Carn Dearg from the Allt Ballach

Carn Dearg in the Monadhliath

Circular hillwalking route up Carn Dearg in the Monadhliath

Carn Dearg is one of the more interesting hills in the vast Monadh Liath moorland north of Strathspey. Although it can be bagged with other Monadh Liath Munros in a longer outing, walking it on its own from Glen Banchor you will experience more of its interesting features along with discovering shades of previous habitations in the glens.

Route outline


Carn Dearg

Ascent 770m (2520ft)
Distance 18km (11m)
Time 5:50hr
Start/finish Glen Road, Newtonmore
Grid Ref : NN694998
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The route starts from just above Newtonmore, where Glen Banchor leads to the foothills of the Monadh Liath. Ruins of deserted townships can be discovered on the return through this beautiful glen.

Tracks lower down access wet heathery ground, then grass covered slopes higher up. There is some steep and loose ground before Carn Dearg's summit.

As there is no bridge over the Allt Ballach near the ruins of Dalballoch, if rivers are forecast to be in spate, this will become impassible and a re-trace of the route back via the track by the Allt Fionndrigh will be needed.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Glen Banchor

In Glen Balloch, looking to Creag Liath

In Glen Balloch, looking to Creag Liath

The route starts just a few miles outside Newtonmore at the end of the public road heading into Glen Banchor. To get there, from half way along Newtonmore's main street, by the Letterbox Restaurant, there is the entrance to Glen Road. This narrow road twists uphill past several houses into open moorland. Continuing for another mile or so to the road end, which terminates at a bridge just after a rough car-park which has room for around 10 cars.

2. Carn Dearg

Summit of Carn Dearg

Summit of Carn Dearg

From the car-park, head down the tarmac road to its end by the bridge over the river Allt a'Chaorainn. Cross the bridge and now on an estate track, walk westwards for around 1km towards the ruins at Glenballoch .

Just before reaching the buildings, turn ridge and head north-west on another estate track. This track travels for 3km following the northern bank of the Allt Fionndrigh, fading into a worn path as it reaches a shoogly bridge over the burn. Cross the bridge and follow some ATV tracks and bits of a track, south-west and uphill.

As the ground levels out, it becomes quite sodden and the ATV tracks take a sharp turn westwards . The ATV tracks can then be traced for another 1km to meet up with the Allt Ballach , passing some grouse-butts (well, actually some pallets on their sides !) on the way.

The route now is pathless. I followed the Allt Ballach north-west, aiming from some crags ahead. There is a grassy gap in the crags at c810m, though it is steep and you may feel like aiming more north-east to avoid the crags completely. Once past the crags, grass covered ground leads up to the bealach between Carn Dearg and Carn Ban, from where it's a pleasant stroll to Carn Dearg's small summit cairn perched above some crags.

3. Down to Dalballoch and return

Ruin of Dalballoch

Ruin of Dalballoch

From Carn Dearg's summit, head south following the faint path on the crest of the ridge over Carn Dearg's South Top (spot height 923m) to a bealach before the minor summit of Carn Macoul.

Turn left (east) and head down the gentle gradient covered in heather towards the Allt Ballach. Keeping to the west bank of this burn, an ATV track can be picked up and followed to the abandoned building at Dalballoch .

Boulder-hopping, cross the Allt Ballach and follow a path hugging the northern bank of the River Calder. The path comes and goes, occasionally disappearing into marsh, but eventually the derelict buildings at Glenballoch are reached and the estate track is followed back to the car-park at the road-end.

Route profile »

Maps and GPX downloads »

Other maps :
Explorer OL56
GPX file(s) :
Download GPX
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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 »

Monadhliath Munros

The rolling landscape of the Monadh Liath is vast and feels very remote and wild. There are four Munros hiding in the expanse, all of which can be bagged in one linear route taking in A'Chailleach, Carn Sgulain and Carn Dearg in quick succession following fence-lines, then Geal Charn challenging navigation skills over featureless terrain.

Peaks : 4 Munros

Ascent : 1420m (4660ft)
Distance : 30km (19m)
Time : 9:50hr

Geal Charn from Spey Dam

Geal Charn is a mountain at the western end of the Monadh Liath and for the most part typical of the area - rolling, gentle, grass covered slopes and fairly featureless from most views. But there are hidden sides to this Munro and weird landforms create interest if you're prepared not just to take the most direct route !

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 740m (2430ft)
Distance : 15km (9m)
Time : 4:45hr

Eastern Monadhliath Munros

Carn Sgulain and A'Chailleach are the most easterly Munros in the vast Monadh Liath with most hillwalkers combining them into one route starting from Glen Banchor above Newtonmore. The hillsides are gentle and if the mist comes in, your navigation skills will be tested.

Peaks : 2 Munros

Ascent : 750m (2460ft)
Distance : 14km (9m)
Time : 4:45hr

Carn na Saobhaidhe from Strathdearn

Route taking a cycle along Strathdearn to the heart of the Monadhliath wilderness, followed by a hike over moorland to Carn na Saobhaidhe above the many turbines of Corriegarth windfarm.

Peaks : 1 Corbett

Ascent : 630m (2070ft)
Distance : 30km (19m)
Time : 3:45hr


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