Lindsay Boyd's Trip Reports

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Section 7 - South-East Grampians, Glen Shee to Cairn O'Mount

Ptarmigan on Braid Cairn
Ptarmigan on Braid Cairn
The Scorie, Driesh
The Scorie, Driesh
Broad Cairn
Broad Cairn
Lochnagar
Lochnagar

This section refers to the hills and mountains of the South-East Grampians between Glen Shee and the Cairn o'Mount and include Lochnagar and the Angus Hills. They cover the Corbetts, Grahams and Munros that I have climbed in this area since 2003. The Sub 2000 Marilyns in this section can be viewed here. The Sub 2000 Marilyns to the south-east of this area can be found here. The Humps in Section 7 can be viewed here.


Section 7 - Index

Corbetts Grahams Munros
Ben Tirran Bandandun Hill Broad Cairn
Conachcraig Cat Law Cairn Bannoch
Creag nan Gabhar Corwharn Cairn of Claise
Monamenach Duchray Hill Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach
Mount Battock Hill of Wirren Carn an t-Sagairt Mor
  Hunt Hill Carn an Tuirc
  Mount Blair Creag Leacach
    Driesh
    Glas Maol
    Lochnagar - Cac Carn Beag
    Mayar
    Mount Keen
    Tolmount
    Tom Buidhe


Section 7 - Trip Reports

Dreish

12 April 2015

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Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 5.25 hours. Distance - 15.75 kilometres. Ascent - 825 metres.

My interest was on an ascent of the Hump, Hill of Strone, located to the south-east of the Munro, Driesh. On studying the map the easiest approach appeared to be from the south so I drove up Glen Prosen and parked beside the gate leading into Glenclova Forest where there was space for a couple of cars.

The track through the forest was in good condition and with only a gradual height gain the walking was easy. I wasn’t expecting any views at this stage but large sections of the forest had been felled although re-planting was taking place. As I progressed through the forest the cloud began to break up with the sun shining on snow covered Driesh. After around three kilometres the forest track crossed Dead Water and doubled back. Just prior to this stream crossing a rougher track continued above the east side of Dead Water and led to a stile and gate in a deer fence. Fortunately the gate wasn’t padlocked as I was accompanied by a lab. Beyond a snow covered quad vehicle trail headed up the Shank of Strone then close to Hill of Strone’s summit cairn where there were good views of some of the surrounding hills and out towards the Firth of Tay.

It was windy on the summit but sunny so I decided to extend the day to include the Munro, Driesh, and make it a circular walk. Instead of continuing on the quad vehicle track which descended north to a gate in a stock fence I headed north-west joining this fence lower down and following it to the Sneck of Farchal. Here I had views of Upper Glen Clova as the lying snow blew over the top of The Scorrie.

It was then a steady climb mainly on heather although there were traces of a path. The fence came to an end amongst some rocks but higher up the gradient eased. The summit area was a mass of small drifts of fresh snow with a few old fence posts marking the route although they weren’t always visible due to the spin drift. The dog wasn’t happy in the blowing snow but eventually we reached the circular cairn and trig point.

After taking a couple of photos I descended south-east and out of the wind. The path along the Shank of Driesh was located before lower down being replaced by a vehicle track which later crossed the small knoll, Lick. I stayed on this track as it continued down the east side of the Burn of Louie, passed Craig Tillelet to Old Craig disturbing a herd of deer. The final section of the walk was along the vehicle track on the north side of the Prosen Water, where there was lots of bird life including lapwings and curlews, before returning to my car.

previous ascent

Driesh Munro eighth ascent 945 metres

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Hill of Wirren

2 November 2014

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Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 8.25 kilometres. Ascent - 535 metres.

I met a hill bagging friend in Brechin before driving to Edzell then onto Glen Lethnot with the intention of climbing the Graham, Hill of Wirren, from Drumcairn. We parked on the verge just east of the access road leading to this farm then walked up the farm road passed the vacant buildings. A muddy track took us through a field of sheep to reach a second field which held cattle. I had with me a young lab that I was looking after for a few days and therefore decided not to proceed any further and returned to my car.

My other option was starting at Stonyford so I drove north to just west of the road leading to Auchowrie Farm where there was parking for a few cars. We then set off along the Right of Way to Glen Esk with the intention of making a circular walk taking in West Wirren. However a cow was spotted on the track so another re-think was required.

Using the Right of Way was abandoned and instead we passed through a couple of gates, crossed the Burn of Auchowrie and entered the grazing land on the north side of Auchowrie Farm. A further gate gave access to the open hillside and not far beyond a vehicle track that led towards East Crag. Higher up the track became quite rough and after a bit more height gain we left it and followed animal trails onto the west ridge of Hill of Wirren. We crossed a fence and followed a vehicle track towards the summit. However this fence had to be re-crossed before we could access the trig point which was surrounded by peat hags.

There was a chilly wind blowing so we returned to the vehicle track on the west ridge then followed it north-west to the col with West Wirren and to the summit of this Sub Graham Top. My map gave no indication of the vehicle tracks linking the numerous knolls with Glens Esk and Lethnot.

We remained on the vehicle track as it descended west to a double set of vehicle tracks separated by a fence. On passing through a gate we utilised one of these tracks and made a slight height gain until it soon came to an end. Animal trails were then used as we skirted round the head of the Burn of Auchowrie where there were lots of sheep but fortunately they ran off and disappeared which avoided any problems with the dog.

The trails led to the vehicle track below East Crag and we returned to the start using the farm road by-passing the farm buildings as on the ascent. The dog somehow managed to pick up a squealing rabbit but on instruction dropped the rabbit which ran off.

previous ascent

Hill of Wirren Graham third ascent 678 metres

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Tom Buidhe and Tolmount

22 September 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 43 and 44. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 27.5 kilometres. Ascent - 940 metres.

I’ve climbed the Munros, Tom Buidhe and Tolmount, by different routes but never from Glen Callater so on this occasion I parked in the car park on the A93 in Glen Clunie south of Auchallater Farm. There was a voluntary contribution of £2.50 for leaving my car there.

I set off along Glen Callater, passed the vehicle track leading to the Corbett, Creag nan Gabhar, across the bridge over the Callater Burn, and to the junction of tracks. Rather than continue on the track for Loch Callater, which I would use on my return route, and to make for an easier climb, I took the right fork which returned me to the Callater Burn. It was easily forded as the water level was fairly low then I made the ascent to the Bealach Buidhe on an easy gradient.

The earlier high cloud was clearing and it was now a pleasant morning as I left this vehicle track and crossed the heather moorland, some of which had been burnt earlier in the year, to join the vehicle track that rose from the west end of Loch Callater. Again the walking was fairly easy on a gentle gradient but later it became steeper and it looked like the track had recently been improved. This improvement didn’t last. Higher up, as the track headed round Coire Loch Kander, quad vehicle tracks had unfortunately churned up the hillside and made a bit of a mess. These tracks continued towards the summit of the Munro, Carn an Tuirc.

As I approached the top of the coire several folks appeared from the west. Initially I thought it was a walking group but dispelled that idea when they headed in different directions including to Carn an Tuirc. I walked south-west across the wide north ridge of Cairn of Claise and was surprised to see so many mountain hares around. I can’t recall spotting as many on a walk. A short descent over some peat hags led to the col between Cairn of Claise and Tom Buidhe where I met a chap headed in the opposite direction. I then followed the path to the cairn marking the summit of Tom Buidhe where it was a tad breezy.

I remained at this summit for few minutes then rather than follow the path descended north-west and climbed onto Tolmount’s South-West Ridge where I rejoined the path and followed it to the rather windy summit cairn. I found a bit of shelter from the breeze for lunch and spoke to a couple who had come in over Glas Maol.

After lunch I headed north-east then descended into Glen Callater meeting two chaps. One had cycled up Loch Callater while the other was walking through to Glen Doll to be uplifted there. The path, Jock’s Road, didn’t become visible until lower down but then wasn’t in great nick. However it later improved before leading me along the north bank of Loch Callater to Callater Lodge and Bothy. All that was left then was the walk along vehicle track back to my car.

previous ascent

Tom Buidhe Munro sixth ascent 957 metres
Tolmount Munro sixth ascent 958 metres

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Mount Keen

8 September 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 44. Time - Walk - 2.75hours
Cycle -1.5 hours.
Distance - 29.5 kilometres. Ascent - 880 metres.

I decided to climb Mount Keen from the north using on the approach a hybrid bike I bought a few years ago but hadn’t yet tested on hill trips. I therefore drove to Glen Tanar, south-west of Aboyne, and parked in the car park opposite the Visitor Centre, where the fee was £2. I cycled along the tarred road then round the rear of Glen Tanar House. Here I noticed that parking, which was free, was still permitted although limited.

Beyond I followed signs and cycled along the well maintained forest track on the north side of the Water of Tanar. West of the Half Way Hut I emerged from the forest into the sunny glen. Further west, near the house at Etnach, the track crossed the Water of Tanar via a bridge only to re-cross it further south by a second bridge. A few kilometres further on I came to a shieling where I left my bike. During this cycle I passed a couple of groups of young backpackers as well as a few adults walking out and guessed the youngsters were part of a Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

A footbridge took me across the Water of Tanar again and to a rough vehicle track that I used to ascend the Mounth Road. The track later narrowed to become a very rough and in places peaty path as I gradually made the ascent of Mount Keen. The final hundred and fifty metres or so was steeper, rougher with several rocks and boulders. The summit trig point was reached with some great views from the Cairngorms to the Firth of Tay.

I spoke to a couple of runners who were about to return to Glen Tanar after taking a break at the summit. I took shelter from a cool breeze for a cup of coffee before returning by the upward route meeting a number of walkers and mountain bikers some taking their machines over Mount Keen. My cycle back was rather enjoyable and I was able to cut the outward time by half.

previous ascent

Mount Keen Munro sixth ascent 939 metres

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Hunt Hill

2 March 2013

slide show from photographs taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 18.25 kilometres. Ascent - 655 metres.

I met a Graham Bagging friend in Brechin and thereafter drove to the car park at the head of Glen Esk. Once geared up we set off along the road, across the bridge over the Water of Mark, and headed up Glen Lee passing the ruins of Invermark Castle and Kirkton Church. The road which was now an estate vehicle track passed along the north shore of Loch Lee where the nearby hills where reflected in the Loch.

Beyond the loch we passed the ruined house of Glenlee and after a further kilometre or so followed tracks in the grass that led to a partially collapsed corrugated iron building then to the Water of Lee which we managed to cross with feet still dry. There was an alternative but slightly longer route using the footbridge further west. The marks in the grass continued along the side of the Water of Unich to the Falls of Unich.

Here we joined the path from the footbridge and followed it through the gorge which narrowed and steepened. Initially most of the snow on the path could be avoided but this wasn’t possible higher up so we decided it was time to don the crampons especially as we spotted a chap coming down the path using his rear end as another point of contact with the ground.

On clearing the upper section of the path a 320 degree turn was made and we commenced the easy ascent of the south face of Hunt Hill and with just a few snow patches to cross we dispensed with the crampons. A couple of mountain hares were rather obvious in their winter coats as they ran off across bare areas of heather. The summit of Hunt Hill was reached the highest point possibly being marked by a stone just to the south of the cairn.

There was a cold wind blowing around the summit but we found a slight dip to have lunch and take in the views of the surrounding mountains. Mount Keen was clear but cloud shrouded the higher parts of Lochnagar. Afterwards we descended north across snow fields initially on an easy gradient but the ground soon steepened and it was quite awkward descending through the long heather with areas of snow and a few boulders. Eventually we reached the Water of Lee which we re-crossed then followed the vehicle track down Glen Lee briefly stopping to visit its bothy, which was unoccupied. We reached the car park at the same time as the chap we met earlier but this time he was on his bike. He had just returned from Mount Keen.

previous ascent

Hunt Hill Graham second ascent 705 metres

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Creag nan Gabhar

27 December 2012

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 43. Time taken - 7.25 hours. Distance - 20.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1055 metres.

With a reasonable forecast I set off for Auchallater, on the A93, south of the village of Braemar. A car park on the east side of the road, immediately south of the Callater Burn had been improved and there was a voluntary contribution of £2.50, which apparently went towards the maintenance of paths within Invercauld Estate. As sunrise was late at this time of year I hoped for some clear skies but unfortunately as dawn broke it revealed a high layer of cloud which lasted all day. There had obviously been a dusting of snow in the Braemar area overnight.

I set off along the snow covered track on the south then west side of the River Callater for around 1700 metres where the track to Sron Dubh was easily located. This track wasn’t in such good condition as it zigzagged onto the ridge but despite the cloud I had some reasonable views. There were lots of deer around but they appeared to spot me from miles away and quickly disappeared. Sron nan Gabhar was crossed and the ATV track came to an end although an obvious path led towards Creag nan Gabhar. In places the path was blocked by small pockets of snow but I just walked round them. On approaching the summit the path avoided some rocks as it crossed more level ice covered ground. There were two cairns but having visited both the larger one was obviously the highest point of this Corbett.

The ascent took me just under two hours, a bit too short an outing, so the plan was to include the Corbett and Graham Tops on the opposite side of Glen Callater. I descended east following what may have been another path then over a short steeper section where a snow bank was avoided. I reached what appeared to be a boggy area but fortunately the majority of the ground was frozen. Several mountain hares ran off. Beyond this area I walked through long heather as well as some managed for the grouse. There was even a wee footbridge which I used to cross a stream although I’m sure it wasn’t placed there for my benefit. The bridge over the Callater Burn, at its outflow from Loch Callater, was crossed and this led to Lochcallater Lodge. It appeared to be occupied as smoke emitted from the chimney and there was a van at the side. I briefly visited Callater Stable, the bothy next door, but it was empty.

A fairly steep snow covered path was followed north-east away from the Lodge but the gradient eased when it changed direction. The path appeared to have been upgraded at some stage so maybe that’s where some of the parking contributions went. I continued along the path but walking became awkward as it was filled with snow. I therefore left it slightly earlier than planned and climbed over heather and grasses which had a light covering of snow. The cairn marking the summit of Creag an Loch, a Corbett Top, was reached with a view of the nearby Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, which was covered in the white stuff.

The route now headed north on gentle slopes mainly covered in hard packed snow or ice although I still didn’t need to use my spikes or crampons. A walker had been this way a few days earlier as the outline of their boots were frozen into the snow. The summit of Meall an t-Slugain, a Corbett Top and Hump, was reached and here I stopped for lunch looking across to the snow covered Lochnagar and The Stuic.

It wasn’t possible to make a direct approach to my next hill, Creag Loisgte, so I descended west, avoiding most of the pockets of snow, to the frozen Loch Phadruig. Here there were a few peat hags and probably some bog but fortunately the ground was frozen. I then ascended Creag Loisgte initially avoiding a few rocky outcrops not shown on my map. Without too much effort the summit of this Corbett Top and Hump was reached. Apparently the highest point was a rock 15 metres south of the cairn but I wasn’t convinced.

I headed out to the North Top of Creag Loisgte with a plan to climb another Corbett Top as well as a Graham Top. The intended route was by the north-east ridge and according to my map consisted of some scree with cliffs to the right. On checking out this route there was a snow bank to cross but I couldn’t see what was beyond it. I only had around an hour of daylight left so decided to abandon any more ascents and headed down the north-west ridge over a few boulders to the cliffs at Creag na Dearcaige. To the right of the cliffs I descended fairly steeply through some deep heather but avoided the boulders. More rough ground was crossed as well as a couple of streams as I walked west to reach the A93 at Auchallater Farm followed by a short stroll to the car park as dusk fell.

previous ascent

Creag nan Gabhar Corbett third ascent 834 metres

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Badandun Hill

26 - 27 May 2012

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Maps - OS Landranger 43 & 44. Time taken:
Day one - 1.25 hours.
Day two - 1.75 hours.
Distance:
Day one - 4 kilometres.
Day two - 7 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day one - 445 metres.
Day two - 70 metres.

With a good forecast for the weekend I looked for an easy hill close to home, not only to test out my injured arm but my ability to drive more than a few miles to the supermarket, which I had been doing for a couple of weeks. I also wanted a summit camp with no long walks in and out. In the end I settled for the Graham, Badandun Hill in Glen Isla, Angus.

I had climbed this hill back in 2005 from Fergus Farm to the west, but on this occasion I decided on a southerly approach. The start of the walk was north of Folda, just prior to the bridge over the River Isla, where there was a small parking area capable of taking a couple of cars. There was a stile over the deer fence but instead I used the large metal gate, which was unlocked, and led to a vehicle track in reasonable condition. This track was part of the Cateran Trail but after over a kilometre I left this Trail and followed the vehicle track that passed to the east of Cuingard and on towards Badandun Hill.

There were lots of hares and deer around, both roe and red. As the track headed away from a small stream I took the opportunity to collect some water for cooking. The track led to within metres of the summit trig point and after a recce of the area I decided to pitch my tent on the short cropped heather close to the trig point. Tea was cooked as the sun disappeared behind the hills to the west of Glen Shee.

It never got truly dark and I was fortunate to waken just after 4.30am to see the sun rise from behind the Munro, Driesh. After another three hours kip the heat in the tent became a bit unbearable so I was forced to get up. Despite haar along the coast there were still some good views to be had, while partaking of a leisurely breakfast.

Once packed I left the summit and descended the north-west ridge by means of a vehicle track. Lower down another track took me below the east and south sides of Badandun Hill with the sound of numerous birds in what was a calm, warm morning. The track eventually joined the Cateran Trail which I followed to the previous day’s starting point. Despite some arm pain it was a successful outing with one of my better summit camps.

previous ascent

Badandun Hill Graham second ascent 740 metres.

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Carn an Tuirc and Cairn of Claise

15 January 2012

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Map - OS Landranger 43. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 13.5 kilometres. Ascent - 760 metres.

With a reasonable forecast I headed for Glen Clunie, south of the village of Braemar. My plan was to climb the Munro, Carn an Tuirc, via the Corbett Top, Carn Dubh. It was -1c when I left home, -8c on passing through Aboyne, but only -4c in Braemar.

I parked in the small parking area on the east side of the A93 at the point where the road steepens on the approach to the Cairnwell Ski Centre. There were a few cars there already. A short descent took me to the bridge over the Cairnwell Burn and the path, which had some icy patches, on the north side of the Allt a’Gharbh-choire. I had planned to continue along the side of this stream to the point where it turned south but I came across an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) track that headed towards Carn Dubh.

It was an easy walk along this ATV track, despite the icy patches as they could be avoided. The track led to peat hags at a col south-west of Carn Dubh before short heather was crossed to reach its summit. Here I took a break, sheltering from a cold wind, behind the cairn looking towards the snow topped Cairngorms.

After my break I descended to the col with Cairn an Tuirc crossing an area of hard packed snow and passing some grouse butts. More grouse butts were passed, some of which were new or recently upgraded, as I ascended Carn an Tuirc on the east side of an unnamed stream, which was buried by snow. A lone ptarmigan was spotted and photographed before I reached the rocky summit area and its cairn.

The weather was reasonable, despite a cold wind, so with several hours of daylight still available I decided to include the nearby Munro, Cairn of Claise. I walked to Carn an Tuirc’s East Top, before descending over a few small snowfields to the col with Cairn of Claise. An easy ascent, following the edge of an icy ATV track, took me to the rocky summit of Carn an Tuirc, latterly following a dry stone dyke to the summit cairn.

After lunch sheltering behind the cairn I continued to follow the dry stone dyke down Cairn of Claise’s south west ridge, until the dyke ended. I thereafter walked round the head of the Garbh-choire and onto the small knoll, Sron na Gaoithe.

It was here that things took a turn for the worse. While taking a few photos from the knoll I moved to what I thought was a slightly better location but in the process tripped and fell amongst rocks. I realised immediately I had a problem as my wrist was lying in a strange position. I was quickly onto my feet and commenced the fairly steep descent to my car. However I didn’t get very far before having to stop and it was at this point that two ladies, one a GP, arrived at my location.

These ladies assisted me off the hill, which was a slow process, and arranged for an ambulance to attend at the parking area. I was subsequently conveyed to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where I am being treated for a fracture to the upper arm, a dislocated shoulder and a Brachial Plexus injury as well as having a few other minor injuries.

I’m indebted to the kindness shown by the two ladies who acted in a very professional and efficient manner to get me off the hill and medical attention far quicker than I would have managed if left to my own devices.

previous ascent

Carn an Tuirc Munro sixth ascent 1019 metres
Cairn of Claise Munro seventh ascent 1064 metres

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Glen Tanner

30 December 2011

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 21.5 kilometres. Ascent - 610 metres.

With a lull in the recent stormy weather, and as it had been several years since I had been in the area, I decided to head for Glen Tannar, accessed via the South Deeside Road, south-west of the village of Aboyne. There is now a pay and display car park, costing £2, opposite the Bridge of Tannar. The visitor centre was closed due to renovations.

Once I paid my fee I crossed the road and the Bridge of Tannar and followed the vehicle track, which was icy in places, to St Lesmo’s Chapel, an old church and graveyard. Beyond I crossed another track and entered the Forest of Glen Tanner where tree thinning was taking place but fortunately not this morning. I also spotted and managed to photograph a few roe deer. This route was part of the Firmounth Road, an old drover’s trail.

I later left this trail and walked along a forest track heading east, gradually gaining height. Eventually I emerged from the forest before leaving the track and following a frozen ATV track, which disappeared amongst the heather, as I headed towards the 466 knoll. An old deer fence, with its metal posts, was reached this being the eastern boundary of the Cairngorm National Park. I followed this fence through some long heather to the col with Hill of Duchery before climbing to this summit where I had views across Deeside to the snow covered hills on its north side.

Here the boundary of the National Park changed direction but there were still the old metal fence posts to follow as I descended gradually to the boggy but frozen col with Craigmahandle. I ascended this hill crossing the icy Firmouth Road en-route. On reaching this top there was another change of direction as I continued along the boundary fence to Craigmahandle’s South Top before leaving it and descending across heather to the Sauchen Stripe.

Once across this stream and the Water of Allachy I followed the vehicle track back to the Forest of Glen Tanner where I stopped for lunch looking down on the remnants of an old habitation. It started to snow, earlier than anticipated, so I was glad to be off the hill and into some shelter. After lunch I followed the vehicle track to the ford across the Water Allachy before continuing along the track on its east bank then the south bank of the Water of Tanner back to the car park. Lower down the snow turned to sleet and rain.

Initially the plan was to climb a few Graham Tops and possibly reach the Munro, Mount Keen but I was glad I changed my mind as the weather deteriorated with some sleet and snow on the drive home.

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Conachcraig

27 December 2011

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 690 metres

With a break in the stormy weather I decided to head for Glen Muick to climb the Corbett, Conachcraig. Firstly I had to visit Ballater to locate a shop as I required change for the pay and display car park at the Spittal of Glenmuick.

On arriving at the Spittal there were around half a dozen cars parked there. I paid the £3 parking fee, which apparently goes towards the maintenance of footpaths in the Cairngorms. Better that than councillor’s pockets I suppose. I then followed the vehicle track across Glen Muick and the River Muick to the junction of tracks beside Allt na-giubhsaich.

I selected the track going north as a lone stag disappeared into the forest. After around 700 metres the track split and I took the left fork with its slight incline. Around the highest point I left it and strolled through the forest as the trees were well spaced at this point. Once beyond the trees I followed what was probably a deer track onto the east ridge of Carn an Daimh with views of Glen Muick and the Coyles of Muick. Higher up I spotted a mountain hare in its white winter coat, one of several I saw that day. They were very obvious to predators due to the lack of snow cover. I did try to photograph them but never got close enough.

The summit of Carn an Daimh was gained followed by a slight descent. It was then a steady climb to Conachraig’s North-East Top before an easy stroll out to the Corbett Top, Caisteal na Caillich. Here I took a break with views across Deeside to the Cairngorms, which appeared to have only patchy snow cover. There were also good views of Lochnagar. After my break, sheltering behind boulders from a cold wind, I headed across to Conachcraig’s highest point. I visited the cairn and the tor to the west, which is reportedly the Corbett’s highest point although I couldn’t tell by looking at them.

I descended south-west following a now well worn path, which was a bit slippery due to a touch of ice and frost. This led to the start of the path for Lochnagar which I followed for just under two hundred metres to a small cairn marking the less used route below Cuidhe Crom and Little Pap. There were lots of noise from the red grouse and I was fortunate to get a couple of photos of the birds. There was more ice here and a snow patch to work round but I continued along this path until it headed away from my next hill, the Graham Top, An t-Sron. I left the path and descended slightly over what would normally be marshy ground, except for the frost, to some peat hags which I crossed or worked round before ascending to the summit of An t-Sron with its views of Mayar, Driesh and the Broad Cairn.

There was a reasonable sized cairn here so I was able to shelter from the cold wind while partaking of some lunch. Afterwards I walked east for a bit as I had hoped to get a view of Loch Muick but the slope prevented this so I descended north, at one point following a path used by ponies probably to collect the shot deer. At a suitable point I descended fairly steeply through deep heather then across some wet ground to the track south of Allt na-giubhsaich before returning to the Spittal of Glenmuick.

previous ascent

Conachcraig Corbett third ascent 865 metres

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Mount Battock

20 November 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken 7.5 hours. Distance - 24.5 kilometers. Ascent - 1125 metres.

I decided to climb Mount Battock from the north rather than make the slightly longer journey to Glen Esk, where the ascent of this Corbett was easier and shorter. I drove along the B976, South Deeside Road, to Finzean, and then the single track road to the end of the public road at the Forest of Birse. Although the map showed a parking area, there was no sign, just a large turning circle.

On leaving my car I crossed a cattle grid and followed the private road towards Ballochan Farm, passing a herd of cows and their calves feeding on silage. There were several ‘Right of Way’ signs to keep me on the correct route and these took me passed the farm and to a footbridge over the Burn of Auldmad.

A large grassy area was crossed before a more obvious vehicle track headed uphill. This route, called the Fungle Road, runs between Aboyne and Glen Esk and was an old drover’s trail. As I gained height I entered the cloud base where the vehicle track ended and an upgraded path, which was in good nick, began.

Visibility was poor with some light drizzle as I arrived at the Slochd, marked by a small cairn. I left the path, descended slightly, and was confronted by what appeared to be a large area of bog and peat hags. It took me a while to negotiate my way through this maze but once beyond it I commenced the ascent of Mudlee Bracks, a Graham Top.

A set of fences was quickly reached and on closer inspection I discovered they were both electrified. The closest fence consisted of two strands of wire carrying a current and the second a standard stock fence, with the top wire also carrying a current. There was a gap between these fences so I presumed they were constructed to prevent the deer moving from Aberdeenshire into Angus or vice-versa as this was the boundary between the two counties.

I reached what I thought was the summit of Mudlee Bracks, although it wasn’t possible to confirm this due to the low cloud. I continued along the north side of the fences but soon came upon what I would describe as a wooden footbridge over the electric fences. I utilised this bridge then kept close to the fences as I descended the east ridge of Mudlee Bracks where at times there was a faint trace of a path or animal trail. This led to a junction of fences and a set of deer gates. I opted to pass through these gates and followed a track that headed up the Hill of Cammie.

The summit of this second hill, another Graham Top, was apparently a peat hag but I couldn’t see it due to the thick cloud. There was a cairn on the opposite side of the fences so I crawled under the first fence then squeezed between wire strands of the second. Thankfully I’m not overweight as it was a bit tight. On reaching the cairn I was working out the route ahead when the cloud lifted and I saw the head of Glen Tennet, which was my next point of reference. I therefore made a direct descent, through long thick heather to the Burn of Tennet.

I then commenced the ascent of Wester Cairn trying to avoid the long heather where possible. Unfortunately the cloud lowered and I was back into poor visibility. The west ridge of Wester Cairn was reached just below an area of boulders then I followed a faint path that led me to the cairn, on the west ridge. I continued over Wester Cairn where another fence appeared out of the cloud and this soon joined the electric fences I followed earlier. A crossing point had been created and this involved using the plastic coated handles fitted to the wire strands to unhook the fence and disconnect the current. Beyond, it was a short climb to Mount Battock’s summit trig point.

It had been almost four hours since I left the car and at an adjacent stone shelter I had my lunch. The return was by the approach route and on the descent of Wester Cairn, I headed further east as my plan was to gain the east ridge of Hill of Cammie rather than wade through the long heather. The cloud lifted and I was now able to see the route ahead. The Burn of Tennet was re-crossed before I gained the east ridge and followed the electric fences onto the summit of Hill of Cammie. Again I had to pass through and under the fences to reach the peat hag, on their north side, which was apparently the highest point.

On Mudlee Bracks I located a few stones, just south of the electric fences and west of the wee footbridge, which was possibly the highest point. Rather than re-cross the morning’s bog I followed the fence to the Slochd where there was a set of deer gates. I descended the Fungle Road as the cloud again lowered and dusk approached. Near Ballochan Farm it was too dark to walk without the aid of a torch and I also needed to spot the cattle, although fortunately I never did see them.

Despite the low cloud I disturbed lots of grouse and when the cloud did lift I saw roe deer on both sides of the fence. The mountain hares on Wester Cairn were rather obvious in their white winter coats.

previous ascent

Mount Battock Corbett third ascent 778 metres

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Mount Blair

24 July 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 43. Time - 2 hours. Distance - 4.25 kilometres. Ascent - 400 metres.

Earlier in the day I was just across the B951, climbing the Graham, Duchray Hill, so it was only a short drive from near Dalnaglar Castle to my starting point for the ascent of Mount Blair. I parked at the side of the road, within the forested area which marked the boundary between Perthshire and Angus.

I walked the few metres east to the edge of the forest where a gate led into a field of rough vegetation. There was also a strand of barbed wire which meant a hands and knees job to get under it. A small stream was initially followed uphill where the underfoot conditions weren’t as bad as expected although there were some wet areas to avoid where cattle had churned up the ground. As height was gained I moved away from the stream and onto more heathery vegetation.

A barbed wire fence was reached and crossed and beyond the heather was longer and thicker so I headed directly to the vehicle track further east. On reaching this track, which was eroded, I followed it to the summit of Mount Blair. Here there was a telecommunication tower, a trig point, a large cairn and a circular stone viewpoint. The toposcope from the viewpoint was missing. Finding shelter from the wind for lunch wasn’t a problem. As with Duchray Hill I had views west to Stob Binnein, Ben More and the Lawers Range of mountains.

After lunch I returned to the B951using the vehicle track followed by a wee road walk.

previous ascent

Mount Blair Graham second ascent 744 metres

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Duchray Hill

23 - 24 July 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 43. Time:
Day One - 1.25 hours.
Day Two: - 2.25 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 4 kilometres.
Day Two - 7.25 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One - 175 metres.
Day Two - 315 metres.

It was early evening when I arrived at the access road leading to Dalnagar Castle, which lies east of the A93 Perth to Braemar Road and the Shee Water, with the intention of climbing Duchray Hill. I had previously climbed this Graham from the north in conjunction with the Corbett, Monamenach, and was looking for a different approach. I thought about an ascent from the south but the initial wet and marshy area put me off that route. My map showed a path heading north from the Castle and after some research I discovered it was part of a newish walking route, The Cateran Trail, which continued to the Spittal of Glenshee.

I located a spot to leave my car and set off north along the tarred road towards the castle. A signposted route took me round the east side of this impressive building and to a cottage where the vehicle track became quite rough. A path then crossed a field and below the hillside to Dunmay Farm where by the smell of things the occupants were having a barbeque. The rough access road to this farm was followed and as it was quite windy I thought of camping beside a small copse of tress. However the area was planted in turnips and I was still in sight of the farm. A change of plan saw me cross a deer fence and head towards Duchray Hill climbing to the north of the Allt Coire na Ceardaich.

As height was gained the farm became more obvious so I climbed to beyond the split in the stream where a suitable location was found to pitch my tent. Here the burn ran through a gully and afforded some shelter from the wind to enable me to cook my tea. Afterwards I retired to my tent but the wind picked up so sleep was difficult to come by. However after a couple of hours the wind subsided enough to permit me a reasonable night’s rest.

In the morning, after some breakfast, I left my tent in situ and set off to climb Duchray Hill. The going was quite rough in places with some wetter patches so I ascended Meall an Ruighe where there were good views of the Spittal of Glenshee and the Cairnwell Hills. It was then a relatively easy ascent to the cairn on Duchray Hill, which wasn’t the summit. It was located further east on the stone dyke that crossed the hillside. As well as the views already mentioned I could identify, off to the west, Ben More, Ston Binnein and the Lawers Range.

After a brief stop I followed the stone dyke down the south-west ridge before leaving it and descending into the broad corrie where my tent was pitched. Once back at the tent it was time for a second breakfast before packing up. This time I followed the stream and an old track to Dunmay Farm where there was a gate in the deer fence before returning along The Cateran Trail to my car.

previous ascent

Duchray Hill Graham second ascent 702 metres

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Corwharn and Cat Law

23 - 24 April 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time:
Day One - 5.25 hours.
Day Two - 2.5 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 18.5 kilometres.
Day Two - 8 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One - 840 metres.
Day Two - 165 metres.

The plan initially was for a high camp on Braeriach but with a forecast of rain spreading east it meant a re-think. In the end it was decided that we would climb these two Grahams, from Backwater Reservoir, and set up camp once the rain had ceased.

We left the B951 Kirriemuir to Glen Isla Road and drove north to Backwater Reservoir parking in the car park at its north-east end. There were a few other cars there and some fishermen down at the waters edge. It was raining and a bit of a thought to leave the comfort of the car but once geared up we walked along the road to Glenhead Farm and then the signposted route to Glen Prosen.

This took us along the west side of the Hole Burn and passed the derelict building at Hole. Beyond this ruin we took a right turn and followed another vehicle track to the Drumshade Plantation. Near the start of this track it was muddy as cattle had been fed and wintered here. The track continued through the plantation with a gradual ascent until it exited near the north-east corner.

The rain was heavier now and we left the track and walked across the heather clad moorland to the col between Eskielawn and Corwharn. A fence, with traces of a path, was followed towards the latter hill as the cloud lowered. A few roe deer had been spotted earlier and now we saw lots of mountain hares and grouse. The cloud engulfed us but lifted as we reached the summit area of Corwharrn. We visited the stone cairn, which is not the summit, before trying to establish the highest point, which was not marked.

Once satisfied that the highest point had been reached we followed the track to the col with Cairn Corse and then to the bealach between Glens Quharity and Uig. It was now a sunny afternoon so we stopped briefly here to remove waterproofs and collect some water for cooking.

A vehicle track, initially quite steep, was followed up the side of a fence and onto Tarapetmile and south to Hill of Glendye. Just beyond this knoll we joined the track that rose from Glen Quharity and followed it east to Cormaud. Here we planned to pitch the tents but discovered a mast on the summit. However we managed to find a spot nearby.

There were still a few hours of daylight left so after the tents were pitched we decided to climb Cat Law rather than wait till the morning. We rejoined the track and descended to Monthrey, an area of moorland. From here it was a gradual climb along another track to the summit area of Cat Law. We calculated that the highest point was close to the junction of fences where a boundary stone was positioned. We also visited the trig point and the cairns and shelters to the east from where we saw the towns of Kirriemuir and Forfar.

The return to Cormaud was by the approach route and once back at the tents it was time for some food and to watch the sun set.

I had a reasonable night’s kip although I put my head out of the tent at sunrise to take a couple of photos. Later in the morning we packed and descended the Shank of Glendye to Glen Quharity and followed the track south to Longdrum Farm. The route plan was to continue down the tarred road for another 800 metres and take the path, which doubled back, to Craig of Balloch. This seemed to add some unnecessary distance and with cows and calves in the vicinity of the path we left the road, climbed an embankment, crossed a couple of collapsed fences and joined the path before it entered the crags.

It was a pleasant stroll through this gully with lots of wildlife around. At the east end we came to a stream so it was time to make a brew while sitting in the sun. Afterwards we continued south-east through fields of sheep and new lambs. Beyond the derelict building at Ley we lost the path but only had a few gates to pass through to reach the road on the east side of Backwater Reservoir. A walk of around a kilometre along the tarred road took us back to the car park.

previous ascent

Corwharn Graham second ascent 611 metres.
Cat Law Graham second ascent 671 metres

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Creag Leacach and Glas Maol

29 November 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 43. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 9.5 kilometres. Ascent - 760 metres.

I met a hill walking friend at the Cairnwell Ski Centre, the highest point on the A93 Perth to Braemar Road where we left a vehicle before heading south for around two kilometres to a parking area on the east side of the A93 at NO139757 where we parked the other car. There was a light covering of snow in Braemar village and around the Ski Centre.

It was cold and windy as we set off down to the Allt a’Ghlinne Bhig where only a couple of planks of wood now exist from the old bridge. However the water level wasn’t high so there was no problem crossing this stream. In spate conditions things might be a bit different. A path was followed above a tributary of the Allt a’Ghlinne Bhig where we disturbed a roe deer that was obviously sheltering from the wind. A couple of tributaries had to be crossed before we could commence the ascent towards the col between Meall Gorm and Creag Leacach. This ascent was initially over wet grassy vegetation until just east of the col where we came to the snow line. The wind was now rather strong and it made for a difficult approach to Creag Leacach's South-West Top so we walked round to the south-west side of mountain to try and get a bit of shelter. A mountain hare ran off into the spin drift. We ascended the South-West Top although it was a bit difficult getting to the two summit cairns due to the wind. I’ve no idea which cairn was the highest point hence the reason for visiting both.

A stone dyke with old metal posts on top, which were covered in ice, was followed as it descended slightly before we climbed towards the summit of Creag Leacach. The ground was rocky but the drifting snow lying against the dyke was quite firm and made for easier walking, well with the exception of the wind. The sun occasionally tried to break through the cloud and gave some interesting lighting effects with the spin drift but there were no views of the surrounding mountains. We reached the summit of Creag Leacach, which was a cairn on the dyke, before continuing along the side of the dyke as we descended north-east with a rocky drop to our east. Lower down, in addition to the stone dyke, there were parallel fence posts. However this all came to an end just before the ‘Cairn’ marked on the map at NO159758.

The wind had made for quite a difficult morning but from here on conditions deteriorated. The wind had strengthened, visibility was now poor and it was snowing or it could just have been spin drift. Working on a compass bearing we continued on our ascent of Glas Maol where there were a few metal posts but they were spaced too far apart to be of any use. I was aware that they didn’t go to the summit and that finding the trig point wouldn't be easy in these conditions. The summit plateau was reached and after a short search the trig point appeared out of the cloud. My walking partner was having trouble coping with these wild conditions and was being blown around as we tried to get a bit of shelter behind the cairn surrounding the trig point.

Once I obtained a bearing to get off Glas Maol we headed for the ridge leading to Meall Odhar but the wind was buffeting us around with visibility for a while down to a few feet before it cleared slightly and I could see the ridge that would lead us off the mountain. On the descent of this ridge my walking partner was blown over and had to slide down the hill side. I could now see Meall Odhar but the direct approach wasn’t possible due to the wind strength so a slight diversion west was necessary before trying to get back onto my bearing. The wind was still fierce and probably at its strongest for the day as we made our way below Meall Odhar. I did make an attempt to summit this Munro Top but was blown back down the hill so gave up that idea.

Once beyond Meall Odhar we came to the skiing paraphernalia but here it was less windy and we now made better progress as we descended the side of the icy vehicle track. Lower down a walker’s path took a short cut through the heather where we saw a couple of mountain hares. This walker’s path later rejoined the vehicle track just before the car park at the Cairnwell Ski Centre where it was windier than when we left the vehicle earlier that day.

previous ascent

Creag Leacach Munro sixth ascent 987 metres
Glas Maol Munro seventh ascent 1068 metres

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Broad Cairn and Cairn Bannoch

8 November 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 25 kilometres. Ascent - 1030 metres.

A sunny day was forecasted so I decided on an ascent of the Munros, Broad Cairn and Cairn Bannoch but from Glen Clova instead of my usual starting point, the Spittal of Glenmuick. The car park in Glen Clova, reached from Kirriemuir, is run by Angus Council who at the time of this visit charged £2.

It was sunny but frosty when I left the car park, walked back to the bridge over the River South Esk, and headed north up the Glen. The Ordnance Survey Landranger Map 44 doesn't name the Glen but I have always presumed it to be a continuation of Glen Clova so could reasonably be called Upper Glen Clova which I have used on my photos. According to an internet search it has also been called Glen Moulzie obviously after the farm that I passed on my walk up the Glen. Beyond the farm wooden slats, covered in frost, were crossed and this led to a footbridge across the River South Esk and the vehicle track on the west side of the river. Occasionally there was a roar from the stags so the rut wasn't over yet. Beyond the footbridge the track turned to head west before a gradual climb to Bachnagairn.

At Bachnagairn the track became a path as I walked along the side of the Bachnagairn Gorge to another footbridge, the Roy Tait Memorial Bridge, erected in memory of Roy Tait who died on Lochnagar. I crossed this bridge and followed the path that zig zagged up to meet the paths that rose from Loch Muick just west of the stables, which I know as the Allan Hut. I then followed the path towards the summit of Broad Cairn where the old vehicle tracks had been filled in with heather and rocks. The final climb was through some boulders and from the top I had good views including down to Loch Muick and across to Mount Keen and the distant Bennachie.

I descended west from Broad Cairn towards a col then cut across to the Munro Top, Creag an Dubh-loch where close to the crags I could view the Dubh Loch and the waterfall on Eagle’s Rock. Thereafter I returned to the col and climbed Cairn of Gowal, another Munro Top, visiting both knolls. The south knoll has the more substantial cairn but the north knoll is shown as 8 metres higher. Now it was time to head the short distance to the Munro, Cairn Bannoch. En-route a couple of mountain hares, in their semi-white coats ran off while another one seemed unconcerned about my presence and I was able to take its photo.

On arrival at the summit cairn of Cairn Bannoch I stopped for lunch and it was pleasant sitting in the early afternoon sun looking at the mountains I had summited the previous day. After lunch I headed over to the Munro Top, Fafernie where I disturbed some young stags who were resting in the sun. From Fafernie I descended north to the Knaps of Fafernie where the area was rather wet, boggy and icy in places. Beyond this area I joined Jock’s Road and followed it to its high point with a slight diversion to ascend another Munro Top, Crow Craigies. The Jock's Road path was followed as it descended to Davy’s Bourach, marked on the map as a Shelter. Thereafter the descent was a bit steeper before the final drop into Glendoll Forest. During the walk through the forest I heard the sound of the roaring stags in the hills above me. The path later joined a vehicle track and it was a short walk back to the car park.

previous ascent

Broad Cairn Munro thirteenth ascent 998 metres
Cairn Bannoch Munro eleventh ascent 1012 metres

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Carn an-t-Sagairt Mor, Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach and Lochnagar

7 November 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 43 & 44 Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 25.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1270 metres.

I have climbed Lochnagar over twenty times but never from the north. A study of the map gave me an idea that I could start at the bridge over the River Dee east of the minor road to Keiloch, around 3 miles from Braemar, and follow tracks through the Ballochbuie Forest to the open hillside.

It was a frosty morning as I headed west from my home in Aberdeen and as dawn broke the sky was cloud free and I observed that the top of Lochnagar had a covering of snow. I arrived at the white painted metal footbridge over the River Dee and found it barred by a locked six foot gate with spikes on top. As it was frosty I didn’t fancy clambering over it in case I ended up in the river, which was reasonably high.

I then drove to the car park on the minor road leading to Keiloch where another car was already parked. The parking fee was £2.50 but I didn’t mind as the fees go towards maintenance of the estate and paths. I left my car and returned to the main road and walked a short distance west to the old Invercauld Bridge which is presently under repair. On the opposite side of the bridge I followed various vehicle tracks through the Ballochbuie Forest, part of the Balmoral Estate, with the noise of the ‘Royal Stags’ roaring on the hillside above.

The route past close to the Falls of Garbh Allt and I took a short diversion to get a few photos but the metal bridge was rather slippery with the overnight frost. On returning to the track I continued through the Caledonian Pine Forest and eventually reached the open hillside. Once clear of the trees there were deer on either side of me. At the Stables the vehicle track became a path which was icy in places, one of the hazards of winter walking. A frosted planked bridge over the Feindallacher Burn was reached but due to its angle I gave it a miss and crossed the stream further up.

I was now heading away from the stream as the path led to beyond the 727 point where I was expecting it to end as per the map. However it continued to the col between Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and Carn an t-Sagairt Beag. En-route I encountered some grouse, a mountain hare and a couple of ptarmigan. From this col I climbed onto the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor passing some wreckage of an aircraft including a wing. There were two cairns on the summit so I visited both although I thought the northern one was the highest. On the summit I met the only person I had seen all morning, a chap from Edinburgh, who had ascended from Glen Callater.

There were some fine views from the summit plateau, including the snow capped Cairngorm Mountains, so after a short break I returned to the col, climbed over the Munro Top, Carn an t-Sagairt Beag and headed for the snow covered The Stuic, where I took some more photos. I then made a direct ascent of the Munro, Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach, although personally I don’t think it deserves such a title. As I climbed this Munro the cloud, which had already engulfed the snow covered Cairngorms and the nearby Glas Maol, was now floating around my hills.

I didn’t linger on Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach but headed for Lochnagar, across a mixture of bog and ice, although I was still above the snow line. A short climb took me to Cac Carn Mor followed by a few metres of descent before an easy gradient onto Cac Carn Beag. On my approach to Lochnagar's summit I saw the second individual of the day, a chap who climbed out of the Black Spout. We met and had lunch at the summit and he reported a bit of verglas on the route he had taken. During the lunch stop several other walkers arrived at the summit.

After lunch I descended, fairly steeply at times, north-west then north from Cac Carn Beag to a col and climbed my second Munro Top of the day, Meall Coire na Saobhaidhe. The earlier cloud had disappeared and I was back in the sun, well when not in the shade of the mountains. My next destination was the Corbett Top shown on the map as a 830 metres hill, although on the TACiT Tables as Lochnagar Point 830. It was an easy ascent and a short distance further north-west was my second Corbett Top, Cnapan Nathraichean.

From Cnapan Nathraichean I didn’t have a real plan for my return to Invercauld but decided to head west to the Allt Lochan nan Eun, where I hoped to find a path. On the descent I disturbed a couple of stags and on approaching the stream I came across more deer who didn’t know where to run, maybe it was the awkward tussocky ground that was their problem. It was definitely a problem for me. There was no path as hoped for, so I crossed the Allt Lochan nan Eun and soon came to a deer fence but fortunately found a gate lower down which gave me access to the Caledonian Pine Forest. Once through the gate there was still no path but knee deep heather with hidden hollows. This made for slow progress as I struggled through the trees and came to the Feindallacher Burn and another stream crossing. More deep heather was floundered through before I reached the track used earlier that day. I then returned to the start using the morning’s route spotting a roe deer.

It was a fantastic day and a good route to get onto the mountains around Lochnagar. However the descent through the forest wasn’t great and I wouldn’t want to do that section again. If I descended Cnapan Nathraichean on a future trip I would probably descend its north-west ridge avoiding the rocks or north-east to The Prince’s Stone, and use the tracks and paths through Ballochbuie Forest to return to Invercauld Bridge.

previous ascent Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach

previous ascent Lochnagar

Carn an t-Sagairt Mor Munro ninth ascent 1047 metres
Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach Munro eighth ascent 1110 metres
Lochnagar - Cac Carn Beag Munro twenty fifth ascent 1155 metres

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Glen Isla

2 and 3 April 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 43 & 44 Time taken -
Day One - 1.5 hours.
Day Two - 7.25 hours.
Distance -
Day One - 10.3 kilometres.
Day Two- 22 kilometres.
Ascent -
Day One - 275 metres.
Day Two - 1235 metres.

The weather was forecasted to be fine for just a couple of days so I took the opportunity for a short backpacking trip. I had previously been in Glen Isla but never walked beyond Auchavan so this was my opportunity and it wasn’t that far from home.

Auchavan is located at the end of the public road accessed from the B951 Kirriemuir to Spittal of Glenshee Road. A short distance further north, along a rough track, there was parking for several vehicles beside the River Isla.

I walked north along the west side of the River Isla briefly on a track but then on a path. Just beyond the bridge leading to the property at Dalhally I saw a weasel. It had a yellowish chest and was initially running towards me but soon about turned and disappeared.

The path joined the vehicle track that ran up the west side of the River Isla passed Tulchan Lodge. Signage near the Lodge indicated that the preferred route to the hills was further north and not up the side of the Lodge and into Glen Brightly. Further north the marked Monega Path headed off to my left but I continued up Glen Isla. The condition of the path started to deteriorate and there were lots of frogs and spawn in the pools of water. I came to ‘Bessies Cairn’, which was constructed to commemorate a female stalker who frequented the area.

Beyond the cairn the area around the River Isla was low level with some wetlands so there were lots of bird noises, none that I could identify though. I reached the ruin at the entrance to Caenlochan Glen where I thought of camping. However it was still early evening so I decided to take a walk into Canness Glen which was still in the sun. I joined a vehicle track which took me passed a small waterfall and into the corrie where there were numerous rabbits and lots of deer.

My plan was now to camp in this corrie but the noise from the water rushing down the rock faces was too loud to get a peaceful night’s sleep so unfortunately I had to return to the ruin near the entrance to Caenlochan Glen and pitch my tent there. I noted that on one of the stones of the ruined house was inscribed ‘ML 1887’ so I presume that was when the house was constructed.

It was initially quite noisy with the birds, including some grouse, but once it was dark things quietened down and I lay and read some of my TGO magazine. It was a cold night with a touch of frost but I was warm in my down sleeping bag.

In the morning the clear star covered sky soon clouded over which was a bit of a disappointment. Once I had tidied up I commenced the climb of the north ridge of Caderg looking for the path shown on the map but it wasn’t obvious. I had views into Caenlochan Glen with its moraines and lots of ancient tree routes. A couple of dead trees were still upright at 680 metres above sea level which is quite unusual in Scotland. Higher up I found the path as it headed onto Caderg.

At the top of the path there were a few snow patches so I wandered around them and headed towards the summit of the Munro Top, Druim Mor, as the cloud was lifting. From the summit cairn of Druim Mor I had views into Caenlochan Glen and across to Cairn of Claise. The summit of Glas Maol, my next mountain, was still in cloud. I walked to the ridge between Cairn of Claise and Glas Maol, again avoiding most of the snow patches, as the cloud on Glas Maol was lifting.

Once on this ridge an All Terrain Vehicle Track (ATV) headed towards Glas Maol and joined up with the Monega Path. I followed this Path for a while before leaving it and climbing to the summit trig point of Glas Maol. My plan was to continue onto the Munro Creag Leacach but I decided firstly to divert to the Munro Top, Little Glas Maol. On the descent I met a young chap, who stayed in Glen Isla. He was the only person I saw all day. From the col I had a view across Caenlochan Glen to my first hill of the day, Druim Mor, before a short climb took me to the summit cairn of Little Glas Maol.

I returned to the col and traversed round the south side of Glas Maol to the ridge with Creag Leacach where there was a stone dyke and some fencing. The dyke was followed along the north ridge of Creag Leacach which narrowed for a bit before I climbed to its rocky summit where there was a mountain hare. Here I found some shelter, from the cool breeze, to set up my stove and have some lunch.

After lunch a short rocky descent took me to another col, where there were a couple of ptarmigan, followed by a short climb to the summit of Creag Leacach’s South Top which was marked by two cairns. I descended the south ridge of this Munro Top still following the stone dyke and climbed Carn Ait. From this summit I changed direction and headed east to climb the Corbett Top, Mallrenheskein, with herds of deer feeding at either side of the hill. From Mallrenheskein I had views back to Creag Leacach and across to the upper reaches of Glen Brightly.

I descended to the col with Black Hill where its north ridge was full of peat hags. An ATV track wound its way through these peat hags which made things a bit easier and I climbed to the twin summits of Black Hill. A descent to the Clack of Glengairney followed with a climb of 199 metres to the summit of the Corbett, Monamenach . Higher up on this hill I thankfully came to a water spring as I had been looking for water for some time. I could have descended at various points to a stream but put that off hoping to find some running water on the ridges.

The summit cairn of Monamenach was at the junction of fences. I descended this hill and picked up a vehicle track between Monamenach and Craigenloch Hill, the higher section of which wasn’t shown on my map. The track took me to the holiday cottages at Auchavan, and finally a short walk back to my car.

I finished reading my TGO at home and, unknown to me beforehand, one of their ‘Wild Walks’ was this route except they used the Monega Path from Glen Isla to Glas Maol.

previous ascent Glas Maol

previous ascent Monamenach

Glas Maol Munro sixth ascent 1068 metres
Creag Leacach Munro fifth ascent 987 metres
Monamenach Corbett third ascent 807 metres

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Carn an Tuirc, Cairn of Claise and Glas Maol

24 January 2009

photos taken on walk

Map OS Landranger 43. Time taken - 5.75 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 880 metres.

Yet another weekend with poor weather forecasted for the Sunday, so I decided to set off for Glen Shee on the Saturday and climb some of the Munros on the east side of the A93 Braemar to Perth Road.

I left my car in the parking area on the north side of the A93 before it climbed to the Cairnwell Ski Centre at the bridge over the Cairnwell Burn. The grid ref for those interested is NO145806. I crossed the bridge on foot and took the path marked Glen Isla. This is misleading as there is a long section on the north-east side of Sron na Gaoithe where there is no path and it is a fairly steep ascent. It is not a route for those without navigation skills as it passes close to crags and climbs to about 960 metres.

After 750 metres my route took a left turn at an old military bridge and I followed the north side of the Allt a'Gharbh-choire. The path was concealed below the soft snow so I followed bootprints which were probably made the previous day on a return from Carn an Tuirc. Beyond where the stream turned into the Garbh-choire I continued in the direction of the path but the soft snow conditions made it hard work so I decided to make a more direct approach onto Carn an Tuirc. As I gained a bit more height the snow became firmer and I searched for the best route which actually took me round the south-west side of the mountain. The summit area was a bit icy but I made it to the cairn where I had a coffee break. I had expected other walkers, whom I had seen below me, to reach the summit but no one else appeared as I headed for the col with Cairn of Claise.

The weather had been bright and once I was higher on Carn an Tuirc I was in the sun but on approaching the col the cloud lowered and the ascent of Cairn of Claise was initially in limited visibility. However nearer the summit the cloud did break a few times to give me some views, including where I had been the previous Saturday. Prior to reaching the top I came to old fence posts, rimmed with snow, and followed them to the summit cairn. It was now quite windy here with some spin drift so once I had taken a few photographs I headed south-west still following the fence posts. Here the wind was forcing the snow out of the Garbh-choire up over the cornice and skywards.

Visibility deteriorated and I now started to come across other walkers and cross country skiers going in the opposite direction. My compass and GPS now had to come into use as I headed for Glas Maol with the occasional snow covered post appearing out of the white wilderness as well as a couple of groups of walkers. I reached the summit where I stopped for lunch trying to shelter from the wind and snow that had started. While there a group of walkers and cross country skiers arrived at the summit from different directions but once they had taken new compass bearings they left.

A compass bearing took me off of Glas Maol to the ridge between Glas Choire and Garbh-choire where the cloud started to fragment and I was able to see my route to Sron na Gaoithe. From this outlier of Glas Maol there were good views north down the A93 to Glen Cluanie. The descent from Sron na Gaoithe was initially quite steep on firm snow before the gradient eased and the snow became softer as I headed for the Cairnwell Burn. Here I crossed a bridge, not shown on the map as it appeared fairly new, which took me to the west side of the stream before I re-crossed it, after it merged with the Allt a'Gharbh-choire, by the Old Military Bridge mentioned earlier . I then followed the path back to the car as it started to snow again.

Carn an Tuirc Munro fifth ascent 1019 metres
Cairn of Claise Munro sixth ascent 1064 metres
Glas Maol Munro fifth ascent 1068 metres

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Tolmount and Tom Buidhe

17 January 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 890 metres.

The weekend weather didn't look very good but a break during daylight hours on the Saturday enabled me to get out for my first walk of 2009. I decided on another attempt to reach the Munros, Tolmount and Ton Buidhe, which I had set out to climb the previous month but due to the wind and underfoot conditions had to abandon.

I left the car park at the head of Glen Clova, which was still free as the ticket machine was out of order, and headed off through Glendoll Forest following Jock's Road making good progress as I was sheltered from the elements. Once the path left the forest I was exposed to the wind which seemed to ease a bit as I gained height and passed Davy's Bourach, a shelter as shown on the Ordnance Survey Map, south of Cairn Lunkard.

Beyond the shelter there were some old patches of snow and a thin covering of fresh snow as I gradually climbed towards Crow Craigies before descending slightly and heading for Tolmount. The cloud base varied a lot, sometimes engulfing the summits and at other times clear enough to see the route ahead. As well as using my map and compass I was trying to use the waypoints I had programmed into my GPS from Memory Map. As said elsewhere I have had both products for several years but recently I have been trying to learn how to use my GPS other than just for obtaining a grid reference. I found using all three rather awkward but maybe with practice I'll get used to it.

On reaching the summit of Tolmount there were no views so it was off to the col with Ca Whims then across some peat hags to ascend Tom Buidhe. Again there were no views from the summit cairn so I descended its south-east ridge before dropping down to Jock's Road and Davy's Bourach, where I had a late lunch. Afterwards it was just the sake of re-tracing my route down Glen Doll and back to the start.

Tolmount Munro fifth ascent 958 metres
Tom Buidhe Munro fifth ascent 957 metres

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Jock's Road

7 December 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 15.5 kilometres. Ascent - 784 metres.

My plan was to climb the two Munros, Tolmount and Tom Buidhe, from Glen Doll in the east. However I was aware that strong winds were forecast for the afternoon so I hoped at least to reach Tolmount, and leave Tom Buidhe for another trip.

The start of the walk was at the head of Glen Clova, reached from Kirriemuir, where there is a Pay and Display car park but on the day of my visit it was free. On leaving the car park I walked passed Acharn Farm, where the track was very icy, and headed up Glen Doll through the forest taking a right signposted route to Jock's Road. It was a pleasant and relatively easy walk through the forest on the snow covered path.

On emerging from the forest Glen Doll became rather enclosed with Craig Maud to the south-west, Craig Damff to the north and Jock's Road winding uphill in front of me. The path was quite icy in places and it was obvious other walkers had been this way before me. As I headed west the path became steeper and there was more snow cover and progress became a bit slower especially where the path was concealed by snow drifts and a diversion across the snow covered heather was required.

Eventually after winding my way between some cliffs following what appeared to be the route of the path I came to a shelter, which was marked on the map. The red doorway said it was Davy's Bourach, which was built by Davy Glen in 1966 and is now maintained byForfar Hill Walking Club. I had a look inside but it was empty although fresh snow inside indicated that it had been used recently.

I continued up the Glen but the path was not visible and the snow was rather deep. I followed some bootprints as it was easier to use them than make my own trail. I spotted two guys climbing Tom Buidhe and shortly thereafter some bootprints headed off in that direction. In hindsight I should have followed them but the plan had been to climb Tolmount first. However the snow was now quite deep and was obliterating any evidence of where the path headed. The bootprints I was following now headed off towards the Craigs of Loch Esk and it was easier to follow them than make my own way through drifting snow.

The snow wasn't as deep now, the cloud was down and I lost the bootprints I had been following, although they were no longer of any benefit to me. I walked to the 851 and 874 points as navigational features before striking out for Crow Craigies. By this time the wind was now quite strong and I had set a time for being on the summit of Tolmount and my deadline was fast approaching. It was decision time. Do I struggle on for another thirty minutes or so to reach the summit of Tolmount or do I cut my losses and head back? The wind strength was also forecasted to reach 65mph later in the day so I decided to give up and come back another day.

I returned to the 874 and 851 Points before heading south to join Jock's Road south-west of Craig Damff and followed it back to the start. The last twenty minutes or so was in the dark so although disappointed at not getting to the summit of Tolmount, I had made the correct decision as the wind was quite strong even in the shelter of the forest.

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Lochnagar – Cac Carn Beag

6 December 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken – 7.45 hours. Distance - 18.5 kilometres. Ascent - 995 metres.

I have climbed Lochnagar on numerous occasions at different times of the year and in various weather conditions but this was one of those magical days on Deeside’s most popular mountain.

The usual starting point for an ascent of Lochnagar is the end of the public road in Glen Muick at the car park beside the Spittal of Glenmuick. This road is accessed from the B976 South Deeside Road, west of the town of Ballater. The road up Glen Muick had a few patches of snow and was rather icy in places. On arrival at the car park I was surprised to see how many cars were already there, the occupants taking advantage of a beautiful winter’s day, blue skies, no clouds and good snow cover. The only downside was the car parking fee was now £3, an increase of £1, since my last visit, although apparently the monies accrued go to path maintenance in Upper Deeside.

I set off from the car park with extreme care as the area was very icy, passed the properties at the Spittal of Glenmuick, before turning right to follow the vehicle track which crossed the River Muick and entered the Royal Estate at Allt-na-giubhsaich. I took the path round the rear of the property, through the forest, and onto the open hillside. As height was gained the snow cover was deeper but I was fortunate that others had been before me and had made a path through the snow. The sky was cloud free and there were good views back across Glen Muick to the snow covered Mount Keen.

At the high point in the track I took the path that led to the col south of Meikle Pap. Initially the path was obvious but once out of the dip it was concealed by the snow. The early walkers had made a route through the snow covered heather which I followed. I heard a ptarmigan but couldn’t spot it amongst the snow and rocks so its plumage was doing an excellent job. I later spotted a group of fifteen climbing the ridge east of the Corries so was thankful to them for breaking the trail.

On approaching the col the top of the Lochnagar Corries came into view so I headed to the edge of the col to get a better view and some photographs. There was no sign of any climbers but I don't think the snow conditions were stable enough for going up the gullies. I left the col and climbed the boulder strewn east ridge which was a bit awkward near the top due to the snow filled gaps between the boulders. I could now see the frozen and partially snow covered Loch of Lochnagar. Thereafter I followed the head of the corrie with views across to the Angus Hills and the White Mounth, the name being appropriate in these conditions.

I passed the summit of Cac Carn Mor and after a slight dip climbed to Cac Carn Beag, the highest point on Lochnagar which was marked by a trig point on top of a rock. The views from here were awesome, as they had been on my ascent, and included the Cairngorms and across to the frozen Loch nan Eun and The Stuic.

My plan was to include the Munro Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach and possibly descend to the Dhubh Loch so I returned to Cac Carn Mor and set off for Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach but the snow conditions made it tough going and no one appeared to have been this way so breaking the trail was very time consuming. I decided to abandon that plan and headed for the route down the Glas Allt where I was able to follow a trail made by other walkers including the large group I had seen earlier who were out in front of me. The path wasn't obvious so it was good following other walker's bootprints especially when I could avoid the boggy sections that some had succumbed to.

On reaching the bridge over the Glas Allt the sky started to change colour from blue to pink through to orange and then red as the sun set. At this point I wished I was higher up to get the best views and photos. However I did manage to get a few from my location of the Angus Hills, Broad Cairn and back up the Glas Allt towards Lochnagar. I continued down the path, which was now obvious but icy in places passed the Glas Allt Waterfall and to Queen Victoria's old abode, the Glas Allt Shiel.

The final section of the walk was along the north shore of Loch Muick in the dark and my only regret was that I didn't put on my crampons as it was icy in places. At the old boat house I followed the path to the track on the opposite side of the Loch and then the short walk back to the Spittal of Glenmuick and the end of a wonderful day on Lochnagar.

previous ascent

Lochnagar - Cac Carn Beag Munro twenty fourth ascent 1155 metres

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Mount Keen

30 November 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 44. Time taken - 6.75 hours. Distance - 21.2 kilometres. Ascent - 970 metres.

The last time I climbed Mount Keen was from Glen Tanar in the north so on this occasion I decided to approach it again from Glen Esk in the south. Glen Esk is reached from the B966 Fettercairn to Edzell Road on the north side of the bridge over the River North Esk. A large car park is located just before the end of the public road and at the moment it is still free, unlike another car park in the Angus Glens.

I walked the short distance to the bridge over the River Mark and just before the bridge I took the signposted route to Mount Keen. It was a very cold morning, -7C when I parked my car, and as I walked up Glen Mark I had to avoid several sections of the track which were covered in ice. I visited the Queen's Well, which was built to commemorate a visit made by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The track then headed uphill firstly passing Glen Mark Cottage, which you could rent out for your summer holidays or a winter break. It was a steady climb until I was well above the Ladder Burn where the gradient eased and I now came to some snow patches, but I was expecting more snow cover.

Higher up I left the track and was surprised to find that a new path had been laid although it was December 1999 when I had last used this route. It was an easy climb to a rather cold and slightly windy summit trig point. The area was covered in hoar frost and I had views across to Lochnagar, Cairngorms, Morven, and Bennachie. I had expected Lochnagar to have some snow cover but it appeared just to be frost although on the opposite side of the River Dee the Cairngorms looked to have a good covering of snow.

I descended the east ridge of Mount Keen to a wide col and climbed Braid Cairn, which is classed as a Corbett Top. The summit was marked by a cairn with a large stone on which was engraved a capital 'B'. I saw a similar stone later on so I'm not sure what the significance of the lettering was although I have a few thoughts. I was taking a couple of photographs when I spotted some movement and saw a ptarmigan beside me, well camouflaged in the hoar frost.

From Braid Cairn I continued east to Naked Hill and onto Hill of Gairney where I headed south and joined a vehicle track. This track took me over Hill of Saughs, as the sun was setting, and onto the Hill of Kirmy. The track had some ice and snow patches and as darkness fell it became harder to spot the ice. In the semi-dark I came to an electric fence with three wires which required opening before I could continue to the farm at Auchronie and a short walk in the dark to my car. The rest of the vehicles that had been there in the morning had gone.

previous ascent

Mount Keen Munro fifth ascent 939 metres

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Lochnagar - Cac Carn Beag

25 December 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 18.5 kilometres. Ascent - 995 metres.

Another Christmas Day so another opportunity for a winter ascent of one of my local Munros, Lochnagar. I set off from my home in Aberdeen in frosty conditions and on passing through Aboyne the car thermometer showed -7C, although it was slightly warmer further west in Ballater. Although the skies around Deeside were clear Lochnagar was cloud covered which was a bit of a disappointment as I was hoping for a third consecutive Christmas day of sun and clear skies.

I drove up the Glen Muick road to the Spittal of Glenmuick car park where there were already a few cars parked. A couple set off for Loch Muick and a lady and her dog headed along the Lochnagar track. I followed the lady passed Allt na-giubhsaich and up the vehicle track to Clais Rathadan. At the large cairn I left the track and followed the path to the bealach south of Meikle Pap. En route I met a chap who had turned back due to the cold and wind and another couple who had been to the summit. They were obviously out early to return in time for their Christmas dinner.

I passed the lady at the bealach and was of the opinion that she wasn't sufficiently well equipped to go much further as it was now rather cold and windy. I climbed up the path to above the corrie but the conditions here were rather wild with a strong wind which blew me about a bit and some ice on the path and rocks. The lady was now a bit behind me and I soon lost sight of her as I walked round the corrie where the wind was less of a problem.

On heading for Cac Carn Mor I saw another couple slightly further west and the cloud that was covering the summit was coming and going. The underfoot conditions here weren't too difficult and I eventually reached the summit trig point of Cac Carn Beag with its covering of ice and snow. There was no sign of the lady I had passed so I presumed she had retreated back to the car park, which was confirmed later when I returned to my car.

I took a few photographs from the summit including a brocken spectre as the cloud blew around me. However despite these conditions I managed to find a bit of shelter for my lunch facing into the sun, although there was no heat benefit.

The conditions later began to deteriorate again so I set off back to Cac Carn Mor and on towards the Glas Allt. I had planned a longer walk taking in the Dubh Loch but I decided to get a bit lower and out of the cold wind.

The new path up the Glass Allt isn't ideal for winter walking. The stone steps were ice and snow covered and it was easier to walk in the drainage ditches at the side as had other walkers. Once lower down the path was clear and I followed it down passed the Glass Allt Waterfall to Loch Muich where there were a number of people walking along the lochside.

I returned along the north side of the loch noticing that the Royal Estate had installed an experimental low deer fence known as an Alnwick Fence. I also encountered a light snow shower so in the Loch Muick area it did snow on Christmas Day.

On reaching the car park at the Spittal of Glenmuick all the cars that were there earlier had gone but several new ones had appeared so not everyone sits at home on Christmas Day.

previous ascent

Lochnagar - Cac Carn Beag Munro twenty third ascent 1155 metres

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Driesh and Mayar

16 December 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5.75 hours. Distance - 20 kilometres. Ascent - 850 metres.

I have climbed Driesh and Mayar several times but always from Glen Clova to the north so I decided on this occasion to ascend these Munros from Glen Prosen to the south.

Glen Prosen is reached from Kirriemuir, initially taking the same route as for Glen Clova and thereafter following the road signs. Later on, it is necessary to ensure you are on the south side of the Prosen Water, unlike myself who ended up at Balnaboth and had to drive back to a nearby bridge before crossing the river. The road was eventually followed to just west of Glenprosen Lodge where there was limited parking beside a forest track.

We set off west along the road, which soon became a vehicle track, passed Runtaleave and to a red roofed shed opposite the south end of the Glenclova Forest. Another vehicle track, shown on the map as a path, headed along the west side of the forest which we followed till the track turned towards the Cairn Baddoch/Lick ridge. At this point there were traces of the path shown on the map but it became quite difficult to follow as it went through some deep heather and bog.

Eventually we reached another vehicle track which took us onto the Lick. There was a cold breeze blowing with hazy visibility and the higher hills were cloud covered. There were also grains of snow blowing in the wind.

Once over the Lick a path, was followed onto the Shank of Driesh which was covered in hoarfrost. The path followed an old fence and here we caught up with a couple, the chap I knew as he worked for another guiding company. By this time we were now into the low cloud and we walked together following the line of the old fence before leaving it for the short walk to the summit trig point.

We left the other couple to have lunch at the windy and freezing summit and descended on a bearing to the bealach between Driesh and Mayar. A worn path them led to the summit of Mayar but it was still cold and windy with no views so we returned towards the Driesh/Mayar bealach.

At the Shank of Drumwhallo we headed down this ridge, which is also known as the Kilbo Path, and once lower down we had a late lunch. We didn't linger long though due to the cold and continued on the descent and eventually entered a forest where the path was rather wet and boggy in places and it was rather dark as we were walking through an arch of thick spruce trees.

The path emerged from the forest east of the White Glen at the Kilbo Ruins and we walked the five kilometres or so east from there along a vehicle track to the start near Gleprosen Lodge, latterly in the semi-dark.

previous ascent

Driesh Munro seventh ascent 947 metres
Mayar Munro seventh ascent 928 metres

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Lochnagar – Cac Carn Beag

4 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 19 kilometres. Ascent - 775 metres.

I met Louise and her mother Sandra in the car park at the Spittal of Glenmuick which was accessed from the South Deeside Road near Ballater along several miles of the unclassified road through Glen Muick. The plan was to climb Lochnagar which had been an ambition of Sandra’s for over 40 years. She had been a regular visitor to the Deeside area of Scotland for family holidays and during these trips she often walked round Loch Muick but had hoped one day to climb Lochnagar.

From the car park we followed the vehicle track to and around the north side of Allt-na-giubhsaich before passing through a wooded area and onto the track that headed towards Balmoral. Half way up this track we entered the cloud base and at the high point in the track took the path that headed to the bealach south of Meikle Pap.

Once at the bealach we followed the cliff edge round to the summit of Lochnagar, Cac Carn Beag. At the summit we had lunch before heading across to Cac Carn Mor and the track to the Glas Allt. At the top of the path we met a couple who were lost in the mist so I gave them some instruction on how to get off the mountain.

Lower down we came out of the cloud and continued descending the path to the waterfall and subsequently to the Glass-allt Shiel where we had a short break sitting at the side of the loch. The final section of the walk was along the shore of Loch Muick back to the car park a route Louise and Sandra had walked numerous times before.

previous ascent

Cac Carn Beag Munro twenty second ascent 1155 metres

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Circuit of the Loch Muick

25 December 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 27 kilometres. Ascent - 1187 metres.

It was another frosty morning when I set off from my home in Aberdeen heading for Royal Deeside. Passing through the town of Aboyne I noted the temperature at -9 degrees centigrade. Further west as the sun rose Morven, near Dinnet was a reddish tinge.

The start of the walk was the car park at the Spittal of Glenmuick several miles south of the village of Ballater. Access to the Glenmuick road is from the South Deeside road around a mile west of Ballater. I wasn't the only one out on the hills this Christmas Day as three other cars were already parked in the car park.

It was sunny but a bit chilly when I set off from the car park and crossed the Carse of Muick towards Allt na-giubhsaich. Here a signposted diversion through a small forest avoided the habitation and joined the vehicle track that headed for Balmoral. I followed this track to its highest point before taking the path towards the col south of Meikle Pap. Here I passed a couple of guys who were also headed for Lochnagar.

Just before the col there were a few pockets of snow but it was avoidable and I climbed more steeply towards the corrie of Lochnagar. There had been some work here on creating a path since my last visit. Once it levelled out I kept close to the corrie edge with some snow hanging in the corrie. I was surprised at the lack of snow as I had my ice axe and crampons and was expecting to use them.

I spotted another couple of walkers who were heading off the hill. I eventually left the corrie edge and climbed to the summit of Lochnagar, known as Cac Carn Beag where there is a trig point and a viewfinder. There was a bit of a breeze but visibility was good. I had views of the Moray Firth and the Cairngorms and I could see the cloud out over the North Sea and a cloud inversion away to the south. The tops of the Ben Lawers range of mountains could be seen above the cloud. I sat at the top for a while and had something to eat while taking in these views.

My initial plan was to return to the Spittal of Glenmuick by the Glas Allt but the weather was too fine to leave the high tops this early in the day so I decided to extend my walk. From the summit of Cac Carn Beag I headed over to Cac Carn Mor where I saw the two walkers I had spoken to earlier. They were in fact the last people I saw that day. From Cac Carn Mor I followed the path that passed to the south of The Stuic but from the lowest point in the path I headed directly to the summit of Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach where once again I had some good views.

I rejoined the path on the south side of Carn an t-Sagairt Beag with a plan to descend to the Dubh Loch and back to my car. However the sun was still out and it was such a glorious day I still didn't want to leave the high tops with their awesome views. I was aware that another change of plan would inevitably leave me walking along the shores of Loch Muick in the dark but I felt it would be worth it.

Deer were feeding nearby but obviously they didn't consider me a threat as they continued with lunch. From the path I climbed to the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor with views into Glen Callater and the Glen Shee mountains. I then headed for Cairn Bannock which was a relatively easy and short walk and here I had another break for some food while looking at the surrounding scenery and noticed the cloud still engulfed the south of the country.

The continuation to Broad Cairn was relatively easy and this would be my last hill of the day as time was getting on and the sun, which had shone all day was getting lower as sunset approached. I descended east off Broad Cairn and out of the sun which was still shining on other hills around me but their colours were changing to a reddish tinge as was the sky. My only regret was that I was headed east and wouldn't see the sun set.

Lower down I noted the vehicle track above Allan's Hut had been removed and filled with heather but there were still a number of paths to follow. I reached Allan's Hut and decided to stay on the vehicle track rather than take the path down to the west end of Loch Muick as I thought it would be easier to follow in the dark. The track eventually descended to Loch Muick but by this time it was dark and I needed to be careful as there were patches of ice to contend with. I had a head torch but could see reasonably well without it as the moon was out and later on the sky was filled with thousands of stars. I also saw a few cars headed out of the glen from the car park as I walked along the shores of Loch Muick.

It was a fairly long walk back to the start but the day had been worthwhile as the weather had been exceptionally fine. On my arrival at the car park my car was the only vehicle left there.

I headed home and returned through Aboyne where the temperature was warmer at -6 degrees centigrade.

previous ascent of Cac Carn Beag

previous ascent of Broad Cairn

Cac Carn Beag Munro twenty first ascent 1155 metres
Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach Munro seventh ascent 1110 metres
Carn an t-Sagairt Mor Munro eighth ascent 1047 metres
Cairn Bannoch Munro tenth ascent 1012 metres
Broad Cairn Munro twelfth ascent 998 metres

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Connachcraig

21 May 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 10 kilometres. Ascent - 455 metres.

This Corbett was a short day out from the car park at the Spittal of Glenmuick, which was very busy despite the cold wind. From the car park I walked towards the houses at Allt na-giubhsaich and took the Lochnagar path, which later merges with a vehicle track, to the highest point on the track. Here Lochnagar bound walkers headed west while I took a path east through the heather and to the summit of Conachraig. Some small granite tors can be found on the summit which had a light covering of fresh snow.

There was a cold wind blowing with some light snow flurries so I headed over to Caisteal na Caillich for a better view of Deeside. However the cloud was lowering on Lochnagar with some more snow showers so the views weren't as good as I had hoped.

I headed south-east from this summit through heather and bog before reaching the road north of Allt na-giubhsaich and the short walk back to the start.

Conachcraig Corbett second ascent 865 metres

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Ben Tirran

6 April 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 2.75 hours. Distance - 8.5 kilometres. Ascent - 665 metres.

On the north side of Glen Clova is the Corbett, Ben Tirran, also known as The Goet. The starting point was the west end of the Adielinn Plantation on the north side of the River South Esk.

A track took us from the small forest up towards Loch Wharral with its snow covered crags. We then followed a path onto the south ridge of Ben Tirran. Here the hill was covered in hard packed snow and it was very windy so they final climb to the summit trig point was a hard battle against the wind. However the benefit was some fantastic clear views of the surrounding snow clad mountains.

The wind was picking up all the time so the plan to walk round the head of Loch Wharral was abandoned and we commenced the return fighting to keep upright. Once off the ridge the wind was less fierce as we followed our route of ascent back to the start.

previous ascent

Ben Tirran Corbett fourth ascent 896 metres

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Creag nan Gabhar

4 April 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 3 hours. Distance - 7.5 kilometres. Ascent - 480 metres.

The start of this walk was the A93 Braemar to Perth road just south of Auchallater Farm. We followed the track up Glen Callater for a short distance before climbing onto the south ridge of Creag nan Gabhar. The map shows a path but it is actually a vehicle track and this can be followed almost to the summit.

It was sunny and warm lower down but immediately we ventured onto the ridge we were met by a cold blast but at least the views of the surrounding mountains were clear. There was also a light covering of snow in particular higher up.

From the summit cairn we descended steeply south, avoiding areas of rock, to the stalker's path that led back to the A93 beside the trees near Baddoch where we had left a car.

Creag nan Gabhar Corbett second ascent 834 metres

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Broad Cairn

12 November 2005

A lady residing in Aberdeen contacted me a few weeks ago requesting a walk in the higher hills around Deeside. Once she had purchased some suitable equipment for the walk, I decided upon Broad Cairn as it had plenty of variables.

I met up with this lady, who originates from Malaysia, and we drove to the Spittal of Glen Muick car park. Some trees, blown down during the night in the gale force winds had blocked the road but they were cleared by the time we arrived. We passed a couple of Mountain Rescue vehicles that were returning to base, but it appears that they were out training as there was no record on the web of any rescues in the area.

On the arrival at the car park I paid the £2 parking fee. Apparently this money is ploughed back into path maintenance in Upper Deeside so I don't mind paying this charge.

It was dry but windy as we set off but we only reached the Information Centre when the rain started. It was a good test for my client's new gear. A group of blokes were heading for Lochnagar, all bar one were wearing jeans. Jeans are totally inappropriate for mountain use, in particular in these wet and later wintry conditions.

We walked along the south shore of Loch Muick and spotted some deer higher up. On reaching the bridge over the Black Burn I took a photograph of this stream in spate. However it was my only photograph of the day due to operator error. From the bridge we climbed steeply up the zig zags where the climb was a fitness test for my client. Once above the zig zags we came across patches of snow, as we headed west high above Loch Muick, which my client enjoyed.

The track eventually took us to a animal hut, known as Allan's Hut, where we sheltered for a few minutes before heading back out into the rain and later sleet. We climbed up the track towards Broad Cairn through some very wet snow but higher up the snow was a bit drier.

At the end of the track there are lots of boulders so it was a slow process working our way up through them as any gaps were hidden by drifting snow, some of which were knee deep. Eventually we reached the summit where it was very windy but my client was very pleased as she had been thinking earlier of giving up and heading back downhill.

We didn't stay long at the top but returned by our ascent route to Allan's Hut where we took shelter and had a late lunch. We were later joined by a chap we had passed earlier on Broad Cairn. He had climbed up from Bachnagairn to the south.

Once lunch was over we ventured outside again and descended the Streak of Lightning to the west end of Loch Muick and followed this path to the Black Burn. The weather hereafter started to improve slightly and as we walked back along the track used in the morning. We got reasonably close to three stags which allowed my client to get some photographs. The flash from the camera startled one of the stags but they didn't run off till we got closer to them. As we headed east there were lots of deer descending the hillside as daylight faded.

We eventually reached the car park at the Spittal of Glenmuick and the end of another wet and windy day in the mountains.

I later received confirmation from my client that she enjoyed her day.

Broad Cairn Munro eleventh ascent 998 metres

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Graham Bagging in Glen Isla

6 November 2005

photos taken on walk

I had a weekend free and decided to have a day out in Glen Isla climbing the final two Grahams in that area. They were conveniently situated so I had only a short car journey between the starting points of both hills.

I tackled Mount Blair first which is not named after Tony Blair. It means 'Hill of the Plain', and is located south of the short section of road linking Glens Isla and Shee.

My starting point was the plantation on the Angus/Perth and Kinross border where I climbed over a gate topped with barbed wire and climbed up the side of a small stream. I immediately disturbed a pheasant, of which there are numerous in this area and several become road casualties. Next some roe deer, which were concealed in the rushes, ran off uphill.

It was a bit wet underfoot in this area and as I gained height the rain commenced with the cloud lowering, reducing visibility. I had two further fences to cross, one fairly recently constructed and both with barbed wire on the top span. I don't see the need for barbed wire to keep sheep penned in and it makes crossing these fences a bit awkward especially when wearing waterproof over-trousers.

I subsequently reached a third fence, which was older and barbed wire free, and I followed it in the mist to the summit trig point. As well as this trig point there was an Orange telecommunications tower and a viewpoint indicator. The name of all the hills on a 360 degree radius were named thereon and it claimed that you could see over thirty Munros from this point, but I unfortunately I saw nothing as visibility was around 50 metres. In the inner sections of this viewpoint were three brass memorial plaques. Recently there has been some discussion about removing memorials from the mountains but I think this one will remain as it is on a properly constructed and fixed plaque. There is also a large pile of stones here which according to a book has a suicide's grave below.

I followed a vehicle track down the hill and as I descended the cloud began to break up and I could see some of the adjoining hills including my next Graham, Bandanun Hill, the top of which was in the cloud.

On returning to my car I drove the short distance to just north of Delnamer in Glen Isla where I parked my car and walked along the track to Fergus. At this farm I headed uphill on a vehicle track through a small wooded area and onto the open hillside. There were numerous ravens circling the hill Fore Brae. The map shows the vehicle track changes to a path at 440 metres but this is not the case. The vehicle track now continues to near the summit of Craig Lair and onto and possibly beyond the next hill, Mid Hill.

It was therefore a reasonably easy walk to reach the summit of Craig Lair, only the last few metres was across some heather. The summit afforded views of the cloud covered Munros in Glens Clova and Shee and south-east towards Kirriemuir.

I returned to the vehicle track as I had spotted another track not marked on the map that took me to the Craig Lair/Badandun Hill bealach. A few hares were spotted here, their coats slowly turning white to blend in with the forthcoming snows, if they arrive. This track continues over the north-east shoulder of Badandun Hill and I presume it joins one shown on the map to the south.

Another track, which hadn't been constructed and had churned up the heather in places, headed towards the summit of Badandun Hill. Here I spotted some more hares and disturbed several grouse, which I had been doing most of this walk.

I eventually reached the trig point marking the summit of Badandun Hill but it was too cold and windy to eat lunch so I walked across to a nearby stane dyke which afforded me shelter for my break. Afterwards it was a direct descent back to Fergus and the completion of all the Grahams in this section.

Mount Blair Graham first ascent 744 metres
Badandun Hill Graham first ascent 740 metres

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Mount Battock

30 October 2005

photos taken on walk

I met my client in Brechin and we drove to Milden in Glen Esk parking beside the telephone kiosk there. It was dry at this time with a slight breeze and there was some cloud around the tops of the hills to the south.

We set off along the tarred road and as we passed Mill of Auchleen, about five minutes walk from the start, it commenced to rain. Just beyond this old mill and house the tarred road ended and we followed the farm road to Blackcraigs then through a gate and onto a vehicle track that headed uphill. It was now raining fairly steadily and we came across a caterpillar vehicle that had sunk into the peat and had toppled over earlier that morning. The driver, who looked very pale, was trying to right the vehicle with the use of a digger.

We followed this vehicle track, which had recently been upgraded, as the rain got heavier and heavier and the wind stronger. Fortunately at this time it was at our backs. The cloud had lowered and visibility was around 50 metres. We disturbed lots of grouse and there were numerous shooting butts at the side of the track. I can only presume that the track improvements were to enable estate clients easy access to these butts. We also spotted what we thought was a snow bunting and disturbed a hare.

The map actually just shows a path so once higher up and through a gate we left the track and headed for the summit of Mount Een reaching the summit a few minutes later. We rejoined the track and followed it onto the next hill, Bennygray. The track here hadn't been upgraded and as it changed direction we were lashed by the rain and buffeted by the wind.

The track headed towards our next summit, Wester Cairn, but appeared to peter out although in the poor visibility it may have headed off downhill. We continued uphill to a relatively flat but very windy summit before descending slightly and heading to our target hill, Mount Battock.

As we fought against the wind and rain we came across a fence which we followed to the summit trig point and mass of rocks.

It was too wet and windy to stop here so we about turned and retraced our steps to Wester Cairn and headed south following traces of the tracks from an all terrain vehicle. This track eventually merged with the vehicle track shown on the map. At this point the cloud started to break up and the rain eased. For the first time in several hours we were actually able to see more than 50 metres and we stopped to look around. We spotted a hut lower down the track and thought that it might be a convenient spot to stop for a late lunch.

The hut did give us some shelter from the wind but it was open at one end with an opening at the other, possibly for shooting. The hut contained some trestle type tables which were stored on their ends and a small wooded fence prevented sheep access to the hut. It was a fine shelter for lunch, albeit a bit windy. We were joined by a wren who briefly came into the hut before returning to the heather.

From the hut I could see the next obstacle, the burn, which I had been concerned about due to the amount of rain that had fallen. It was definitely in spate.

Once lunch was over we followed the track to the Black Burn, where obviously in normal conditions it would be easily crossed, but it was flowing rather fast, and was a dark peaty colour. The White Burn, which joined the Black Burn just beyond here to form the Burn of Turret, wasn't so wide so we managed to cross it. although I got one foot wet.

The next obstacle was to cross the Burn of Turret. There was a few planks of wood nailed to logs but it was on a slope and one plank was broken. However I decided to cross this so called bridge but once on it found it to be like an ice rink with the damp moss making me slide off the bridge. However with the assistance of my poles I managed to stop the slide and eventually reached the other side. The client then had to negotiate the bridge and the easiest way was on hands and knees using the higher end of the wooden planks as a support. This worked fine and would have looked very strange to anyone else on the hills that day. Fortunately we were the only ones on Mount Battock.

Once across the bridge we followed the track over the south-east shoulder of Allrey as the cloud started to break up. Once lower down the sun actually came out and the last mile was quite pleasant in the sun and we started to dry out. We observed in the distant ridge that the caterpillar unit had been re-righted.

The final obstacle was crossing the Hazel Burn but the bridge was in a better state of repair and had a hand rail. The track then took us back to Mill of Achleen and the short walk to the car.

Mount Battock Corbett second ascent 778 metres

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Glen Isla

23 October 2005

photos taken on walk

It was a short drive from the Spittal of Glenshee, where I had been walking in the morning, to nearby Glen Isla where I parked just beyond the end of the public road at Auchavan.

The start of the walk was passed the holiday homes at Auchavan and onto the track heading west to the south ridge of Monamenach where I followed a fence to its summit. It started to snow as I arrived so the views were restricted.

I headed for Craigenloch Hill but navigation was easy as a fence went all the way to the summit. This fence marks the boundary between Angus and Perth and Kinross. A hare darted across in front of me, its fur had started to change to white for the winter.

I descended the south-east ridge of Craigenloch and spotted a lone stag wandering about. It then lay down, probably exhausted from the rut but its rest didn't last long as it soon spotted me, got up and ran off. I continued to follow the county boundary to the head of Glen Beanie where I spotted another two hares. The ground here was rather boggy, churned up by the deer, before I commenced the climb of Duchray Hill also known as Mealna Letter.

Route finding couldn't be easier as in addition to a fence there was an auld stane dyke and my ascent route was between the two. Initially the climb was fairly steep but it eased off higher up. The fence and dyke changed sides and another fence headed down the south-east ridge. The summit cairn of Duchray Hill, was located slightly to the west of the wall and after taking a few photographs I headed off down the south-east ridge. Lower down I dropped into Glen Beanie where I followed a vehicle track for the short walk back to Glen Isla.

Monamenach Corbett second ascent 807 metres
Duchray Hill Graham first ascent 702 metres

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Lochnagar

20 July 2005

photos taken on walk

This walk was booked by a lady from New York who was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1935. She had climbed Lochnagar when she was 19 years of age and wanted to make a return visit.

We set off from the car park at the Spittal of Glenmuick and followed the track towards the Allt na-giubhsaich. The mountain tops were covered in cloudy and it was fairly windy.

The client started at a fair pace even once we had commenced the climb up the track west of the small forest plantation. However her bronchial problems later took over and she had to slow down, which was fine by me as she was going too fast for a lady of her age.

Once at the head of the col we took the path that led towards the col south of Meikle Pap. It was very windy initially but once we got some shelter from the shoulder of Meikle Pap we stopped for a break. The cloud by this time had cleared the summits and it looked like the client was going to be fortunate and get some views.

We continued up the path and then climbed what is known as 'The Ladder' to the summit ridge with good views of the Loch and Corries of Lochnagar. The client kept stopping to take photos of the mountain and the surrounding views.

We followed the rim of the corrie round before climbing to the actual summit of Lochnagar, known as Cac Carn Beag, where we again had good views, especially to the south, where we could see mountain ranges probably in the region of 100 miles away.

It was windy on the summit so we headed for Cac Carn Mor, which is lower, despite Mor in Gaelic meaning higher, and then down to the Glas Allt. Once we were a bit lower and sheltered from the wind we had lunch and the sun came out.

The descent later continued as we passed the Glas Allt Waterfall to the Glas-allt-Shiel, which is a royal residence built in the times of Queen Victoria. It is located at the edge of Loch Muick, which was sparkling in the sun.

The return to the car park was along the north side of Loch Muick, as far as its east end before cutting across via a path to the track on the south shore and the short walk back to the start. It took us seven hours. That's not bad for a 70 year old.

My client who was very lucky with the weather, wasn't able to recall any parts of her walk over 50 years ago.

previous ascent

Lochnagar - Cac Carn Beag Munro twentieth ascent 1155 metres

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Glen Uig

27 February 2005

Yes, it is in the County of Angus and nowhere near Uig on the Island of Skye. I hadn't heard of this glen myself until I was doing the planning for this walk. I think it is a little used glen but it is only about 10 miles from Kirriemuir so maybe I should keep this glen a secret!

It was sunny but cold when I parked at the end of the public road near Wester Lednathie. Parking is a problem here but the farmer seemed to be happy where I left my car as he acknowledged my presence as he drove passed en-route to feed his stock.

The first section of the walk was a bit awkward as I had to pass through the farm buildings, which I didn't particularly like, as a felt I was intruding. A sign just before the bridge indicated that the paths are not 'Rights of Way' and that walkers use them at their own risk. I thought that was the case on all paths walkers use! However there were no anti-walking signs which was a good sign.

Once across the bridge the path shown on the map goes across grazing ground to a small wood. The wood, as with several others in the area, are obviously used to rear game birds so the Estate has something to shoot. I couldn't find the path through the wood so I had to make my own way through the trees avoiding numerous fallen pieces of timber.

On reaching the other side of the wood I disturbed a roe deer, which ran off onto the open hillside. I found the track I was looking for and followed it up to Monthrey. Here I turned and climbed Cat Law and followed a fence, which has recently been upgraded, to the summit. There was a thin covering of snow on the hill with some ankle deep patches, which could be avoided, but it couldn't really be classed as a winter climb. The hares were fairly obvious in their white winter coats as they ran from one snow patch to another.

The summit of Cat Law has a trig point and three cairns and despite it being cold on the summit I stopped for a break and took in the views down towards Kirriemuir and onto the River Tay and the North Sea.

I then set off back to Monthrey before following a track to Cormaud. A herd of around ten stags, which had come out of Glen Dye ran off on my approach. I continued towards the Quharity Burn and decided to take about a kilometre off the walk and cut across the hillside before descending to the Burn. I don't think it was much of an advantage as the heather was rather deep and made walking a bit tiresome.

On this descent I had spotted another track that went up the south shoulder of Cairn Corse and I headed for it. It was still sunny and was warm in the glen and on the climb up to Cairn Corse where I disturbed several brace of grouse. Higher up the track disappeared but the heather was short enough in places to make the climb easy enough.

From Cairn Corse I headed for Corwharn and on approaching the summit I was surprised to meet a couple leaving the top as the area isn't popular with walkers.

On reaching the summit cairn it was difficult to say if it was positioned on the highest point due to the peat hags, but I suppose the top of the cairn might be the highest point around. I sheltered behind this cairn while I ate my lunch, taking in the surrounding views. I then headed down the hill following a fence, across some frozen peat bogs, to meet another track, not marked on the map. This track is obviously used to access the shooting butts on the Hill of Ardenaich.

This descent of this track took me back to Glen Uig and a pleasant walk down the Glen to my car watching all the game birds flying off and getting a noisy reaction from the farm dogs in their kennels.

Cat Law Graham first ascent 671 metres
Corwharn Graham first ascent 611 metres

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Glen Lee

23 January 2005

I was looking for something new to climb near to my home in Aberdeen. I came across the Graham, Hunt Hill, so early this Sunday morning I set off for Invermark in Glen Esk. Munro Baggers will be familiar with this location as it is the starting point for Mount Keen, if approached from the south.

The route from the car park crossed the Water of Mark before passing a ruined castle and church. The gravestones in the churchyard are very close to the edge of Loch Lee and it is here that the tarred roadway changes to a track. I followed the track along the north shore of Loch Lee into a strong bitterly cold head wind with occasional fine snow showers.

At the west end of the Loch several swans were paddling about as I crossed the bridge and headed for Inchgrundle. A lone white pony watched me as I passed.

A small footbridge took me across the steam, that flowed down from the Shank of Inchgrundle, and I followed a zig zag track through a small copse which afforded me some shelter. Once beyond the tree line it was again very windy and the track was icy where running water or melted snow had frozen over, so care was needed to avoid a slide. As I gained height I had better views of the rocky corrie above Carlochy and my route ahead.

On reaching the highest point on the track I walked to the small summit cairn of Cairn Lick before continuing in a northerly direction over snow covered heather and peat bogs to Point 683 and the ascent of Craig Maskeldie. This is a very rocky summit and has similarities to Glencoe - well a miniature Glencoe. Recently I was told by a chap from the south-east of England that the Cairngorms weren't very interesting hills. He obviously hasn't walked in this part of the Highlands.

From the summit of Craig Maskeldie I continued round the top of the crags peering down the couple of steep gullies. I then needed to descend and cross the Water of Unich. I started my descent as I had spotted a route through the crags on the opposite side of the burn. However as I descended I noted that the water was running fairly high and fast and I wasn't keen on crossing it, firstly as I wasn't sure if that was possible with some of the boulders covered in snow and ice and secondly I didn't want to get wet in this bitterly cold wind.

I decided to go further south and look for a better crossing point. Water from the Falls of Damff was being blown out of the burn and forming large sheets of ice. Beyond the Falls I spotted a small footbridge and was delighted to make use of this crossing.

Once on the other side of the burn I crossed more snow covered heather and peat bogs and headed to the foot of Hunt Hill. The sun came out but it wasn't any warmer as I climbed the south ridge to the summit of Hunt Hill. I quickly took in the views of the surrounding hills, as the wind was still very strong, before heading towards Glen Lee.

The next obstacle was the crossing of the Water of Lee but once again fortune favoured me. I spotted what appeared to be a bridge but as I got closer I saw that it was just a steel beam with a warning sign about its use. However wading the river was to get wet and cold for the long walk back so I opted for the steel beam which didn't collapse under my weight.

I now headed down Glen Lee but required shelter for lunch. In a small wooded area, part of which had been demolished by man and nature I spotted a small bothy where I was able to eat my lunch away from the strong wind. A note inside the bothy indicated that the Mountain Bothies Association were considering taking over responsibility for it.

On finishing lunch I ventured out into the cold wind again and continued down Glen Lee. I also saw that there was another small footbridge where the Lee and Unich joined so I will have to remember that in case I am back in this area. Maybe someone would like to pay me to take them round this route - I've done the recce!

The final section of the track took me past the road leading to Inchgrundle, which I used in the morning, and back along the shores of Loch Lee watching the wind whip up the water of the loch into a spray. Kept the mind active as I walked the last few miles back to the car.

An interesting day on the hills on my own without meeting or seeing anyone and with reasonably good views just a bit cold but what do I expect in January?

Hunt Hill Graham first ascent 678 metres

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Glen Esk

19 September 2004

From Millden Lodge in Glen Esk we crossed the River North Esk by a private footbridge and followed the track westwards on the south side of the river. On reaching the Burn of Beag we took the track on its west side which led us onto the open hillside.

It was a windy day and as we gained height the predicted cloud from the west engulfed the hills and then us.

On reaching the north-east ridge of Hill of Wirren we followed a fence that led to the summit trig point. The final few metres involved crossing a section of wet peat and a fence to get to the actual summit. Although this hill is not very high, in the misty conditions it was fairly bleak.

We did not linger here but about turned and headed back to the tracks we had used on the upward route before crossing the River North Esk further west and walking the few metres back to our cars.

Hill of Wirren Graham second ascent 678 metres

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Glen Clova

15 August 2004

It was a nice sunny morning when a friend and I set off from Wheen in Glen Clova to climb Beinn Tirran, the Goet. However within a few minutes my enjoyment was spoilt when I was stung by a bee. A couple of beekeepers were working at hives on the open hillside close to the track and several bees were swarming round the area. One unfortunately stung me on the thigh. This surprised me as I didn't think insects could sting through clothing.

The track was followed up the east side of the corrie containing Loch Wharral before it petered out and an easy climb took us to the summit trig point. We had lunch naming the various mountains but the cloud was building from the south-west as the sun disappeared.

After lunch we headed round the Craigs of Loch Whirral during a shower before the sun reappeared and we headed down the track on the west side of Loch Wharral and followed it back to the start.

The beekeepers were still working at the hives so I made a quick dart for the car and managed to avoid being stung again.

Ben Tirran Corbett third ascent 896 metres

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Angus Glens

16 January 2004

On a Friday in mid January I met Laila, Shauna and Fraser in the car park at the head of Glen Clova. The surrounding hills were snow clad and the cloud base was rising as the weather improved.

A short walk past Glendoll Lodge, until recently a Youth Hostel, and a pleasant climb through the forest warmed us up. Once out of the forest we followed the snow covered path known as the ‘Kilbo Path’, which is an old Right of Way. I was pleasantly surprised to find the snow wasn’t too deep and it made walking up the path reasonably easy for a winter’s day.

On reaching the col there were good views south to the River Tay, and the snow clad Lomond Hills in Fife stood out on the horizon. The views to the north were limited by low cloud so we were fortunate in the choice of mountains.

From the col a short climb and a walk out to the trig point on Driesh took us to our first Munro of the day.

We returned to the col and headed out towards Mayar. As we approached the final climb to the summit, Fraser disturbed a hare in its winter white coat. Unfortunately as we reached the summit the cloud came down and the wind was causing some spin drift, which restricted visibility.

The return was via Corrie Fee and down the side of the Fee Burn. The snow was fairly soft so walking was reasonably easy although care was still required. Lower down, and just above the snow line, we came across four workmen constructing a path up into the corrie. The rest of the descent was along this path and back into Glendoll Forest and to the car park.

Driesh Munro sixth ascent 947 metres
Mayar Munro sixth ascent 928 metre

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Lochnagar

6 December 2003

In early December Professor Hank Edmondson from Georgia, USA travelled to Aberdeen University to launch a book. This was his first visit to Scotland and he asked me to take him to the Scottish Highlands for a day walk.

On a mild Saturday morning I collected Professor Hank from his residence in Aberdeen and conveyed him to the Spittal of Glen Muick, south of Ballater. We walked across towards Allt-na-giubhsaich and up the Lochnagar path. The deer were high up on the hillside due to the lack of snow and the grouse were noisily marking out their territory. Hank was happy, as well as a backpacker he is also a ‘birder’.

On reaching the col above the Loch the top of the corrie was hidden by cloud but we were still able to view the climbing routes. We continued up through the boulders and along the top of the corrie where Hank took more pictures on his digital camera. Here there was some hoar frost and verglas (thin layer of ice) on the boulders so care was required.

We then headed for the trig point summit of Cac Carn Beag and joined several other walkers. We were above the cloud level and took in the views of the Cairngorms and surrounding mountains while eating our lunch. Hank’s only complaint was that I hadn’t taken any coffee for him. It looks like next time I am out I will not only have to guide my clients but supply them with food and hot drinks. Maybe it is time to arrange maid service for breaks and lunch!

On leaving the summit we stopped and chatted to an Aberdeen mountain guide I knew. He had climbed up the corrie instead of taking the walking route.

The descent route was down the path at the side of the Glas Allt, past the waterfall and down to the Glas Allt Shiel. This is a residence built for Queen Victoria and there is unrestricted access to the surrounding area, unless a member of the Royal family is visiting. Hank took some more photographs and was going to do a video with me commentating but fortunately the camera wouldn’t work.

A walk back along the shores of Loch Muick to the car park ended an enjoyable day for my American client. He now wants to come back to the Scottish Highlands, either himself or with some of his students, and expects me to organise the same good weather.

On his return home he sent me an e-mail with favourable remarks about his trip to Lochnagar.

Lochnagar - Cac Carn Beag Munro nineteenth ascent 1155 metres

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Grampians

12 October 2003

The previous day had been a lovely sunny day in Aberdeen so I decided that I should make the most of the good weather and head for the hills. I searched for a new route and noted that I had been on Mount Keen on three previous occasions, always approaching from Glen Esk, so I decided to attempt it from the north side on this occasion.

An early start from my home saw me in Aboyne and onto the South Deeside Road before driving the short distance up Glen Tanar to the end of the public road. The trees, bushes and bracken were magnificent with their autumnal colours. I cycled up the track that runs to the head of the Glen, initially through miles of forest before reaching open hillside. After about six miles I abandoned my cycle and climbed up a bulldozed track which I presume replaced the old drover’s route known as the ‘Mounth Road’. Higher up the track became an eroded path that spread over a wide area of the hillside. At the same time I entered the cloud base with some light drizzle blowing in the wind, which was fairly strong higher up.

On reaching the cairn I didn’t linger, there was no point, nothing to see but cloud. However I knew I wasn’t on my own as the roar of the stags kept me company. A quick descent back down the hill to collect my bicycle and the return journey down Glen Tannar was enjoyable as very little cycling was required on the slight decline. This allowed me to get back to my car by lunchtime.

Mount Keen Munro fourth ascent 939 metres

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