Access: Take A832 west from Braemore junction on A835 and
park immediately W of sharp bend in A832 after forestry,
100yds W of track to Loch a' Bhraoin.
Route: Because of river crossings, sections of wet, pathless, peaty terrain, and the pinnacles on the ridge of Sgurr Dubh, this walk is much more enjoyable and less demanding in good, dry weather.
The path along Loch a' Bhraoin to Lochivraon is mostly of a high standard but has a number of stretches of tiresome shingle which looks nice but is energy sapping. Alternative routes usually approach these mountains from the north, avoiding the lochside walk entirely but they involve fording rivers.
Keep an eye out for the two small cairns, one on either side of the river, which mark the crossing point of the Allt Teanga nan Caiseachan at NH10147285. In spate this cannot be crossed with dry feet, and becomes more dangerous to cross where it narrows above the two cairns. After crossing, take the path at almost 90° away from the river for about 75 yards in order to pick up the excellent double track heading NW parallel to the river.
Sgurr Dubh (NH061729) is a Munro top which is easily omitted from the route. It lies on a knife edge ridge with pinnacles on either side that require scrambling, making it rather slow to traverse. It is shorter and easier on its NW ridge, which is just 150 yards long with 50m of ascent. It makes sense to plan to go and return the same way for this top (as below on 11 July 2007) so that you know what to expect when leaving the top or if a retreat is necessary. It is also much pleasanter to tackle when the rock is dry.
Beinn a'Chlaidheimh was re-classified in August 2011 from a Munro to a Corbett after careful GPS height measurements. It's a nice addition to this walk over straightforward terrain. However, it can be omitted if necessary, saving about 3½ miles and a significant 325m of ascent.
Sgurr Ban (NH055745) is covered in slow, bouldery terrain. It may therefore make more sense to descend from Beinn a'Chlaidheimh directly into the valley north of Loch an Nid rather than follow my descent route which returns to the eastern slopes of Sgurr Ban. However, given the amount of rain on the day, I preferred to stay out of the valley and not attempt to cross the Abhainn Loch an Nid until much further south. For those that like clambering over rocks, my best recommendation is to contour SSE over boulders from the lochans at Am Briseadh, then descend by the slabs immediately to the north of Meallan an Laoigh.
Note: The Glendevon Energy Company Ltd is currently constructing (Oct 2019) a hydro scheme which will raise Loch a' Bhraoin by 4 feet. This will affect the lochside track used in this walk. However, the company is required to provide a new track above the waterline before the loch level is raised (see §10.11 and §13.4 of The Highlnd Council Report.
Kit: Gaiters are needed for wet grass when off path in the glen of Loch an Nid. Poles are useful for the upper reaches of the corrie below Sgurr Dubh and on the scree descending N from Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair.
Weather 24/10/04: Rain throughout day; cloud on tops.
Weather 11/07/07: 15°C; cloud base at 400m initially, rising to 650m at 4pm. In cloud and light rain 1045-1600; sunny 1600-1630; dull thereafter.
|24/10/04||11/07/07||Place on route||Ht(m)||Ascent||Distance||Grid Ref.||Mobile|
|0725||0835||Park near bend in A832, NE of Loch a' Bhraoin||280||0||0.0 miles||NH16127620||Orange|
|Track SW to ruin by boathouse at Loch a' Bhraoin||250||0||0.85 miles||NH15717514|
|0940||Track W along N shore to Lochivraon at loch end.||260||15||3.75 miles||NH11747336|
|0930||1010||WSW to cairns at path split by river crossing;
take left fork over river.
|0945||1020||Path W to ruin near watershed||340||95||5.45 miles||NH09177303|
|0955||1030||Path W/NNW to where Allt Cul Doireachan is close||285||6.1 miles||NH08367341|
|1000||1035||Descend W to cross river||265||6.1 miles||NH08347340|
|1110||–||EITHER At 620m,
branch S through gap in cliffs and ascend to ridge
|–||1155||OR head due W to col NW of Sgurr Dubh||870||710||7.67 miles||NH05857306|
|T Sgurr Dubh: 2 cairns on adjacent pinnacles: SE one
is top. Knife edge ridges with pinnacles to E & W of top
|1155||1220||NW down pinnacled ridge to col||870||790||8.0 miles||NH05857306|
|1210||1230||NW to T Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair E Top||981||900||8.25 miles||NH05627339||No Orange|
|W to col||952||8.3 miles||NH05537341|
|1220||1240||W to M Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair||1018||965||8.5 miles||NH05227349||Orange|
|1300||N down steep scree to bealach||825||8.75 miles||NH05207391|
|1305||1320||NNE to M Sgurr Ban||989||1130||9.25 miles||NH05577456||No Orange|
|1350||1405||Slow rocks NNE to two lochans at col (Am Briseadh)
Here the lie of the land is deceptive in mist, so be careful!
|1415||1430||NNW to top||815||1300||11.0 miles||NH06027674|
|N (passed several lochans) to col||785||11.2 miles||NH06037712|
|1435||1450||N to C Beinn a'Chlaidheimh||914||1430||11.5 miles||NH06117758||Orange|
|Return S to col (after several lochans)||785||11.8 miles||NH06037712|
|1455||1510||S to top||815||1455||12.0 miles||NH06027674|
|SSE to two lochans at col (Am Briseadh)||645||12.75 miles||NH06487573|
|1555||1615||Contour S along face of Sgurr Ban at 650m over slow
boulders & fast slabs to col by Meallan an Laoigh
(or head SE over slabs to S end of Loch an Nid)
|1645||1700||Descend S, cross Allt Coire nan Clach, then ESE down
big slabs to Allt Cul Doireachan. Cross river to path.
|1700||1715||Path E to ruin near watershed||340||1565||15.35 miles||NH09177303|
|1730||Cairns at river crossing by path split||290||16.0 miles||NH10177288|
|1750||1800||Path E to Lochivraon at SW end of Loch a' Bhraoin||250||1565||17.1 miles||NH11747336|
|1855||1855||Track NE to ruin by boathouse at end of Loch a' Bhraoin||250||20.0 miles||NH15717514|
|1910||1910||Track back to car on A832||280||1605||20.8 miles||NH16127620||Orange|