Carn Bhac – high level approach. March 2009

Date: Friday 6th March 2009
Distance: 24km
Ascent: 1000m

Last time we did Carn Bhac we followed the SMC route down Glen Ey, although we camped at Altanour Lodge and did Carn Bhac alone.

One of the striking tendencies of the SMC routes is to stick to glens for approach. Personally I find that getting high quickly for views rather than staying in enclosed glens is more enjoyable (conditions dependant of course).

We’ve had a few hols in Braemar and an approach to Carn Bhac along the high ridges was on our “to-do” list.

Parked up at Inverey at 0620. Walked W along the main road for 1km to NO 081 894 where a forest track on the left leads through conifer, then larch up to Creag a Chait. The track then seems to continue along the high ridges although the snow cover made it hard to judge its quality.

Broke out of the forest as first light was striking Beinn a Bhuird:

Crossed the soft snow over heather to a better viewpoint. Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm:

Derry and Beinn Mheadhoin:


Sunrise at Creag a Chait:

View along Glen to Braemar:

Carried on up to Creag Bad an Eas. Sun was rising with still some rich light:


From here a relatively easy walk in the soft snow to Carn na Moine. Unfortunately the westerly breeze was pushing cloud over us so the sun was fading.

Still good views of Derry et al:

Cloud marching over:

Lochnagar in the sun as usual:

Still had intermittent sun approaching Carn na Moine –

Glen Ey reflecting sun:

Have to say the name Carn na Moine had given pause but the ridge seems quite firm and the track where we could see it seemed solid. Good progress west to Carn Liath when the cloud came down:

From Carn Liath there’s a 4km ridge undulating between 800m and 750m, heathery (which with the soft snow made for hard work) but with the estate track I’d expect good progress in dry weather.

We had jigsaw views through the cloud.

Possibly Beinn a Ghlo:

Glen Geldie:

The clouds broke every now and then – view to Carn Bhac from 801m top:

Pushed on up to Geal Charn which was better scoured than the ridge. Could see down Glen Tilt, but couldn’t see the hills:

From there an easy walk first to the 920m top and then on to the summit. The cloud swirled for much of this although the summit was right on the edge of the streamer so sun at the cairn. Didn’t take any snaps.

From here descent routes include carrying on over Carn Creagach, we chose to reverse to the 920m top and descend over the ridge called “The Top of the Battery”. Escaped the cloud just down from the 920m top – descent ridge:

The summit of Carn Bhac remained in the clear as before:

The ridge was a bit peat hagged – fine under normal conditions but rather snow-drifted. Much muttering under the breath on plunging ensued. Good views though:

Ascending to the top of the battery:

From here we coud see the roots of the Gorms if not the tops:

Despite the cloud we enjoyed the route. The ascent is great – 45 mins and there are fabulous views of the southern Cairngorms. There should be persistently good views from the ridge to Beinn a Ghlo and W.

In retrospect I’d carry on along Carn Creagach and Carn an Lochain (and having looked through the TR’s I see this is what WoB did) to complete the highest level ridge route.

Beats glen crawling with the SMC (unless it’s a flat gale with zero vis).


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