Tuesday 26 June 2012


Of the four Munros that are called Geal Charn, this seems to be the only one that boasts a hyphen. It's useful when it comes to distinguishing the hills, because this one isn't Geal Charn (Loch Laggan), even though you start the walk-in from Loch Laggan. This one is Geal-Charn (Loch Pattack). (As you might expect, following this route, you go nowhere near Loch Pattack.) Geal Charn (Monadh Liath) (according to Cameron McNeish in The Munros) "rears up...north west of Laggan". (As it happens, I drove past Geal Charn (Drumochter) on the road up to Loch Laggan.)

I hope that's tolerably clear.

I didn't take all that many pictures during the early part of the walk. That was partly because I was following the same route I wandered over during the camping trip, and partly because the forecast had been so bleak that my phone was tucked up tight, in a drybag, in the depths of my rucksack. After about two hours though, as I reached the point where I had crossed the Allt Cam last time, I was forced to (a) accept it was Quite A Nice Day After All, and (b) slather on the sun cream. It wasn't all plain sailing though, as the recent rainfall had made the burn crossing a bit of a different proposition this time around. There were a few spots where big boulders would have probably made possible stepping stones, but they were at rather fast flowing sections, and Jorja wasn't having it. There were also bits where she was quite happy to paddle across, but that would have resulted in miserably wet feet for me at a relatively early stage in the day, so I kept on the north side of the burn for a while, walking to the east, which was still taking me hillwards.

Passing Meall Nathrach en route. Hill of the Snake, apparently.

There's a semblance of a boggy path most of the way, not marked on the map, right next to the burn. After a couple of kilometres or so, we found a stony spit affair which combined with a couple of bigger boulders got me and the dug across without too much water ingress.

The terrain once on the other side consisted of more of yon tussocky peat hags that are a pain in the tonsils, but they were relatively short-lived this time. The benign conditions meant that I could always pick out a likely route to the skyline, basically going up the steep slopes that form the north curve of Coire na Coichille. When I say steep, I mean it, incidentally. The combination of unhelpful terrain, a big walk-in and - you know I'm going to use this word - relentless ascent results in a walk that takes longer than you feel it should. It's a fairly long way, certainly (about 16 miles, I reckon), but somehow I expected to make faster progress. It's possibly psychological, because I could see where I was going the whole time, and how little impression I was making on it. Or it's  possibly physical, because I'm a fat bastard.

Looking over to the south side of Beinn a' Chlachair. To postpone the ascent of Geal-Charn, mainly.

The bealach between Aonach Beag (on the right) and Geal-Charn.

The line of least resistance skirts to the left of that rubbly foreground hump

In truth, although the slopes are steep, they're fine and grassy higher up. Better than tussocks, certainly.

This is more like it. Beinn a' Chlachair in the background, again.
Looking north west, down An Lairig. Where we'd just come from, in other words. (Yon Snake Hill, left of centre.)
It was at around that moment that we had a torrential 15 minute downpour...but it stopped. And for the rest of the day the skies got progressively clearer. Which was nice, because by then we were only a few minutes from the summit. Bearing in mind it was a Friday, with a rubbish MWIS forecast, I was surprised to meet another hardy soul at the summit. A very nice chap too. He'd been up at Corrour, helping out with some work the John Muir Trust do on the estate, and had just taken a notion to wander up the hill on the strength of the unexpected sunshine. We sat gabbing for a while, and protecting his lunch from Jorja, and then he headed back to the north east...

...and I took a few more photies then turned round and retraced my steps.

Ben Alder looming in the distance

Beinn Eibhinn keeking out from behind Aonach Beag
"Pose for summit photo with different backdrop I will, hmmm?"

An unexpectedly grand day out.


  1. Hi Scott, sounds like a good day out. I love it when the weather forecasters gets it wrong and the waterproofs stay in the rucksack. Unfortunately when they get it wrong it's usually the other way round!......J

    1. Heh, Heh - I think the "better than forecast" result has happened to me twice in the last five years. Not a great average!

  2. Yes, a grand day out. A long walk though. I went up from Culra bothy via Carn Dearg but the mist was so dense I couldn't find the summit cairn. I couldn't find the hyphen either. In fact, it was a bit of a disaster.
    Alen McF

    1. ;0)

      Still never been to Culra, to my shame. At least with those three done from Laggan, I've narrowed down the ascent required if I ever manage to get there.

  3. I live too far south.
    I need hills.
    Having said that, my dog is 11½ now and not so sure about hills.

    1. Aye, it's a thought when the dogs start to get that bit older.

      Reading yout last blog post, I'm also assuming you wouldn't be overly enthusiastic about travelling north on the train, either.