Monadh Liath February 2005

Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary

Photo: Carn Dearg. The Monadh Liath is a group of mountains lying behind Newtonmore on the way to Fort William. They are just south of Aviemore on the A9 road and about 3 hours drive from Glasgow. They don?t seem to attract good press and are often referred to as upturned pudding bowls! The paths are mainly good on these hills as it is a deer stalking area. The Monadh Liath range is an extensively undulating plateau of desolate high moorland, mostly only visited by Munro baggers. This is the area where Monarch of the Glen is filmed.

There are nine Munros in this group including the magnificent Creag Meagaidh, a winter paradise for climbers. Some years ago I walked Creag Meagaidh and it?s two satellite Munros on a good day in early summer and last autumn I returned to the area to complete the remaining Munros. Based at Newtonmore and Kingussie on successive weekends I had four day?s walking but failed to complete the last Munro due to limited daylight hours.

Photo: Glen Spean. Geal Charn is quite unremarkable but it was a clear cool day and excellent for walking. As it had been a very wet summer, there was a possibility the Markie Burn would be in spate and too difficult to cross so we drove further along to Garva Bridge. Following a track north, we crossed a footbridge over the Feith Talagain and continued up the path until the ridge at Alt Coire nan Dearcag reaching the summit on the heathery south west slope. We spotted pheasant and partridge on the walk and had good views over the surrounding hills.

The following weekend was misty and sunny and we managed to climb two Munros. These Munros can be done as a round of three to include Geal Charn. We parked the car at Glen Banchor at the foot of the Allt a?Chaorainn at a viewpoint in the strath and started the walk along the glen on a good stalkers path then crossed the stream up to a tiny stalkers bothy. As usual, there were few people on the hills although we did speak to a Swedish couple at the car park who were holidaying in the area for a week. They said they loved Scotland and especially the autumn colours and were happy with the unpredictable and changing weather. They thought it made the country ?more interesting!? The summit of A?Chailleach was easily reached and after lunch we headed downhill someway on the Allt Cuil na Caillich and up to Carn Sgulain. It was then down the south east ridge and out under the crags of A?Chailleach back along the path to the car.

Photo: Glen Spean. The following weekend we travelled to Kingussie to walk Carn Dearg and at the Bed and Breakfast were surprised to meet the Pretender to the Throne of the Scots who lives in Edinburgh. He is not a direct descendant of Bonnie Prince Charlie but of a cousin. He made us a very nice cup of tea! The following day we went back to Glen Banchor to start the walk to Carn Dearg. From the viewpoint we walked up the rough track to Allt Fionndrigh, crossing the stream by a footbridge and then through a gap in the ridge onto very boggy waterlogged ground, bad even by Scottish standards! It was easy slopes to the summit but on the return we headed south on the ridge and down steeper slopes to avoid crossing the wet ground again. During the walk we saw herds of deer and the stags rutting and trying to poach hinds from other herds. It was an enjoyable day in fine clear weather.

The following weekend, I had to turn back on Beinn a?Chaorainn as I calculated I did not have sufficient day light hours to bag the summit. I much preferred the stays at Newtonmore as there is a very good accordionist at the Glen Hotel there on a Saturday evening!

Coming attractions; Return to Loch Ossian and anything else I do!

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