Creag a’Chliabhain, Strathnairn. Section 9B.
Height – 513 metres. Map – OS Landranger 26.
Climbed - 8 January 2012. Time taken – 4.5 hours.
Distance – 13.25 kilometres. Ascent – 350 metres.
Trip Report Details:
In 2004 when I first ascended the Corbett, Carn na Saobhaidhe, from Dunmaglass, I thought Conagleann would make for an interesting walk. The ascent of Creag a’Chliabhain gave me this opportunity. Although not the shortest route to this Sub 2000 Marilyn I was in no rush.
As I parked beside the telephone kiosk, west of the bridge over the River Farigaig, on the B851 Daviot to Fort Augustus Road it started to rain. This was a bit disappointing as having studied the weather forecast I wasn’t expecting the rain until around noon.
A short walk west along the B851took me to the road heading south through Dunmaglass Estate. I followed this route, passing several habitations, and the diversion along the north side of the River Farigaig, to avoid the Lodges. On previous visits the area had lots of game birds so I was surprised how few I saw. Maybe they ended up on the dinner plates at Christmas. I later spotted three red kites circling above, so the game birds were possibly in hiding. By this time the rained had cleared.
The vehicle track crossed the River Farigaig but I followed the well signposted route to Loch Conagleann, although the first sign was lying on the ground and wasn’t obvious from the track. The route took me along a grassy embankment, across a deer fence via a stile, along the edge of a eroded embankment to a foot bridge over the outflow from the loch, and eventually to a vehicle track east of the loch.
A large duck pond was reached but it wasn’t solely for the benefit of wildlife. From evidence lying around it was also for the pleasure of shooters. This duck pond was separated from Loch Conagleann by a dam topped with a vehicle track which led to a large deer gate and the new Dunmaglass Lodge. A ‘private’ sign instructed the use of the signposted route. It was here I had an access problem as just inside the ‘private area’ a large fenced enclosure for breeding game birds was surrounded by three electric wires. I therefore climbed the deer fence on the south side of the gate, walked a few metres, through some rough ground strewn with dead timber, to a second deer fence where I squeezed through a hole.
Once beyond these obstacles I commenced the ascent of Creag a’Chliabhain, through long heather, and onto its north-east ridge. The vegetation wasn’t any shorter here but I thought the ridge looked like a miniature version of the Little Buachaille. Progress was gradual and I reached some wet snow patches, crossed a couple of knolls and a stock fence, before the final ascent to the summit cairn. Low cloud had been floating around on the latter stages of the ascent but I was fortunate that when I arrived, the summit was still clear.
Due to the cloud the views weren’t terrific but it had been an interesting ascent. However rather than return by the upward route I descended south-west until clear of the rocks and cliffs of Creag a’Chiabhain’s east face. A steep descent through heather, following deer tracks at times, took me to another deer fence where the posts were a bit unstable and the wires slack, so it was an awkward crossing. I joined the track in Conagleann, which was in reasonable condition, and ran between Dunmaglass and Easter Aberchalder.
The track was followed to the north end of Loch Conagleann where I stopped for lunch overlooking the duck pond. Afterwards I returned to my car by the approach route. En-route I met and had an interesting conversation with the friendly gamekeeper. The forecasted rain did not arrive until I was driving back towards Inverness.
Slide show from photographs taken on walk.