|Carn Sgulain from
A' Chailleach Carn Sgulain
|Estimated net time||4-5 hours|
|Difficulty||Technically easy hike, but strenuous ascent of A' Chailleach, and some careful navigation is required down from Carn Sgulain in order to avoid steep terrain.|
|Drinking water||Stable access to running water throughout the valley.|
|GSM coverage||Coverage at trail head and both summits, else very mixed (September 2012).|
|Parking||Room for many cars at the trail head car park.|
|Start height||310 metres|
|Vertical metres||760 metres for the roundtrip.|
|Trip distance||14.9 km|
From the village Newtonmore, on road A86 approximately 20 km south-west of Aviemore, locate the road "Glen Road" heading north. Follow this single lane road 2.7 km to the car park at Dalchurn Bridge. Park here.
From the car park locate the mountain road heading north-east towards the small forest, and follow this road north for 1.8 km. Where the mountain road ends continue north on the boggy path 800-900 metres, and cross the river wherever you find it possible. If the stream is rough you might have to continue much further into the valley. After having crossed the river continue north-west on heathery slopes, up to approximately 730 metres. From here you're likely to find a path, which is well defined in the final slope to A' Chailleach, running in a northern direction. Follow this path to the summit of A' Chailleach, which is marked by a fine cairn.
From A' Chailleach continue north-west on the path leading down towards the gully coming up from right (east). The path eventually fades away, and from the narrow valley you should continue north and later north-east across grassy and haggy terrain towards the summit of Carn Sgulain. The last few hundred metres follows an old fence, and the summit is marked by a pile of stones.
From Carn Sgulain return 150 metres back along the old fence, and the turn left (south) and head down towards the gully you crossed earlier, but now much further east. Make sure you cross the gully before it gets really steep, and descend on the right (south) side of the gully. It's a little steep down here but there is no need to use your hands. When you get down the steep section make sure you cross the stream as early as possible, while it's still narrow, and follow the left (east) side of the stream all the way back down towards the trail head. There are tracks here and there, which are in general wet and boggy, and the general advice is to stay a little away from the stream in order to avoid the numerous undulations crossing your general direction of hiking. When you get to the mountain road you ascended follow this back to your car.
29. September 2012
This Saturday was the third day of the autumn holiday for Elisabeth and me, and it was yet another grey and partly wet day. But this came as no surprise, and after a good breakfast at our Fort William hotel we headed towards Aviemore with the intention to hike at least one mountain somewhere between the two towns. And with route descriptions worked out for several options we would let the weather decide where to stop. When we got to Newtonmore we decided to hike A' Chailleach, and after a small navigational error in the village centre we found our way up to the trail head called Dalchurn Bridge.
The first part of the hike was on fine mountain road, which turned into a good path after a little less than 2 km. While following the path we started to look for a bridge that was supposed to take us across the river, but we didn't find any bridges, and neither did we find somewhere to cross the river. After a little bit of back and forth along the river we eventually found a place to cross, and with some careful balancing on wet stones we both made it across to the other side. From here it was relatively strenuous terrain, with thick grass and heather the next 300 vertical metres. To our surprise we saw three other hikers (a couple with their teenage son) coming in from our right, and it turned out they had followed the river much further up than we did and then made it back south-east in order to get around the south-east walls of A' Chailleach.
The final 200 vertical metres, on a partly wet path, is easier going, but by now the wind was starting to make an impact on progress. And at the summit it was a please to find the summit cairn had been built for days like these. Hence we sat down to relax and wait to see if the fog would lift, and were soon joined by the other three hikers. As we were sitting there we had a good chat with the others, who had made it up from England for the week-end. The father had during the years hiked all the Munros, and provided interesting information about a number of the climbs and mountains. Including information about the route onwards to Carn Sgulain, which is only a couple of kilometres walk from A' Chailleach. But given the thick fog we didn't fancy taking on this part of the walk, in particular since it was not likely we would find a path to guide us.
After a longish summit stop the fog started to lift, and when we were able to look across to Carn Sgulain we decided to have a go. This worked out well, with the fog staying away, but it was very grey and windy so not a day for great views.
Our initial plan had been to descend via our ascent route, but looking at the map it appeared to be an option to descend north of A' Chailleach, and then follow the valley all the way back to the car. This descent turned out to be a little more dubious than anticipated, and at one point we thought we had reached a cliff band that would required serious scrambling on wet rock, but an obvious route materialised and the descent turned out to be fairly straight forward. Once down in the valley we made sure we made it to the east side of the river as early as possible, and then made it back to the car in partly boggy terrain before we got back to the path.