|Geal-charn & A'
Mharconaich CCW from Balsporran Cottages
Geal-charn A' Mharconaich
|Estimated net time||3½-4½ hours|
|Difficulty||No real difficulties.|
|Drinking water||Running water only in the very lowest part of the route.|
|GSM coverage||Coverage throughout the route except in the saddle between the two tops (May 2014).|
|Parking||Room for many cars at trail head car park.|
|Start height||428 metres|
|Vertical metres||740 metres for the roundtrip.|
|Trip distance||11.7 km|
From where road A889 exits west from A9, between Kingussie and Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands, drive 4.0 km (2.5 mi) south and park on the car park by the Balsporran Cottages, on the right (west) side of the road.
Start your walk by crossing the bridge across the river, and then continue past the house and across the rail-way crossing. Continue 340 metres and fork left, and then another 220 metres and fork right. Follow this mountain road 550 metres up to its end at 545m, and then continue on the boggy path. The path gets better when you get higher up, and will take you up to a flat section around 840m. The path is now quite vague, but continues in the same direction. From approximately 880m the path completely fades away across the scree, and navigation is difficult in misty conditions. Continue west/south-west up to a pile of stones, and then another 130 metres to the summit of Geal-charn, where you'll find a small stone shelter.
From Geal-Charn continue a little west of south and you'll pick up the path again at around 870m. From here follow the path down to the saddle and across the flat section of the saddle. Just as the wide path starts to ascent fork left onto a smaller path, which will take you up to a path junction after 1.1 km, at 950m. Turn left and follow the path up to the summit plateau, where you'll find the summit of A' Mharconaich at the far end.
From A' Mharconaich walk to the very end of the plateau and head left down the north ridge, where the path is quite visible through the scree. Follow this path, which gets boggy in the lower sections, all the way back to the rail-way. Cross the river on the rail-way bridge, and then back to your car. Note that the path down from A' Mharconaich makes a sharp right at approximately 520m.
04. May 2014
The long week-end in Stirling, with my friends, had come to an end and some of the guys were on their way home. I still had a day and a little before my flight home, and started my drive towards Aberdeen this Sunday morning. I drove north on A9, with the intention to hike something around Newtonmore. With pretty miserable weather I abandon any idea of a long hike and instead settled for Geal-charn and A' Mharconaich on the west side of A9.
This hike wasn't very well prepared, and I hadn't loaded any way-points to my GPS, which was of some concern given the dense mist when I got above ~700m. But there were paths throughout most of the hike, and an old-fashioned paper map is still something that is most useful. Hence I found my way without any major issues. During the hike I met several other groups of hikers.
Back down by the car I drove up to Newtonmore and found myself a room for the night.