The last night of my trip away had me staying in Blair Atholl, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to tick off Beinn a’Ghlo, a range with 3 close-knit Munros that give some wonderful views and a great feeling of remoteness. I was sad to be heading home after my last day’s walking, but excited about the 14-or-so miles of walking that still lay ahead of me!
I had stayed the night at the campsite in Blair Atholl, making use of a very cosy glamping pod (if I’d have known the temperature was in the early teens the night before I’d have been more than happy camping instead, but hey ho!). As it was a weekday, I was keen to get the hills done and get back through Glasgow on the way home before the worst of the afternoon traffic, so I was up sharp and after a visit to the shop to get some food for the day, I was on my way in the car up the narrow – and rough in places – road to Loch Moraig, where there’s a small area for a few cars to park.
Suited and booted for the final time on my trip, I set off along the good track towards the base of Carn Liath. It was just before 0800, so I was confident that if I could put the hammer down when possible I could make it back to the car and south through Glasgow before the worst of the traffic. Have I mentioned I don’t like traffic…?
The going was easy and I made good progress towards a path junction, leaving the main track that I’d pick up again later in the day and now following a good hill path up the southern slopes of Carn Liath. The path has clearly been greatly improved and well maintained as much of it involved climbing some rocky steps.
The good steps allowed me to make light work of the ascent and other than the odd drink and photo stop, I made it to the first summit of the day just after 0900.
I took a couple of photos and contemplated a quick snack stop, but it looked like my good-weather streak was about to come to an end with some dark clouds making their way towards the hills that lay ahead of me. I opted instead to press on after sticking my waterproof shell on (also for the first time this trip) as the wind was also pretty chilly.
I reached the low point between Carn Liath and Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain (the second Munro) and stopped here for a quick bite to eat where it was a little more sheltered from the elements. Feeling ready for the next ascent, I pushed on and made good progress towards my second summit of the day, heading into the cloud the higher I climbed. By the time I was 100m or so below the summit I was completely in cloud. The lack of views meant I didn’t hang about though and I was at the summit of Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain after 2 1/4 hours, around an hour after leaving Carn Liath.
I was making good progress so far and continued on towards my final Munro of the day (and of the trip sadly), slowing slightly and taking extra care on the descent towards the Bealach an Fhiodha. It didn’t quite require crampons, but had it been a little firmer they’d definitely have been on.
I made it unscathed to the bealach and had another quick snack stop, ready to take on the final ascent. As with the first 2 Munros, this wasn’t especially steep or difficult and I made it up onto the summit plateau in good time. The final obstacle was the long rocky plateau as the actual summit lay to the north of this (of course it did). Once again I took extra care on the slippery rocks, winding my way around the icy patches, and I finally made it to the summit after 3 1/4 hours, another hour or so from Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain.
Thankfully the cloud had now lifted considerably and the views had opened up once more. These were quite extensive across much of the Southern Cairngorms and towards Angus and Perthshire – not a bad perch to sit and enjoy a spot of lunch!
I found a wee spot sheltered from the chilly wind and had a bite to eat, taking some time to admire the scenery and reflect on what had been an awesome trip and my most successful winter season so far, with a total of 10 new Munros.
My trip wasn’t quite over yet though, as there was the small matter of the 7-ish miles back to the car. I started by retracing my steps across the rocky plateau before heading downhill towards the bealach. There were 2 descent options and both are pretty popular, the first being over and down the other side of Airgiod Bheinn, then down the steep southern slopes towards the Allt na Beinne Bige. My chosen option was to fully descend to the bealach and follow a boggy track down beside the Allt Bealach an Fhiodha.
There were obvious signs of well-walked paths on both sides of the burn, both equally boggy though. The bogginess soon came to an end finally and I joined a new looking stalkers path that contoured around the base of Carn Liath, eventually joining the good track I’d left earlier that day.
I had made really good time until now and wasn’t showing any signs of slowing, so I put my foot down and was walk-jogging at points, keen to get back to the car as quickly as I could and avoid being a part of the M8 car park.
5 1/2 hours after setting off, I made it back to the car. Considering I’d covered more than 14 miles, 3 Munros and 1300m ascent in (somewhat) winter conditions, I was rather chuffed with my achievement. It had also been the 4th consecutive day of hill walking too, another reason to be pretty pleased with myself. It was all miles in the legs and a good chance to improve my hill fitness for later in the year – with any luck I’ll manage an epic or two!
Oh, and I made it home before rush hour too!