Carn Bhac

After the rather unpleasant day I'd had the day before on Derry Cairngorm (on the hill in a thunderstorm) I was hoping for a better day for this walk. The MWIS forecast referred to a possibility of isolated thunderstorms so this meant I was going to alter my route at the first sign of any problems.

The start of the walk is at Inverey and goes up the estate road into Glen Ey (pronounced Glen Eye).

There's a car park in the hamlet...

...and the route then passes a lodge..

....before entering the open glen at this gate.

The track crosses the Ey Burn and then climbs slightly before...

...continuing well above the burn

There's a sign that points the way to the "Colonel's Bed" which is a gorge through which the Ey Burn flows. I decided to postpone visiting this until my return but in the end decided not to as I'd had enough walking by the end of the day!

There's a curious structure by the side of the track. It looks as though it may be used for grading stones from the small excavated area nearby (or is it foruse in the stalking season?).

At the derelict cottage at Auchelie I took the track that climbs up out of the glen towards the ridge that leads to Carn Creagach.

The track crosses a grassy area with...

...views down to the middle section of  Glen Ey.

Then it's a steady but gentle climb up....

...past shooting butts.. reach the summit of Carn nan Seilach at 675m.

The day's objective, Carn Bhac, comes into view as the track meanders onwards.

Click on the photo to see a larger image (and then click again to see the full sized photo). The openess and the dominance of Carn Bhac on this approach gives a different impression from the more usual approach to the hill from Altanour Lodge in upper Glen Ey. It's a route recommended by Ralph Storer in one of his books in the "Ultimate Munros" series.

Over to the north Ben a'Bhuird is in the centre.

The surface of the track changes as height is gained to the underlying bedrock.

At about NO 068 842 the track comes to an end at a dip and from now on the way to the summit is largely trackless.

There are odd sections where  others have clearly walked but for the most part it is a case of walking towards the col at the head of the Allt Carn Bhathaich.

Most of this section is on rough grass with a few sections of peat hags which can be largely avoided. I was aiming for the low point on the horizon (777m spot height) which is at about NO 060 828.

At the col Beinn lutharn Mhor appears but... I turned west towards Carn Bhac. Once again there were odd traces of tracks - some by humans and others by animals.

My plan was to head uphill in a westerly direction until I intercepted the track that comes up the ridge from the ruin at Altanour Lodge. Finding this was made somewhat easier than expected as I could see a group of walkers heading uphill.

Now on the path I....

...headed uphill...

...until the track disappeared among the stones on the summit dome.

Carn Bhac's summit plateau..

..with the cairn at the western end. The walk from Inverey had taken me 3 hours and twenty minutes.

Click on photo for a larger image and then click on the image again to view panorama at full size.

This is the view looking towards Cairn Toul, Ben Macdui and Beinn a'Bhuird

The panorama drawing will help orientate some of those hills.

After an interesting discussion with the instructor of a D of E group and a long lunch break in the sun  I set off down towards Glen Ey. The clouds over the northern Cairngorms looked a bit threatening but there was no thunder to be heard.

In mist it might be difficult to find the way down as there is no clear path from the summit although this cairn indicates roughly where to go - but exactly where over the stones?

Unfortunately as I headed off down the path the rain started and continued quite heavily for about two hours.

From this direction Carn Bhac looks a boring lump so I reckon the way I took up gives a much better impression of the hill with its rockier north side.  Compare the photo above with this one below which shows the crags on the northern side of Carn Bhac.

Anyway, on with the walk.

The OS 1:25000 map shows a broad track ending at NO 061 815 but, in actual fact, it seems that more grouse butts have been built and it has been extended further uphill towards Carn Bhac.

Eventually the rather poor vehicle track improves as it heads down into the glen...

Dominating the view over to the south is the bulk of Beinn lutharn Mhor.

The track continues to drop down into the glen....

....where there are lots of glacial features. Look at those small drumlins. In fact upper Glen Ey is a delight for anybody with even the slightest interest in geology. More later.

As can be seen it was raining hard as I approached the ruin of Altanour Lodge. It had taken about an hour and a half from the summit and there were still another six miles back down the glen to Inverey.

It is of course a super walk along a smooth track..

...which crosses the river several times.

Looking from the bridge the enormous expanse of flat land here suggests that this was possibly the bed of a lake.

At the far end of this flat area the track rises where a morraine has acted as a dam in the past.

The track moves away from the burn...

...before dropping to cross to the other bank.

The final photo shows the approach to the ruin at Auchelie where my outward route left the main glen path.

I'd taken eight hours for the walk, including several long breaks for food and drinks.