If Carlsberg did hillwalking: The Monadhliath

A’ Chailleach – 930m
Carn Sgulain – 920m
Carn Dearg – 945m
28th February 2011
Distance: 15 ½ miles
Ascent: 1,150m
Weather: Cold wind, dry, bright sunshine
Two Feet Four Paws:  Anne, Bill, Molly and Milly

With high pressure firmly in control we decided on a local route to minimise driving and maximise time on the hill. We had been out on the Glen Feshie and Drumochter hills on the previous days so we knew that the snow was perfect for walking on with none of that tedious post holing or breakable crust nonsense.

It was -5oC when we left the car but despite the chill Molly and Milly were impatient to be off.

As we walked along the track beside the Allt a’ Chaorainn the warmth in the sun was apparent and by the time we had reached the old bothy at 550m we were down to t-shirts and the dogs were falling over their tongues in the unexpected heat wave.

There was relief all round when we reached the snowline and things started to cool down.

Molly takes a cooling snow bath.

After the final steep ascent to A’ Chailleach we were rewarded by the sudden appearance of the cairn.

The descent down to the narrow defile of the Allt Cull na Cailleach was very icy and the only part of the route where crampons were needed (as well as sunscreen by this stage……….boy it was hot!

Milly and I were very relieved that it was time for lunch.

Bill, with A’ Challiach behind.

The 5 miles between the second and third Munro summits is for me, the highlight of the walk and we have always been lucky enough to save this route for a good day. The Monadhliath are the heart of ‘Big Sky’ country where the views are endless, the terrain easy and route finding a doodle…………………….who could ask for more?

Thankfully a cooling breeze picked up during lunch so the rest of the traverse was completed in far more bearable temperatures.

After a couple of hours of stress-less ambling Carn Dearg finally seemed to be a bit closer.

The final gentle pull to Carn Dearg gave Molly and Milly a chance to practice their cornice avoiding techniques.

At the  summit of Carn Dearg the horrifying realisation that it a bloody long way back to the car finally dawned on me.

The endless miles of peat hags that separated us from the car.

Milly decided she would like to add a bonus Munro top to her day, so we did!

Binnein Shaus looked like an island peak.

Off to the 923m Munro Top, imaginatively named Carn Dearg SE Top.

Looking back to Carn Dearg summit.

Milly bags her top.

From the 923m top we descended down to the col below Carn Macoul and took a steep snow gully down, we then faced the miles of endless bog trotting back to the bothy at Dalballoch, surely a punishment from the hill gods, but at least someone was happy.

Looking back to Carn Macoul and the Munro Top.

Eventually the bothy at Dalballoch appeared.

Needs a bit of work.

One last look back to the hills before the long tramp out. Much fun for the dogs who never seemed to tire but I really wish I had packed my inflatable quad bike for such an eventuality.

We arrived back at the car just as the sun was setting behind Creag Meagaidh and I begrudgingly agreed to let Bill have a rest day tomorrow.






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