Hillwalker and author Jack P Harland shares a challenging route which takes in three Munros: Carn Liath, Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain and Carn nan Gabhar
Take the track leading east from Loch Moraig; leave it at the old hut and follow the eroded path north-east straight up the face of Carn Liath, Beinn a’ Ghlo’s westernmost Munro. The gradient is relentless and your muscles will have warmed up by the time you get to the top.
From the triangulation pillar it is clear that Beinn a’ Ghlo is a mountain range, a complex of peaks and deep corries rather than a single hill. Clear that is if you are lucky enough to get a view; Beinn a’ Ghlo translates as the misty hill and I have only once explored its peaks and ridges on a day of perfect visibility.
Walk down the curved ridge to the bealach and then climb up on to Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, the strangely named height of the corrie of round blisters. This is ideal ptarmigan territory and I have seen them here on each of my visits. On one memorable February day the ptarmigan, as well as the snowfields, were lemon yellow, reflecting a winter sky which graded from golden yellow at the horizon, to pale yellow, to pale green, to pale blue and then to the deepest of sapphire blue as the eye travelled upwards.
The descent from Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain provides the most spectacular view of the Beinn a’ Ghlo complex. It is of Carn nan Gabhar, the highest of these Munros, with scree-draped Airgiod Bheinn rising above the ridge line to the south-west. This part of the walk, down to the bealach and then up to the final ridge, has always been my favourite as it has a true wilderness feel.
Pass the cairn and walk on to the triangulation pillar which is built on a platform of rocks. It is worth walking to the north-east edge of the summit plateau from here, to stand on the edge of the crags making the headwall of the Coire Cas-eagallach. From this high vantage point you can look down into the deep, steep-sided Glen Loch. It is a lonely and mysterious place, with the curiously named Loch Loch frozen for many months of the year.
Retrace your steps to the bealach at 964 724 and climb on to Airgiod Bheinn. If you go in winter, the sun will be low at this stage and you may have a red sky to the west. If your knees are OK, you can make a fast descent to the Allt Coire Lagain, particularly if the snow conditions are right. Cross the stream and follow the good track back to the start. A head torch would be a sensible item to pack if attempting this walk on a mid-winter day.
Once, in autumn, I came down from Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain with some friends and we found ourselves in a red deer rut in the corrie on the east side of Carn Liath. The stags roared, challengers clashed with the dominant beast, young stags locked antlers in their excitement and the hinds looked up nervously from their grazing. I had expected them to stream out of the corrie at first sight of us but, though fully aware of our presence, they remained and allowed us a ringside seat at this most splendid of Highland wildlife spectacles.
Walks on Beinn a’ Ghlo are included in Jack Harland’s book, Highland Journal, 1 The Making of a Hillwalker, published by Troubador.