Beinn a'Ghlo, May 2008

In May 2008 I booked a short break in Blair Atholl with the intention of climbing several Munros, including at least one (Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn) that I'd not had time to visit during my previous attempt from Pitlochry in 2005. The Sunday morning dawned clear and cool, perfect weather for hillwalking, and straight after breakfast I set off for the Beinn a'Ghlo range.

The main road through Blair Atholl, at the driveway to Blair Castle. 

A view of Blair Atholl’s main street

The River Tilt from the road bridge

The road to Old Blair.

A view over Glen Tilt from the road up to Loch Moraig

The first view of Carn Liath from the road.

Arriving at the Loch Moraig car park. Carn Liath is seen in the background. Although I'd climbed Carn Liath three years ago it would be necessary to do so a second time, as Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn lies further along the ridge.

Part of Loch Moraig.

The approach to Carn Liath along the estate road. The ascent path up the steep southern spur can be seen vwet clearly.

The ascent of the southern spur of Carn Liath.

Here, I've reached the summit dome of Carn Liath and I'm looking along the ridge towards Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn.

The summit of Carn Liath. It was more or less midday when I got here.

The ridge path from carn Liath to Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn. The weather is absolutely glorious.

A level and delightfully easy section of the ridge.

The rest of the Beinn a'Ghlo massif lays ahead; Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn to the left, the ascent path clearly visible, and Carn nan Gabhar to the right.

Nearing the col.

The ascent path of Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn. It looks easy enough until you realise that an ascent of more than 800ft is involved

The col, 2507 ft.

Looking back at Carn Liath from the ascent of Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn. I was intrigued by the path (seen here) leading off east from the col and I wondered whether it might give me an alternative route back. I wasn't keen to reascend Carn Liath.

From the same spot, looking a bit more to the right. The Ben Lawers group is in view.

Looking back at the ascent route of Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn. I'm at about 2920ft here, just below the point at which the path reaches the mountain's main ridge and turns left.

The scene at about 3250ft. The gradient is beginning to level out and there's little vegetation left.

The main bulk of Beinn a'Ghlo over to the right; Carn an Gabhar is in the centre of shot, with the top of Airgiod Bheinn to the right. Althouh a path can be seen ascending Carn nan Gabhar, I was not planning to climb it on this outing; the three ascents plus the return walk was a little too much for me. Carn nan Gabhar is two miles further on and involves another 900 ft of ascent.

Approaching the summit plateau of Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn.

And here's the cairn! Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn is 1070 metres (3510ft) high and is the 66th-highest Munro.

The first of the summit panorama shots is the scene slightly east of north, towards the high tops of the Cairngorms.

Looking more or less northeast here, we see upper Glen Tilt to the left with the twin massifs of beinn a' Bhuiridh and Ben Avon beyond. Braigh Coire Chruinn-Bhaglainn's northeast ridge fills the scene to the right.

The bulk of Carn nan Gabhar, the highest summit of Beinn a'Ghlo, fills the right of this shot. To the left we see Beinn Iutharn Mhor and Carn an Righ.

Looking east, across the unseen Bealach an Fhiodha, with Carn nan Gabhar to the left and Airgiod Bheinn to the right. The dark hill seen across the col about ten miles away is Beinn Gulabin; the Glen Clova hills are seen on the skyline.

The view to the southeast, across the descending ridge of Airgiod Bheinn. A few miles away is the lonely Loch Valigan, the low hills just behind it hiding the road from Pitlochry to Blairgowrie. Further beyond are the wooded slopes of Blath Bhalg, the forsts of Clunie and Alyth, and ultimately the coast near Dundee.

Ben Vrackie dominates this shot, aimed just east of south.

Looking just west of south towards Carn Liath. The Perthsire hills lay beyond.

The view to the southwest; the Ben Lawers group snd Schiehallion.

The west-southwest panorama is particularly interesting. The dark hill some miles away on the left is Beinn a'Chuallaich, above Kinloch Rannoch,. Look for the "V" on the skyline just to its right; that's Glen Etive, 50 miles away, and you're seeing the Blackmount to its left and the Glencoe mountains to its right. If the day were clearer Mull's Ben More would show through the "V".  Loch Errochty is seen 18 miles away, in the same direction as the "V" and below it.

Looking west-northwest across the Gaick forest. The prominent hill about ten miles away to the left is Beinn Dearg. On the skyline to the right are the Newtonmore Munros.

The northwest panorama; in the foreground across Glen Tilt is Carn a'Chlamain. Beyond is the wilderness of the Gaick forest, and on the skyline are the hills above Newtonmore.

This is the north-northwest view. To the left, the nearby peak with the pink screes on its summit is Conlach Mhor, a top of Carn a'Chlamain. In the middle distance are Carn an Fhidhleir (left) and An Sgarsoch (right). In the far distance is the western massif of the Cairngorms including Mulach Clach a'Bhlair, Beinn Bhrotain and Sgor Gaoith.

Back where we started, at the central body of the Cairngorms

A final look at the western Mounth hills, Beinn Iutharn Mhor and Carn an Righ. Lochnagar can just be seen peeking above the rising ridge to the right. Just to the left of Carn an Righ is a glimpse of Morven.

I had lunch at the top in the lee of the summit cairn. Sortly afterwards I began walking back down to the col, wandering off the path for a more direct route. Carn Liath is straight ahead.

Back at the col, which is a little stony.

This is Coire na Beinn Bige, heading off to the east. The path looked inviting and I reasoned that it must go somewhere; rather than reascend Carn Liath I decided to head off along it to save myself some effort. The path is not shown on any map and I did have some nagging doubts.

The corrie seen from the col.

The path proved top be a delight. I strode along it to a minor col between Carn Liath and the minor top of Beinn Bheag.

Here the path turned right but then petered out. No matter; the terrain was benign (low-growing heather) and I could see its continuation about half a mile ahead beyond the dip of the Allt Coire nan Saobhaidh

Carn Liath loomed above as I descended to the stream.

It was a steep descent for a couple of minutes but the dell formed by the Allt Coire nan Saobhaidh was lovely. I stopped here for a ten minute rest and partook of the deliciously cold and refreshing water in the stream.

Another view of Coire nan Saobhaidh.

Looking back to an end-on view of Airgiod Bhenn.

The path wound round the southeastern shoulder of Carn Liath, where it started go get a bit sketchy. That's the view to the southeast; the farm of Shinagag, with the bulk of Ben Vrackie behind and to the right.

The path did eventually peter out, though I could see the estate track only a couple of hundred yards to my left. It was the work of just two or three minutes to stride through the heather to reach it.

The little ridge above Loch Moraig.

Loch Moraig. Not for the first time I reckoned that this would be a wonderful spot for a dream cottage.

I passed Loch Moraig and started off down the road to Blair Atholl. Three years ago I'd been given a lift once I'd got about three quarters of a mile along the road, and I was pretty amazed when the same thing happened again, from almost the same spot. Within five minutes I was back at the Atholl Arms hotel for a good meal and a rest.

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This page last updated 5th October 2008