Bogs & Clouds: a Morning in the Monadhliath

After the first leg of our September holiday in Appin, we were headed to Aviemore for the final few days of our time away. It would have been rude not to make use of the many hills en route that I hadn’t done yet, so we opted for a short and simple hill walk to take in Geal Charn on the fringes of the Monadhliath.

[Sep ’21]

The quiet Tuesday morning drive between Appin and Laggan was a pretty and enjoyable one, with loads of great views and a couple of stretches of road I hadn’t driven before. It felt like it took almost the same amount of time again to drive the short distance from Laggan to Garva Bridge on the narrow road towards Melgarve and the Corrieyairack pass, but given the remote and fairly featureless nature of the day’s hill walking target, we didn’t anticipate rush hour traffic on the way!

We arrived at a quiet car park next to Garva Bridge (part of General Wade’s Military Road) and got ourselves ready for the walk ahead.

A peaceful morning

The day’s walking began with a short section on a vehicle track, but this didn’t last long and we soon found ourselves following a distinctive (but pretty boggy) path along the Feith Talgain.

Looking towards the Creag Meagaidh group of hills

Where this larger burn meets the Allt Coire nan Dearcag, the path left the river and took a more direct line towards the summit of Geal Charn ahead of us, very much capped in cloud. The forecast had been fairly optimistic that the cloud would lift towards the afternoon, but we weren’t having any luck yet.

Looking towards Melgarve

The gradient had been fairly constant for the length of the walk thus far and only steepened in short bursts before relenting again moments later.

Nearing the summit

We made swift progress and before long, the huge rounded summit cairn came into view a short distance in front of us. I’m sure the views across Badenoch and the Upper Spey would have been lovely, but we just had to imagine them!

We reached the summit in a smidge over 2 hours and sat down for a short break and a wee snack before retracing our steps back towards the car park below.

A cairn in the clouds

The terrain and gradient was perfect for making a quick descent, with the soft bouncy (and sometimes boggy) grass and heather taking any pressure off our legs. Stopping once or twice for photos or a drink, we quickly found ourselves back at the car, pleased with our morning’s effort.

Zipping down the hill

A distance of 8.5 miles had taken us just shy of 3hrs 50mins, so we were pleased with how quickly we’d managed this Munro. Another in the bag and hopefully not the last on our holiday…!

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