Scottish walks: A’chailleach and Carn Sgùlain Monadhliath

A'Chailleach and Carn Sgulain Monadhliat
A'Chailleach and Carn Sgulain Monadhliat
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The Monadhliath Mountains are far more rounded and soft than the rugged Cairngorms to the east or Creag Meagaidh to the west.

As well as making them easier to access this has the advantage of making them a good place for a high level tramp with some of the widest views in Scotland.

These two Munros are straightforward to climb but with a feeling of remoteness which begins as soon as you arrive at the end of Glen Road above Newtonmore, with the wide Glen Banchor spread out before you, similar in appearance to Upper Deeside.

Once you reach the tops, linger and enjoy the panorama which takes in nearly all the mountain areas of mainland Scotland – definitely one for a sunny day.

Distance 8½ miles.

Height climbed 2,400ft.

Time 4 to 5 hours.

Map OS Landranger 35.

Park Go up Glen Road from the centre of Newtonmore and follow it to its end where there are parking spaces on either side.

In summary Just before the parking area go right, up a short grass path which leads to a track – this goes along the Allt a’Chaorainn, down to the left. When the track peters out follow an indistinct path, above the burn, to a wire fence. About 100 yards beyond the fence, look to cross the burn and join an indistinct and boggy track which leads up to the right side of a red-roofed corrugated iron hut which is used as a bothy. (After very heavy rain it can be difficult to cross the burn without getting your feet wet – the higher up you go, the easier it is.)

Facing the front of the hut a path goes right then leads up the hillside to the left. Before the path reaches the skyline bear right, then once the gradient has eased, the way up A’ Chailleach, to the right, is obvious. A very gentle gradient is followed by a slight drop down to a small burn and then the fairly steep slope of A’ Chailleach’s summit.

The stone shelter is a great place to admire the 360-degree view from Sutherland in the north, across to the Cairngorms in the east, south to Schiehallion and round to Glen Coe and Lochaber with Creag Meagaidh closer to hand. Take your time to pick out as many summits as you can before carrying on.

A path goes slightly left (northwest) from the summit and drops down to a grassy gorge carrying Allt Cùil na Caillich. Keep left to cross the gorge and avoid steeper ground before bearing right and reaching the two cairns on top of Carn Sgùlain.

Some will make a huge detour to include a third Munro – Carn Dearg – to the west but the easiest option is to return the way you came.

Refresh Newtonmore is your best bet.

While you are in the area The ruins of the Ruthven Barracks (on the other side of the A9 from Newtonmore, www.historic-scotland.gov.uk) are a great sight. They were built to quell the Highlanders after the first Jacobite Rising of 1715.