hill from east of Kinloch Rannoch at the junctions of the B846 and B847. On this occasion I decided to climb it from the B847, north of this junction with a height advantage of around 100 metres.

The starting point was just north of the forest where a stalker's path led uphill. However access to this path was obstructed by a deer fence but a gate, a few metres from the end of the forest, afforded the necessary access.

The path was followed for a few hundred metres before I climbed steeply uphill. There was a cold wind blowing and underfoot it was a bit slippery. Once the angle eased I headed in the direction of the bealach between Beinn a'Chuallaich and Meall nan Eun, disturbing a couple of roe deer who bounced away. Further on a herd of hinds moved into the corrie, but I don't think they were aware of my presence.

Rather than heading into the corrie I decided to climb the east face of Beinn a'Chuallaich, through some deeper snow and avoiding rocky outcrops. Various animal tracks crossed my path including hare and possibly a fox. I eventually reached the large summit cairn and trig point where I had some good views of Lochs Rannoch and Tummel, Schiehallion and the Carn Mairg Group. The hills to the north and west were a bit cloudier at this time.

From the summit I descended to the bealach and climbed Meall nan Eun where I had views of Loch Errochty, Ben Alder, the Drumochter Hills and the Gaick Corbetts as the cloud there had lifted slightly.

My descent was to the frozen Loch na Caillich and down to the stalker's path which I followed back to the start. This was a better option than returning by the ascent route but there was still the deep heather to contend with.

previous ascent

Beinn a'Chuallaich Corbett second ascent 891 metres

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Loch Rannoch

23 April 2004

Back to Loch Rannoch for another Corbett. This time from Craiganour Lodge on the north side of the Loch I walked up a track to Caochan an Leathaid and followed this stream to the north side of Sgurran Dearg. The next section to the Allt na Duinish contained numerous peat bogs and it took me some time to navigate this maze.

Once across the peat bogs a climb into low cloud took me to the trig point and the large summit cairn of Beinn Mholach.

I had been contemplating also taking in the Graham, (mountain between 2,000 and 2,500 feet) Creag a'Mhadaidh, which would save me returning to the area later. It was fairly mild with only spots of rain so I headed off towards Creag a'Mhadaidh. I descended back to the Allt na Duinish, climbed over the shoulder of Gualann Sheileach and down to the track to Duinish. It was then a short climb up to the summit which was clear of cloud.

Once I had had my lunch I returned to the Duinish track and headed south to Loch Rannoch. I wasn't on this track for long when the occupants of a Range Rover passed and offered me a lift to the track end. I declined their offer but all the way back to my car I wondered if I should've just taken a lift.

Beinn Mholach Corbett first ascent 841 metres
Creag a'Mhadaidh Graham first ascent 612 metres

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Loch Rannoch

19 April 2004

Overnight heavy rain was supposed to clear to sun and showers, so I stuck with the plan to climb the remote Corbett Stob an Aonach Mhoir.

From Bridge of Ericht on the northern shores of Loch Rannoch, a tarred road leads northwards for 12 miles to Coire Bhachdaidh Lodge, a very remote house on the shores of Loch Ericht. The highest point on this road is at 620 metres.

The first obstacle to overcome was a six foot high locked metal gate at the start of this road, which my cycle and I had to get over. Once on the other side I either cycled or pushed the cycle up the tarred road. I probably walked more than cycled as it was mainly uphill. I am not a cyclist and I hadn't been on one since last year.

Once above 500 metres I reached the snow line which wasn't a problem initially but higher up the road it became impossible to even push the cycle through the soft wet snow. I therefore abandoned my cycle and walked the last couple of kilometres to the highest point on the road.

Visibility was poor as I headed up through the deep snow that was concealing the heather and bog. The wind had picked up and it was snowing so visibility was reduced even further. I reached the summit cairn of Stob an Aonach Mhoir but didn't linger and retraced my route back to my cycle.

On reaching the cycle I had hoped for an easy descent back down the road but a strong wind with driving snow and rain showers made progress slow. I was almost back at Loch Rannoch when the sky cleared and I was able to stop and have a late lunch. The gamekeeper from Coire Bhachdaidh Lodge, who was on a round trip of 24 miles, to collect his wheelie bin, stopped and we spoke for some time. He told me about the hardships of staying in a remote area, 12 miles from the nearest habitation during the winter months.

I was later able to complete my journey back to my car and used, as indicated by the gamekeeper, a wooden structure, not obvious, to egress from this private road instead of the six foot high gate.

Stob an Aonach Mhoir Corbett first ascent 855 metres

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Gaik Corbetts

17 April 2004

The starting point was the A9 at Dalnacardoch Lodge with a cycle up the track to Sronphadruig Lodge just south of Loch an Duin. It was then a steep climb up onto the summit plateau of An Dun where the wind was fairly strong. The summit was clear so we had some views of the surrounding hills.

A continuation north took us steeply down An Dun's north ridge where we disturbed a herd of hinds feeding in the sheltered glen below. Once across the Allt Loch an Duin it was a steep slog up towards Maol Creag an Loch following several hares in their white coats with nowhere to hide as the lying snow had gone. However the forecast was for rain and snow by lunchtime and for once it was correct.

On arriving on the plateau of A'Chaoirnich there was driving snow with poor visibility. The small cairn was found and it was then the sake of walking down the south ridge directly into the driving snow. A steep descent took us back to Sronphadruig Lodge and the cycle back to the A9 in the rain.

An Dun Corbett first ascent 827 metres
A'Chaoirnich Corbett first ascent 876 metres

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Rannoch

4 January 2004

My fist venture out on the hills for 2004 was a Corbett near Kinloch Rannoch. On the drive north from Perth there was still a lot of snow lying so it looked as if I had chosen the wrong location for a quick jaunt up a hill. However, as my companion and I drove west along the shores of Loch Tummel, we left the snowy part of Perthshire.

At Drumglas, east of Kinloch Rannoch, we found the track, marked on the map, which led to the remote Loch Errochty. We followed this track, with its patches of solid ice, and climbed up towards a small lochan, disturbing some grouse which had managed to survive the shooting season. Higher up the path was filled with deep soft snow so we kept to the edges where walking was slightly easier in the long snow covered heather. The low cloud wasn’t lifting as predicted so views were limited. We came across some deer but they weren’t safe yet, as the killing of the hinds continues into February.

Once at the highest point of this path we took a bearing to the summit and climbed up to the cairn and trig point of Beinn a’Chuallaich. Here there was a cold wind blowing across the summit but there was no view which was a pity because I think this would be a good vantage point.

We had a quick snack sheltering behind the cairn before walking down the south ridge. Although the wind here was fairly strong the underfoot conditions were easier as most of the snow had been blown off the summit. We followed this ridge down to the lochan where we picked up the path and returned to the start.

Beinn a'Chuallaich Corbett first ascent 892 metres

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