Braigh Choire Chruinn-bhalgain CS-009

Braigh Choire Chruinn-bhalgain or BCCB for quickness is the central Munro in the 3 peaked Beinn a’Ghlo group. The 3 of them form a stand-alone group which is massive and very beautiful. The walk is a classic encompassing all 3 with a variety of routes back depending when you legs give out. It’s quite a big day with 22kms and 1390m of ascent for the full walk. That’s more than I can do especially with a bag full of radios and 3 activations to include. Well I could probably do it but the final ascent and walk back would not be fun and if it’s not fun then it’s not worth doing. The WX for this weekend gone was to be hazy but very sunny, not too windy and no rain. So that says I should be doing something big.

I’ve already done the 1st summit Carn Liath CS-029 with Mrs. FMF some 4 years ago. But the other 2, BCCB and Carn nan Gabhar are uniques for me. You can see Carn Liath from the A9 as you travel past Pitlochry, Killiecrankie and Blair Atholl. There is a huge scar-like path up the front which is a shame but is testament to the popularity of the range. In the 7.5 years I’ve been SOTAing it doesn’t seem to have got worse. The path is obvious as the range is Quartzite which turns white when exposed and weathered. Lots of boots has worn away the thin soil and vegetation. Everybody follows the path for one simple reason… it’s a bit steep. You climb about 200m from the car park across farm tracks and then the boggy lower slopes. From there you’re about 526m ASL and the slope is fairly constant over the next 1km where you gain 400m which I work out as a 1 in 2.5 slope. After that it’s a gentle climb to the summit cairn at 975m making this a 6pt summit.

My original plan was to walk around to Carn Liath and ascend up to the bealach between BCCB and Carn Liath and then to BCCB. Activate that and then drop back to the bealach and if my legs felt OK, up to Carn Liath and bag that. I knew that I’m not fit enough to do Carn nan Gabhar as well so I didn’t even consider that. There’s plenty of car parking at Loch Moraig but as this is a popular destination it fills up fast. That meant an early start so I was up at 6.30am and out by 7.15am. It was hard to tell the colour of the sky at 6.30 but by 7.15 it was a wonderful blue. Looking good!

There were already 5 cars parked when I arrived at Loch Moraig at 9.00am. As this was a longish walk I made sure I had everything I needed and so booting up and getting ready took 15mins. I didn’t want to get all the way to BCCB and find there was no 817 in the bag! Off on the tracks to the huts. There were 2 now there’s one. Four years ago the other was a wreck so no surprise it has gone. This is where I would break off to go around but I decided go straight up as if Carn Liath was the target but ignore the 6pts on offer and press on to BCCB. This a will power test for the simple reason if I stopped and activated Carn Liath I would find some reason not to go on and do BCCB.

As it was the boggy bit wasn’t bad, trivial to avoid in fact and I the plod up was reasonable too. It took 2hr20 elapsed which is not bad as the computer says 1hr59 and I stopped once to put a sun hat on and also for a chat with a French and Spanish pair who were making tea at the 1st cairn. They offered me a cup if I had water to spare. A generous offer but after discussion about what else to do (they didn’t have a map) I pushed on. At the true summit I took a few photos, drank in the hazy view and pressed on regardless. I could have whipped out the handy at this point for a smash and grab but I knew that would be the start of the slippery slide into activating on HF and … and … not going further. I know how I think! The WX was good, hardly any wind at the car park and just a refreshing breeze at the top. The sun was warm but not burning. Nice!

After that it’s down hill along the start of the ridge. It’s wide at this point but narrows nicely as you walk along. Not enough to be scary but obviously not really wide. You walk away from the main roads into increasing isolation here and slowly the feeling of being the only man of earth takes over. With it being hazy and only the nearby summits visible the feeling was exceptional. You drop about 200m to the bealach where there is a meeting of paths. One west to a stalkers track to Crag Choinnich Lodge, one East which looks like a Munro baggers “I’m not going back over Carn Liath” path and the main ridge paths. A few moments here savouring the nothingness lasts a while. Simple exceptional. Then it’s up and fairly brutal again. Slowly it eases off and the actual summit comes into view. A check of the GPS said 1000m ASL and only 70m ascent to go. Those last 70m were just about the limit. I got to the cairn and dumped my bag and spent 10mins just looking around me. Some of the best 10mins I can recall. It took 3hr 25mins elapsed to reach the destination.

I was setting up when another walker appeared. We discussed routes, what I was doing etc. and I took a photo of him and his monkeys (knitted OnDigital monkey), I spun him a yarn about a one of my daughter’s monkey toys and he looked quite concerned, here he was 10km from his car and safety and he’d met someone possibly more odd than he was and would he be able to get away safely before he came to a horrible fate! :slight_smile:

After that I set up and started on 20m. Conditions were average but there was no problem getting QSOs. At one point I had a station who raced through his prefix but I got his suffix but no matter how I tried including a QRS QRS I never got his call. I sent him his report several times as it was a good contact his sending and my receiving excepted. I called CQ and heard a call ending /P. I tried and tried but everytime I called “???/P KN” this non-portable station called in as well. The QSB was bad as well but with repeats and determination I got F/4K???/P. Is that an Azerbaijan station in France. No when the QSB was in my favour it was Glenn F/VK2IO/P who I eventually completed with. So we have a chaser who doesn’t know what QRS means nor /P KN either. Grrr!

I had a variety of SIM cards with me and found that despite being miles from anywhere and any main road I could get acceptable O2 and end stop Vodaphone coverage on 900MHz, nothing from Orange or 3. This meant I could spot for SSB which I did and worked a steady stream of Europeans concluding with CU3EJ in the Azores. I tried 2m and Ken MM0KCD replied but then disappeared but I found Robin on WS-015 for an S2S. We had a good natter about what a fabulous day it was and whether I would be doing CS-029 on the way back. After that I tried 12m as we are entering that period of good propagation in the Autumn and I managed 3 US stations on SSB.

It was now 1415 after 1hr30 operating and allowing for 15mins pack up and photos, 2hrs to walk back and 2hrs to drive home it was time to go. I dropped down to the bealach and decided to take the route out to the lodge rather than attempt Carn Liath again. You can see the stalker’s path above the Allt Coire Chruinn from here and it was out over what could be nasty haggy ground and down to the burn. I followed this track to the next unamed burn on the map, dropped down to the Allt Crom-alltan and then headed SW in the knee deep heather. Occasionally there was the odd animal track but after 15 minutes I could see the trees that mark the lodge and arrived there in another 10. I had some more chocolate and a drink at the abandoned lodge sitting in the shade. Carn a’Chlamain across Glen Tilt looked splendid ever if it does have a scar of a road running to the summit now.

From here it 5km about 1h20 back to the car and whilst it was a trudge on tired feet, it was a delightful trudge through splendid country. As you walk around Carn Liath you see it from an angle few normally do. You also realise what a big blighter it is! Finally back at the car it was boots off and time to let my feet steam! The mature natural pine (not Sitka) around Loch Moraig in the late afternoon sun along with the assorted birdsong was the final icing on the cake and a lovely end to a glorious walk.

Distance walked: 17.3km, total ascent: 1008m, total driven: 176miles.

Carn Liath summit:

Carn Liath from BCCB:

Nearly there:

Carn Liath ridge walk:

Carn nan Gabhar, a summit too far:

Last Homely House:

Carn Liath and scarred path:

It’s difficult to get a good picture of BCCB from here. Better views can be had from across Glen Tilt.

The route:

1 Like

I was disappointed when you didn’t go to 40 or 60m phone so that I could work you - I mean, who wouldn’t want to work a summit with such a romantic name? “Upland of the corrie of the little round blisters”? Priceless!


Many thanks for a very interesting report Andy. It fair cheered me up when I read it yesterday as I was suffering from a gastric infection picked up in Cornwall at the weekend and was feeling decidedly less than par. The nice pics helped!

I noted your reference to a computer evaluation for the ascent of Carn Liath. I am sure that I would have added the 20 minutes naturally and probably rounded it up to 2 hours and 30 minutes, especially as my MTBF is usually around 2 hours! Your 3 hour and 25 minutes total time to BCCB would most likely be beyond me in one stint, requiring me to activate Carn Liath. Then again, Paul and myself would have been at the car park 3 hours earlier, so I would have had time to get the handheld out! :wink:

73, Gerald G4OIG

Lovely piccies.


Hi Andy,
Nice report and pictures. Thank you for sharing.
Best 73 de Guru - EA2IF

Hi Andy,
Roy showed me this yesterday evening. What a great effort with loads of ascent and walking. You did a good job!

I see you have had similar trouble to mine. Too much rushing in CW doesn’t do my composure any favours either.

Thanks for sharing a comprehensive, info packed report and some lovely photos. Looks like you picked a good day.

73, John.

Ah memories!
I managed a few 2m SSB contacts (as well as HF) from that summit after activating Carn Liath then, after my glasses broke at the nose piece (rude words not inserted here!), went on to finish the trio. Sunglasses worked that day but the drive home was “interesting”.
Lovely photos