Carn Sgulain - 920m
Meall a' Bhothain - 911m
Carn Ballach - 920m
Carn Ban - 942m
Carn Dearg - 945m
Carn Dearg SE Top - 923m
Sunday 15th July 2012
Weather/Conditions: Good weather. Arrived at Culra the previous night in the dark. Got cloudy conditions the next morning which broke into sunlight at lunchtime. Good day to be high.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 53.8km / 2000m / 11h 05m
First off, the road to Glen Banchor isn't exactly obvious, it's marked only in the street name, which winds among houses then breaks out above the banks of the river. We stopped at the car park and headed off just after midday.
First off, we did the pull to A' Chailleach. Once you leave the track, it's all relatively rough-going. There's also a bridge that is hidden from view, I don't entirely recall if we took it, but I think we did. The weather certainly wasn't perfect and a cool wind blew at higher altitudes. A' Chailleach is of course the "old woman", and presents a gentle and revealing profile from the passing A9 - a prominent pudding with a gentle scoop taken out it's eastern quarters. The summit is marked by a cairn, a normal wind-blasted summit and terrain that was pleasant relief from the heathery slopes below.
The three of us headed over to Carn Sgulain in high winds. This was to be my last summit with the guys before they headed back to Edinburgh, It was now a Sunday afternoon and work was calling for them. As for myself, I had a couple more days to be in the Highlands and finish off some mountains. And today was also my opportunity to get the Glen Banchor trio complete.
From the summit cairn of Sgulain, we parted ways - the guys headed down through the glen to the car park, while I continued onto Carn Dearg.
Carn Dearg is a fitting mountain for the highest in the Monadhliath, but perhaps peculiar because it seems so out of character, it is deeply incised glacially in an environment that seems to have survived extensive gorging by the glaciers.
It's also a fair walk out to it and it felt a touch remote. The walking is gentle but the weather made the day gently thrilling. In the further distance, the double humps of Geal Charn stood out against a backdrop of grey. I'd seriously thought about doing it on this day, but I wasn't sure what exactly to do. I wished to go to Fort William tonight to stay with James, but equally I didn't want to return home without finishing the last Munro in the area (Geal Charn!)...
Carn Dearg arrived in time and I continued over it's south top. Descent was slightly south again, then a steep-grass traverse to reach the glen below. And even from here, it seemed like a long walk back to the car... The lower reaches of Glen Banchor are at first out of sight, so you have to pass under Creag Liath (a hidden-in-plain-sight Graham!) before emerging out to some kind of civilisation.
I'm almost entirely sure it was this visit that I met some folk who were camping in the glen with their horses. It transpired they were travelling from Laggan to Fort Augustus via. Corrieyairack on horseback. I'd certainly never seen this before. That evening, Geal Charn was shelved and I headed straight for Fort William, returning the next morning to see that last summit off.
In retrospect, this period really was a wonderful time in my Munro bagging history. All these hills were virgin and new, something which I didn't appreciate. I do now that I'm slowly running out of new hills! Even if you approach a mountain from a different angle the second time, it's still a known quantity. There's certainly an allure to new places. At the time, I was motoring around the Highlands by car, Rush cranked loud, climbing as many summits as I could muster. I remember it well.
(0.00) 12.05pm Car park, Glen Banchor
(2.00) 2.05pm A' Chailleach
(2.40) 2.45pm Carn Sgulain
(4.25) 4.30pm Carn Dearg
(6.50) 6.55pm Car park, Glen Banchor