The Monadh Liath


A'Chailleach (930m, Munro 251)
Carn Sgulain (920m, Munro 271)
Carn Dearg (945m, Munro 225)
Geal Charn (926m, Munro 260)


Carn a'Fhreiceadain* (878m, Corbett 55)
Geal-charn Mor* (824m, Corbett 120)
  * see alternative routes below


1420m (4,650ft)


30km (21m)


walking : 9:50hr*, running : 4:30hr
 *Naismith's rule : 4km/h distance + 600m/h ascent

Main route summary

Ok, let's state the obvious - the rolling landscape that makes Monadh Liath range does not contain particularly exciting mountains ! There are no pointy peaks, narrow ridges or great cliffs or crags to be found here, you'll need to head elsewhere in the Highlands for these. However the Monadh Liath is vast and as no roads penetrate into the area, there's a real sense of remoteness and plenty of breathing space here.

As to hiking, the terrain is generally easy going, following tracks, paths and fence-posts. However, you'll need good navigation skills, even in clear conditions ! Away from the fence-posts, it's easy to become disorientated. If weather is fine, I'd recommend doing the route from east to west as the views ahead are better than in the opposite direction.

Paths lead for the most path to A'Chailleach, which sits above a coire that in winter is rimmed with fabulous cornices. Carn Sgulain is possibly the dreariest in range, unlike Carn Dearg which, with hidden lochans and a narrow ridge leading southwards, has the most character of any of the Monadh Liath Munros. The featureless undulating ground between Carn Dearg and Geal Charn has no paths or fence-posts to follow, therefore is not recommended for inexperienced navigators. Geal Charn is a heather-clad hill, its summit overlooking a dark lochan. As the Corbett summits of Carn a'Fhreiceadain and Geal-charn Mor lie some distance from the Munros, and have fine tracks and path approaching from the south, these are probably best done separately.

start Above Newtonmore
(grid ref : NN694998)

finish Garva Bridge
(grid ref : NN521948)

maps/guides  OS Landranger 35 - click to buy from Amazon OS Explorer 401 - click to buy from Amazon OS Explorer 402 - click to buy from Amazon Pocket Mountains - Classic Hill Runs and Races - click to buy from Amazon

GPS data download GPX file of this route

Google Earth    download KML file of this route

easy Mainly grass, some peat bog and on the approach to Carn Ban some boulders difficult
easy Tricky in mist or snow, particularly between Carn Dearg and Geal Charn testing
stroll A longish day, especially if you've got to cycle back along the road long day
ok Not very exciting ! stunning
meanings  A'Chailleach :
  'the old woman'
Carn Sgulain :
  'rocky hill of the basket'
Carn Dearg : :
  'red rocky hill'
Geal Charn : :
  'white hill'
Carn a'Fhreiceadain :
  'lookout cairn'
Geal-charn Mor :
  'big white hill'
main route outlineprint route
Getting there
In Newtonmore, just behind the Letterbox Restaurant, Glen Road heads up Glen Banchor terminating at a bridge just after a rough car-park which has room for around 10 cars.

  • Immediately before this car-park, there is a track heading up the side of foresty. Follow this track, through gate for just over 1km.
  • At a sharp turning in the track, there is a path off left (this may be indicated by a small cairn, tho it wasn't on our last visit). The path leads down to a bridge crossing the burn hidden in the heather below.
  • Over the bridge, follow a faint path over wet and grassy ground parallel to the burn. The path begins to turn, then head uphill to cross a minor burn.
  • Further on and in a hollow, An Leitir hut is met - carvings on wood inside are over 100 years old !
  • Follow a faint path from the hut, getting more obvious as it ascends.
  • The path levels off in heather and peat before a last direct haul to the summit of A'Chailleach. A large cairn on the top will shelter you out of the wind !

Carn Sgulain
  • From A'Chailleach's summit, aim due north, on a faint path at first.
  • The path disappears as the ground drops more quickly down to a burn.
  • Cross the burn and continue north over wet and peaty ground until a line of fence-posts is reached.
  • Turn right(east) and follow fence-posts for less than half a kilometre to Carn Sgulain's small untidy cairns.

Carn Ban and Carn Dearg
  • About turn and follow path and fence-posts for 5km to Carn Ban (which used to be a Munro).
  • Without the fence-posts, navigation would be difficult even in clear conditions as the view consists of gradual undulating sweeps, making so-called summits difficult to determine.
  • The last 1km before Carn Ban is more bouldery than the grassy easy terrain up to this point.
  • From Carn Ban's cairn, aim south to a bealach with a small lochan (not shown on the 1:50,000 map).
  • Turn south-east up the shoulder and around a short corrie to the narrow summit of Carn Dearg with its small cairn.

Geal Charn
  • Return to bealach, the turn wnw and pick up the line of fence-posts.
  • Follow fence-posts south-west past a cairn and lochan, the posts then turn north-west and start going downhill. Continue downhill, then uphill following the posts over Beinn Odhair
  • The posts then turn north-west towards Carn Odhair na Criche, do not follow them ! Instead continue west over grass to cross the Allt Odhar - there are no more paths or posts to follow until near Geal Charn.
  • Some navigational work, even in clear conditions will be required for the next 4km in a general southwest direction. The terrain is easy underfoot, but only occasional wildlife will lighten an otherwise dreary section.
  • Upon passing the peat ground just after the start of the ascent up Geal Charn, another line of fence-posts is met.
  • Follow these posts and a developing path to the large summit cairn. The views from this top are suprisingly quite good and certainly better than on the other three munros

Down to Garva Bridge and return
  • From the summit head south-west over bouldery ground and a slight rise then pick up a path going downhill.
  • The path travels through heather then over increasingly damp ground to reach the Allt Coire nan Dearcag.
  • A path continues for 1km following the south side of the Feith Talagain.
  • The path disappears, but continue heading south-west to pick up a track to a wooden bridge.
  • Cross the bridge and Garva Bridge is less than a half km further on.

Route not long enough ?
  • Feeling you've not walked or run enough ? Well you could continue west and over the Creag Meagaidh hills !
  • These are easily reached from Garva Bridge up through forest and grassy slopes onto Carn Dubh, from where it's a pleasant walk onto Carn Liath. This does assume you've got transport arranged to get from Laggan Dam back to Newtonmore.
  • I've combined these routes a couple of times and would thoroughly recommend doing this if you're fit enough and there's enough daylight. The terrain is very runnable and the views just keep getting better the further west you continue. More information on the Meagaidh group is here.

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