Thursday 14 August 2014

TGOC 2014 - Day 6: Chalybeate Spring to Newtonmore

Wednesday 14th May 2014 

An excellent high-level day over two Munros on the edge of the Monadhliath Mountains 

Distance: 29.5km; Ascent: 680m; Dry and sunny, followed by showers; Mainly with John B

I woke at around 5am this morning due to the cold - there was a heavy frost outside and ice on the inside on my flysheet!  Therefore I added an extra layer and soon was back asleep for a couple of hours.  The vast majority of the other challengers camped at Chalybeate Spring were heading east from here, whereas I was planning on detouring to bag a Munro: Geal Charn.  This therefore meant that I set off walking alone at around 9am and followed the burn southwards to reach Loch na Lairige, which looked like it might be a pleasant spot to camp.

Camp by the Allt Mor
The Crom Allt below Loch na Lairige
The outflow of Loch na Lairige
Loch na Lairige
From Loch na Lairige I followed the Allt an Iuit up past several large snowfields to eventually reach the NE shoulder of Geal Charn, where I picked up a faint path through the moorland.  Around here I bumped into John Braide again!  He had just come from the summit, but opted to turn around and retrace his steps with me to the large summit cairn of Geal Charn (Munro, HuMP), which we reached at around half past eleven.

Snowfield SE of Loch na Lairige
Looking back to Loch na Lairige
Snowfields above the Allt an Iuil
On the summit of Geal Charn
Geal Charn summit cairn
John & I both had the same route planned for the next few hours, so after a short break we set off walking together in a north-easterly direction over the gentle rolling hills of the Monadhliath.  There were excellent views in all directions as we passed over the summit of Carn na Criche (Corbett Top) and the summit of Cairn Ewen before reaching the summit of Carn Odhar na Criche (Corbett Top), where we picked up a line of fence posts.

Looking NE from Geal Charn
Carn Odhar na Criche
From here we dropped ESE to seek some shelter from the brisk wind for a spot of lunch, before continuing on over Beinn Odhar and the former Munro Top of Sneachdach Slinnean before bumping into Chris Townsend and Tony Hobbs again.

Superfluous gate on the west slopes of Sneachdach Slinnean
Looking towards Carn Dearg from Sneachdach Slinnean
We walked together to the summit of Carn Ban (Munro Top), before continuing on to my final hill of the day: Carn Dearg (Munro, Marilyn), whose summit we reached at around twenty past three this afternoon.  As we reached the summit the threatening clouds finally started to rain, so we didn't linger long here.

John, Chris and Tony heading for Carn Dearg
Carn Dearg from the NNW
One of the remaining snow patches on Carn Dearg
Gleann Ballach from Carn Dearg
Summit cairn of Carn Dearg
We retraced our steps back to the bealach, where John left to continue on his high-level route through the Monadhliath for another day, whilst Chris, Tony & I descended NE into the coire at the head of Gleann Ballach.  Here we bumped into a team of balloon herders, also known as Andy, Alan and Phil, whose cheese and wine party I had attended last night.  After stopping for a chat, they continued down Gleann Ballach whilst Chris, Tony & I crossed over into the next glen to the east.

Alan, Andy & Phil in Gleann Ballach
Footbridge over the Allt Fionndrigh
After missing the start of the path shown on the OS map, we had a steep descent down to the Allt Fionndrigh, which we boulder-hopped across before finding that there was a bridge a few hundred metres further downstream.  By now it was around 5pm and as I was due to be meeting Martin in Newtonmore for a pub meal I picked up my pace and headed off down the vehicle track towards Glen Banchor.

Looking back up Glen Banchor
Soon after joining the minor road, I came across a welcome sign tied to a nearby tree - free tea, coffee and cakes! :-)

A welcome sign :-)
The River Calder NW of Newtonmore
Spurred on by the thought of this, I continued along the minor road into Newtonmore to reach the excellent Newtonmore Hostel, where I found Martin and I were sharing a room.  Martin headed out to the pub shortly after I arrived, whilst I enjoyed tea and cake before unpacking, grabbing a shower and heading over to the pub to join him.

I enjoyed a most sociable evening in the Glen Hotel with Martin, Markus, Philipp, Laura, Louise, David, Ali & Sue amongst many others :-)


  1. We could have got to Newtonmore too, if Slothman and Lord Elpus were not such old slow coaches.
    I will now stand back and wait for reprisal.

    1. It will come, but you won't know quite when, Dear Thing. The agony and ecstasy of the wait...
      "Balloon Hearders"

    2. Clearly you should have offered to carry their rucksacks for them Andrew, and then you might have made it to Newtonmore! ;)