Geal Charn, Abernethy

Geal Charn from Dorback

Hillwalking route up Geal Charn in Abernethy from Dorback Lodge

Above the Braes of Abernethy, fine estate tracks lead from Dorback Lodge to the foot of Geal Charn, from where a delightful circular route makes for an enjoyable afternoon's walk or run.

Route outline


Geal Charn

Ascent 600m (1960ft)
Distance 16km (10m)
Time 5:45hr
Start/finish Road end by Dorback Lodge
Grid Ref : NJ077168
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South-east of the village of Nethy Bridge, fine estate tracks lead from Dorback Lodge in the Braes of Abernethy to the foot of Geal Charn. Using these tracks, a delightful circular route can be made crossing over the crest of Geal Charn.

Geal Charn's slopes are in the main covered in heather and away from the tracks, some of this heather is deep making for rough progress. Higher up the heather is more stunted with a line of fence-posts to aid navigation.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Dorback



The village of Nethy Bridge lies around halfway between Aviemore and Grantown-on-Spey.

An unclassified road heads east from Nethy Bridge aiming for the A939 and around 3km along this road there is a junction, from where a narrow road heads south-east towards the Dorback and the Braes of Abernethy.

At the end of this road there is limited parking by a turning circle and a block of stables.

2. Geal Charn

Old gate on Geal Charn's crest

Old gate on Geal Charn's crest

On a fine track heading downhill, go through a gate and pass derelict Dorback Lodge and a couple of other houses. Bear right after some dog-pens and follow the track downhill for a bit, to pass a wood then over a bridge . The views from here open up.

Continue heading south-east on the fine track, gradually climbing uphill up on a gentle incline, just perfect for sustained running or jogging if you're in that frame of mind !

After around 6km, the track reaches a small green hut just beyond which is the highest point on the track below Carn Ruadh-bhreac. The track continues beyond the hut, dropping slightly before turning westwards and climbing up Geal Charn Beag's north-eastern shoulder. The track ends just beyond an unusual memorial with a long slate sword embedded into stone. Thereafter ATV tracks and a faint path continue for a bit before disappearing into tussocky wet ground and peat-hags - making for tiring progress while ascending the gradual rising ground.

Higher up and as gradient easies, a broken line of fence posts is reached travelling along the crest from Geal Charn Beag to Geal Charn, and progress becomes more enjoyable over the stunted heather ground-cover.

Superb views across to Ben Avon and the Cairngorm plateau to the west and Ben Rinnes to the Moray First to the north can be savoured on clear days while making rapid progress along the plateau. A small cairn marks Geal Charn's summit .

3. Return

Descending Geal Charn back to Dorback

Descending Geal Charn back to Dorback

From Geal Charn's summit cairn, a line of fence posts heading north-west indicates the beginning of the descent route along the hill's crest. As height is lost, the crest of the hill gradually turns northwards and the fence-posts are left behind. The stunted heather underfoot gradually becomes thicker, but still enjoyable enough to bound down over.

Lower down, the Allt na h-Eirghe is reached and crossed, then after continuing for a short distance over grassy and slightly wet ground, a track is picked up and followed to the ruined cottages at Upper Dell .

Beyond Upper Dell and once through a gate in a fence, a sharp left turn is taken and a faint track is followed to cross Dorback Burn and return to the road end.

Route profile »

Maps and GPX downloads »

Other maps :
Explorer OL58
GPX file(s) :
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Always carry a decent compass.

Information on maps and GPX files is on this page.

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Alternative and nearby routes »

Geal Charn from Abernethy

Fine tracks through Abernethy Forest Nature Reserve enable an enjoyable cycling route approaching Geal Charn from the west. The tracks continue up a fair height up Geal Charn's slopes, leaving a short walk over heather to reach the remote cairn on the summit.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 650m (2130ft)
Distance : 29km (18m)
Time : 3:30hr

Carn Ealasaid from the Lecht

Starting from a height of the 635m by the Lecht Ski Centre, a fairly easy and short hillwalking route can be made over grass and heather to Carn Ealasaid.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 300m (980ft)
Distance : 7km (4m)
Time : 2:15hr

Brown Cow Hill from Corgarff Castle

Fine estate tracks lead to a delightful hillwalk on wide crests above Corgarff with fine views to Ben Avon to the west and Morven to the east.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 600m (1970ft)
Distance : 19km (12m)
Time : 5:45hr

Meall a' Bhuachaille from Glenmore

A lovely walk through Scots Pine woodlands and past the 'Green Lochan', leads to lonely little Ryvoan Bothy, from where a direct ascent of Meall a' Bhuachaille is made via a decent path.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 550m (1800ft)
Distance : 9km (6m)
Time : 3:15hr


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