Beinn a’ Ghlo – (Hooded Mountain) – [# 113 – 115]

Carn Liath (975m); Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain (1070m);
Carn nan Gabhar (1121m)

  • Pronunciation:              Karn Leeya; Bry Korrer Chrain Valler-ghen; Karn ner Goer
  • Translation:                  Grey Hill; Height of the Corrie of Round Blisters; Hill of Goats
  • Total distance:              22.4km
  • Total time:                     6hrs 47mins
  • Total ascent:                 1356m
  • Weather:                        Brilliant sunshine all day. Unbroken blue sky. Quite a cool wind on the ridges and summits.
  • Start / end location:     By Loch Moraig at the end of the unclassified road leading passed Old Bridge of Tilt to the north of Blair Atholl. [OS Map Sheet 43 – Grid Ref: NN 905 671]
  • Map:                                 A map of route can be found here – it may take a few moments to load into a separate window. The map displays on most browsers, but not unfortunately Internet Explorer.

Relaxing at the summit of Carn Liath

The weather today was truly wonderful with beautiful blue skies all day.

The view NE from Carn Liath with Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain (L) and Beinn a' Ghlo (R)

Ascending Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain with Carn Liath in the background

Elaine on the summit of Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain with the start of the Cairngorms in the background

We parked at the end of the public road above Blair Atholl (beyond Old Bridge of Tilt) just by the north side of the tiny Loch Moraig. As we stepped from the car we were entertained by a pair of lapwings displaying to each other by performing aerial swoops and dives and calling to one another. Curlews were also heard calling in the distance.

From the car we made our way ENE along a farm track as far as a wooden shack, where immediately beyond we left the track and took the obvious path NE up the SW flank of Carn Liath. Despite the terrain being uniformly steep, the scree-covered path continually zig-zagged its way upwards making the ascent quite straightforward.  We were accompanied on our ascent by the ever-present wheatears, which were out in abundance, as too the red grouse camouflaged in the thick heather surrounding moorland.

We soon reached firstly the Trig Point on Carn Liath and then a few tens of metres later the true summit cairn at 975m or 3,199ft where we relaxed in the sun for a few moments and admired the 360° views. All too soon we began the slow descent northward from the summit down an easy inclined path, which then arced in a lazy “S” NNE until it reached a low col on the ridge. On the other side of the col the path continued in a couple of further arcs, ascending this time, until the substantial stone cairn marking the summit of Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain was reached at 1070m or 3,510ft.

Looking NE to Beinn a' Ghlo from the summit of Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain

From the Trig Point on Beinn a' Ghlo looking NE along its ridge to Carn nan Gabhar

The route from here continued along the broad ridge, turning eastward to reach another col below the final ascent up a broad west facing ridge onto Beinn a’ Ghlo. Beinn a’ Ghlo is the name of the whole mountain, which has, at its northeastern end, a broad summit ridge of large jumbled boulders topped with three prominent cairned tops, the furthest of which was Carn nan Gabhar the highest peak and the named Munro at 1121m or 3,678ft.

We didn’t really linger too long at the summit as the wind-chill was quite cooling, despite the full rays of the sun. Instead, we set off back along the summit ridge in the direction that we’d arrived but this time continued passed our ascent point from the col with Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain until we reached the SW top of Airgiod Bheinn (1061m). Our line of descent from here was via the SW ridge, which looked like a reasonable gradient from above but turned out to be rather steep, direct and coated in slippery fine scree. We found that the best course of action was to simply “go for it” allowing our feet to slide where necessary and trying not to build up too much uncontrollable speed. This approach made for a rapid descent and we were soon down on easier heather moorland where a clearly defined but long path through the heather took us back to the wooded shack at the bottom of Carn Liath. From here we walked easily back to our car at the north side of Loch Moraig.

Elaine and Cameron on the summit of Carn a' Gabhar

Looking SW along the summit ridge of Beinn a' Ghlo towards the Trig Point and Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain (R) and Carn Liath (L)

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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