To the east of Glen Dee – [# 144 & 145]

Beinn Bhrotain (1157m); Monadh Mor (1113m)

  • Pronunciation:              Bine Vrotteen; Monnath More
  • Translation:                   The Hill of the Brodan (fabled hound or mastiff); Big Mountain
  • Total distance:               33.4km
  • Total time:                     6hrs 52mins
  • Total ascent:                  1272m
  • Weather:                        Sunshine and showers. Noticeably colder than of late with a dusting of fresh snow on those Cairngorm peaks that extend above 1200m.
  • Start / end location:     Forestry car-park at the Linn of Dee. [OS Map Sheets 43 – Grid Ref: NO 063 898]
  • 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.

A mixture of sunshine and clouds when looking west along Glen Dee

Yesterday afternoon’s escapade of loosing the key for our bike lock forcing us therefore to push our bikes 11.75km along Glen Derry obviously didn’t put us off tackling the glen one more time, as today we journeyed westward again from the Linn of Dee to the “White Bridge”: this time cycling our bikes rather than pushing them together side-by-side (see yesterday’s blog for the background).

Just passed "White Bridge" on single-track heading NE along the River Dee with Beinn Bhrotain in the distance

Once we crossed the White Bridge, which incidentally is not coloured white but mainly red and brown, we immediately turned right off the land-rover track and began to follow a rough path to the north of the “Chest of Dee”. Around 2.5km from the bridge we laid our bikes in the heather and locked them together: this time with a keyless combination lock! We continued on foot along the path for another few hundred metres before taking another path to the left (west) that began to climb just to the south of the little peak of Carn Fiaclach Beag and then subsequently Carn Fuaclach. We then made for the col to the west of Carn Fuaclach before climbing to the top of Carn Cloich-mhuilinn at 942m.

Looking NNW along Glen Dee with The Devil's Point (foreground) and Cairn Toul with light dusting of overnight snow in the background

As we were ascending we could see rain and hail showers being carried along swiftly to various parts of the Cairngorm range on a very stiff and blustery wind. This turned out to be the pattern for the whole day but we were very fortune to miss all but a couple of these showers. They were so localised that some of them literally passed within hundreds of metres of us yet we didn’t experience the effects – although they did add some “dramatic” backgrounds to a few of our photographs.

From Carn Cloich-mhuilunn looking NW to the summit of Beinn Bhrotain

The top of Carn Cloich-mhuilinn provided us with a good view towards our first Munro of Beinn Bhrotain, lying 2km to the northwest. To reach it we crossed a broad expanse of reasonably flat moorland with only a handful of peat hags and boggy pools to dodge en route. Once across this flat region we climbed an easy rib to the west of Coire an t-Sneachda, which then led to a boulder field and finally to the flat summit of Beinn Bhrotain at 1157m or 3,796ft. From the summit cairn, which was surrounded by a circular wall of boulders, we ate some snacks and admired the view north across Glen Geusachan to Cairn Toul, The Devil’s Point, and with Ben MacDui being just that bit taller, it also managed to poke its lofty summit into the scene.

Looking north from the summit of Beinn Bhrotain

Elaine at the summit Trig Point on Beinn Bhrotain

From the Trig Point we followed a course ENE that took us through a huge but unavoidable boulder field in order to reach a narrow col above Coire Cath nam Fionn – marked 975 (m) on the OS map. The boulders weren’t actually too difficult to descend over as they tended to be mainly flattish, like giant dinner plates, and so we could easily stride across the top of them.

Once we reached the col we ascended, steeply at first, NW up the ridge to the west of Carn Cloich-mhuilinn before the gradient eased off as we passed Leac Ghorm. From here we were rewarded with some brilliant views east along the length of Glen Geusachan, which lay immediately beneath us, with The Devil’s Point providing a dramatically steep profile on the left and the long ridge of Carn a’ Mhaim, lying perpendicular to the glen, appearing to effectively “block off” the end of the glen. We now continued to point 1110m (noted on the map) before turning north for another 800m to reach the cairn that signalled the summit of Monadh Mor at 1113m or 3,652ft.

Looking east along Glen Geusachan with The Devil's Point (L) and Carn a' Mhaim in the background

We had a couple of choices for our route back. The first was to continue north for 1.5km before descending east over pathless terrain into the upper reaches of Glen Geusachan from where the glen could be followed until it intersected Glen Dee. A further couple of kilometres of pathless walking southward along Glen Dee would then bring us a path that could be followed back to our bikes.  A second option involved climbing back over Beinn Bhrotain then down the south rib of Coire an t-Sneachda before veering east to follow the course of the Allt Garbh burn, which would then deposit us at the path running south along Glen Dee. We chose the second option, despite this involving another 250m of ascent, as we couldn’t contemplate the prospect of walking about 6km of pathless ground that would have undoubtedly required us to negotiate “endless” bog and heather moorland.

Walking on the high plateau of Monadh Mor

On the summit of Monadh Mor looking NW to Sgor Gaoith

So it was that we left Monadh Mor’s summit by retracing our steps back to the bottom of the boulder field leading up to the summit of Beinn Bhrotain, and then for the second time today climbed to the cairn at the top. One consolation was that the views, if anything, were a bit sharper and more extensive than they had been earlier as our arrival coincided with a fortunate period of clearer skies.

Following our chosen route of descent, outlined above, we soon reached the path back down Glen Dee, which we followed for 2km before being reunited with our bikes. And yes, I did remember the number for the combination lock. Cycling back over the “White Bridge” and then onwards to reach the car park at the Linn of Dee I rather hesitantly remarked to Elaine as to how much quicker it was for us today with us actually riding our bikes rather than being confined to just pushing them.

On the summit of Monadh Mor

Back at the Linn of Dee, an area that we had got to know rather well over the last week, we took the opportunity on this our final visit, to wander down to the water-worn gorge that lies beneath the road bridge. The gorge, only a couple hundred metres in length, had been scraped into a smooth, vertical-sided chasm by the simple action of the River Dee having been forced through this narrow fissure over countless millennia. It was a nice sight for us to end a great day in the western Cairngorms.

Negotiating the boulder field to summit Beinn Bhrotain for a second time with Monadh Mor in the background

The water-carved gorge running below the Linn of Dee 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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