Saturday, 25 April 2015

Gael-charn Mor

Above Lynwilg  looking east to Cairngorms
Gael-charn Mor from north east
Top of the track at 700 metres
Summit looking south
Summit plateau of eroded granite
Ballinluig and Loch Alvie
Wednesday 22 April 2015
Ascent:       610 metres
Distance:     12 kilometres
Time:          2 hours 45minutes

c    Gael-charn Mor     824m   1hr 23mins

Another trip to Orkney and, owing to all the flights from Edinburgh being booked for a festival, I had to travel via a flight from Inverness so there was a chance to catch a quick hill on the way north. Gael-charn Mor is a shy corbett to the west of the A9 just south of Aviemore. It is not a hill to rave about but it was just the thing: 4 hours said the guide book although I noticed that others had done it in 3 hours. It was another sparkling April day, still and remarkably warm, a T shirt was sufficient for the entire walk and I had 10 minutes of sunbathing at the summit.

The route up is from Lynwig, a small cluster of houses where the Allt Dubh enters the river Spey. There is a turnoff from the A9 just before the exit for Aviemore and there was a parking place for 3 or 4 cars. The walk to the hill follows the Allt Dubh through attractive birch and pine forests to begin with and then ascends to open moorland beyond the christian outdoor centre at Alltnacriche. The track so far was tarmac and the usual cluster of mini buses were parked at the centre. I had walked into the centre having mistaken the proper hill track for a drive to a house but a member of staff showed me a shorter steeper route back to the track. There was then 3 kilometres of steady climbing to 700 metres on a tedious unmetalled track. There is a large cairn at the summit of this track and from here a path climbs south west to the summit.

I had been admiring the views back to the Cairngorms but the light was slightly hazy and the sun was at the wrong angle for photographs. I could see another walker ahead, he was approaching the summit but by the time I reached the summit he had headed south across the pink granite plateau. I had walked steadily and was surprised to make it an hour ahead of the SMC guide book time. The views were good in all directions and it was good walking across the eroded granite plateau.

There was no rush and I decided to take a different and longer route down descending south-east over the heathers to meet the path that skirts below Creag Ghleannain. The path made for easy walking and Loch Alvie ahead sparkled in the sun. There is a bit of fence climbing at Ballinluig and thereafter a pleasant 2 kilometre walk back to Lynwig. The noise of the traffic was squeezed out by the bleating of the spring lambs on the flat grazing lands that stretch along the Spey valley. I was back at the car by 1pm after a near perfect walk and I still had plenty in the tank, perhaps I should spend Friday walking when I return from Orkney. I also had plenty time to travel to Inverness for an afternoon flight.

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