Cairngorms (Beinn A’ Ghlo)

Repairing the route up Carn Liath in the Beinn a’Ghlo massif is one of the most pressing upland path priorities in Scotland, a badly eroded white  scar which can be seen from miles around. Help repair it today.

The mountain

Beinn a’Ghlo lies in the southern reaches of the Cairngorms National Park, rising up above Blair Atholl in the Forest of Atholl. It is a great sprawling mountain massif rather than a single peak, with three Munro summits, vast ridges and remote corries (of which there are nineteen in total!).

The most accessible and lowest of the three Munros, Carn Liath, is a familiar sight for those driving north along the A9 at the Pass of Killicrankie. It is mostly climbed from near Loch Moraig, on its own or as the first part of the longer Beinn a’Ghlo traverse, a serious undertaking that requires a full day of committed hiking. The summit offers an excellent viewpoint looking south over lowland Perthshire. The massif also forms part of an incredibly rare and internationally significant protected Cairngorms habitat – more than 80km² is SSSI or similar.

A little bit of history

The mountain has had its fair share of distinguished visitors and admirers, including none other than Queen Victoria. She talked about the impression it left when she drove up Glen Tilt all the way back in 1844, saying “We came upon a lovely view – Beinn a’Ghlo, straight before us – and under these high hills the river Tilt gushing and winding over stones and slates…and the air so pure and fine no description can do it justice.”

High praise indeed!

The problem

The walk up Carn Liath on Beinn a’Ghlo begins on boggy heathery ground, but as it starts to climb steeply, it soon becomes an obvious and badly eroded white granite scree scar which can be seen from miles around as it extends up the hill.

It is one of the greatest upland path priorities in Scotland due to the extent of existing damage along the route and the likelihood of increased erosion in the next five years and the risk to fragile, unique flora and fauna from trampling and disturbance. In such a sensitive and protected mountain environment, finding a complementary path repair solution is all the more complex and crucial.

The state of the current path.

Photos: Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland.

The solution

Carn Liath requires a major path repair project with light-touch techniques in some of the lower sections and a fully-built path higher up the hillside. This will combine a mixture of aggregate surfaces on shallower gradients and stone pitching on steeper terrain to address the erosion issues.

Materials for the stone pitching will be sourced from a dyke at the bottom of the slope to ensure that it complements its surrounding habitats. Construction work will require a huge 300 – 400 tonnes of this material to be sorted out and bagged, then flown by helicopter up on to the hillside.

Part of the approach taken at Beinn a Ghlo is to also complete preemptive repairs in other areas, hopefully meaning that these areas require less attention in future years.

Thanks to the generosity of thousands, the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million appeal has succeeded in raising enough money to completely fund work on nearly all 13 of the projects we set out to support – a fantastic result.

Repairs have already started on several of these paths (see the blog for the latest updates), and the rest will be completed over the summer of 2019 and into 2020.

This project, Beinn a’ Ghlo, has already been fully funded. However, you are still very welcome to make a donation to Mend Our Mountains overall. Your money will go towards either supporting additional work on the projects listed on this website or helping to fund future Mend Our Mountains initiatives.

You can make a donation of any size – choose ‘Donate what you want’ – or select one of the other amounts.

All online donations are currently via PayPal – if you would prefer not to use this method or would like to make a large donation (£500~), please contact the team directly on All money raised goes via the BMC’s charity, the Access and Conservation Trust.

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About Us
Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million is a call to action to everyone who values the hills, mountains and landscapes of Britain. It aims to galvanise mass support for things we all use: the paths, bridleways and bridges which underpin our experiences in the great outdoors. Through a year-long appeal we aim to raise £1 million in total for a range of vital projects within the UK’s entire family of 15 National Parks. Navigate our website to find out more.
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