Map Ordnance Survey map 43, Braemar and Blair Atholl
Distance 11 miles
Terrain Road, path, and track all the way
Time 6 to 8 hours
Start point Car park on Glen Feshie road, map ref 852985
Nearest town Aviemore
Nearest refreshment spot A wide choice in Aviemore
Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair lies to the east of Glen Feshie, one of Scotland’s most attractive glens and of great historical interest. Queen Victoria reported herself greatly impressed by Glen Feshie. "The rapid river is overhung by rocks, with trees, birch and fir, the hills as you advance rise very steeply on both sides with rocks and corries and occasional streamlets, it is quite magnificent."
Before heading for the hill, there is the attractive diversion of a pleasant walk through a delightful, semi-wooded meadow towards the bothy, Ruigh-aiteachain. This is where the Victorian romantic artist Edwin Landseer reputedly painted all those stags, including, of course, the Monarch of the Glen.
Glen Feshie’s magnificence could so easily have been destroyed. After 1715 General Wade planned to build a road from Ruthven Barracks on Speyside to Braemar. This would have followed the River Feshie upstream, curving round below Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair, and continuing eastwards by the Geldie Burn to Deeside. The route was surveyed, but the high estimated costs prohibited such work.
There was another scare in the 1960s, when plans for a link road were mooted, but luckily they too were aborted.
Glen Feshie runs south from the Anglicised "Strathspey". There is a line of hills on the east side of the glen, with the Munro Sgor Gaoith in the north, and Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair in the south.
Sgor Gaoith has five subsidiary tops, and one of them, Sgoran Dubh Mor, like Sgor Gaoith itself, is perched beside the line of spectacular eastern crags that tumble down to Loch Einich. Sgoran Dubh Mor’s shape, appearance and height are all worthy of Munro status, yet its ascent from Sgor Gaoith, involving only 58m, or 190ft, has been deemed insufficient. What a pity.
Two other tops, Carn Ban Mor and Meall Dubhag, to the south of Sgor Gaoith were once listed as Munros. The ascent to Carn Ban Mor is less than 50m, Meall Dubhag even less, so their demotion caused few surprises, but disappointment for some Munro baggers.
How hill dynamics change. Not quite so many now do the complete north/south traverse of the Feshie hills, including the subsidiary tops, a route of six miles end to end which seldom drops below 900m. All this leaves Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair rather isolated. Nowadays it tends to be left on its own, as a separate, albeit easy, day and the following walk describes such an outing.
For the novice hillwalker, or for a poor day, the following easily navigable route is suggested. A more spectacular route can wait for another day, perhaps to be included in a subsequent visit for the complete Feshie walk.
You will need Ordnance Survey map 43, Braemar and Blair Atholl, to see the area required. It should be noted that map 36, covering the Cairngorms, is insufficient.
From Feshiebridge on the B970, take the minor road south for Auchlean.
There is a new parking area half a mile before the road end, at map ref 852985. This is a distinct improvement on the roadside verge parking of old, which must please the inhabitants of Auchlean.
Follow the new path that keeps to the east of Auchlean, for the short distance to a stream at the edge of a wood, at map ref 853971. This avoids the direct and intrusive path of old.
With Auchlean on your right, follow the River Feshie south for a charming two mile walk to Carnachuin, at map ref 846938, using either the path on the east bank, or else crossing to the private tarmac road on the west side at the bridge at map ref 851965, and then re-crossing at Carnachuin.
Ruigh-aiteachain, the bothy previously mentioned, lies half a mile to the south and is a worthwhile detour.
Take the track that goes east, and then climbs steadily on the north side, high above Allt Coire Chaoil, heading for the northern slopes of Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair. On the way there are superb views into Coire Garbhlach.
The last section is a gentle stroll, track then path. From the summit cairn there is quite a mixed bag of views, from lowly Glen Feshie to the high Cairngorm tops to the east.
Return the same way, enjoying the majestic delights of Glen Feshie.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
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