Creag Dubh circuit


I'd planned a short, quick, walk for this morning so we could get out early and then back in time to do some holiday things with the family.  The walk was up to the summit of Creag Dubh, close to Newtonmore, and a short walk of only 3 miles (5km) - however, according to the original route description on Walking Highlands (here) the suggested duration was 3-4 hours due to the ascent and some scrambling that would be required.

Packing up the night before we headed off just after 7am, arriving at the small pull-in off the A86 near Lochain Uvie for 7:30am - a cold and drizzly morning so we didn't waste time in heading off into the forested area below the crags.

Walk stats
Date - 18th June 2015
Distance - 3.13 miles
Time - 1hr 57mins
Avg Speed - 1.59mph
Height Gain - 1656ft
OS map used - OS Explorer 402 (this has now been replaced by OL56) and OS 1:25k maps on ViewRanger Android app


The bottom of the boulder field that now extends a fair bit further than the area shown on the OS map
Straight from the car the going was fairly steep, which helped to warm us both up, and it wasn't long before we came to the bottom (start) of a fairly large boulder fall/field.
We had two choices from here, either to follow the fence line (as per the route I had loaded onto ViewRanger) or to carry straight on through the boulders with a bit of scrambling and take a more direct route - which is what we decided to do.

Donna scrambling over some of the larger rocks
Once through the boulder field we met the fence line and then headed off on a NW direction to clear the final section of the woods which gave way first heather and bracken covered ground and then to rocky ground which, while steeper, was easier going.
(Luckily the heather and bracken wasn't particularly high or deep during our walk which made walking and viewing the paths easier but with a foot or so more growth things would be slightly more tricky!).

Looking up across the last section to Coire Chadha
After a bit of a slog across the heather and broken, rocky, ground we stepped up onto the slight plateau area below the sides of Spirean Beag (596m) and crossed a fence to join the track leading NW towards the slopes of Creag Dubh and the rocky crags nearer the top.
By now the wind had picked up significantly and was gusting around 35-40mps (according to the MWIS report which I always check and download in pdf the day before a walk).

Looking back across the River Calder

Donna on the rocky section of the ascent to Creag Dubh
The heater soon gave way to rocks and while not a real scramble as such the buffeting from the wind made the going slightly slower than it would be on a nicer day - luckily the path at numerous points was on the sheltered side of the hill so we managed to escape the worst of the wind until we arrived on the final, unsheltered, approach to the summit.

Heather before the final rock path to the summit
The path to the summit plateau is fairly obvious and well trodden and the rocky base to the path makes it easy to walk on in all weather - their are a couple of craggy sections that need a bit more care and attention when crossing but nothing more than placing a hand out to guide/steady you.

Battling the wind on the ascent to Creag Dubh (bit shakey!)

Donna on a very windy summit of Creah Dubh
Summit snap of me and Donna
Due to the wind speed and buffeting we made fairly good time across the top section and with the cairn in sight we pressed on for the summit, took a quick snap and then headed back on the return leg, back down the ridge of Creag Dubh, across Corie Chadha and towards the forest that would be our route back to the car.

Bog Cotton - a useful plant to spot as it shows ground conditions
Creag Bheag Uvie and the wooded valley we descended back to the car 
As we approached the wooded gully with the small stream of Allt na Glaic running through it we looked over towards the summit of Creag Bheag Uvie and the monument that adorns it - had we more time we'd have walked up towards this to check it out - maybe next time!

The wooded gully that runs from the hillside down towards the A86 is fairly easy going, with a decent track through the top section that then, after crossing through a gate, turns into a double track, graded, path that leads you down to the road.

Last track through the woods back to the A86
The last 500m or so of the walk is the worst bit - alongside the, potentially busy, A86.  There is no path to speak of and at times the road narrows and the sides are banked fairly steeply so we broke into a slight jog along this section, not in hast to get back to the car but to avoid meeting a truck on one of the tighter sections!

Although this is a fairly quick walk, just under 2hrs, the initial ascent and slight scrambling over the craggy section on Creag Dubh made it feel like a more rounded walk that it actually is - perfect for a morning blast to work up the appetite!

You can download the .gpx file and PDF info sheet (from ViewRanger) here;
ViewRanger route of the walk, recorded on my Nexus 5;
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