Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
10th May 2009
A cycle down Glen Ey to climb An Socach, Carn an Righ, and Beinn Lutharn Mhor.
Glen Ey and its smooth land rover track provide a wonderful gateway into heart of some remote countryside. The route follows the Ey burn towards its source to the south of the small settlement of Inverey. Apart from one steep section after about 1km the gradient remains fairly gentle all the way. As the road bent and crossed over a third bridge the dark fin shaped mass of Creag an Fhuathais loomed ahead.
The Ey Burn and Creag an Fhuathais
As I passed beneath the steep slopes the glen widened out into a more level grassy arena, ironed flat by glacial ice in some long time passed.
As I cycled I was entertained by lapwing performing aerial acrobatics to the accompaniment of the piped call of oyster catcher. From the next bridge the ruins of Altanour Lodge surrounded by a small group of tall pines came into view. A light shower was maybe a sign of things to come as low lying clouds swept over distant hill tops.
The remains of Altanour Lodge
I was going to leave my bike at the lodge but the track beyond looked dry so I decided to continue for a while. This turned out to be a short while as I wheeled my way through a section of mud; it was time to park the bike! Pushing it off the path a short way I lay it down in the heather making a mental note of its position (not to well as I would discover later). My first objective was to climb An Socach but first I needed to track across the heather covered boggy moorland to gain access to the lower slopes. Just after crossing a second burn I came across the couple whose tent I'd seen under tree cover back at the ruin. I think we were all hoping for an improvement in underfoot conditions, they continued on their contour around the base of the hill while I started on my steep ascent. After gaining some height the terrain eased for a while as I stepped across dwarf heather before encountering increasingly rocky ground.
Carn Bach and Carn Creagach
The mist was now clearing the tops and the gathering warmth of the day was driving hazy wisps' of moisture up from the dampened ground. There were still some showers about but these were now wintry and I was occasionally lightly peppered with hail.
Glas Tulaichean and Beinn Lutharn Beg and Mhor
In between the showers the cold air provided great clarity to the views and distant mountains stood out clearly.
Glas Tulaichean and Beinn Lutharn Beg
A short steep drop brought me onto a boggy bealach but after gaining height when heading to Carn a Chlarsaich I was then treading on short turf. An Socach was now behind me with its scree lined slopes looking more of a barrier to its top than they actually were.
The snow lined ridges of Glas Tulaichean's eastern corries Glas Choire Mhor and Glas Choire Beag sparkled in the sun as another shower approached.
Glas Tulaichean left and Loch nan Uen
Sitting out of the breeze by Loch nan Eun it was now time for lunch as I briefly entertained the thought of including Glas Tulaichean in my tour. Deciding to keep to my original idea I headed off around the Loch and down the glen sided by Glas Tulaichean to the south and Mam nan Carn to the north. The peaty path lead on to the bealach between Mam nan Carn and Carn an Righ before I climbed stiff slopes to gain the top of the latter. The rocky summit provided a good vantage point to scan the surrounding hills, Beinn a' Ghlo to the west and the Cairngorms over to the north.
Carn an Righ's Cairn and Beinn a' Ghlo
While I sat en-throned on the cairn I watched as a mountain hare lazily hopped around the summit slopes. I could make out the snow covered plateaus of Craig Meagaidhi and Ben Alder and the even had views out as far to Glencoe, more than 70km to the west.
Cairngorms from Carn an Righ
Returning to the bealach a small group of dotterel caught my eye as they moved in quick step down the hillside. The path up to Beinn Lutharn Mhor splits shortly after it starts to rise; the left hand branch contours around the hillside but I decided on the steeper way and moved up over the rocky shoulder on Mam nan Carn passing a pair of courting ptmargin en route. The grass cover soon gave way to rocky ground again as I made the summit of Beinn Lutharn Mhor which sits on the south west end of a broad ridge. As the sun became hidden behind cloud a definite chill filled the air, it was time to move off. After skirting along the snow lined ridge edge I reached the north east top before beginning my descent as the ridge continued around to the east.
Beinn Lutharn Mhor ridge NE
A reasonable path zig zagged down the last steep section to drop me back amongst the long heather and bog.
An Socach from Beinn Lutharn Mhor
Keeping to as high a line as possible I made my way across the rough ground back toward Altanour lodge picking up a feint land rover track after around 1km. I was now nearing the ruin and all I had to do was pick up my bike before cycling the last 8km back to the car; now where was that bike? Over an hour later and I was still searching, back and forth trying to remember my precise footsteps and the markers I had consigned to memory (not very well). Eventually, after almost giving up, I found it, closer to the ruin than I remembered. It was with some relief that I hopped on and sped out down the Glen; the thought of a two hour walk out would have only compounded the frustration of not finding the bike. The many deer that had come down from the hills during the early evening moved away across to the opposite side of the glen as I passed. Back at the car park the happy campers were just loading their gear as I arrived; they had also enjoyed their day despite struggling across the boggy sections to and from the base of the hills.
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