An isolated peak in the Atholl Estate – [# 116]

Beinn Dearg (1008m)

  • Pronunciation:              Bine Jerrack
  • Translation:                   Red Hill
  • Total distance:              30.6km
  • Total time:                     5hrs 33mins
  • Total ascent:                 1036m
  • Weather:                        Beautiful sunny and warm day. Slightly breezy on the summit.
  • Start / end location:     Small forestry car-park just to the north of the Bridge of Tilt, which in turn is just above Blair Atholl. [OS Map Sheet 43 – Grid Ref: NN 874 663]
  • 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.

Looking towards the summit of Beinn Dearg from its broad SSW ridge

Mountain biking passed the cairn in Glen Banvie

Sheicheachan bothy on the east side of Glen Bruar

Today’s Munro, Beinn Dearg, lies quite a distance from any suitable points of access and so using our mountain bikes really helped to eat up the long approach miles. Possibly the easiest access was from where we started at Old Bridge of Tilt just to the north of Blair Atholl. We parked up at the forest car-park and began our 10km cycle initially along Glen Banvie on a very rough land-rover track.

The glen heads NW and after about 8km intersects with the beautiful Glen Bruar. However, after only 3km our chosen track veered away from Glen Banvie as it rose northward to follow first the course of the Allt na Moine Baine burn and then once below Carn Dearg Beag, contoured NW to reach and follow the Allt an t-Seapail burn. This latter burn, and hence our track following the burn’s course, arced round between the two little raised hills of Meall Dubh (569m) and Meall Tionail before reaching Sheicheachan bothy – just on the east side of Glen Bruar. In total our cycle had taken us from our starting elevation of 150m to just over 480m alongside the bothy.

Elaine and Cameron at the summit of Beinn Dearg

We locked our bikes and left them lying in the heather beside the bothy before popping in to see what it was like inside. Regrettably with the increased popularity and easy access to some of the country’s bothies quite a few that we’ve visited over the years have been subject to some wilful neglect by a minority of users: in some cases extending beyond a simple disrespect for the environment to real acts of vandalism such as stripping any exposed woodwork for firewood. Thankfully this little bothy was in a pristine homely state – and from the visitors’ logbook was being really appreciated by all who were using it.

Cameron at the summit Trig Point on Beinn Dearg

Just to the west side of the bothy a track followed the Allt Sheicheachan burn NE towards its source at a small corrie about 3km away. As we got to within 500m of the back of the corrie we turned sharply and zig-zagged our way northward until we reached a broad easy-angled ridge that extended all the way from the summit of Beinn Dearg. A large cairn on the ridge was passed first before the summit cairn and Trig Point were reached at a height of 1008m or 3,307ft. This point gave us some great views over the Atholl Estate, which covers some 145,000 acres of Highland Perthshire.

From the summit cairn we retraced our steps back down to the bothy and our locked bikes and then enjoyed a really fast descent back down the rough track to the car. Suddenly the 330m of ascent cycled earlier in the day to reach the bothy all seemed worthwhile as we arrived quickly back at the car wearing big grins on our faces.

[Near the bottom end of Glen Bruar are the Falls of Bruar: a magnificent deep gorge with many cascading waterfalls and river-carved rock “sculptures”. The sides of the gorge are planted with larch and Scots pines as well as a rich mixture of deciduous trees: most of which were planted towards the end of the 1700s by the 4th Duke of Atholl, who was known as “Planter John”. You can walk up to the falls from the huge “House of Bruar” exclusive shopping complex: worth a visit in its own right. The falls are located only ½ mile beyond the centre. The great Scottish poet, Robert Burns, visited the falls in 1787 and was inspired to write The Humble Petition of Bruar Water in which the water urges the Duke of Atholl to plant shrubs and trees.

An extract from verse 10:

Let lofty firs, and ashes cool,
My lowly banks o’erspread,
And view, deep-bending in the pool,
Their shadow’s wat’ry bed:]

Falls of Bruar from below the lower bridge

Falls of Bruar above the lower bridge

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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