Creag nan Gall and Stac na h-Iolaire. 2nd March 2019

Date: Saturday 2nd March 2019
Distance: 13.8km
Ascent: 610m

On our walk round Bynack More and Cnap Coire na Spreidhe we’d cut off the end of the ridge leading down from Cairngorm over Cnap Coire na Spreidhe to Ryvoan Pass.
This culminates in a transverse top with a cliffline, Stac na h-Iolaire and a rounded top, Creag nan Gall which sits above the Ryvoan Pass.
The map indicates a path dropping into Ryvoan Pass from the west side of Creag nan Gall. Our descent a few days previously had followed a very steep, but obviously used route, but not the path marked.

It’s always good to explore and Saturday presented a closing weather window with high winds and some rain arriving in the early afternoon. Decided to revisit the “path” more carefully and wander over the 2 lower peaks of the ridge.

In the event the path on the map no longer seems to really exist, although the directions it follows reduce the slope and hazard of the alternative. We even found a wooden arrow signpost at the top end indicating that it once did exist.

Anyhoo, we think that route could work again, but we might try another!

Once up the slope it was a lovely, hot sunny morning above Ryvoan Pass, with a view across to Meall a Bhuachaille.

Above Ryvoan Pass:

There’s a thin path heading up Creag nan Gall that we’d noted a few days before, which eased the difficulty of the heather.

The view west across Loch Morlich from here is lovely.

West to Loch Morlich:

The view from Creag nan Gall up to the Northern Corries is also excellent.


On top of Creag nan Gall we layered up again, suddenly in a rather cutting wind. We’ve been up this way before, but visibility was a little better.

It was interesting to see SW to Newtonmore and some recently revisited hills.

Loch Morlich and beyond to Newtonmore:

There’s a thin path from the summit of Creag nan Gall towards Mam Suim, interrupted by Eag a Gharbh-choire, a glacial outflow channel I think (complete with a roofless howff).

Eag a Gharbh-choire:

Carried on up Mam Suim towards Stac na h-Iolaire with expanding views across Abernethy.


The beautiful little Loch a Gharbh-choire is very close to the Bynack More track, but mostly hidden.

Loch a Gharbh-choire:

Back on the Monday we’d had a good walk out to Loch a Chnuic and Eag Mor – it was nice to see the reciprocal view.

Monday’s view from Loch a Chnuic to Stac na h-Iolaire:

Loch a Chnuic, Eag Mor and Ben Rinnes from Stac na h-Iolaire:

There is a little path heading up Mam Suim to Stac na h-Iolaire. My 1920’s SMC Cairngorm guide mentions this route as the best route off Cairngorm. Back in those days the public road from Coylumbridge to Glenmore didn’t exist, let alone the ski road.

Route choices have been rather altered by infrastructure, although from my point of view an almost unused ridge is a fantastic resource. 🙂

Ascending Mam Suim:

Stac na h-Iolaire has heather clad flanks, other than its southern edge which has been carved away, presumably by glacial water feed. A cracking wee hill.

Cliffs of Stac na h-Iolaire:

Up through Strathnethy there’s a view of the little hooked peak on Beinn Mheadhoin’s east ridge.

Beinn Mheadhoin:

The wind was picking up and it was eye-watering to face into. We dropped off Stac na h-Iolaire to pass between the 737m and 692m tops.

The views back to Stac na h-Iolaire were nice – the power of a previous Ice Age on display.

Bynack More and Stac na h-Iolaire:

Briefly inspected by an adult Golden Eagle, before it sailed away over Strathnethy.

Stac na h-Iolaire:

The cleft between the 737m and 692m tops of Carn Lochan na Beinne lines up with the Eag a Gharbh-choire.

Carn Lochan na Beinne:

Dropped down to Lochan na Beinne – this is a nice wee spot with a good view across to Meall a Bhuachaille.

Lochan na Beinne:

From there we took the path back to the Coire na Ciste car park.

Meall a Bhuachaille:

The day was clouding in, we followed the road down to Sugarbowl and then the path network down Allt Mor to Glenmore and the car.

A fine wee explore, the whole ridge from Creag nan Gall to Cnap Coire na Spreidhe remains a firm favourite. Quiet and dramatic in equal measure.

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