A' Chailleach - 930m
Carn Sgulain - 920m
Geal Charn - 889m

Sunday 4th November 2012

Weather/Conditions: Low key morning to start with, breaking out into a sunset on Carn Sgulain. Really stunning conditions, so went back over A' Chailleach and to see "the settling" over Geal Charn - added just so we could stay high for longer.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 16.7km / 900m / 6h 15m
Accompanying: The club: Julia, Andrew, James, Dougie, Struan, Craig

A' Chailleach and Carn Sgulain make up two high points on the Monadhliath plateau, perhaps the most anonymous of the high uplands of Scotland. These two Munro summits lie on the southern periphery above the town of Newtonmore. The previous day, Struan and I had been at Strathfarrar to meet the club in Aviemore. This morning, the group consensus was to head to the Monadhliath. We parked up in Glen Banchor, set on A' Chailleach and beyond.

It was a funny morning, quite overcast, and I admit a touch uninspiring. But the craic was good! A' Chailleach relented in time, but I always find it quite a hard hill because of all the heather leading to it's summit slopes. I imagine the Monadhliath would be quite incredible on skis and under a thick cover of snow.

The mist was generally down, the hills and sky white in sympathy. We headed for Carn Sgulain, down into the little cutting between the two and out again. Along the way I think we realised we were traversing too far left, and cut across the upper slopes to gain the summit of this Munro.

The going to this point was fairly ordinary, not a lot to say about the land or light. But it was on the summit of Carn Sgulain that the mist started to glow a little. I got excited, as I always do when this happens. It often means we're about to get a clearing which after the confines of a misted mountainside is always spectacular.

Suddenly the sun burst into life, and instead of descending under A' Chailleach to the car (as had been the plan) we elected to head back over A' Chailleach. From the river between the two, I shot ahead, walking at full pace, mainly out of exhilaration at the turn the weather had taken.

It's difficult to explain why the mountains give me such feelings of peace and well being. But on A' Chailleach these feelings were in full flow, and to add to the evening further, we headed to Geal Charn, a subsidiary top of A' Chailleach. Plodding over snow-covered in golden sunlight was a joy, and we reached the cairn as the sun notably dipped.

The mood in the party, I felt, was one of profound peace, and we had great conversations about what the hills mean to us while descending in the failing light of the day. We stopped by the A' Chailleach bothy too, which has some interesting (old!) engravings.

The drive home was something of an entirely forgettable anticlimax, but the evening had been stunning and lives in the memory well.

360° Panoramas

A' Chailleach

Geal Charn
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 9.45am Glen Banchor parking
(2.15) 12.00pm A' Chailleach
(3.00) 12.45pm Carn Sgulain
(3.50) 1.35pm A' Chailleach
(4.25) 2.10pm Geal Charn
(6.15) 4.00pm Glen Banchor parking

Written: 2015-08-07