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Corbett bagging: Gairbeinn on a hot day

Written by Fiona

July 19 2022

One of the advantages of being a freelance journalist is that when the weather looks good, you can aim to be flexible with your work and play. Yesterday, the sunshine sent me away from my desk and into the mountains to bag a new Corbett, Gairbeinn.

Gairbeinn is located in the Monadhliath range at the southern end of the Corrieyairack Pass. The high pass links the Great Glen to Speyside and was previously used by drovers.

According to the history books, General Wade’s military road was built over the pass in 1731, between Fort Augustus and Melgarve. The path almost became the site of a battle as part of the Jacobite rising of 1745.

Gairbeinn is 896m high and actually recorded as same height as Corrieyairack Hill, which is close by, on OS Maps. Apparently, both hills were jointly regarded as a Corbett until they were surveyed again and Gairbeinn was judged to be the taller.

Ben spotting what turned out to be a Golden Plover.

Walking circuit: Gairbeinn and Corrieyairack Hill

The walk starts at the end of a single-track road from Laggan. It would be possible to do a shorter out and back walk to the summit of Gairbeinn but the weather was good and my Corbett bagging pal, Ben, and I decided to make a day of it.

We began by walking a wide track from a car parking area, passing an old General Wade bridge and Melgarve bothy. We had a quick look inside the bothy and decided it looked nice; basic but nice.

A short while after this, we turned north off the track and began the climb towards the top of Gairbeinn. As is typical of Corbetts, there were bits and pieces of trods but nothing that said: “You must walk here.” We simply aimed north and picked out way over heather and grass.

Higher up, the vegetation lessened and we walked on lovely short grass and rocks.

It was a warm day and we took plenty of stops for a breather and to drink water, however it felt like we had very easily reached the rocky summit.

A picnic lunch and lovely views on Gairbeinn.

We enjoyed a leisurely picnic lunch and welcome breeze, as well as wonderful views.

In my opinion, the Monadhliath are not the most exciting looking mountains but they offer lovely undulating walks and the vistas to many other mountain peaks are superb.

We headed north-west from Gairbeinn, descending for a while before then returning to a climb westwards to reach a hill called Geal Charn. To reach Corrieyairack Hill, we needed to descend for a while again and then climb.

There was very little about the day that was taxing, except for the over-powering heat at times.

A gate with no fence.

We enjoyed great views from Corrieyairack Hill summit before walking off to the south. Our aim was the very obvious Corrieyairack Pass. The wide and dusty track headed eastwards and, at first, down a series of zig-zags.

We met the first people of the day: A couple of mountain bikers. The first was a man from Sweden, who had cycled from Loch Ossian. He told us the heat was much more than he was used to. We replied to tell him it was the same for us!

The next cyclist was on an e-bike and he hoped to ride to the top of Corrieyairack Hill.

Later on, we crossed paths with a backpacker who was hoping to walk for a few weeks to reach Cape Wrath.

Our walk continued and the lower we walked, the warmer it became. Thankfully, the midges do not like bright sunshine, but sadly the weather had encouraged nasty biting clegs (horse flies). Ben and I found that if we ket moving, the clegs were less likely to bite.

Our walking route eventually joined the track that we had walked up and we once again passed the bothy.

The circular route totalled about 16km and 905m of ascent. See Strava.

Corbetts bagged: 93

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