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Glencalvie – Carn Chuinneag (ca. 10 miles and 2100ft ascent)

The area south of Ardgay is lacking a bit on the Munro front, but there is a wealth of wild and remote glens, most of which were cleared in the 19th Century to make way for sheep and deer. The twin peaks of Carn Chuinneag are some of the highest in the area and make up one Corbett which dominates Glen Calvie.

From the parking area at the trail head at Glencalvie Lodge (NH 463891), a tarmac road leads over a fine bridge onto a hardpack track past the imposing lodge, with its requisite Defenders parked outside. The track follows the glen, first on the west and then the east side, through birch woods alongside the picturesque Water of Glencalvie. After a couple of kilometres pleasant warm up, the lodge at Diebidale is passed which is situated on a high bank in a commanding position.

Following the track to the left at the fork until just short of a small burn, a path heads steeply due South up the heather slope. The stalkers path is grassed over at first, but soon becomes a superb single track of firm gravel, though in wet weather it is bit of a stream. Higher up on a flatter ridge section there are spectacular views to the West and North. A steep climb up zigs zags follows until a well constructed traverse path leads directly underneath a top. Leaving the path, a pull up steep moss and rocks reaches a mini cairn at 830m, the first of the two peaks. The actual top, with a trig point (NH 483833), is reached by a 5min jog over wind-blasted peat. From the rocky top you can drop down a rib into the bealach between Carn Chuinneag and Carn Maire and head due North towards an estate road. Initially there seems to be a path but this soon intermingles with a stream or two, but despite the rough ground it is relatively easy and quick. Deer tracks can be followed all the way down to the track which is then followed back left towards Diebidale, and then back to the start. For a longer run it would be possible to drop down from Carn Maire to Loch Chuinneag and follow the path to an estate road that would lead you back to Diebidale.

It is only a short drive to Croick Church, where the inhabitants of Glen Calvie sheltered after being cleared from the land. Looking at the rows of pews it seemed amazing that such large numbers of people could have crofted in the area. It made me think how different the environment would have been had the clearances not taken place.

Francis Williams

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