Carn Mor from Glen Dessarry

Carn Mor from Glen Dessarry

Bike and hike route to Carn Mor in Morar

After a cycle along a forestry road through Glen Dessarry, a direct hillwalking route up a grass-covered incline leads to the summit of Carn Ban overlooking the head of Loch Morar.



Route outline


Corbetts

Carn Mor

Walk ascent 750m (2460ft)
         distance 10km (6m)
         time 3:45hr
Bike ascent 285m (930ft)
         distance 15km (9m)
         time 1:00hr
Start/finish Western end of Loch Arkaig
Grid Ref : NM988916
Terrain
easy hard
Nav
easy hard
Effort
easy hard
Scenery
ok fab


From the western end of Loch Arkaig, a cycle along a forestry road through Glen Dessarry leads to a ricketty old bridge over River Dessarry. Above the bridge, long, wide and undulating grass-covered crests rise to high ground pitted with little lochans, above which stands the cairn on the rocky summit of Carn Ban, overlooking the head of Loch Morar.



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Route description


1. Getting to Loch Arkaig

Car park by end of Loch Arkaig

Car park by end of Loch Arkaig

In the Great Glen, Gairlochy and its locks on the Caledonian Canal sit a couple of miles west of the Commando Memorial above Spean Bridge.

From Gairlochy the narrow B8005 heads up to Loch Lochy's southern tip then turns westwards. From here on a very narrow and unclassified road a 12 mile drive travels through the mossy Mile Dorcha then hugs the northern shores of Loch Arkaig to its western end.

The road ends by a gate across the access to an estate track, just before which is a large parking area with designated bays for around 15 vehicles.

If the car-park is full, there are various verge side parking areas before reaching the car-park, but care should be taken not to block passing places.


2. Through Glen Dessarry

River Dessarry

River Dessarry

Leave the car-park, head around the gate at the end of the road and begin cycling westwards along the estate track. After just under 1km of cycling, the track comes to a junction by a few right-of-way signs, turn left, downhill towards the buildings at Strathan.

Before coming to Strathan, take a branch in the track to cross a bridge over the River Dessarry then head into forestry. A short distance into the forest, another junction is met, turn right and cycle uphill on a track towards Glen Dessarry.

Cycle along the fine track for around 4km to the end of the forestry above lonely A' Chuil Bothy. The track turns northwards, looses a little height and heads back into more forestry.

Bridge at end of track

Bridge at end of track

Just over 1km into this forest, the track ends by a rickety old bridge over a little gorge which can be quite impressive if river is in spate and fast flowing ! Leave your bike here.

Bridge at end of track

Bridge at end of track


3. Carn Mor

On Meall nan Spardan, Carn Mor comes into view

On Meall nan Spardan, Carn Mor comes into view

On foot, don't cross the bridge, but instead stay on the south bank of the river and follow some ATV tracks for a short disance over really soggy ground until a fire-break in the trees is met. Aiming south-west, turn away from the tracks and begin hiking uphill on a grass-covered hillside. An old fence-line is met, indicating the edge of forestry and open hillside ahead.

For the next 1km or so, a fairly continuous climb tracing the course of a burn upstream leads uphill and onto the crest of Meall nan Spardan . This wide crest is undulating and pitted with small lochans making for a delightful hike with Carn Mor's summit coming into view ahead.

Upon nearing Carn Mor's summit, its rocky top appears to block the route ahead. This apparent difficulty is easily bypassed and Carn Mor's summit cairn is reached.

View from Carn Mor to Eigg and Rum

View from Carn Mor to Eigg and Rum

There are some stunning views to be had from the top, especially looking westwards along the length of Loch Moroar to the islands of Eigg and Rum.

View from Carn Mor to Eigg and Rum

View from Carn Mor to Eigg and Rum


4. Return

Bidein a' Chabhair from Carn Mor

Bidein a' Chabhair from Carn Mor

You could simply about-turn and re-trace your steps back to the bridge in the forest for a pleasant cycle back to the road-end.

For a slight variation on this, from Carn Mor's summit, initially head northwards and pick up a line of old fence-posts heading north-east towards Druim a' Choire Odhair. Upon reaching the head of Coir an t-Searraich, a fine run or hike on grass can be enjoyed while following the course of the Allt Coire an t-Searraich.

The Allt Coire an t-Searraich and Sgurr nan Coireachan

The Allt Coire an t-Searraich and Sgurr nan Coireachan

Lower down, in order to keep to easier terrain, the burn may need crossed a few times before reaching the edge of forestry . The path marked on maps in the forest is alas, no longer, having being devoured up by the dense tree plantation. On my last visit, river levels were low and I could run along the bed of the Allt Coire an t-Searraich to meet with the path on the northern bank of the Allt a' Ghiubhais. This in turn is followed back to the bridge , for a cycle back to the end of the public road by Loch Arkaig.

The Allt Coire an t-Searraich and Sgurr nan Coireachan

The Allt Coire an t-Searraich and Sgurr nan Coireachan


5. Alternatives

On the ridge above Coire an Eich looking to Carn Mor

On the ridge above Coire an Eich looking to Carn Mor

The first time I headed up Carn Mor, I started climbing from above A' Chuil Bothy , following the course of the Allt Coir a' Bhoganaich onto the high ground east of Carn Mor. This route is fine enough, though with less cycling, more distance on foot is covered reach to Carn Mor and even more for the return to A' Chuil Bothy when compared to the route above.

Bidein a' Chabhair on the way down Carn Mor's north side

Bidein a' Chabhair on the way down Carn Mor's north side

Many years ago on a cold January day, I've also descended north-west from Carn Mor taking a mainly grassy route while avoiding crags. This took me down to Gleann an Lochain Eanaiche where I met the burn in the glen around 500m uphill from the loch. After hiking upstream for a bit, Bidein a' Chabair was climbed mainly following the course of Reidh na Cluaise - it's easier than it looks ! More details on the route to Bidein a' Chabair are here.

Bidein a' Chabhair on the way down Carn Mor's north side

Bidein a' Chabhair on the way down Carn Mor's north side





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Bidein a' Chabair from Glen Dessarry

A cycle on estate tracks through the forests of Glen Dessarry leads to an ascent on rugged terrain in a remote area and along an undulating ridge to reach its highest point, the rocky lump of Bidein a' Chabair.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 1085m (3560ft)
Distance : 28km (17m)
Time : 4:45hr

Loch Arkaig Corbetts

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Peaks : 3 Corbetts

Ascent : 1900m (6230ft)
Distance : 20km (12m)
Time : 8:10hr

Glen Dessarry Munros

A cycle along Glen Dessarry leads to a gully scramble and a traverse following old walls on the fine ridge from Sgurr na Ciche over Garbh Chioch Mor to Sgurr nan Coireachan.

Peaks : 3 Munros

Ascent : 1510m (4950ft)
Distance : 29km (18m)
Time : 7hr

Sgurr Mor and Sgurr an Fhuarain

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Peaks : 2 Munros

Ascent : 1500m (4920ft)
Distance : 21km (13m)
Time : 7:45hr









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