Atholl bike-hike

Atholl bike n hike, 28-29 Decemer'18

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. Two days of biking and hiking to Beinn Dearg and Carn a'Chlamain above Blair Atholl. Steven was leading.

Atholl bike n hike

Day 1 - Beinn Dearg via Glen Bruar

It's December, the end of the month and New Year is nearly upon us. What better way to work off the Christmas pies and turkey than heading up a couple of Munros ?

Daylight is limited at this time of year and with the possibilty of winter conditions to slow us down, the Munros above Blair Atholl were chosen for the days. We'd have a long access at low levels, with fairly short time on the hillsides. As it turned out, snow was in short supply, in fact temperatures suggested autumn or spring rather than winter.

I met Mike, Andrew, Neil and Diane by the old phone box in Calvine. This once busy hamlet is now looking tired and lost, the petrol station, shop and school long since closed. On bikes, we left Calvine behind, crossed the A9 and biked up the fine track aiming northwards to Glen Bruar. Initially steep, the ascent flattens slightly for 5km, then woohoo, a fast downhill into the glen. More biking took us to Bruar Lodge, where bikes were left.

The sun was out, after some food and a brief chat with the gillie, it was time for a hike ! It's a steep slog, and through deep heather, just a case of head down and getting on with it. The effort was worth it, quickly we were high up and on the flat broad southern shoulder of Beinn Dearg. Reaching the summit, the views were vast - cameras went snapping. Time for some refreshment behind the dyke around the summit trig point. If you poppped your head above the shelther of the dyke, it was pretty breezy, so an about-turn was made after not too long.

The return route was the same, well sort of - we saw a stalkers path on the way up which looked like it would take a more gentle gradient than our ascent, so tried to trace this down. It came and went, but made for fairly relaxed knees by the time we were back at Bruar Lodge. Back on bikes for a fairly fast (or in Mike's case - very fast) cycle back to Calvine, the most challenging part of the day lay ahead - crossing the A9 with its queues of holiday traffic.

Day 2 - Carn a'Chlamain

Weather-wise, today's forcast was fairly similar to yesterday - after a wet start, the clouds will part and sun will break through. Perfect for a late start !

No Neil today - Diane, Mike, Andrew and myself met in the woodland forest car-park by Old Blair. Bikes and gear sorted, more biking up another fine track just like yesterday. In the forest, following the River Tilt, it quickly became apparent that we were all overdressed and all stopped by the first bridge over the river to de-layer. Much more comfortable !

Past Gilberts Bridge, out of the forest, past Marble Lodge, one more bridge over the River Tilt, we finally arrived at the foot of Carn a'Chlamain.

Bikes tucked out of sight, it was on foot next. There's a faint path to trace uphill through the heather, which higher up joins up with the estate track the heads up from further up Glen Tilt. For a fair bit, the track sticks to just east of the crest and kept us out of the westerly which was getting stronger with more height. We had to brave the wind at some point, leave the track, swapping it for a bound over stunted heather aiming directly for Carn a'Chlamain's summit. There was someone ahead on the track, he took a longer route than our direct one - he still beat us to the summit - well we did stop for a bite of lunch on the way :0)

Summit reached, hi-fives all round and a few photos for memories. Yesterday's prize bag, Beinn Dearg, had cloud blowing across its crest - a smug feeling came across - we'd done the hills in the right order. The wind now strong, and it was biting cold - nothing for it, we weren't hanging about ! Retracing our steps, we headed back down, the views with the sunlight over Beinn a'Ghlo, Ben Vrackie and Schiehallion were impressive.

More photos by Steven are here on Flickr.

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