From the Spittal of Glenshee – [# 135 & 136]

Glas Tulaichean (1051m); Carn an Righ (1029m)

  • Pronunciation:              Glaz Toolachein; Karn ern Ree
  • Translation:                   Grey-green Knoll; Cairn of the King
  • Total distance:              23.6km
  • Total time:                     6hrs 19mins
  • Total ascent:                 1161m
  • Weather:                        Started off very cloudy and misty. Quite humid. By midday the mist cleared and the cloud lifted above the summits. Very windy on the summits and ridges – but remained mild nonetheless.
  • Start / end location:   By the Dalmunzie House Hotel just to the northwest of the Spittal of Glenshee. [OS Map Sheet 43 – Grid Ref: NO 091 713]
  • 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.

Views to Carn an Righ from NNE ridge of Glas Tulaichean

Overnight the rain battered down on the roof of the ‘van. By the time our alarm went off at 05.50 it was still raining hard so we decided that we’d have a lie-in and see what the weather looked like in a few hours time. Once we’d got up and rechecked the weather forecast we agreed that it looked more favourable to go out to climb a few more Munros.

So we drove from our campsite at Braemar, south to the Spittal of Glenshee, where we turned into Glen Lochsie and after another 2km reached the Dalmunzie House Hotel. For a very small charge of £2 the hotel allows walkers to park in their grounds and in turn takes details of intended routes and emergency contact telephone numbers. There was also a welcoming offer extended to have a drink at the bar on our return.

The ruins of Glenlochsie Lodge with Glen Lochsie in the background

In very grey cloudy conditions we walked WNW from the hotel along the land-rover track that followed the base of Glen Lochsie. There was a clearly marked path that avoided walking through the Glenlochsie Farm and supporting buildings and then rejoined the land-rover track a few hundred metres beyond the farm. At this point we had a couple of options on how to proceed as two paths ran parallel up the glen on either side of the Glen Lochsie Burn. One path was the land-rover track that we were currently on, and the other was a dismantled railway line. The latter was chosen because it remained on the north side of the burn, whereas the former would have required us to ford the burn twice: not an ideal prospect because the burn was flowing fast and deep, swollen from last night’s deluge of rain.

At the summit Trig Point on Glas Tulaichean

Around 3km from the hotel the dismantled railway line came to its terminus by the Glenlochsie Lodge: the lodge, like the railway line now completely derelict. Here the land-rover track, which we’d left earlier in favour the railway line approach, forded the burn for the second time onto the north side again and from the rear of the lodge began to climb up the NW ridge of Glas Tulaichean. We joined the track once more and made the long, but easy angled ascent over Breac-reidh and then swung northward right up to near the summit of our first Munro, Glas Tulaichean. At the apex of the land-rover track, just as it began to drop back down and veer around to the west, we cut off to the east to reach the summit Trig Point at 1051m or 3,448ft. The cloud and mist still shrouded the summits and so we weren’t offered any views from the top.

Views to Carn an Righ from NNE ridge of Glas Tulaichean

Our route next took us NNE down a ridge towards the broad col that sat to the WSW of Loch nan Eun. To the east of this ridge a second ridge, perpendicular to ours, formed two corries (Glas Choire Mhor and Glas Choire Beag) whose steep-sided headwalls helped to form the ridge we were on. As we reached a slight flattening in the ridge, marked as point 930m, the cloud and mist lifted and we got our first views towards the summit of our next objective, Carn an Righ, a few kilometres to the east. From our current position we also glimpsed down into the glen below us on the eastern side, and seeing that the terrain looked favourable chose to proceed directly down to the glen floor. This cut off the need to continue further along the ridge to reach the broad col only then to almost double back on ourselves to reach the base of Carn an Righ.

The descent from the ridge was very straightforward and from the base of the glen we then climbed the few tens of metres to reach the path running westwards below the peak of Mam nan Carn. This path led us to the east side of Carn an Righ, which we then climbed easily to its summit cairn at 1029m or 3,376ft. Here we were rewarded with much better views now that the cloud had lifted completely and the sun was using its best endeavours to break through. It still remained very windy – but we’d got the views back so we were happy!

Approaching the summit cairn of Carn an Righ with Glas Tulaichean in the background

The route back retraced our steps off Carn an Righ where we then followed the path east to the broad col that we’d bypassed earlier. We crossed some wet peat hags, passing the small peak marked 858m on the OS map, before reaching the southern tip of Loch nan Eun. Here we turned SSE and descending alongside a series of small waterfalls fed from the loch, made our way into the upper reaches of Gleann Taitneach. This glen extended all the way back to the Dalmunzie House Hotel – but it was a fair trek of 7km.

Gleann Taitneach was beautiful and felt remote with only a pair of noisy sandpipers for company as they preceded us down the glen, flitting along the Allt Ghlinn Thaitneich burn. Towards the bottom end we were then greeted by aerial displays from lapwings, sharp calls from oystercatchers and close up encounters with several curlews, the latter actually quite large birds.

As the track swung around to stay on the north side of the Glen Lochsie Burn we left it 1km before it reached Glen Lochsie so that we could use a bridge across the Allt Ghlinn Thaitneich burn. Now on the “correct” side of the burn for our destination we entered Glen Lochsie just by the farm and after a further few hundred metres arrived back at the car.

Descending ENE towards Loch nan Eun after summiting Carn an Righ

Once we’d stowed our kit in the car we took up the hotel receptionist’s suggestion of earlier in the day to have a drink at the hotel’s bar “on our return from the hills” – and we’re really glad that we did. Although the hotel looks a bit understated on the outside, the inside was a delight and the staff were so friendly and attentive. We met two couples that had been coming to the hotel twice a year for the last few years. They were really wonderful to talk to and they confirmed our own observations about the quality, homeliness and service offered by the hotel. They also said that the cuisine was simply wonderful with the menu changing daily. We’d have loved to have stayed for dinner – especially if we could have shared it with the people we’d just met: they were so friendly.

As an aside, I was interested to find out about the dismantled railway we had followed on our route earlier today. I thought perhaps it may have had something to do with quarrying further up Glen Lochsie, but the OS map didn’t hint at any such activity. Instead, I found out from the informative hotel barman that the railway line extended up from the hotel to the Glenlochsie Lodge and was purely for the benefit of the hotel’s guests – “to give them a head-start onto the hills” – no doubt for stalking purposes. It ceased running in 1978 when the then British Rail decided that it was being used for commercial purposes by fee paying hotel guests and as such would come under the specific railway health and safely requirements of the day. These requirements might have been prohibitively difficult to conform to and so the owner stopped operating the railway and lifted the tracks to fully decommission it – what a shame.

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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