Lindsay Boyd's Trip Reports

.

Section 8 - Cairngorms and Buchan

Quoich Water
Quoich Water
Sunset on Loch Morlich
Sunset on Loch Morlich
Derry Cairngorm
Derry Cairngorm
Braeriach
Braeriach

This section refers to the hills and mountains of the Cairngorms and Buchan area and include the hills around Dufftown, Tarland, Strathdon and the Lecht. 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 and those between Strathspey and Aberdeen here. The Humps in Section 8 can be found here while those further east are in Section 21.


Section 8 - Index

Corbetts Grahams Munros
Ben Rinnes Carn a'Ghille Chearr Beinn a'Bhuird
Brown Cow Hill Cnap Chaochan Aitinn Beinn a'Chaorainn
Carn Ealasaid Cook's Cairn Beinn Bhreac
Carn Liath Creagan a'Chaise Beinn Bhrotain
Carn Mor Creag Bhalg Beinn Mheadhoin
Carn na Drochaide Geallaig Hill Ben Avon
Corryhabbie Hill Ladylea Hill Ben Macdui
Creag Mhor Mona Gowan Braeriach
Culardoch Pressendye Bynack More
Geal Charn The Buck Cairn Gorm
Meall a'Bhuachaille   Cairn Toul
Morven   Carn a'Mhaim
Sgor Mor   Derry Cairngorm
    Monadh Mor
    Mullach Clach a'Bhlair
    Sgor an Lochain Uaine
    Sgor Gaoith
    The Devil's Point


Section 8 - Trip Reports

Creagan a'Chaise

19 September 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 17.25 kilometres. Ascent - 670 metres.

It was a bit misty when I parked in the fairly large car park in the village of Cromdale on the A95 Grantown on Spey to Aberlour Road. We then walked a short distance along this road then crossed it and immediately beyond the Haugh Hotel followed the minor road south-east out of the village. After a kilometre the road swung round to the north-east and here we came to signposts for Lethendry Farm.

We continued along this route for around 70 metres then other signage indicated a left turn through the farmyard. Beyond, the vehicle track took us through some trees, across the Haughs of Cromdale then up the south-west side of Claggersnich Wood. The gradient was a bit steeper here and after passing through a third gate we reached the top end of the forest.

At this point we left the vehicle track and walked through heather which due to years of muirburning was of various lengths. Higher up an obvious peaty path led to the Coronation Cairn where we had good views of the surrounding countryside. The path now wet and boggy in sections as well as being churned up by quad vehicles headed south-west following the boundary between Moray and Highland Region. The path turned south then later left the regional boundary as it crossed a short rocky section to the summit of the Graham, Creagan a’Chaise, marked by a trig point and the Jubilee Cairn.

I left my walking companion here and descended to the col with Carn Tuairneir, crossed peat hags then some soft and boggy ground as I ascended this Graham Top. The highest point was possibly the cairn but it was difficult to say positively. I then returned to the west side of Creagan a’Chaise, rejoined my walking partner, and returned to Cromdale by the outward route.

previous ascent

Creagan a'Chaise Graham second ascent 722 metres

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Cook's Cairn

6 September 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 37. Time taken - 5.5 hours.
(cycle - 1.5 hours)
Distance - 20.25 kilometres.
(cycle - 9.75 kilometres)
Ascent - 610 metres.
(cycle 100 metres)

A friend wanted to climb the Graham, Cook’s Cairn, which in May I had ascended from Glen Fiddich so on this occasion I decided on a different approach. I had a printout of the route as well as the Ordnance Survey Landranger Map 37 but should also have taken a map covering the B9008 Tomintoul to Dufftown Road. At Tomnavoulin I eventually located the correct road, signposted Tombae, which led to the car park at Allanreid. I wasn’t the only person having a bit of difficulty. At the car park we met a chap who was making his fifth attempt at locating a local battle site that was shown on a brochure he possessed.

Once geared up we set off on bikes along the road towards Achdregnie Farm but soon left this dirt track and headed towards a footbridge over the River Livet. Just prior to the bridge we cycled along the grassy track on the north side of the river then through a small plantation where the track consisted of several muddy pools. Beyond the trees we entered a field where the route wasn’t obvious so we kept close to the fence edge until we reached another gate. The ground was rather muddy here as we crossed a stream then a short distance further on the footbridge over the River Livet, located close to a small cottage.

On the other side of the river the ground was very wet but after passing through another gate there was an improvement. In saying that the vehicle track was rough, had lots of puddles, and there were several small streams to cross. It followed the south then the southeast bank of the River Livet. While taking a break, once we found a spot with a breeze to avoid the midges, a couple of mountain bikers passed us headed for Glen Fiddich.

Later we continued the cycle up the glen until it forded the Kymah Burn. Here we left our bikes, crossed the stream and continued on foot. A slight rise on a grassy track took us to the dilapidated property at Suie. A further two ruins were passed before we left the Glen Sui track and made our way onto the Steplar Road. Initially it was badly eroded and was more like a trench with water running down it. Further on there was some improvement and near the col with Carn na Bruar we left it and used another vehicle track, stony in places, which led us to the summit of Cook’s Cairn, marked by a cairn.

There were good views with several Shires visible from Sutherland round the Moray Firth Coast to Aberdeenshire. Despite the strong wind we stopped here for lunch. Afterwards we returned to the col with Carn na Bruar where we parted company, my friend returning to Allanreid while I commenced the ascent of the Hump and Graham Top, Carn na Bruar.

The climb was mainly through heather of various lengths and I was soon on the summit marked by a couple of cairns. I wasn’t able to tell which was the highest so visited both before descending steeply south, avoiding rocks. Low down the ground was boggy and tussocky which made progress to the Kymah Burn rather slow. On reaching it I followed its north bank where there were a few animal trails. There was no evidence of the path shown on my map. At the ruin at Knochkan I used the footbridge to cross the burn before continuing down its side south side to reclaim my bike and return to the car park by the outward route.

previous ascent

Cook's Cairn Graham third ascent 755 metres

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Cnap Chaochan Aitinn

14 June 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 6.75 hours
(includes cycle 2 hours)
Distance 43.25 kilometres
(includes cycle 29.5 kilometres)
Ascent - 1230 metres
(includes 740 metres cycle)

It was late afternoon when I met up with a hill bagging friend in Tomintoul and made the short drive south to the car park at Delnabo. From here we set off on the lengthy cycle up Strath Avon initially on a rough road before joining the tarred road at Delavorar. The route south was rather undulating so there were sections where we had to push the bikes.

We passed through the gates at Birchfield then further south the bridge over the River Avon which could have been used to access Cnap Chaochan Aitinn but I’ve been that way before. Continuing along the tarred road we met a couple of cyclists near Dalestie, the only folks we were to encounter on this trip. Beyond this derelict and boarded up house the tarred area came to an end to be replaced by a hardcore surface with some loose stones. Eventually we reached Inchrory Lodge which was unoccupied then the estate vehicle track that headed west up Glen Avon on the south side of the River Avon. This track was a bit rougher with some height gain before descending to the bridge over the River Avon at Inverloin.

Here we abandoned the cycles and set off on foot for Cnap Chaochan Aitinn initially on the vehicle track for Glen Loin soon crossing the Burn of Loin without getting wet feet. At this point we left the Glen Loin track to access another vehicle track that took us onto Drum Loin. I left this track briefly to visit its highest point which was unmarked. On rejoining the track there was good views into Glen Loin, our return route.

The vehicle track came to an end then a mixture of soft vegetation and heather was crossed on the approach to Cnap Eas Chaoiach where golden plovers were obviously upset by our presence especially when my walking partner came across their nest containing three eggs. The summit of Cnap Eas Chaoiach was reached, marked by a few stones, then a short descent took us to the peaty col with Cnap Chaochan Aitinn. Once over this boggy area we climbed to the summit of this Graham where a cairn marked its highest point. Close by there was a mast and steel cabin as well as some old pieces of equipment lying about.

On the west face of this Graham we located the vehicle track that descended into Glen Loin and it was here that we parted company, my walking companion dropping into the glen to commence the return journey home. I continued on the descent to the rather damp col with Carn na Ruabraich where I disturbed a number of grouse and their chicks. There were so many youngsters running around, some attempting to fly, I was concerned that I may stand on them. Beyond, some old fence posts and a cairn were passed to reach the summit of this Graham Top which was unmarked.

The descent south took me across some boggy and peaty ground before the gradient increased as I walked through the heather and dropped into Glen Loin disturbing a herd of deer. It was then a long but pleasant walk down the glen, little used by walkers, where I encountered a short rain shower. Later as the sun set the higher reaches of Ben Avon were lit up red. On reaching Inverloin I collected my bike and cycled back down Glen and Strath Avon although it never got that dark that I couldn't see. Afterwards there was the ninety minute drive home.

previous ascent

Cnap Chaochan Aitinn Graham second ascent 715 metres

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Corryhabbie Hill and Cook's Cairn

23 May 2015

slide show

Maps OS Lanranger 28 and 37. Time taken - 7 hours.
(includes cycle 30mins.)
Distance - 27 kilometres.
(includes cycle 7.25 kilometres)
Ascent - 1065 metres.
(includes cycle 170 metres)

I looked at various options for climbing the Corbett, Corryhabbie Hill and the Graham, Cook’s Cairn and in the end chose to combine them with an approach from the A941 Cabrach to Dufftown Road. It was a sunny morning when I parked on an area of grass on the north side of the bridge over the River Fiddich at Bridgehaugh. If the occupants of this cottage hadn’t seen me arrive the barking of their kennelled dogs would have made them aware.

A closed metal stock gate with a padlock undone was passed through before I commenced the cycle up Glen Fiddich on a tarred road with numerous pot holes. The gradient soon increased significantly and as an infrequent cyclist I had to push my bike part of the way rather than using all my energy at the start of the day. After twenty minutes I arrived at the Dubh Allt where I left my cycle.

I then continued along the vehicle track on foot to the dilapidated and neglected buildings at and including Glenfiddich Lodge. However one house did appear occupied. The track continued along the south side of the River Fiddich before crossing a bridge where there appeared to be a monitoring system for rainfall and river flow, well that was my guess. A man made lochan was passed before reaching and crossing the bridge over the Burn of Glackra.

Initially I headed south on another vehicle track before leaving it and crossing the heather clad hillside of Scaut Hill. On this ascent a number of grouse rose from the vegetation and I could hear the sound of a vehicle. Through my binoculars I spotted an ATV vehicle descending the hillside to the south-west of my location. There were also some men working around a mast. I later checked Google and learned there was a plan to construct over 60 wind turbines in this area.

Near the summit of this Highland Five areas of boulders were avoided before reaching the trig point. There were also a couple of cairns so I took a break looking north towards Dufftown. According to my map the highest point on this hill, a meter higher than the trig, was to the south-west so I visited it although there was no marker. It was then an easy descent across some wet ground to the col with Carn Allt a’Chlaiginn where there were a number of odd items which I presumed were related to the construction of the wind farm. Through my binoculars I noted two workmen part way up the mast possibly securing anchors. Nearby I came across a golden plover’s nest containing four eggs.

I continued to Carn Allt a’Chlaiginn, the summit also being unmarked, followed by a short drop to the col with Cook’s Cairn which was over two kilometres away. A gentle incline led towards this hill but contained several areas of peat hags. However the floor of these peat hags was mainly dry and made for easy walking. The summit cairn was reached and I had views of the Ladder Hills and the Braes of Glenlivet.

It was then a fairly steep descent through heather avoiding a few areas of stone to reach the col with Corryhabbie Hill. On this descent I was very close to standing on a grouse before it suddenly rose revealing its clutch of eggs. The vehicle track, eroded in sections, on the south-east face of Corryhabbie Hill was used it to ascend this hill before making the short walk across short cropped heather to the trig point surrounded by a cairn.

After another break I descended north to rejoin the track which was shown on the map as Morton’s Way. It was another gradual and easy descent until lower down where there were a couple of zigzags. This led to the track crossing the lower reaches of the Hill of Glenroads which I ascended crossing a mixture of heather and a few stones. The apparent summit of this Highland Five was marked by three or four stones. I also visited a nearby but lower cairn where there was a plaque to the 8th Duke of Richmond and Gordon and his wife.

The next section of the walk onto Thunderslap Hill was the worst underfoot conditions I experienced that day, tussocky ground with some bog making for slow progress. A tussock marked the highest point on this hill. The descent was through long straggly heather to reach the vehicle track beside the Dubh Allt from where I descended to collect my bike. It then took me around ten minutes to cycle back to my car. This time the stock gate was padlocked but there was a pedestrian gate just to the south which I used instead of throwing my bike over the locked gate.

previous ascent Corryhabbie Hill

Corryhabbie Hill Corbett third ascent 781 metres
Cook's Cairn Graham second ascent 755 metres

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Carn a'Ghille Chearr

8 February 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 540 metres.

As I was approaching the Hills of Cromdale from Tomintoul it would make for a shorter drive if I commenced their ascent from the east. I drove north on the B9136 through Strath Avon to the junction with the unclassified road to Balnalon where I crossed the road bridge over the River Avon and parked in the small snow covered car park on the north-west side of the bridge.

Once geared up I walked north along the signposted route for the Right of Way to Cromdale on an ice covered track but soon left it and the River Avon to head for Knock Farm where the walking was easier as areas of snow had melted. On reaching the farm it appeared that work was underway to repair this derelict building as some new windows had been installed.

Here I came across a third Right of Way sign indicating the route was between the house and the dilapidated farm buildings. Beyond a copse was a small pond which appeared to be used for shooting purposes with butts at either end. Further on a gate led to the open hillside and the now snow filled vehicle track. Progress was rather slow due to the soft snow and at times it was easier to walk on the exposed heather at the sides of the track.

I was now on a track that wasn’t shown on my map and just prior to re-crossing the Knock Burn I left it and climbed north-west across more soft snow and heather. It had been a rather pleasant sunny morning but as height was gained it became rather windy and cold. There were lots of mountain hares around but there was little chance of getting close to them as I had a dog with me.

On gaining the ridge I crossed over Carn Eachie then made my way to the summit of Carn a’Ghille Chearr. Here there was evidence of deer in the area but I never spotted them although the dog got rather excited. The summit trig point was reached and after taking a few photos I walked east to the viewpoint cairn for some better views of Strath Avon.

It was too cold and windy to hang about so after a few more snaps I returned to Carn Eachie as a quad vehicle headed towards Carn a’Ghille Chearr. From Carn Eighe I descended more directly to the Knock Burn before rejoining the track and returning to the start by the approach route. I was passed by the quad vehicle having noted the snow had prevented its progress along the track and its failed attempts to clear banks of snow.

previous ascent

Carn a'Ghille Chearr Graham second ascent 710 metres

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Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Bhreac

26 July 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36 and 43. Time taken - 7 hours.
(cycle - 45mins)
Distance - 29.25 kilometres.
(cycle - 10.25 kilometres)
Ascent - 960 metres.
(cycle 145 metres)

Earlier in July I spent a week in Braemar but not long enough to climb all my planned hills so with a reasonable weather forecast it was back to the Linn of Dee car park, west of Braemar, and another two pounds for parking, although payment was voluntary. At 7.30am there were lots of parked vehicles with more arriving and some folks putting together their mountain bikes.

I set off on my bike along the path through the trees and onto the Glen Lui vehicle track which I followed to Derry Lodge where I secured my cycle. I then crossed the footbridge over the Derry Burn and walked along the path on its west side passing numerous Caledonian Pine trees. There were a few tents around and a group of walkers using the path on the opposite side of the burn. A couple more tents were spotted near the second and northern footbridge over the Derry Burn and once beyond it the paths merged.

I continued up Glen Derry, the path replacing the original vehicle track which had been filled in and was now barely visible. The cloud base was lower than forecasted with a few spots of rain. A group of cyclists heading for Loch Etchachan, passed me. Once across the Glas Allt Mor I left the path and followed its north bank through some long heather with the occasional animal trail. I gradually left this stream and after a bit more height gain the gradient increased until more level ground was reached. Here I stopped for a break with views across Glen Derry to Beinn Mheadhoin and Derry Cairngorm.

The ground beyond would normally be wet and boggy but as a result of the recent dry spell it was easily crossed avoiding a few remaining wet spots. This took me to Beinn a’Chaorainn’s South Ridge which I climbed to gain the summit cairn. Two chaps were seated there having set off on their cycles around the same time as myself but had already climbed Beinn Bhreac. They left for Glen Derry and I descended the south-east ridge then crossed the normally wet and boggy Moine Bhealaidh which allowed me to take a more direct route to Beinn Bhreac, not possible in wetter conditions.

After crossing the moss I ascended Beinn Bhreac’s West Top, a Munro Top, and then its higher east summit. Thereafter I descended south turning south-west to pick up a walker’s path, there were a couple, which led to the Caledonian Pine forest. The route wound its way through the trees to join the path on the east side of the Derry Burn at a small cairn. I then walked south along this path to Derry Lodge, collected my bike and made the easy cycle out to the Linn of Dee.

previous ascent

Beinn a'Chaorainn Munro sixth ascent 1082 metres
Beinn Bhreac Munro sixth ascent 931 metres

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Sgor Mor

19 July 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36 and 43. Time taken - 4.5 hours.
(cycle - 0.75 hours)
Distance - 22.75 kilometres.
(cycle - 11.5 kilometres)
Ascent - 620 metres.
(cycle- 110 metres)

It was back to the Linn of Dee car park, west of Braemar, this time to climb the Corbett, Sgor Mor, which involved a cycle along the vehicle track on the north side of the River Dee as far as the White Bridge. A similar route was initially used a few days earlier to reach the Munros, An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir.

At the White Bridge I cycled along the path on the east side of the River Dee as far as the Chest of Dee where I left my bike as the path became quite rough. On foot I continued along this path in a north-westerly direction until a few hundred metres beyond the crossing of the un-named stream that flowed from the col between Sgor Mor and its 744 knoll. I then climbed through mixed vegetation including some long heather to the top of Sgor an Eoin entering the cloud base as I did so. I stopped here for a break as the cloud briefly lifted with views back into Glen Dee.

In low cloud I crossed some boggy ground before climbing Creagan nan Gabhar, a Graham Top. There was a small pile of stones upon a rock but it didn’t appear to be the highest point so I had a wander around a few contenders. The cloud had lifted again and I returned across the bog and climbed onto Sgor Mor’s West Ridge then to its summit which by this time was once again in the cloud. Here there was a wind shelter but a nearby large boulder was obviously higher.

I descended south towards the unnamed stream mentioned above then followed it to the path used earlier that day. I returned along the path, collected my bike and cycled back to the Linn of Dee reaching my car just before the rain commenced.

previous ascent

Sgor Mor Corbett third ascent 813 metres

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Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and The Devil's Point

17 July 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36 & 43. Time taken - 11.5 hours
(includes cycle 0.75 hour)
Distance 36.75 kilometres
(includes cycle 10.25 kms)
Ascent 1600 metres
(includes cycle 145 metres)

A good weather day was predicted so we decided to head for the Lairig Ghru and ascend three of the Munros to the west and with a longish day ahead a reasonably early start was required. We set off from the Linn of Dee car park, where the National Trust for Scotland request a parking fee of £2, and cycled up Glen Lui to Derry Lodge where we left our bikes.

The footbridge over the Derry Burn was crossed before following the path into Glen Luibeg and the crossing point of the Luibeg Burn. There was a bridge further upstream but with the water level low it was easily crossed. The path then continued below the south side of Carn a’ Mhaim with a slight gain of height before losing it all as we entered the Lairig Ghru.

Our next target was Corrour Bothy so we left the Lairig Ghru route and descended on a now improved path to the bridge over the River Dee and the bothy where a few folks were camped outside. Members of the MBA were busy cleaning out the blocked loo so we kept going and climbed the path behind the bothy which led into Coire Odhar. High up the path steepened before reaching the col between The Devil’s Point and Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir.

We opted to take in The Devil’s Point on our return so headed north-west following a path then over some boulders to reach the Munro Top, Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir. En route we spotted a few ptarmigan one with an injured leg so unfortunately it may not survive long. At the summit a ring ouzel (mountain blackbird) appeared rather agitated so may have had young around.

It was then onto Cairn Toul where a friendly snow bunting welcomed us. After a break taking in the fantastic scenery we descended the boulder field before making the easy ascent to the summit cairn on Sgor an Lochain Uaine (also known as Angel’s Peak) with excellent views of Braeriach and its corries.

The return was to the col with Cairn Toul, by-passing this hill to the west, then re-ascending Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir and retracing our steps to the col with Devil’s Point. A path led to this summit, marked by a cairn, where once again the views were awesome.

We left the left the summit, descended back to the col, then through Coire Odhar to Corrour Bothy where the MBA members had completed their work and left with the proceeds! It was then just the case of following the outward route to Derry Lodge and the easy cycle to the car park at Linn of Dee.

previous ascent

Cairn Toul Munro sixth ascent 1291 metres
Sgor an Lochain Uaine Munro sixth ascent 1258 metres
The Devil's Point Munro sixth ascent 1004 metres

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Culardoch

19 - 20 April 2014

slide show - day one

slide show - day two

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken -
day one - 5 hours.
day two - 2.75 hours.
Distance -
day one - 13.5 kilometres.
day two - 10.25 kilometres.
Ascent -
day one - 895 metres.
day two - 65 metres.

I’ve climbed the Corbett, Culardoch, on two previous occasions starting from Keiloch so on this ascent I planned to begin the walk at Inver and include three lesser hills. It was lunchtime when I parked in the large lay-by and picnic area on the A93 at Inver, east of Braemar and diagonally opposite the road leading to Aberarder. Once geared up I crossed the A93 and briefly walked along the Aberarder Road to the vehicle track signposted Tullochcoy.

On passing through a gate and close to the vehicle track were several sheep with new born lambs or in the process of lambing so I tried not to disturb them too much. A section of the track was sealed off by gates corralling more sheep and lambs and I wasn’t happy about unsettling them. The track took me to the north side of Tullochcoy Farm where a gate led into a field. I followed the track along the edge of this field which contained more sheep and lambs and here a lamb decided to follow me until I could escape over the gate at the far end of the field.

The track became less obvious so I followed animal trails across another field to a high fence where the strands consisted of barbed wire. Fortunately at a corner the boulders from a stone dyke aided my crossing then I strolled through the birch trees and commenced the ascent of Leac Ghorm. This took me through heather, some of which had been controlled by burning, with a few roe deer feeding nearby until they spotted me. Higher up the ground was a bit rocky but I eventually reached the summit cairn of this Highland Five, a hill that would be clearly visible from the north-west wing of the nearby Balmoral Castle.

I descended Leac Ghorm’s North-West Ridge following an old fence and quad vehicle tracks to reach a tied down gate in a stock fence. Once over the fence I followed the vehicle track that zigzagged onto and over the west ridge of Carn Moine an Tighearn before continuing along this little used track below Bad nan Cuileag. A slight diversion to the summit of this hill, which was marked by a few boulders, involved clambering over a deer fence and crossing some rough ground.

On returning to the vehicle track I crossed it and descended to the Monaltrie Moss which was a bit wet and boggy with some peat hags. I suspect the underfoot conditions would have been a lot worse if it hadn’t been dry for the past few days. The ascent of Tom Breac was across heather but the summit of this Graham Top consisted of tussocky ground and a few bog pools. I couldn’t decide on the highest point although there was a cairn but I think it marked the quad vehicle track that crossed the hill from south-east to north-west.

After visiting a few points on Tom Breac I headed for Culardoch trying to stay on the highest ground but it was still rough going. I reached and crossed the vehicle track that ran from Glen Feardar to Loch Builg, before climbing over a new deer fence to commence the ascent of Culardoch. The ground was rough, wet and several drainage channels had been dug. I collected some water from the snow melt before working my way onto Culardoch’s North Ridge avoiding the snow fields. It was then any easy walk to the summit trig point.

The ground was quite stony but just off to the east was an area of moss and heather and here I pitched my tent and cooked my meal. Later in the evening I revisited the summit but unfortunately it was too cloudy for a sunset and with a rather cold breeze I retired to my tent.

It was a cold and frosty night with a moon and numerous stars. There was a red sky to the east for well over an hour before the sun actually rose. Once breakfast was over I packed up and descended east, again avoiding the snow fields. A gate in the deer fence was reached and it was now rather warm as I rejoined the track used the previous day and followed it back to the tied down gate below Leac Ghorm. I missed the track that ran immediately below Leac Ghorm, which was advantageous as it meant I wouldn’t have to wander through the sheep and lambs again, and continued south on a now improved vehicle track which lower down turned out to be part of a signposted walking route round the lower reaches of Glen Feardar.

The track later headed off in a south-westerly direction so I followed an old vehicle track to Ballachlaggan, where the properties were being upgraded, then onto the public road which was followed back to Inver.

previous ascent

Culardoch Corbett third ascent 900 metres

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Meall a'Bhuachaille

1 December 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 5.75 hours. Distance - 16.25 kilometres. Ascent - 735 metres.

With a bit of a mixed forecast I decided not to travel too far from my base in Inverness so settled for an ascent of the Corbett, Meall a’Bhuachaille, taking in a few tops en-route.

Accompanied by my brother I drove to Glenmore where I parked at the side of the road. I was going to leave my car in the car park opposite the camping site but the Forestry Commission wanted me to pay for this privilege while there was ample free parking on both sides of the road just east of the Reindeer Centre.

It was raining at this time so once the waterproofs were donned we walked back along the road to opposite the shop and followed a vehicle track through the forest where some of the trees had been felled. Thankfully the rain had ceased soon after we set out and the cloud was lifting from the lower hills.

We passed through the grounds of the Badaguish Outdoor Centre but beyond the vehicle track was a mess of mud due to more tree felling operations. At the side of the track there were large piles of cut timber awaiting removal. However the track soon improved and we gained some height. I didn’t know if the path to Craiggowrie, which was shown on my map, still existed but I needn’t have worried as its starting point was quite obvious. Once through the forest the path was muddy in sections as it wound its way up the heather clad hillside.

Craiggowrie’s North-West Top was reached and here we had views down Strathspey and across to Aviemore and Loch Garten. After a short break at this top we continued to the highest point of the Graham Top. This was followed by a short descent where we met the first walker of the day doing the route in reverse. The second Graham Top, Creag a’Chaillich, was climbed and we visited all three cairns although I suspected the middle one was the highest.

A gradual descent south-east took us to the col with the Graham Top, Creagan Gorm, where we passed more walkers going in the opposite direction. I was surprised to see so many folks walking these Graham Tops. We ascended Creagan Gorm, the summit marked by a cairn, then continued south-east to the col with Meall a’Bhuachaille. It was a steady climb on a fairly worn path to reach the summit of this Corbett, where there was a large circular cairn.

After a break here for lunch we descended east following a path to the Ryvoan Bothy where sleeping gear was laid out awaiting folks return. We then walked along the vehicle track through Ryvoan Pass, briefly stopping at the green lochan, An Lochan Uaine, to the public road at Glenmore Lodge. A path for walkers and cyclists on the north side of the road was followed back to my car at Glenmore.

previous ascent

Meall a'Bhuachaille Corbett fourth ascent 810 metres

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Carn Ealasaid

30 November 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time - 4 hours. Distance - 12 kilometres. Ascent - 600 metres.

I was heading for Inverness for a few days so en-route I planned to stop off and climb the Corbett, Carn Ealasaid. I’ve climbed it from Cock Bridge to the south and from the Lecht Ski Centre so on this occasion I decided on a northerly approach.

On an area of rough ground, just off the A939 around a kilometre west of the Well of the Lecht and opposite an old cottage, ( some history relative to this cottage - see paragraph murder) I left my car and set off along the vehicle track which ran round the west then south sides of the hillock, Tom Garbh-bheinne. At a point above the Bridge of Leachd the track swung round towards the above named hillock but I headed in the opposite direction where I crossed some wet and boggy level ground which had been used by quad vehicles.

This led initially to a wet and muddy vehicle track on the south ridge of Beinn a’Chruinnich but the track soon disappeared to be replaced by numerous vehicle marks across the hillside. It was a relatively easy walk across the heather and higher up I crossed the snow line and into a rather cold wind. A telecommunications tower was reached and I stopped here to put on my down jacket, it was that chilly. I thereafter continued to the top of the ski tow as its metal structure appeared to be the highest point of this Corbett Top.

The descent from Beinn a’Chruinnich was to the west and I managed to avoid most of the snow covered peat hags as I approached the col with Carn Ealasaid where a few of the several mountain hares I spotted on this walk ran off. A path was then followed to the cairn marking the summit of Carn Ealasaid where I had views of Bennachie, Mount Keen, Lochnagar and Ben Avon to mention a few.

I still had another hill that I wanted to include on this outing, the Graham Top, Tolm Buirich, so I descended north-west to a junction of fences. I climbed over one then followed the other west as I continued to lose a bit of height to reach the col where there were a few peat hags. It was then an easy climb onto Tolm Buirich. At the summit there was another junction of fences and a couple of gates, one topped with slats of wood to double its height. The fence now appeared to be electrified with an inner fence around five feet in height consisting of three strands of electric wire. Thankfully I located a few stones outwith this electrified compound which appeared to mark the highest point of this Graham Top.

From the summit of Tolm Buirich I returned down its east ridge, followed the fence below Carn Ealasaid, then through some long heather to reach its north ridge. I descended this ridge but lower down there was more long heather and vegetation to walk through. Eventually I came out onto the A939 beside my car. The path shown on my map further west did not appear to exist and in any case if used it would have meant a walk back along to the A939.

previous ascent

Carn Ealasaid Corbett third ascent 792 metres

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Carn Mor

24 November 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 37. Time taken 7.5 hours. Distance - 21.5 kilometres. Ascent - 865 metres.

I have climbed the Corbett, Carn Mor, from the west starting at the Lecht Ski Centre as well as the Well of The Lecht, so on this occasion I decided on an easterly approach. I drove to Glenbuchat, north of the village of Strathdon, and parked on a piece of waste ground, opposite the private road leading to Backies Croft, where some trees had been felled. There was another private road further north but it meant walking passed the front of Glenbuchat Lodge which I wished to avoid.

Once geared up I set off along the road to the Croft passing a duck pond and observed that Glenbuchat Lodge had been refurbished. In fact work was still on-going on some of the nearby buildings. Prior to reaching Backies Croft I followed the track to its west and commenced the ascent of Hill of Rhinstock where a Land Rover passed me going downhill. There was some snow and ice on the track so occasionally I was forced to walk on the adjoining heather.

As the sun rose above Ladylea Hill the unmarked summit of Hill of Rhinstock was reached. I then rejoined the track and followed it to the col with Moss Hill where just to the south was a hut, probably used by grouse shooters. There were plenty of grouse around plus a few mountain hares in their grey coats. The lying snow gave an indication that there were a few tracks onto Moss Hill but being full of snow they weren’t suitable so instead I opted to climb the heathery east face. The summit of this Graham Top was unmarked so I visited a few tufts of heather which I considered possible contenders for the highest point.

I then descended across heather to the lower 639 knoll, where there was a cairn, before continuing to the vehicle track further north. Although this track was full of snow it was melting and a water channel had formed which I used as I descended to a junction of vehicle tracks beside the Littleglen Burn. Here I took the left fork and once across a bridge and through the gate, both which appeared fairly new, I commenced the ascent of Finlate Hill. Again it was either following the path or walking along its edge depending how deep the snow was.

Later I left this track, over what I thought was the highest point of the Graham Top, Finlate Hill, before descending through snow and heather, avoiding some bog and the vehicle track which was full of snow, to reach the col with Dun Muir. Initially I followed what appeared to be the path shown on my map as I climbed this hill. However it was covered in snow and I was forced to walk on the long heather so I gave this up and crossed its south ridge, where the going was easier, then made for Brow Mor.

The next obstacle was an area of peat hags where I was surprised to find some boot prints in the snow. Rather than trying to make my own route across I followed these prints. Beyond, it was an easy stroll to the trig point marking the summit of Carn Mor where I had views towards the Cairngorms although cloud was forming nearby.

It was then back to Dun Muir before heading for Letterach as the cloud engulfed the hillside. Initially the walking was fairly easy but the final 800 metres or so was across peat hags filled with snow so the walking was rather slow and unpleasant. I wound my way to the summit of this Corbett Top which was unmarked and I found it difficult to decide on the likely highest point.

I returned through the peat hags following my boot prints then crossed to the county boundary. Just to the south my map showed a path but I failed to locate it, if it still existed. I therefore took a bearing for Little Geal Charn and followed this bearing through long heather and some bog as the sun tried to break through the cloud but failed. The summit of this Graham Top, which was marked by a cairn, was located just beyond a fence and gate.

As I descended south-east, avoiding some snow banks, I again looked for the path. I did locate a wee cairn and thought I had found the path but it soon disappeared and I ended up crossing mainly long heather as I aimed for Coulins Burn. Dusk was falling as I followed this burn through a gully still with no sign of the path. Eventually I reached the vehicle track south-west of The Socach and followed it to Glenbuchat Lodge which was by-passed to the south before returning to my car in the dark.

previous ascent

Carn Mor Corbett third ascent 804 metres

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Derry Cairngorm and Carn a'Mhaim

12 October 2013

slide show Derry Cairngorm slide show Carn a'Mhaim

Map - OS Landranger 36 and 43. Time taken - 10 hours.
Cycle - 0.75 hours.
Distance - 31.75 kilometres. Ascent - 1580 metres.

I left my vehicle in the car park at Linn of Dee, west of Braemar, where you’re requested to make a voluntary contribution for using this facility. I then set off on my bike for Derry Lodge. I hadn’t travelled far when I came to a newly installed gate with electric fences at either side. A sign stated the purpose of the gate and fence was to allow deer access to part of the forest for shelter. On emerging from the trees the path joined a vehicle track and on approaching the bridge over the Lui Water the sun was rising on the tops of Little Gorm and Stob Coire Sputan Dearg.

At Derry Lodge it was colder with a ground frost and there were a few folks camped nearby. I locked my cycle, crossed the footbridge over the Derry Burn, and followed the path as it climbed through the Caledonian Pine Forest. Once beyond the tree line the path, which was in good nick, continued below the rocks at Creag Bad an t-Seabhaig, onto the south-east ridge of Carn Crom and into the sun.

The gradient eased and with ideal weather conditions it was a pleasant walk to below the summit of Carn Crom. I left the path and climbed to the cairn marking the summit of this Corbett Top where there was a dusting of snow and some great views. It would have been nice to remain at this summit for a while but I had a fairly long day ahead of me. I made the short descent to the col with Derry Cairngorm where I regained the path and continued the ascent of this hill. The path became less obvious as in places it was buried below snow patches which were surprising firm and higher up had an icy crust. Again I made another diversion this time through a boulder field to the summit cairn of the 1040 metre knoll, Little Cairngorm, a deleted Munro Top. Thereafter I continued to the summit of Derry Cairngorm, marked by two cairns although I couldn’t tell which was the highest point.

I took a break sheltering from a cool breeze behind the northerly cairn looking west over the main Cairngorm Plateau with snow covering the higher tops. A young chap, a medical student working at Braemar, arrived at the summit and we spoke for a while before he headed off down the north-west ridge. I descended north then north-east over snow, boulders and lower down some marshy ground to reach the col with Sgurr an Lochan Uaine then climbed to the summit of this Munro Top. An excellent viewpoint for the Lairig an Laoigh, Glen Derry and Coire Etchachan.

After taking a few more photographs I returned to the col then climbed to a second one located between Derry Cairngorm and Creagan a’Choire Etchachan. From there I ascended the latter’s snow covered south ridge and it was here I thought an axe might have been handy just in case of a slip. On reaching the summit of this Munro Top there were some more fine views to take in and photograph.

I descended east with Carn Etchachan reflected in the waters of Loch Etchachan. I thereafter ascended the long north-east ridge of Stob Coire Sputan Dearg avoiding the path on its north-west side as it was covered in snow. Nearby Ben Macdui wasn’t in my plan so instead I went to the summit of Stob Coire Sputan Dearg, a deleted Munro Top.

The descent south-west was through boulder fields and over snow patches, which had softened after the morning’s sun. This made for slow and at times awkward walking but eventually I reached the col with Carn a’Mhaim. The ascent of its north ridge, Ceann Crionn Carn a’Mhaim, was straight forward but with a couple of narrow sections to reach the summit cairn where there were views up the Lairig Ghru to Braeriach.

I descended initially over some rocks then later an eroded path to join the track leading to the Lairig Ghru just west of the Luibeg Burn. I followed this route east then rather than walk upstream to the Luibeg Bridge crossed the stream using stepping stones without getting my feet wet. The path was then followed east down Glen Luibeg where I was passed by a chap on a mountain bike, only the second person I spoke to all day although I did spot a few folks ascending Ben Macdui.

On my arrival back at Derry Lodge there were lots of campers. I retrieved my cycle and in around fifteen minutes was back at the Linn of Dee.

previous ascent Carn a'Mhaim

Derry Cairngorm Munro sixth ascent 1155 metres
Can a'Mhaim Munro sixth ascent 1037 metres

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Creag Mhor

31 August 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 25.5 kilometres. Ascent - 945 metres.

It was a sunny and pleasant morning when I parked up at the end of the public road just east of Glenmore Lodge and set off along the track towards Ryvoan Pass, through the mixed woodland of Glenmore Forest. I came to the An Lochan Uaine, the green lochan, where some access improvements had been made since my last visit. At a junction of tracks I took the right fork, signposted for Braemar.

There was some deterioration in the condition of this track which led to the location of the demolished Bynack Stable. Three mountain bikers passed me, the first folks I had seen that morning. On reaching Bynack Stable there were a couple of tents but no sign of the occupants, they may still have been asleep. I crossed the River Nethy by the footbridge and followed the narrow but good quality path as I gained the lower slopes of Bynack More.

Since I last walked this way the path had been upgraded to just beyond the route for Bynack More. At this junction I followed the left fork which leads to the Fords of Avon and latterly Braemar. This path descended below Coire Odhar and it wasn’t long after this that I left it and descended east through heather and peat hags to Glasath. Once across this stream I climbed to the stony summit of Dagrum, a Sub Corbett Top.

I then commenced the ascent of Creag Mhor which took me over the 848 knoll and to its rocky summit where there were good views of the high tops of the Cairngorms. Afterwards I descended north-west to join the Braemar path near to its crossing point of Glasath. I then followed the outward route back to the start meeting a number of walkers and mountain bikers. The earlier sunny conditions had been replaced by showers.

previous ascent

Creag Mhor Corbett third ascent 895 metres

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Ben Rinnes

18 August 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 28. Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 11.25 kilometres. Ascent - 680 metres.

I decided on this visit to the Corbett, Ben Rinnes, to climb it from the north rather than the more popular easterly approach over Roy’s Hill, a route I’d taken before. Permission to park at the Ben Rinnes Distillery was obtained from a nearby cottage owner before I set off along the vehicle track at the south end of the Distillery.

It was a pleasant walk though a mixed woodland to a set of gates. Beyond, the vehicle track crossed the heather moorland where a few young trees were surviving. This track led to Baby’s Moss, although the map is apparently incorrect in calling it Baby’s Hill. Prior to reaching the end of the track three small cairns marked the start of a walker’ path to Scurran of Well. Initially it crossed the edge of some peat hags before cutting through the heather. Underfoot the ground was fairly dry with just the odd boggy section. Two runners passed me heading downhill.

Once across the Scurran Burn the gradient steepened and the path led to the granite tors of Scurran of Well. One of the top tors is known as The Lady’s Chair. It was rather exposed here and a tad windy to explore further. The path continued onto the north-west ridge of Ben Rinnes where it merged with a rather wide vehicle track, a bit of a scar on the landscape.

Walking the final section to the summit of Ben Rinnes known as Scurran of Lochterlandoch, was hard work in the wind but once at the top I joined a few others who had tackled the hill from the east. The wind made taking photos from the trig point and the higher rock to the west rather tricky.

On my return by the upward route I made a slight diversion to take in the nearby Scurran of Morinsh.

previous ascent

Ben Rinnes Corbett third ascent 840 metres

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Carn Liath

4 August 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36 and 43. Time taken - 8 hours. Distance - 24 kilometres. Ascent - 1110 metres.

Carn Liath is often combined with the nearby Corbett, Culardoch, but on this occasion I decided to climb it with some of the lesser tops but still from the usual starting point, Keiloch, just east of Braemar. The voluntary parking charge was £2.50 with monies going to improvements within the National Park.

I set off along the tarred road passed the rear of Invercauld House where various sections of the road had been re-surfaced, hopefully not from the parking contributions. I also thought the road may have been repaired for the Queen who was staying nearby but she wouldn’t use the back entrance! New fencing had also been erected. The road surface later changed to hard core as I continued to beyond the holiday houses at Alltdourie.

The path shown on my map was located although it was actually a vehicle track. I soon came to a new gate in a deer fence which I passed through. Beyond, a couple of vehicle tracks led off to my right but I stuck with what appeared to be the most used route through the forest. However this track later deteriorated and became less obvious so in the end I followed animal trails until I exited the forest west of the point planned. To get back on track I followed the edge of the forest only to discover a new plantation surrounded by a deer face. Unfortunately my first hill of the day, Little Elrick, was located within this area. Rather than use the gate I followed the deer fence to near the col with Meikle Elrick before crossing this fence and making the short ascent through heather and new saplings to the cairn marking the summit of Little Elrick, a Highland Five.

I returned to and re-crossed the deer fence then climbed to the knoll, Meikle Elrick, before gaining the south ridge of Carn Liath. A large herd of deer appeared out of the corrie but seemed undecided where to run. Maybe they were aware of other walkers in the area. Initially it was an easy ascent but higher up, near an old stone dyke, the terrain was a bit rocky. I spotted another walker headed east across the summit area. On my arrival, as I was unsure of the highest point, I visited a few cairns. I thereafter descended north-west but found the walking tough when I was briefly hit by a squally shower. I then ascended the Corbett Top, Creag an Dail Bheag, visiting both cairns before returning to Carn Liath, this time going to the large cairn near the stone dyke.

This dyke was used as a guide to descend south-east keeping slightly to the west to avoid losing too much height. Thereafter I climbed to the large boulder marking the summit of the Graham Top, Creag a’Chait. After lunch sheltering behind the stone dyke I descended to the north end of the forest where I crossed a vehicle track. The ascent of Meall Gorm commenced initially following the edge of the forest. At its top end I came across the remains of a fox which had been dead for a while. A gate in the deer fence led to the heathery hillside and a fairly steep climb to reach the cairn marking the summit of this Graham Top.

My next hill was out to the east and it was an easy walk to the 593 knoll, Cnocan Mor, a Sub Highland Five. From there two knolls further east looked higher so I crossed some rough vegetation to visit them before returning to the 593 knoll, which I decided was the highest point. From there I descended to the south side of Meall Gorm where lots of holes had been dug for more tree planting. This made for some awkward walking but once beyond the col with Craig Leek the route along the side of the dry stone dyke was fine. Higher up I left this dyke and ascended Craig Leek, a Graham Top which was marked by a cairn.

The descent of this hill was initially through some new trees which appeared to have self germinated then old Scots Pines. The ground was fairly steep but lower down I came to a marked track which I followed south east to join the vehicle track north of Keiloch. It was then a short walk back to the car park.

previous ascent

Carn Liath Corbett third ascent 862 metres

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Geal Charn

24 July 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 4.25 hours. Distance - 11.75 kilometres. Ascent - 660 metres.

It was back to the Cairngorms or to be more precise the Braes of Abernethy to the north-east where I drove to the end of the public road just before Dorback Lodge, reached from Nethy Bridge along unclassified roads. I managed to get my car off the road a few metres west of the turning circle then set off south along the side of a deer fence to a gate. Beyond this gate was the Dorback Burn which was easily crossed as the water was low.

Once on the opposite side of this stream I located the track to Upper Dell although it now appears just to be used by sheep. From this derelict house I joined a vehicle track, which was in good condition, and followed it south. Around a kilometre later I came to a junction of tracks and took the right hand one as my plan was firstly to ascend the Graham Top, Carn na h-Ailig. This vehicle track quickly came to an end and at this point I saw what appeared to be a bird trap. It was in three compartments, one contained what looked like hens eggs while another contained wild bird eggs, something I’d never seen before but on my visit it was closed off with a large boulder.

An ATV track then continued up the north ridge of Carn na h-Ailig passed several shooting butts but the track later disappeared in the vegetation and higher up the ground was rather soft making it harder work. On reaching the summit area I found it difficult to decide where the highest point was so I visited a few rises. Thereafter I crossed the electric fence at a point where some protection had been wrapped round the wires then followed the fence south-east through long heather. At this point I saw what I thought was an eagle which returned a few minutes later harassed by a smaller bird. Unfortunately they were a bit too far away to identify them properly.

The descent took me passed a solar panel which powered the electric fence and to the Allt na h-Eirghe. This area would normally be pretty wet but after the recent dry spell of weather there were no real problems. I then commenced the ascent of Geal Charn trying to avoid the long heather by following some grassy vegetation. It was a steady climb but the electric fence ran to the south of the hill so I re-crossed it at a point where the wires where again protected. This took me onto the north-west ridge where I followed some old wooden fence posts to the summit cairn of Geal Charn.

After lunch at the summit I descended by the north-west ridge then the north ridge as it gradually swung round in that direction. There were traces of a walker’s path but lower down I decided to cut across the hillside to above the rocky gorge of the Allt na h-Eirghe before rejoining the vehicle track where I had spotted the bird trap. I then followed the outward route back to my car.

previous ascent

Geal Charn Corbett third ascent 821 metres

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Cairn Gorm

22 July 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 5.25 hours. Distance - 12.25 kilometres. Ascent - 820 metres.

A few weeks ago my brother asked me if I would take an American relative of his visiting Inverness, out on a day walk.Despite the ski centre paraphernalia and the tourists that flock to Coire Cas in the Cairngorms I consider the circuit of the Coires an Lochain and an t -Sneachda a grand day out for visitors as long as the weather plays ball.

The forecast was for a fine sunny day so we headed for the car park at Coire Cas where there was a voluntary contribution parking system in operation, in my opinion an unnecessary added expense for visitors. We set off along the path to Fiacaill na Leth-choin crossing the Allt Coire an t-Sneachda and the Allt Creag an Leth-choin. The water was low in both streams after what had been a fairly dry period of weather. The route was quite busy with families and walkers enjoying the sun. The path then climbed the Miadan Creag na Leth-choin but we diverted to the summit of Fiacaill na Leth-choin where we had views across the Lairig Ghru to Braeriach.

After a short break at this summit we descended to and crossed the path that led to the March Burn and Ben Macdui. An area of snow, where the buntings were feeding, was by-passed then it was onto the path for Cairn Lochan. Once we were a bit higher there appeared to be several paths. A couple of climbers were seated at the top of the cliffs and later we spotted another two on one the crags. The cairn marking the summit of the Munro Top, Cairn Lochan, was visited then there was a slight dip before we headed round the rim of Coir an t- Sneachda and ascended the Munro Top, Stob Coire an t-Sneachda where there were grand views down to Loch Morlich and across the plateau to Beinn Mheadhoin.

Another short descent was followed by a steeper climb which led to the cairn marking the summit of the Munro, Cairn Gorm. The area was quite busy so after visiting the weather station we found a quiet rocky area for lunch with views down to the east end of Loch Avon and out towards the Fords of Avon.

We later descended the easterly and less busy path to the Ptarmigan Restaurant then by the vehicle track to the car park at Coire Cas. Lots of new fencing had been or were being built at the edges of the track.

previous ascent

Cairn Gorm Munro eleventh ascent 1244 metres.

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Brown Cow Hill

29 June 2013

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Map - OS Landranger 36 and 37. Time taken - 9 hours. Distance - 28.25 kilometres. Ascent - 1085 metres.

I’ve climbed Brown Cow Hill from Inchrory and Corgarff, to its west and north-east respectively, so on this occasion I decided to ascend it from the south-east. This would afford me the opportunity to include several Graham Tops.

On arriving at Gairnshiel Bridge, on the A939 Ballater to Corgarff Road, I was surprised that there was no suitable parking space to allow folks to visit this historical bridge. I managed to get my vehicle onto the grass adjacent to a passing place on the north side of the river then made the short walk back to the bridge. Here I continued west following a vehicle track but soon came to a junction where I opted to take the track to the right as my map only showed one which headed away from the River Gairn to rejoin it later. This was the wrong choice as the track soon disappeared and I ended up following an old stone dyke over heathery vegetation then some marshy ground before rejoining the track as per my map. The track actually ran along the side of the river, although separated by a stock fence, which I was to discover on my return.

The river had changed direction so the track, which appeared little used, was now on its east side with the stock fence having been replaced by a deer fence. My presence was obviously upsetting the local bird life as they were making lots of noise. I passed a ruined house then the derelict farm at Tullochmacarrich where I joined a more substantial vehicle track that had crossed the river via a bridge.

I followed this track as it gained a bit of height but prior to it descending and crossing the Allt Coire nam Freumh I left it and climbed the heathery west face of Fox Cairn. The estate obviously spends time controlling the heather as some areas were burnt or short with others knee deep. The summit cairn of this hill, a Graham Top, was reached before I descended north to Coire an t-Slugain then climbed to the summit of Carn a’Bhacain, a Graham Top and Hump, also marked by a cairn.

An easterly descent from the rocky summit of Carn a’Bhacain took me to a new stock fence which came in from the north-east then passed below the north side of Camock Hill. I passed through a gate in this fence then crossed some peat hags before ascending the third Graham Top of the day, The Ca, the summit marked by a small cairn. I then returned to the peat hags, slightly to the west, crossed the fence and ascended Camock Hill, another Graham Top. There was no marker here and I couldn’t decide the highest point so visited three different spots before I was satisfied that I had been to the top.

A short descent took me back to the fence which was re-crossed then over springy mossy ground to the col with Carn Leac Saighdeir passing a few shooting butts. From here I followed a track to the summit boulders and trig point on Carn Leac Saighdeir, a Graham Top, also named on a map as The Laird’s Bed. Here there were good views down to Corgarff and across to The Lecht.

I returned along the track but before it descended north to the River Don I left it and walked over some rough vegetation, crossing the fence once again, before descending to Clais nan Cat, a small gully. From here I walked between the 748 knoll and Coire Poll Randaidh commencing the ascent of Brown Cow Hill. The easterly cairn was reached then it was an easy stroll, except for an area of peat hags, to the summit cairn of Brown Cow Hill, which was six metres higher than its easterly top.

It had taken me over six hours to reach this point so after taking a few photographs I returned east but on this occasion climbed to the cairn marking the summit of the 748 knoll. This was followed by a steep descent through some long heather and round some rocks to the Alltan Seibh. Once over this wee stream I headed for the Sub Highland Five, Tom Odhar, crossing some long heather, marshy ground and near the summit burnt heather as well as a couple of tracks. There were some good views but I didn’t have time to linger as it was still a fair distance back to my car. I therefore headed to the second track I crossed a few minutes earlier and followed it as it descended east then south to reach a junction of streams. Here the track turned east again and climbed for around 900 metres along the side of the Allt Coire nam Freumh. I opted to give this ascent a miss, crossed this stream then walked over some rough ground to reach the track just before Tullochmacarrick Farm and followed it back to Gairnshiel Bridge.

previous ascent

Brown Cow Hill Corbett third ascent 829 metres.

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Mullach Clach a'Bhlair

21 September 2012

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 35. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 20.75 kilometres. Ascent - 950 metres.

I was looking for a walk reasonably close to my base in Inverness and decided to head for Glen Feshie to climb the Munro, Mullach Clach a’Bhlair. I drove to Feshiebridge then to the free car park just before Auchlean Farm where there were already a few parked vehicles.

The start was along the final section of the tarred road to the farm with views up Glen Feshie. A path then passed behind Auchlean and along the east side of the River Feshie. Sections had been repaired but there were areas of mud and cycle tyre tracks. In fact three mountain bikers passed me on this part of the walk.

I was aware that the bridge at Carnachuin had been washed away a few years ago so kept to the east path where I had two stream crossings to make but the water levels were low. The path was easily followed although it was narrow as it passed through some new plantations. After seventy minutes I reached the vehicle track that would take me uphill towards Mullach Clach a’Bhlair. I stopped here for a cup of coffee and was soon joined by three mountain ponies.

Afterwards I headed up the track, which was under repair, to a point where the gradient eased. I left the track here and climbed steeply through long heather onto the south-west ridge of the Corbett Top, Meall nan Sleac. The going was easy on short vegetation and I came across a rusty weather vane stuck into some rocks. The summit cairn of Meall nan Sleac was reached with views into the steep sided Coire Garbhlach. I descended Meall nan Sleac’s east ridge before rejoining the vehicle track to Mullach Clach a’Bhlair. More work, mainly drainage, had been carried out here and a dumper truck was parked at the side of the track, possibly the highest dumper truck in Scotland.

At a junction of tracks I took the right one which led to below the summit of Mullach Clach a’Bhlair. I then followed the walker’s path to the summit cairn as I encountered my first snow shower of this winter. I had lunch sheltering behind the cairn during which time a couple of snow showers passed through the area. I then returned to the junction of tracks and took the one going north-east where I met three chaps walking in the opposite direction.

I soon left this track and wandered over towards the head of Coire Garbhlach following a faint path. I walked round the top of this corrie and the Fionnar Choire before making the easy ascent to the summit of the Munro Top, Meall Dubhag. Here I watched the cloud lift clear of the summit tops and noticed that there was a light covering of snow on Braeriach and Cairn Toul. After spending some time here I descended west then once lower down north through some long vegetation and wet ground to the Allt Fhearnagan. This stream was crossed and I joined the Sgor Gaoith path, which had been upgraded since my last visit, then headed for Auchlean and the car park.

previous ascent

Mullach Clach a'Bhlair Munro sixth ascent 1019 metres

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The Buck

25 March 2012

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 37. Time taken - 2.25 hours. Distance - 4.75 kilometres. Ascent - 325 metres

Eleven weeks had passed since I was on a hill, in fact I hadn’t been out of suburban Aberdeen since I returned to the city in an ambulance after a wee trip on an outlier of Glas Maol, which hospitalised me with an arm, shoulder and hand injury.

Recovery had been slower than expected and I still wasn’t permitted to drive so when a friend offered to transport me to a local hill I jumped at the opportunity. A short easy walk was the order of the day so the Graham, The Buck, south-east of the hamlet of Cabrach, located between Rynie and Dufftown, was chosen.

There was ample off road parking on the B9002 Lumsden to Cabrach Road, just prior to its junction with the A941 Rynie to Dufftown Road. Once geared up we crossed a fence and made the short climb to Meikle Cairn. Grassy rakes were then followed to the rough walker’s path that ran along the side of the old fence posts towards the summit of The Buck. This would appear to be part of the boundary between the old County of Banffshire, now incorporated in Aberdeenshire, and Moray. A boundary stone with the letter ‘G’ engraved thereon was passed. On the ascent we heard the calls of the red grouse and a golden plover.

A family group, who had started before us and had followed the county boundary from the road, led the way to the summit with its boulders and trig point. On one of the boulders were carvings of what appeared to be fish. There was a cool breeze blowing around the top but we found shelter behind one of the boulders for a coffee break looking across to the rather hazy, Sub 2000 Marilyn, Tap O’Noth, which I had climbed last year.

The return was by the ascent route but instead of going over Meikle Cairn we followed the fence posts to the road. In the latter stages the ground was rough and boggy but the conditions would have been a lot worse if it hadn’t been for the reasonably dry winter we have encountered in the North-East of Scotland.

We were both of the opinion that going over Meikle Cairn was preferable to following the fence posts on the lower reaches.

The Buck Graham second ascent 721 metres.

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Creag Bhalg

1 January 2012

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 43. Time taken - 4.5 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent -430 metres.

At short notice I was invited to join a hill walking friend for a New Year’s Day stroll in the Braemar area of Royal Deeside. We agreed that the Graham, Creag Bhalg, would be a suitable destination but rather than a quick up and down I planned a slightly longer and more sheltered route.

The sun was rising as I left Aberdeen and headed west but by the time I reached Braemar, to join my walking companion, it was cloudy with some spots of rain, which unfortunately was the forecast. We drove to the Linn of Quoich where there was a temporary car park just west of the bridge over the Quoich Water. A notice stated the bridge was closed to vehicles as it is in need of repair.

Once geared up for the rain we crossed the bridge and walked to the Punch Bowl where we re- crossed the river via a footbridge. We took a few photographs of the water rushing through the Linn before following a path to a vehicle track. This track headed north-west up Glen Quoich, on the west side of the river, and through the Caledonian Pine forest. The rain arrived mainly in showers so occasionally we had views of the lower reaches of the Munro, Beinn Breac and later Beinn a’Bhuird.

Just prior to reaching the crossing of the Allt Clais Fhearnaig we left this vehicle track and joined another track through a forest and towards Creag Bhalg. Unfortunately this track was in poor condition as it was being used by vehicles thinning the trees. The muddy track had a light covering of wet snow making it a bit more difficult to decide on boot placement. The smell from the cut timber compensated in a small way for this inconvenience.

Height was gradually gained and we exited the forest onto a reasonable path which was a vast improvement. It was windy here but at our side or back. Near the highest point we left the path and headed over tussocky heather to the west cairn then to the twin summit cairns of Creag Bhalg. Here we met a couple about to leave and after speaking to them for a few minutes took over their sheltered spot behind the cairn for our lunch.

Afterwards we headed to Creag Bhalg’s East Top before descending its south-east ridge to a deer fence which was crossed via a stile. This fence was followed as we made a fairly steep descent, through long heather, without any real problems except there was no exit stile. We climbed over the deer fence before crossing a short stretch of heather to reach the car park.

previous ascent

Creag Bhalg Graham second ascent 668 metres

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Ladylea Hill

30 October 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 37. Time taken - 1 hour. Distance - 3 kilometres. Ascent -280 metres.

The second Graham of the day was Ladylea Hill, situated north of Strathdon. I drove along the single track, unclassified road leading to Glenbuckat Lodge and parked near the junction with the signposted route for the ‘Lost Gallery’.

I continued on foot along the road for a short distance until I came to a tied down gate on the east side. Once over it I crossed a field heading for Ladylea Hill expecting to find a gate to access the heathery hillside beyond, where sheep were grazing. However I discovered a new deer fence running across the hillside and to complicate matters the lower section was covered in chicken wire preventing me getting a foot hold on the wire strands.

To reach the deer fence I climbed over an adjoining stock fence and gate both of which were topped with barbed wire. On closer inspection of the deer fence I noted a gap covered by a wooden and wire construction. I lifted this structure off a couple of large nails, used as hooks, crawled through, and replaced the cover.

I was now on the open hillside, which consisted of a mixture of grasses and heather. I used sheep trails where possible as it was a steady climb up what appears to be called ‘The Clean’. Ladylea’s summit cairn was reached where I had views into Glen Buchat and across to The Buck and Morven.

On the descent I varied it slightly and aimed for the forest to the west of Torrancroy. However the ground was a lot rougher and I came across some flowering gorse, which I thought was a bit unusual for the end of October. There was a gap in the deer fence, obviously awaiting a gate, so I used it to access the field which I re-crossed to return to my car.

previous ascent

Ladylea Hill Graham second ascent 610 metres

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Geallaig Hill

30 October 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 37. Time 1.75 hours. Distance - 6 kilometres. Ascent - 390 metres

The start of this walk was opposite Braenaloin Farm on the B976, west of Gairnshiel Lodge, where there was plenty of space to park. A fence had recently been constructed above the south side of the road although it stopped just beyond the parking area, presumably to be continued at a later date.

I walked along the road, for a few metres, to the start of the vehicle track then passed through a gate in the new fence and headed up Geallaig Hill. The track crossed the heather moorland and passed some grouse butts as several grouse took flight. The earlier low cloud was gradually lifting off the tops of the lower hills.

Higher up the gradient increased slightly but it was still an easy walk following the vehicle track. The angle later eased and it was a gentle stroll to the large summit cairn surrounding the trig point. The only downside was the wind but at least I had views of the River Dee, the cloud topped Lochnagar and nearby Morven.

The return was by the ascent route.

Geallaig Hill Graham second ascent 743 metres

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Carn na Drochaide

30 - 31 July 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 43. Time:
Day One - 3.75 hours.
Day Two - 2 hours.
Distance:
Day One - 13 kilometres.
Day Two - 8 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day One - 540 metres.
Day Two - 110 metres.

It was mid-afternoon when I arrived at the rather busy car park at Keiloch, just east of the Invercauld Bridge near Braemar, where there was a charge of £2.50 per visit. Once geared up I set off along the tarred road, a ‘Right of Way,’ to Slugain. It was warm and sunny so I appreciated the shelter afforded by the forest as I passed behind Invercauld House. Beyond the crossing of the Allt Dourie the tarred section of road ended and was replaced by hardcore. The route, which was well signposted, skirted the houses at Alltdourie and continued through the trees as it headed for Gleann an t-Slugain. By the time I alighted from the forest it was cooler as a thin veil of cloud had developed.

As I headed up the track, which was rough in places, I passed several walkers heading down the glen. Just after crossing the Allt Tarsuinn I discovered a rough track which headed north up the side of this stream. I followed this track for a short distance to gain some height before leaving it and climbing towards Meall an t-Slugain, where the underfoot conditions varied quite a lot. This grouse moor was managed by the estate with controlled burning which meant some areas were almost devoid of heather while others were long and lank. Looking back there were good views of my approach route and in the distance Lochnagar. A herd of deer spotted me and disappeared over the ridge.

The highest point on Meall an t-Slugain, a Graham Top, was marked by a cairn, although this was slightly east of the summit point shown on my map. After a few minutes on this top taking in the views, which included Beinn a’Bhuird, I descended in a south-westerly direction to the head of Gleann an t-Slugain and above the ruin of the Slugain Lodge. Here a tent was pitched on a small knoll and the occupants would probably be my nearest neighbours that night.

The ascent towards Carn na Criche commenced but before I gained too much height I needed to collect some water for my evening meal, tea and coffee. I discovered a water source and filled a platypus, which I retain for this purpose, I then slowly continued to Carn na Criche with a much heavier pack. Again the hillside was a mixture of old and new heather.

From the summit of Carn na Criche it was a relatively easy walk east with traces of a vehicle track for part of the route. The summit of the Corbett, Carn na Drochaid, marked by a large cairn, was reached and despite it being cloudier I still had some reasonable views. My plan was to camp on the summit but it was rather stony so I spent a while looking for a suitable location. In the end I pitched my tent just to the north-east of the cairn, with the nearby boulders making an ideal shelter for cooking my meal. Afterwards I had a wander around the summit but I was disappointed as the cloud was rolling in over the Cairnwell Hills and Beinn a’Bhuird so with no hope of a sunset I retired to my tent.

I was awake early to find the cloud had engulfed my hill so with little chance of a sunrise I rose, had breakfast and packed up. I set off down the east side of the hill to the col above the gorge, Clais nan Cat. On this descent a hind, which was lying down, was surprised by my presence and got up and ran off. The cloud began to lift and I could now see my next hill, the Graham Top, Creag a’Chleirich. It was an easy climb to its summit cairn where I had views across the River Dee to Braemar.

I descended east passing through a small area of old Caledonian Pines to the forest and a vehicle track (Grid Ref NO1488593153) which I had spotted from above. This forest track led to the Linn of Quoich to Invercauld ‘Right of Way,’ as light rain started. I headed for Invercauld and soon joined the track used the previous afternoon which I followed back to Keiloch.

previous ascent

Carn na Drochaide Corbett third ascent 818 metres

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Mona Gowan

16/17 October 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 37. Time:
Day one - 2.75 hours.
Day two - 0.75 hours.
Distance:
Day one - 8 kilometres.
Day two - 3.5 kilometres.
Ascent:
Day one - 560 metres.
Day two - 0 metres.

My initial plan was an overnighter on the Grey Corries but not long after setting off from home my car developed a fault and I had to return home. The fault was later fixed but it was too late to head to the west coast so I settled for a trip up Deeside.

From Ballater I drove along the A939 and over the Gairnshiel Bridge to the Allt Glas-choille where I parked my car. I continued on foot along the A939, to the track leading to the ruin at Glenfenzie. I walked along this track and passed through a new gate in new fencing, in fact there were several new fences and gates in the area, to beyond the ruin. At the Allt Duisgan I walked up its west bank over heather and some soft wet ground. The reason for taking this route was higher up I collected water from this stream for cooking.

I left the stream and followed a muddy vehicle track to the summit of Scraulac where I pitched my tent as darkness fell. Once I had everything organised I set off, in the moonlight, for the Graham, Mona Gowan. It wasn’t going to be too difficult to locate this summit as all I needed to do was follow the fence, which again was new. Several areas of bog had to be avoided and the few street lights of Strathdon were visible.

The summit of Cairnagour Hill was reached followed by a short steep descent and re-ascent to a gate in the fence. Just beyond the gate was the summit of Mona Gowan, marked by a large cairn, known as the Jubilee Cairn. A number of masts, lit with red lights, could be seen and possibly the lights of Aberdeen or its suburbs.

I returned along the fence line to my tent and cooked my tea then it was time for bed. It was quite windy during the night due to the fact that I was pitched on the summit.

In the morning I had good views of the sunrise especially as the sun appeared from behind the summit of the nearby Corbett, Morven. After breakfast I followed the fence down Scraulac’s south ridge and later a vehicle track which led to the A939 and a short walk back to my car.

Mona Gowan Graham second ascent 749 metres

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Cairn Gorm

29 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 6 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 850 metres.

Dave and Joyce, American friends, come to Scotland every year and we have a day out on a Munro. This year they were staying in Inverness so I planned to take them to the Cairngorms and climb Ben Macdui.

We drove to and parked at the Coire Cas car park where I was surprised to find parking was still free as I read that they were implementing charges. We set off from the car park and took the path south west, over the Allt Coire an t-Sneachda and the outflow from Coire an Lochain, onto Miadan Creag an Leth-choin, where we took a break at the summit cairn. Here I spotted a lone ptarmigan. A discussion took place on whether to continue to Ben Macdui or make it a shorter day by heading over to the Cairn Gorm. The latter plan met agreement.

The earlier cloud was lifting off the high tops as we descended to a wet area of ground before commencing the ascent of the west face of Cairn Lochan, disturbing a family of ptarmigan. The young darted off in different directions while the mother called to them so we continued on our ascent to allow the ptarmigan family to regroup. We walked to the top of the west ridge from where we had views into Coire an Lochain, the Great Slab, down the ‘Y’ Gully and The Vent. There was still some snow in the gullies. We also visited Cairn Lochan’s summit cairn, a Munro Top.

A path along the top of the coire was followed, passed Fiacaill Buttress, to a col beside Central Gully. The next rise was the Munro Top, Stob Coire an t-Sneachda where another lone ptarmigan was spotted.

A short descent took us towards the top of Fiacaill a’Choire Chais where a path bypassed this cairn and headed for the climb on Cairn Gorm’s west face. It was a short steady climb, over some rocky ground, to the summit cairn of Cairn Gorm. We also visited the weather station where an notice gives the highest wind speed recorded there as 176mph.

It isn’t the most scenic summit area so we headed down the path on the north side which has a cairn every few metres, in my opinion a bit over the top. Further down the ridge the man made stone path had ropes at ether side probably to keep folks on the path. However it wasn’t’ working as loose small stones on top of the stone path made the descent rather awkward and some walkers opted to descend out with the roped off area.

The path led to the Ptarmigan Restaurant and the top funicular station. From here we descended Sron an Aonaich, then a worn and rough path to the Coire Cas car park and the end of what turned out to be a very enjoyable and interesting walk along the top of the Cairn Gorm corries.

previous ascent

Cairn Gorm Munro tenth ascent 1141 metres

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Pressendye

7 March 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 37. Time taken - 4 hours. Distance - 8.5 kilometres. Ascent - 440 metres.

The forecast wasn’t particularly promising and with lots of snow still covering rural Aberdeenshire I decided to re-ascend Pressendye, the nearest Graham to my home in Aberdeen. I had climbed this hill back in 2004 from 'The Petts' and wanted a different approach but due to the snow settled for my original route.

There was quite a lot of snow piled up at the side of the B9119 Aberdeen to Tarland Road as I drove west but on reaching the end of the farm road leading to The Pett's I found a parking space on the grass verge. On my previous ascent I sought permission to park at the farm but in these wintry conditions I decided to leave my car beside the main road.

I walked up the tarred road to The Pett's, passed flocks of sheep covered in mud from lying around on the wet bare earth. They didn't look in great nick despite having a supply of hay and turnips so this winter obviously hadn't been very kind to them. Once beyond the farmyard a vehicle track continued north and I followed it as I made my way through some trees, where branches had broken off due to the weight of the snow. The track had been ploughed but only as far as a gate giving access to a field of cattle.

There were some bootprints in the snow and at a junction of tracks they took the left fork. My plan had been to follow the track as it swung round to the right and made its way through the forest in a semi-circle. However as the snow was ankle deep I decided to follow the bootprints as an easier option. The snow became deeper and the person breaking the trail left the track and wandered through the forest. I did try to break my own trail but found that even tougher so reverted to following the bootprints. Higher up I rejoined the main track with lots of hoof prints and later saw a couple of deer crossing the track.

It was still hard work following the track as the snow was at least knee deep in places but eventually I emerged from the forest as a couple of skiers headed downhill slightly to my left. I made a direct ascent of Pressendye breaking my own trail and saw a chap descending the hill, probably the person whose tracks I had followed. He was trying bum slides but the snow was too wet. On the ascent some drifts were encountered but there was also some bare heather. At the summit, marked by a cairn and trig point, I had views of Morrone, Lochnagar, Mount Keen and Bennachie.

After a coffee break I returned by the upward route.

previous ascent

Pressendye Graham second ascent 619 metres

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Meall a’Bhuachaille

26 December 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 36. Time taken - 4.25 hours. Distance - 8.5 kilometres. Ascent - 505 metres.

I was staying in Inverness so it was only a short drive down the A9 to Aviemore and then a few minutes up to Glen More. The recent heavy falls of snow and cold temperatures made the trip south a bit longer than normal and on my arrival at Glen More the temperature was -11C.

I managed to find an off-road parking space although other motorists were using the side of the road to stop on as there was so much snow around. I walked up the west side of the Reindeer House and a bed and breakfast establishment onto a marked path through the forest. The snow was quite deep but fortunately someone had broken the trail possibly the previous day. It was a slow plod through the forest and once the trees thinned I could see my destination, Meall a’Bhuachaille.

On clearing the forest I entered a sunny winter wonderland and although it was very cold it was warm work following the trail through the deep snow. Those who had been before me had at one point fitted snow shoes but progress for me was slow as I sunk into the white stuff, sometimes up to my thighs. I eventually reached the col between Meall a'Bhuachaille and Creagan Gorm and climbed Meall a’Bhuachaille's west ridge, still following the trail made by the snow shoe walkers.

On arrival at the summit cairn there were fantastic views of the snow clad Cairngorms. I sat at the cairn eating my lunch taking in these views when a hill runner appeared having followed my route uphill. After a short chat he headed back down the route of ascent. I was then joined by a ski tourer followed a short time later by his girlfriend who had walked up. They had driven north from Edinburgh for the day. He later skied off downhill while she followed the snow shoe trail down the north-east ridge and then towards Ryvoan Bothy. I also descended by this route but the snow appeared a bit deeper on this side of the mountain and I saw the female disappear into the drifts on a couple of occasions. There was also evidence that the deer had been foraging for food as they had scraped away the snow to reach the vegetation. Lower down I spoke to a snow boarder but apparently the snow was too deep and soft so the conditions weren’t ideal for him.

I met the skier and his girlfriend again at Ryvoan Bothy before I walked down through Glen More back to the village. There was a reasonably worn path through the snow made by fellow walkers and cross country skiers. The final section from Glenmore Lodge back to the car was on snow covered tarmac.

On my return car journey I stopped to take a photograph of the frozen Loch Morlich and the temperature in Aviemore just after 3 was -8C.

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Meall a'Bhuachaille Corbett third ascent 810 metres

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Morven

20 December 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 37. Time taken - 6 hours. Distance - 18 kilometres. Ascent - 750 metres

I have climbed the Corbett, Morven, on two previous occasions, once from the Pass of Ballater and the other time from Balhennie Farm near Logie Coldstone. This time I planned to climb it from Tullich, to the east of the Pass of Ballater.

There was no authorised parking on the A93 in the vicinity of Milton of Tullich and the nearest parking space I could find was a lay-by at Tomnakeist, around a mile further east. I left my car there and walked back along the A93 to Milton of Tullich where I followed a track through the farm. Beyond the buildings I came to a gate with a signposted route to Morven. I followed a snow covered track, which wound its way through silver birch and pine tress, to beyond a small lochan. According to my map I should have cleared the trees at this point but the area of forest extended for another three kilometres. The path didn’t appear to be in regular use as it was overhung in places by deep heather which was covered in snow on my visit. I passed through a couple of deer gates and a standard farm gate before reaching the Rashy Burn.

The going in the region of this burn was rather boggy and beyond it I encountered snow covered tussocky grass. I tried to search out the easiest route through this vegetation following where possible what appeared to be animal tracks. I crossed over a vehicle track and made use of an All Terrain Vehicle track that headed partly up the south side of Morven. The earlier fine but cold weather began to deteriorate as low cloud approached from the west and soon engulfed my hill. On my ascent I spotted some deer, mountain hares and grouse. Light snow started to fall and visibility was limited as I made my way to the cairn on the east ridge of Morven. At this time I was joined by a couple who had ascended from the east. We followed the fence posts the few hundred metres to Morven's summit cairn and trig point.

Visibility was poor in the snow and cloud so I left the couple at the trig point and descended Morven by its south side and later came out of the cloud. I took the path I had used earlier that day but at the small lochan followed the burn, which I later crossed, through the forest over some rough snow covered ground and felled branches. This led me to the forest walks at Cambus o’May and to the car park there. It isn’t a route I would recommend but I preferred it to walking back along the A93 from Milton of Tullich. Instead I only had a short walk west along the A93 to my car.

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Morven Corbett third ascent 871 metres

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Mullach Clach a’Bhlair

19 June 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 35 & 36 Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 20.5 kilometres. Ascent - 920 metres.

The weather forecast was for better weather in the east and part of the Cairngorms National Park, so I decided to head to the Cairngorms and climb the Munro, Mullach Clach a’Bhlair. The start was from the car park 800 metres north of the house at Auchlean, on the unclassified road from Feshiebridge on the B970 Inverdrui to Kingusie Road.

I walked to the property at Auchlean, took the path on the east side of the house, and walked south down Glen Feshie. Due to the recent heavy rain I decided to cross the River Feshie, at the bridge, 600 metres south of Achleum, rather than take the chance that the Allt Garbhlach may be impossible to cross if I continued down the east bank of the Feshie, which was quite high.

The earlier cloud had lifted off the tops as I headed along the tarred road to just south of the property at Carnachuin where there were a couple of ‘Rights of Way’ signs. One led to the bridge over the River Feshie where there was a warning sign regarding the bridge's condition. There had been a fair bit of deterioration since my last crossing a few years ago and I doubt if it will last much longer without being repaired.

I crossed the bridge with care and headed up the vehicle track on the north side of the Allt Coire Chaoil, passed a few ponies. The gradient increased and higher up I was surprised to observe that improvements had been made to the vehicle track and the surrounding heather was dead. I didn’t expect upgrades to these high vehicle tracks in the Cairngorms National Park.

A junction of paths was reached as the cloud lowered and I took the right hand path and climbed to the summit cairn of Mullach Clach a’Bhlair. I lingered here for a few minutes but the cloud did not clear so I followed vehicle marks back to the track where I disturbed a Golden Plover.

The vehicle track was followed back to the earlier junction and this time I took the track which headed over the Moine Mhor. The cloud lifted a bit and I had views to the Munros, Sgor an Lochan Uaine, Cairn Toul and Braeriach. Here again some upgrades had been made to the vehicle track. Prior to reaching the 957 knoll I cut across some wet ground to the path on the south side of Carn Ban Mor. As the cloud lowered again I saw a few figures on the horizon disappear into the mist.

I followed the path down the north side of the Allt Fhearnagan and once lower down I stopped for lunch. The group I had spotted earlier, a lady and her three children passed me as they headed down to Auchlean. Surprisingly for the Cairngorms these were the only folks I had seen all day. After lunch I continued my descent back to the car park at Achlean.

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Mullach Clach a'Bhlair Munro fifth ascent 1019 metres

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Carn a'Mhaim

25 December 2008

photos taken on walk

Map OS Landranger 43. Time taken - 6.75 hours. Distance - 22.3 kilometres. Ascent - 856 metres.

Linn of Dee was the access point for Carn a'Mhaim, reached from the village of Braemar along the unclassified road heading west on the south side of the River Dee. Here there is a pay and display car park, which was not surprisingly fairly deserted, with only three other vehicles there.

Once ready and with my GPS on, well I was trying out my etrex which has been lying at the bottom of my rucksack for several years, I set off through the forest and onto the track and headed for Glen Lui. There were patches of frost and ice but the temperature was probably now just above freezing point with some cloud cover but no wind. I crossed the bridge over the Lui Water, which was one of my waypoints programmed into my GPS but it was away out as was the next waypoint, Derry Lodge. There was no sign of life outside Bob Scott's bothy, as I headed for Derry Lodge and the footbridge over the Derry Burn before going west through Glen Luibeg.

On reaching the Luibeg Burn I decided to use the footbridge further up the glen rather than getting wet feet crossing this stream, which wasn't that high despite the snow melt. On the other side of the bridge the path was rather boggy before I rejoined the route to the Lairig Ghru. Here the climbing began but I was surprised as a few metres further on I found a new path heading towards Carn a'Mhaim. It wasn't there on my previous excursion but that was back in the summer of 2004. I followed this path, which later joined the old walker's path, towards the 1014 Point, where I had to cross patches of snow. I encountered some more snow just before the final approach to the summit of Carn a'Mhaim but I was able to clamber through rocks to avoid fitting my crampons to cross this hard packed snow with a small cornice.

The summit was reached and I had views of Ben Macdui, the summit of which was unfortunately in the cloud, back down Glen Lui to Lochnagar, across Glen Dee to Beinn a'Ghlo, over the Lairig Ghru to The Devil's Point, Cairn Toul and Braeriach all of which were cloud free.

There was a cold wind blowing around the summit so after taking a few photographs I headed downhill by my ascent route and was soon out of the wind. At the Luibeg Burn I decided against the longer route via the bridge and crossed the water with dry feet. As darkness approached I returned to the car park at the Linn of Dee where one of the vehicles that was parked there in the morning had departed. I hadn't seen anyone on this trip nor any sign of human activity so I presume most folk were at home rather than making the best of a reasonable Cairngorm winter day.

Now to re-study the etrex instruction manual as all my waypoints were out, despite manually loading them from GPS data as I couldn't get my cable to work.

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Carn a'Mhaim Munro fifth ascent 1037 metres

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Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

21 December 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 17 kilometres. Ascent - 1010 metres.

It was frosty when we left Inverness and headed south on the A9 to Aviemore where it was even colder. However on the drive up the Ski Road to the Coire Cas car park the temperature had risen above freezing point and it was remarkably balmy compared to lower down.

Graham, John from New Hampshire USA and I set off along the path that headed south-west from the Ski Centre and crossed the Allt Coire an t-Sneachda and later on the stream that flowed out of Coir an Lochain. Here there was some ice to avoid. The sky was cloud free with very good visibility and as height was gained the hills to the west were red as the sun rose.

The 1083 metre point was reached with views across the Lairig Ghru to Braeriach, Cairn Toul and Carn an Lochan Uaine. A slight change of direction followed with more height gained and some snow with icy patches underfoot. We stopped for a short break and put on crampons before descending slightly to the col between the March Burn and Lochan Buidhe.

The route from here to the summit of Ben Macdui was cairned in places and there were several other walkers around taking the benefit of the superb conditions. The summit trig point was reached and we had awesome views across to the mountains already mentioned, south to Lochnagar and east to Beinn a'Bhuird and Ben Avon.

We returned towards Lochan Buidhe stopping en-route for lunch while looking west to Ben Nevis and north to Ben Wyvis and the Caithness Hills. Afterwards we walked across snow and ice to the top of Coire Domhain and Coire Raibeirt. It was then a steady climb to the summit of Cairn Gorm, where as well as a cairn there is a weather station.

There was limited snow on the north side of Cairn Gorm so there was no longer a need for crampons which we removed before descending to the Ptarmigan Restaurant and the top Funicular Station. Here there was some limited skiing although it appeared that only one tow was open and the run narrow.

The descent was down the Sron an Aonaich ridge before dropping into the Coire Cas car park and the end of a superb day on the Cairngorm plateau.

previous ascent

Ben Macdui Munro eleventh ascent 1309 metres
Cairn Gorm Munro ninth ascent 1245 metres

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The Devil's Point, Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine

20 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 12.75 hours Distance - 37 kilometres. Ascent - 1250 metres.

It was a very early start for this walk to some of the remoter Munros in the Cairngorms. If we were successful it would mean that my client, Laila, would only be left with one more Munro to complete all 284.

The short drive from Braemar to the car park at the Linn of Dee was like being on a nature trail. Within minutes we saw red deer, roe deer, an owl and a red squirrel and that was just during the first few miles.

It was still dry when we left the car park, walked through the wood and onto the vehicle track that led to Derry Lodge. Here we saw more deer, both red and roe. During the hours walk to Derry Lodge it started to rain as forecasted. From Derry Lodge we walked the path to the Luibeg Burn, crossed this river and continued on the path towards the Lairig Ghru.

The wind had picked up and the rain was now heavy and the conditions as we headed for Corrour Bothy were pretty awful, but at least the wind and rain were on our backs. On reaching the Bothy we took shelter for a while and spoke to the occupants, an Australian walking the Lairig Ghru over two days and a Cornish chap climbing some of the Munros when the weather was fair.

We left the comfort of the Bothy, which had had some interior work carried out and where an outside loo was being constructed, and took the path up into Coire Odhair. The path had recently been repaired, probably using money from the pay and display car park at the Linn of Dee, so at least the £2 parking fee was going to a good cause.

In the Coire we were afforded some shelter from the wind and rain and the cloud was occasionally breaking over The Devil’s Point. The heavy rain had changed to showers by the time we reached the bealach and headed into the wind towards the summit of The Devil’s Point. On reaching this summit we had views into the Lairig Ghru and of some of the surrounding mountains.

We returned to the bealach and commenced the ascent of Cairn Toul as the cloud lowered again. Rather than taking one of the walker’s paths not knowing where it headed, we kept to the edge of Coire Odhar and Coire an t-Sabhail, which entailed crossing some rocky ground, over the summit of the Munro Top Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir to Cairn Toul.

The descent of Cairn Toul was over some rocks but the ascent of Sgor an Lochain Uaine was relatively easy up a mainly grassy summit. We were still in the cloud so once at the summit cairn we returned to the bealach. Rather than re-ascend Cairn Toul we kept at the bealach height and traversed below Cairn Toul, over some more rocky ground. Eventually to my client’s delight, as she didn’t like the underfoot conditions, we reached a path and continued the descent. A few minutes later we came out of the cloud and continued on the descent to the bealach above Coire Odhair, then into the Coire and back to Corrour Bothy.

We had a very late lunch in the Bothy along with three French walkers who were washing there lunch down with a bottle of wine. There were also a large group from Wales who were pitching their tents and trying to dry out their gear. They were seeking some advice on the ascent of Ben Macdui from the Lairig Ghru.

After lunch we headed back to the Linn of Dee in pleasant late afternoon sun although it rained again for the last ten minutes of the walk.

Laila was pleased that she was finished. Her final Munro, Ben Vorlich in the Arrochar Alps will be a far easier day.

The Devil's Point Munro fifth ascent 1004 metres.
Cairn Toul Munro fifth ascent 1291 metres.
Sgor an Lochain Uaine Munro fifth ascent 1258 metres.

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Beinn Mheadhoin

8 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 17 kilometres. Ascent - 1400 metres.

The starting point of this walk was the Coire Cas car park at the Cairngorm Ski Centre. From there we followed the vehicle track up the side of the Funicular Railway before heading into the cloud and ascending the Fiacaill a’Choire Chais ridge.

On reaching the cairn at the head of the ridge we commenced the descent, in sleet and hail, towards the path in Coire Raibeirt and eventually came out of the cloud. Lower down the path became steep and was badly eroded, even more so since my previous visit. Eventually we reached Loch Avon and followed the path round its west side crossing the Feith Buidhe en-route.

From the head of Loch Avon it was a steady climb towards Loch Etchachan but at a small lochan we commenced the ascent of Beinn Mheadhoin eventually reaching the summit tor. To get to the highest point, required some easy climbing. From the summit and its approach we had some good views of the surrounding Cairngorm mountains, of Lochnagar and possibly of the distant Ben Lawers. However the summit was soon engulfed by cloud.

The return was by the outward route but in the higher reaches of Coire Raibeirt we were engulfed by cloud and blasted by hail and sleet. The low cloud persisted to well down the Fiacaill a’Choire Chais ridge but eventually we came out of the cloud and continued to the Coire Cas car park and the end of the day's walk.

previous ascent

Beinn Mheadhoin Munro eighth ascent 1182 metres

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Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

1 May 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 12 hours. Distance - 33 kilometres. Ascent - 1010 metres.

A reasonable early start was required for this expedition into the Cairngorms as it was to be a long day as the lady booking this trip wanted to walk in rather than make use of mountains bikes. However the weather was in our favour. After a cold and in some places frosty morning the sun was out and the sky devoid of cloud.

The five of us set out along the vehicle track from the Linn of Dee to the White Bridge where we crossed the River Dee then followed the track up the south-west side of the river, beyond the Chest of Dee and towards a small forest plantation. Just beyond this forest plantation we crossed a small stream and took a walker’s path towards the summit of Carn Cloich-mhuilinn with the ever increasing views in particular of the south face of Ben Macdui and across Glen Geldie to Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch, which I had climbed with two of these ladies in 2006.

It was now fairly warm and once over Carn Cloich-mhuilinn we lost a bit of height before the steady climb towards the summit of Beinn Bhrotain, stopping off to top-up with water from a stream. On reaching the summit trig point of Beinn Bhrotain we had lunch in the sun taking in the views of the high Cairngorm mountains. Thereafter we descended over some boulder strewn ground before reaching the narrow bealach with Monadh Mor where we passed two lady walkers heading in the opposite direction, the only other walkers we saw all day.

We climbed to Monadh Mor’s south top before heading to the true summit a short distance further north. It was at this point my clients had to make a decision whether to return by the ascent route or the longer route via Glen Geusachan. The decision from all four was to take the longer route so we descended into Glen Geusachan, across a snow field and picked up an intermittent path into the Glen. Lower down the path became more obvious and we followed it into Glen Dee where we were sheltered from the constant glare of the sun.

It was a long walk down Glen Dee and eventually we joined the track used earlier that day and followed it back to the White Bridge. From here it was still a bit of a walk back to the start as the sun set and a few stars appeared in the still cloudless sky.

Eventually we reached the car park at the Linn of Dee after a long day out in the Cairngorm mountains on a very sunny and cloud free day.

previous ascent

Beinn Bhrotain Munro sixth ascent 1157 metres
Monadh Mor Munro seventh ascent 1113 metres

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Carn na Drochaide

18 February 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4 hours. Distance - 10 kilometres. Ascent - 500 metres.

It was a pleasant sunny morning with temperatures just below freezing point as I drove westwards to Braemar to meet a client to ascend this Corbett. Just outside the village a red squirrel darted across the road. There are so few of them nowadays with the grey taking over.

The start of the walk was at the Linn of Quoich which is on the north side of the River Dee opposite the village of Braemar. However to reach this point it is necessary to drive along the road on the south side of the River Dee to the Linn of Dee and return east along the north side of the river. Due to the fine weather parking was a bit limited at the Linn of Quoich as the usual car park was closed for winter.

We left the car in the 'winter car park', crossed the road bridge over the Quoich Water, entered the Caledonian Pinewood and followed the east bank of the river to the footbridge. This was followed by a slight climb up an embankment to a vehicle track which headed in a north-westerly direction through the heather moor. There were lots of grouse around and some clear views of snow capped peaks of the Cairngorms. It was definitely a day to be out on the hills.

The track was followed for several kilometres and as height was gained gradually there were improving views of the Cairngorm mountains. Although some of the higher tops were covered in snow there were lots of bare patches with most of the previous weekend's snow having disappeared. Although not shown on the map the vehicle track continued up towards Carn na Criche before becoming a walker's path. It was at this point that we spotted a herd of deer which took off crossing some snow fields.

We eventually reached Carn na Criche with views over to Beinn a'Bhuird and Ben Avon before we descended slightly and climbed to the summit of Carn na Drochaide. We spotted a couple of birds, either golden plovers or dotterels, but cannot decide which. There is one vote for each so without a casting vote I cannot be certain. Despite some high cloud and with very little wind we were able sit at  Carn na Drochaide's cairn eating lunch while looking across to the Corbetts Carn Liath and Cullardoch. We were later joined by three guys whom we had met at the car park earlier. They had taken the steeper and more direct approach.

After lunch we headed south where we could look down onto Braemar and the River Dee before descending through heather to the vehicle track east of Allanaquoich. It was then a short walk back to the car park.

On my return home I had to make a slight diversion to near Logie Coldstone and here I saw another red squirrel so maybe they are not as rare as is thought.

Carn na Drochaide Corbett second ascent 818 metres.

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Creag Bhalg

31 December 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 2 hours. Distance - 8 kilometres. Ascent - 325 metres.

The forecast was for stormy weather for the final day of 2006 but it wasn't due to hit the Cairngorms area until around midday so I thought I could fit in a quick jaunt up this Graham.

The starting point was the road on the north side of the River Dee just under two kilometres east of the Linn of Dee. There are few parking spaces at this point so walkers may wish to use the large Pay and Display car park at the Linn of Dee.

The drive from Braemar to the starting point was a bit tricky as the road was very icy and had not been gritted. The mountain tops had a covering of snow but nothing to get excited about although more snow than there was on Christmas Day.

I followed a vehicle track north-east through the Caledonian Pine Forest, named on the Ordnance Survey map as Doire Bhraghad. The track gave a rising traverse of the south west shoulder of Creag Bhalg and at the second junction I took a left turn and continued to a deer fence. The gate was locked but there was a stile which afforded access to the hillside. However the wooden steps were a bit icy.

Just beyond the fence a track led across the heather clad hillside to the summit of Creag Bhalg. Here there were three cairns but the southerly one appeared to be the highest point. It was rather cold and windy on the summit and the high mountain tops were cloud covered.

I took a few photographs before returning to the deer fence and stile. However I decided to take a longer return route and followed the path that led through Doire Bhraghad towards Glen Lui before doubling back on a lower path to the start.

I was fortunate as the cloud was lowering and it started to rain just as I approached the end of the walk and the final jaunt for 2006.

Creag Bhalg Graham first ascent 668 metres

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Hills of Cromdale

26 November 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 20 kilometres. Ascent - 695 metres.

The two Grahams on the Hills of Cromdale can be climbed from either Strath Spey to the west or Strath Avon in the east. I decided on the westerly approach as I was coming from Inverness.

The start of the walk was near Wester Rynaballoch on the unclassified road from the Cromdale Hotel on the A95 passed the Haughs of Cromdale. Parking at the start is a bit restrictive but a bellmouth area to the south-west of Wester Rynaballoch is capable of taking a few cars if parked sensibly.

I walked a short distance along the road before entering a field and following a wet and muddy vehicle track round a small wood. The track soon disappeared and I followed various animal tracks and picked my way through burnt back heather which made for easier walking at times. However higher up the terrain was a bit more awkward to traverse as it was very soft and had numerous hollows. I never found the paths shown on the map.

I eventually reached the ridge between the two Grahams but the terrain was still a bit awkward until I got nearer the summit of Carn Eachie. Here the surface was covered in lichen but it was very wet and slippery with the amount of rain that had fallen recently and with the snow melt. It was a bright and pleasant day with some sunny periods, although the wind was a bit chilly at times.

From Carn Eachie I headed to the trig point on the summit of Carn a'Ghille Chearr with views of windfarms, Strath Spey and the habitations of Cromdale and Grantown on Spey. I headed over to a nearby cairn where I had views of Ben Rinnes, Glenlivet and down Strath Avon towards the snow clad Cairngorms.

After a short break I walked back over Carn Eachie and to the point where I joined the ridge. Here I saw two guys heading in the opposite direction taking a slightly different route obviously trying to avoid the awkward terrain at this point. I continued in a south-westerly direction trying to stay on the highest point of the ridge and eventually I came to a cairn. The plaque on the cairn indicated that it had been built by the people of Cromdale in 1902 to mark the Coronation of King Edward V11 and Queen Alexandria.

From this cairn I stayed on the ridge, which in places had been churned up by all-terrain vehicles and headed for the summit of Creagan a'Chaise, where there was a short steeper section just before reaching the trig point. There was also a large cairn called, according to the plaque, The Jubilee Cairn, to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.

I took shelter behind this large cairn and had a late lunch before returning to the Coronation Cairn and descending the north-west ridge. As I descended I met a family climbing towards the cairn. I was surprised with the amount of people I saw on these hills as that was eight in total and normally climbing some of the lower hills I never meet anyone. I had seen two walkers descending this ridge earlier in the day.

The ridge eventually led to a vehicle track where I came across the Piper's Stone. Another bit of history here which I am thankful to Google for. It is related to the Battle of Cromdale in 1690 and a subsequent piping tune of the same name.

I followed this vehicle track to the tarred road and it was only a short walk from there to my car as the sun set and the end of a fine historical day on the Hills of Cromdale.

Carn a'Ghille Chearr Graham first ascent 710 metres
Creagan a'Chaise Graham first ascent 722 metres

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Brown Cow Hill

5 November 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4.5 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 510 metres.

On my previous visit to this hill I cycled and walked in from Delnabo near Tomintoul so on this occasion I wished to approach by a different route. Corgarff, another access point to this Corbett, was also nearer my home in Aberdeen so that was my planned starting point.

Corgarff is located on the A939 Ballater to Tomintoul Road around a kilometre and a half west of its junction with the B973 road to Strathdon. I parked my car just east of Cock Bridge Farm and went through a gate and followed a path that headed over the west shoulder of Carn Mor where a buzzard was searching for a meal. The forest shown on the map no longer exists, well only a small section does west of the track on the opposite side of the valley. It had obviously been removed several years ago as there is very little evidence of its presence.

I continued on the vehicle track, frequently disturbing grouse, as I climbed over Carn Meadhonach and found that the track actually continued onto Camock Hill. I did not follow it to this summit but headed over and crossed the Cock Burn. On route I came across a couple of standing stones, one was clearly marked 'M' and 'F' on either side. I can only presume that it previously marked the boundary between estates. There were a few mountain hares here which were starting to change colour to white, their winter camouflage, but it was too early as there was no snow.

I climbed towards the unnamed 748 point. It had been fairly windy since I started out but on this climb the wind was very strong and made for difficult walking at times. The forecast had indicated the possibility of 100mph gusts on the nearby Cairngorms, so the strong wind wasn't unexpected, it was just an inconvenience in what was a pleasant approach route. I disturbed a few ptarmigan here who also had a problem with the wind as they flew off. From this un-named hill I climbed to the east top of Brown Cow Hill and onto its summit which was six metres higher. I had views towards Bennachie in the east, Lochnagar in the south, Ben Avon in the west and the wind farm near Inverness to the north.

The return was down the east summit and its north-east ridge which was riddled with peat hags and pools and made for awkward walking. I was glad I hadn't decided to ascend by this ridge. Lower down a joined the vehicle track that came off of Carn Oighreag and followed it back to the Cock Burn near the farm and crossed over to the gate I used at the start of the walk.

Brown Cow Hill Corbett second ascent 829 metres

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Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a'Chaorainn

3 November 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 8.75 hours. Distance - 27 kilometres. Ascent - 900 metres.

The starting point for this walk was the popular car park at the Linn of Dee, several miles west of Braemar. From here we followed the path through the woods which joined the vehicle track beside the Lui Water. This track was followed as far as the path leading to Clais Fhearnaig.

I have climbed Beinn Bhreac several times from Glen Derry but have never found a satisfactory route. On this occasion I decided on a different approach so at the path leading to Clais Fhearnaig I followed it for about 500 metres before heading directly onto Meall an Lundain. This route followed the occasional animal path but was mainly through heather and vegetation, some of it fairly deep. We disturbed quite a few grouse as we headed uphill and a couple of roe deer.

Eventually we reached Meall an Lundain, which was marked by a cairn and had some good views of the snow covered Beinn a'Bhuird. In fact it was quite a pleasant day with mainly light winds and reasonable visibility although further west there was some cloud hanging around the summits. The only downside to this route was a descent of around 80 metres but it was a gentle slope before the climb to the Munro, Beinn Bhreac.

From Beinn Bhreac we descended to the east of Craig Derry and thereafter crossed the Moine Bhealach which was pitted with peat hags and small pools. However the ground was a bit firmer than normal due to recent frosts but wouldn't hold our weight. One of my clients disturbed a vole while crossing one of the peat hags.

Once west of Moine Bhealach we left the peat hags and climbed the south ridge of Beinn a'Chaorainn where we spotted mountain hares and ptarmigan, both changing to their white winter colour. On reaching the summit we had some lunch in the sun but there was a cold breeze. However the views were good and clear.

Once we had a quick bite to eat we descended into Glen Derry and followed the path to Derry Lodge, watched by red deer on the slopes of Craig Derry. From Derry Lodge the vehicle track led us back to the car park at the Linn of Dee. We saw a couple of roe deer, well it could have been the same two we disturbed in the morning, feeding close to the track.

It was almost dark when we reached the car park and here a few hill walkers were setting off probably to stay in the bothy at Derry Lodge. They would have to join a couple of dogs who had already booked their space there.

Beinn Bhreac Munro fifth ascent 931 metres
Beinn a'Chaorainn Munro fifth ascent 1083 metres

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Carn Ealasaid and Carn Mor

27 August 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken: 5.75 hours. Distance: 19.5 kilometres. Ascent: 750 metres.

I was supposed to heading for Skye but the trip was cancelled due to strong winds so instead I went for a small jaunt to the hills around the Lecht Ski Centre on the A939 Cockbridge to Tomintoul road.

I firstly set off to climb the easier of the two Corbetts, Carn Ealasaid on the west side of the A939. From the ski centre I followed a vehicle track onto the south-east ridge of Beinn a'Chruinnich and then crossed over numerous peat hags to the bealach between Beinn a'Chruinnich and Carn Ealasaid. It was then an easy ascent to the summit cairn of Carn Ealasaid where the nearby tors of Ben Avon stood out well.

I returned to the Lecht Ski Centre by the upward route although I did stay higher up on the south-west ridge of Beinn a'Chruinnich to avoid some of the peat hags.

Once back at the Ski Centre I climbed to Meikle Corr Riabhach and followed an old fence to the north ridge of Carn Liath again over or round several peat hags. From the north ridge of Carn Liath I descended slightly before climbing round the north side of the 800 metres knoll which was followed by an easy ascent to the summit trig point on Carn Mor. Here I had views of Bennachie, Lochnagar and some of the Cairngorm mountains.

The return to the Ski Centre was by the outward route. Once away from the car park at the Ski Centre there was no human activity on the hills but there were lots of hares and grouse.

Carn Ealasaid Corbett second ascent 792 metres
Carn Mor Corbett second ascent 804 metres

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Cairngorms

2 August 2006

Time taken - 6 hours. Distance - 20 kilometres. Ascent - 200 metres..

We had an early start from the Linn of Dee car park and headed along the vehicle track to Derry Lodge. It was wet and windy and our intention was to climb the Munros, The Devil's Point, Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochan Uaine.

On reaching Derry Lodge it was decided that due to the windy conditions we would head for Beinn Mheadhoin instead.

From Derry Lodge we headed up Glen Derry. The old vehicle track had been removed and replaced with a path. It was still windy and wet and on arriving at the Glas Allt Mor we found it in spate. I searched for a suitable crossing point but it was too risky and also we had to return by this route.

While there, a group of 10 Spanish and Belgians arrived on the opposite bank. They had little option but to cross the stream as they were headed for Braemar after an overnight stay at Hutchison Memorial Hut. A French couple whom I had spoken to earlier and recommended the Lairig Ghru route to Aviemore instead of the Lairig an Laoigh route arrived at the stream. My suggestion was obviously disregarded but they would have had a problem crossing the Fords of Avon in spate conditions. The French couple were assisted across the Glas Allt Mor by the Spaniards and Belgians.

We returned to Derry Lodge and sought shelter from the weather, for lunch, in Bob Scott's bothy along with several others including the group headed for Braemar. The bothy was recently restored after a fire had destroyed it. After lunch we walked back along the vehicle track to the Linn of Dee.

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Beinn a'Bhuird and Ben Avon

14 June 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 11.25 hours. Distance - 34.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1040 metres.

There was light drizzle falling when I set off from Aberdeen to meet my clients in Braemar but it was a sunny morning when we met up and drove to Allanaquoich which was the starting point for this walk. We headed off on the east side of the Quoich Water but at the Linn of Quoich we crossed to the opposite using the footbridge. Unfortunately this is where a teenage girl from Aberdeen tragically died recently when she fell into the fast flowing water.

We walked through the Caledonia Pine forest and spotted a few red squirrels. I was hoping to see a Capercaillie as this is the only location I have ever seen one, but I was out of luck.

We crossed another stream before heading up the An Diollaid ridge. Here the old vehicle track has been replaced by a path and the vehicle track filled in. Lower down the scar of the vehicle track isn't so obvious but higher up it will take many years to conceal it.

The path eventually took us to Beinn a'Bhuird's eastern corries which still held some snow. We crossed the plateau to Beinn a'Bhuird's summit cairn where we had lunch and discussed whether to continue to Ben Avon.

My client's decision was to continue onto Ben Avon so we descended to The Sneck and climbed to the summit of Ben Avon. The final section involved an easy scramble onto the granite tor which marks the summit of Ben Avon. This was Munro number 250 for one of my clients. She only has 34 left to climb.

We returned to The Sneck and headed down Glen Quoich. Lower down a new section of path has been constructed and in places the old path upgraded. This made for easy walking. We crossed the Quoich Water and followed it west where there were traces of a path. However we lost this path in some long heather but eventually picked up a new path beside the river. Here we came across warning signs regarding Schedule One protected birds together with some instructions.

Eventually we reached the river we had crossed earlier that day, re-crossed it and followed the vehicle track back through the Caledonia Pine forest, crossed the Quoich Water once again and returned to our starting point at Allanaquoich.

previous ascent of Beinn a'Bhuird

Beinn a'Bhuird Munro seventh ascent 1197 metres
Ben Avon Munro eighth ascent 1171 metres

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Culardoch and Carn Liath

10 - 11 June 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7.5 hours. Distance - 23 kilometres. Ascent - 905 metres.

I set off from the pay and display car park beside Keiloch, which is run by Invercauld Estate, and headed along the signposted 'Right of Way' for Tomintoul. The initial section is tarred but after around 1.5 kilometres I left this tarred road and followed a vehicle track north through the forest. I was still on the 'Right of Way' from Braemar to Tomintoul.

It was a pleasant walk through the woods and once beyond the forest I started looking for somewhere to camp. The area was a mass of heather and once beyond the Allt Cul I set up camp on an area of short heather that had obviously been burnt back a few years ago. I was also on a small rise in case of midges. I had a late meal as the sun set in the west and the moon came in to view in the south.

The following morning I followed another vehicle track, which is shown as a path on the map, to the east side of Culardoch and climbed to its summit trig point. Visibility was a bit hazy and it was rather windy on the summit so I descended to the hut at the Bealach Dearg. Ongoing nearby was some form of soil research, possibly by the Macaulay Institute of Soil Research in Aberdeen.

From the hut I climbed onto Carn Liath where the map showed two summits, about a kilometre apart, both being 862 metres. However having been to both summit tops it didn't appear to me that the north-westerly summit was as high.

From the summit of Carn Liath I descended to the 'Right of Way', collected my tent and headed back through the forest and to the car park at Keiloch.

It should be noted that the monies accrued from the car park fees at Keiloch appear to be used by Invercauld Estate on path maintenance.

Culardoch Corbett second ascent 900 metres
Carn Liath Corbett second ascent 862 metres.

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Corryhabbie Hill

5 April 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 3 hours. Distance - 10 kilometres. Ascent - 470 metres.

This hill lies to the south of Ben Rinnes (see below) and they can be combined to give a longer day in the Moray district of Scotland.

The starting point for this hill was on the south side of the Dufftown to Tomintoul Road at Ellivreid Farm. The initial problem was the track we needed to reach the Hill of Achmore went through a field of sheep, which were in the process of lambing. The roadside fence looked like one touch and it would fall down so we entered the field by the gate and slowly walked through the flock trying not to disturb them too much. One sheep had just recently given birth so it was a worry being so close to them.

Once through this field and beyond a copse of trees we headed onto the Hill of Achmore up over Little and Muckle Lapprach to the summit trig point of Corryhabbie Hill. The trig point had an unusual metal cover obviously to save it from the elements. It was cold on the summit with a strong north wind blowing.

Our return was by the upward route and to reach the car we walked round the perimeter of the field containing the sheep and crossed another fence to reach the road a short distance from the car.

Corryhabbie Hill Corbett second ascent 781 metres

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Ben Rinnes

5 April 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 2.25 hours. Distance - 6 kilometres. Ascent - 525 metres.

It was a cold morning when we set off from north of Knowe on an unclassified road just off the Dufftown to Tomintoul road to climb Ben Rinnes.

We were not alone on this popular hill and we followed a vehicle track before it was replaced by an upgraded path that led all the way to the summit. A strong cold wind was blowing so walking was a bit hard going especially near the summit trig point.

We did not linger at the top and returned by our upward route.

Ben Rinnes Corbett second ascent 840 metres

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Geal Charn

30 January 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4.5 hours. Distance - 12.5 kilometres. Ascent - 470 metres.

It was a very cold and clear morning, with temperatures down to minus 9C, as we headed through Speyside to Dorback, south-east of Nethy Bridge. From the end of the public road, where there is very little parking available, we dropped down to the Dorback Burn, which was frozen in places. However the water level was low so it was easily crossed as long as we avoided the ice covered boulders.

There were traces of paths leading to the derelict farm at Upper Dell where a good vehicle track was joined which took us across the heather clad terrain to north of Coire an Uillt Mhoir disturbing lots of grouse. We stopped en-route for a snack at a newly constructed hut for use by grouse shooters and beaters. It was well fitted out including a brush and plastic bin liners to collect the rubbish. I doubt if it will stay unlocked for long though.

The climb up onto Geal Charn was initially through some deep heather but we subsequently found traces of a path which we followed to the summit. Higher up there was a covering of snow and it was a pleasant walk to the summit cairn. Hear we lingered in the sun and took in the fabulous views as far as Morven in Caithness, the mountains in the west, the Northern Cairngorms and the hills towards my home.

Reluctantly we left the summit and headed along the south-east snow covered ridge. Again the walking was easy and pleasant but we had to leave the ridge and descend to a vehicle track. The descent was round frozen peat hags and knee deep heather but at least we were on a downhill section.

On reaching the vehicle track we met the gamekeeper who was burning the heather and spoke to him for some time. The walk back to Dorback was along the recently upgraded track and past the boarded up Dorback Lodge.

Geal Charn Corbett second ascent 821 metres

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Meall a'Bhuachaille

26 January 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 3 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 470 metres.

It was sunny and well below freezing when I set off from the end of the public road beside Glenmore Lodge through the Pass of Ryvoan to Ryvoan Bothy. There were several other walkers out on the track and in the vicinity of the bothy where I made a quick inspection and found the bothy to be very tidy.

A path leads up the east side of Meall a'Bhuachaille to its summit. Path maintenance has commenced on the top and bottom sections of the path with the middle section very boggy. However I was fortunate that the ground was frozen and I just had to avoid some icy patches. Higher up there was a light covering of snow.

I sat at the summit cairn eating lunch in a cool breeze watching the clouds roll over the sun lit Cairngorms.

There are alternative routes of descent taking in the tops of Creagan Gorm and Craiggowrie but I opted to return by the upward route which was now totally in the sun.

Meall a'Bhuachaille Corbett second ascent 810 metres

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Creag Mhor

14 January 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 900 metres.

It was a pleasant, sunny but chilly morning with clear skies when I set off from the car parking area beside Glenmore Lodge, the National Outdoor Centre for Scotland. There were several other cars already parked there with a few walkers preparing for their day out.

The start of the walk was along vehicle tracks through the Pass of Ryvoan, passed the green lochan, An Lochan Uaine, to Bynack Stable. This refuge was removed a while back, I presume due to vandalism, as it was in a poor state of repair. It is a pity that some walkers are responsible for wanting damage which means that shelter for others, even if it is for a short break to get out of the wind and rain, is no longer available due to their irresponsible behaviour. However today the shelter wasn't required as it was still sunny and the temperature had risen slightly.

I used the bridge to cross the River Nethy and followed the path that climbed up towards the Lairig an Laoigh. The first section of this path has been repaired but higher up it was a lot rougher and very icy in places.

This path was followed beyond the point where walkers branch off to climb Bynack More and I descended to the Uisge Dubh Poll a'Choin, followed by a slight rise before a further descent to Glasath. I spotted two helicopters flying around and hovering above Beinn Mheadhoin and I presumed they were on a training mission.

Once across the Glasath it was a short climb to the summit of Creag Mhor, which consists of some rocky tors. I had good views of the surrounding Cairngorm mountains, and was surprised how much snow had disappeared in a week from the high tops. There were even some areas high up devoid of any snow.

There was a cold wind blowing around the summit so once I had taken a few photographs I set off for the return journey following the route of ascent. It was uneventful and despite the number of cars in the car park I saw and met very few walkers once beyond the green lochan.

Creag Mhor Corbett second ascent 895 metres

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Cnap Chaochain Aitinn

8 January 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken - 4.75 hours. Distance - 19 kilometres. Ascent - 385 metres.

I wanted climb something new close to home but my options are getting increasingly limited having climbed most of the higher mountains in and around Aberdeenshire several times. I opted for the Graham, Cnap Chaochain Aitinn, which is located south of Tomintoul and around 75 minutes drive from Aberdeen.

The starting point was the Delnabo road where there is an area set aside for car parking just outside the village. It was a sunny frosty morning as I set off down the vehicle track on the east side of the River Avon. The track undulates in places before joining the tarred road at Delavorar. This section of road was slippery in places with black ice and I was glad I had decided against taking the mountain bike.

The next set of buildings in the Glen is at Birchfield where there is a set of large locked gates preventing vehicle access as this is the end of the public road. A side gate permits access on foot, or by bicycle and I continued down the tarred road for just over half a kilometre to a bridge over the River Avon.

I crossed this hump-backed bridge, which has some rotten wooden planks and walked along vehicle tracks to the derelict buildings at Wester Gaulrig. From here I went through a gate in the deer fence, across a field and through a beautiful birch wood. This was followed by a stream crossing and a short steep climb onto the open moor land. The vehicle track was in an excellent state of repair and I followed it as it crossed over Carn an t-Sleibhe and on towards Geal Charn disturbing several grouse.

The map indicates that the track turns to the east, which it does but there is another track, not shown on the map, which goes under the north face of Cnap Chaochan Aitinn and I presume down to the Burn of Loin. At the highest point on this vehicle track, another track led to the summit of Cnap Chaochan Aitinn where there was a small wind turbine and a telecommunication mast, which I presume was for communication within the Estate.

There was a very cold wind blowing at the summit so after taking a few photographs I set off to retrace my steps. On the return route I disturbed the grouse again and managed to get a photograph of some stags before they spotted me and ran off.

The descent route had the sun and windy on my back so I had a relaxed descent back to Strath Avon where it was sheltered from the wind. The frost and black ice on the tarred road still hadn't lifted entirely. I was on the rough vehicle track, close to the finish, before I met anyone else that day, some dog walkers and a mountain biker.

Cnap Chaochan Aitinn Graham first ascent 715 metres

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Beinn Mheadhoin

19 November 2005

photos taken on walk

frances's photos

I met my clients at the Aviemore Youth Hostel and we headed to the Coire Cas car park on the Cairn Gorm, which is the main Ski Centre car park at a height of 620 metres. Although the mountains were snow covered there was insufficient snow for skiing so most of the cars in the car park at that time of the morning belonged to hill walkers or climbers.

Once we had put together all our winter equipment, including crampons and ice axe, we set off up the vehicle track that eventually leads to the Ptarmigan Restaurant, which is located just below the summit of the Cairn Gorm. However we soon left this track, cut across and commenced the climb of the Fiacaill a'Choire Chais ridge. This was a reasonably easy ridge with good views into Coire an t-Sneachda. The clear skies of the early morning were now being replaced by high cloud. A couple of ptarmigan in their winter plumage were spotted but flew off before cameras could be produced.

On reaching the summit cairn we headed down into Coire Raibeirt on the east side of the burn. Lower down it became steeper and this was where I anticipated a few problems with ice and snow. The descent became very slow trying to find the easiest and safest route and the lower we got the more prevalent the ice became. Some of my clients decided they would feel safer wearing crampons so they stopped and fitted them before heading down to the shore of Loch Avon.

Here we took a coffee break but unfortunately those that donned crampons removed them and stored them away in their packs. After this short break we headed over to the burn and searched for a suitable crossing point but all the rocks were covered in thick ice. I broke ice off some of the rocks with my ice axe and crossed the burn. My clients preferred the use of their crampons for this short crossing.

Once over the burn and with crampons stored away again we headed round the head of Loch Avon and over another stream, which was shallow and allowed us to ford it without breaking ice or using crampons. We then crossed a frozen boggy area before following the track which steepened near the top towards Loch Etchachan.

On approaching the small lochan, prior to Loch Etchachan, we headed up Beinn Mheadhoin passed several tors to the main summit, which is a large granite tor. A couple of walkers who had passed us earlier had been to the top of the tor and despite it being coated with some ice and snow thought it was reasonably easy to climb without the use of crampons. One of my clients attempted the climb but slid back down. I climbed up the first section but the snow and ice and been rubbed to a shine by the previous walkers so I went back and put on crampons. The client who slid off the rock had already put on his crampons and he climbed to the summit and I later followed. The only real problem was on the descent where there was an awkward step in the rock.

My three other clients decided against going to the top of the tor as did another couple of walkers who arrived a short time later, but they didn't have crampons.

The question now is can my three clients claim they reached the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin when they didn't go to the highest point? The debate begins.

We were now running late because of the delay in Coire Raibeirt so we had a quick lunch before descending back to the head of Loch Avon. Here we took a slight diversion to visit the Shelter Stone which is a large boulder and can be used as a howff for walkers and climbers.

We thereafter headed round the head of Loch Avon and commenced a rising traverse towards the stream flowing down Coire Raibeirt. I wanted to avoid the crossing of this stream and the icy re-ascent of the path and had earlier looked at an alternative route on the west side of the stream and with the agreement of my clients we headed uphill through snow covered heather in the semi-dark.

Once clear of the steep section we headed up the west side of the stream as it became dark and later had to switch on our head torches which we had removed from our packs earlier. Higher up the stream became narrow and was more boggy and some of my clients became a bit concerned as to their whereabouts. For one this was a first for using her head torch.

My clients decided to use a GPS and work out where they were and their direction of travel which gave them a bit more confidence especially as it was totally dark with some low cloud. We eventually reached the top of Fiacaill a'Choire Chais and headed down this ridge. Some were still concerned as they couldn't see the lights of Aviemore but this was due to the low cloud. However a short time later we came out of the cloud and the lights they were looking for were spotted and they were all happy again, I think.

We eventually reached the vehicle track used on the ascent route and headed to the car park in Coire Cas and the end of an exciting day in the Cairngorms.

previous ascent

Beinn Mheadhoin Munro seventh ascent 1182 metres

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Morven

13 November 2005

photos taken on walk

It was a lovely and sunny morning in Aberdeen so I headed off to Morven, a Corbett above, Ballater in Deeside. I had previously climbed this hill from the Pass of Ballater so I opted for a different approach, although I cannot recall the first ascent as it was so long ago.

I drove to the Groddie road west of Logie Coldstone and parked my car beside a small group of trees before walking along an old grass track to the derelict building at Balhennie.

Once through a couple of gates I was on the open hillside and followed traces of a path which involved a steady climb through the heather. Although sunny it was cold in the wind but I had good views over the Aberdeenshire countryside and across to some of the lower hills that I have climbed. There were a number of other walkers out on this route obviously enjoying a pleasant walk on a reasonably clear and dry day.

Once higher up old fence posts would assist route finding in a poor conditions. There were now several worn paths winding there way up the hillside which was white from a thin covering of snow. The cairn and trig point were subsequently reached with views of Mount Keen, Lock Muick which was sparking in the sunlight and nearby Lochnagar which had some cloud hanging around the ridge. To the west the snow capped mountains of the Cairngorms were impressive.

It was a bit too cold to eat lunch on the summit, so I returned by my ascent route before finding a more sheltered area overlooking the Aberdeenshire countryside. However as I predicted I would only get about ten minutes of sun before it disappeared behind the hill and it became distinctively colder.

I therefore continued by journey back to the start, warming up as I did so. Despite the cold wind it was an enjoyable walk and at least for a change it stayed dry.

Morven Corbett second ascent 871 metres

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Sgor Mor

29 October 2005

photos taken on walk

I climbed this Corbett in a clockwise direction around four years ago and on this occasion decided to do it in the opposite direction. I also decided to approach it from the east as the ascent from the south-east is boulder strewn.

I left my car in the Linn of Dee car park and walked through the forest and into Glen Lui. Before the crags at Creag an Diuchd I left the vehicle track and headed uphill through long heather, trying to select any easier sections of grass. I disturbed a group of six stags who were together so the rut must be over as they were all friends again. Further up there were some roe deer which ran off in various directions.

Once onto more level ground the heather was shorter and the walking easier as I viewed my first hill of the day, Sgor Dubh. It was an easy walk to the summit trig point where I had views of Glens Derry and Luibeg. Sgor Dubh and Sgor Mor are normally only climbed by those Corbett bagging but the hills are regularly seen by those walking the Lairig Ghru from Braemar to Aviemore.

After a short descent from Sgor Dubh it was a steady climb towards Sgor Mor. I had views up the Lairig Ghru and Glen Geusachan but the Cairngorm mountains were covered in cloud. This would be an ideal location on a clear day to view these mountains.

On the final climb to the summit of Sgor Mor the cloud blew in and covered the summit so I just touched the cairn and headed down its south ridge disturbing some more deer.

Eventually I reached the path on the east side of the River Dee and headed for the White Bridge, where I had a late lunch. I heard the roar of a stag to the south so one fellow doesn't think the rut is over just yet.

It started to rain and the wind increased as I headed east along the vehicle track and back to the car park at the Linn of Dee.

Sgor Mor Corbett second ascent 813 metres

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Beinn a'Bhuird

24 July 2005

photos taken on walk

I met a new client outside the Youth Hostel in Braemar before we headed to the start of the day's walk at Linn of Quoich.

As is the case with several of the Munros in the Cairngorms there is a long walk in with the obvious long walk out, so we needed an early start. The car park at the Linn of Quoich was already busy with several parked cars and mobile homes. However the majority of the car occupants were either camped at the Linn of Quoich or further up the Glen.

We headed up the east side of the Quoich Water to the footbridge at The Punch Bowl, where we crossed the river and reached the track that runs through the Caledonian Forest. Many of the trees are dead due to being blown down over many years but hopefully with the ownership of the land in the hands of the National Trust for Scotland there will be some natural regeneration of the forest.

After over an hour's walking we came to the river crossing but this wasn't a problem as the water level was very low. Once on the opposite side we had a meal break before heading through another section of forest to the start of the new path. The original track, which headed up onto the plateau, has been dug up and replaced with a path. Lower down the vegetation is filling in but higher up the bare ugly scar is still very visible. Hopefully over the years it will become less visible.

Initially it was very warm as we commenced this climb with cloud swirling round the plateau, but higher up it was rather cold in the wind which had blown the cloud clear of the summit.

On reaching the cliffs above the Dubh Lochan we had good views of the eastern corries of Beinn a'Bhuird before heading to the North Top which is the highest point on the plateau. We then sat above Coire nan Clach and had lunch looking over to Ben Avon, the highest tor was still in the cloud. However during lunch the cloud cleared from this summit as well.

The client had thought about including Ben Avon in this walk but it is a very long day and he decided to take in the South Top of Beinn a'Bhuird instead.

We followed the cliff edge south and had very clear views of part of Braeriach, Sgor an Lochan Uaine and Cairn Toul. As we continued south the views changed to include The Devils Point, Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain. In the foreground was Ben Macdui which still held patches of snow, Beinn Mheadhoin and Derry Cairngorm. The path from the Hutchison Memorial Hut up to Loch Etchachan was very obvious as was part of the Loch.

On reaching the cliffs above Coire na Ciche we headed to the summit of the South Top before heading back towards the plateau path. It was by this time fairly warm and sunny and we commenced the long walk back to the start. This was uneventful although we did spot a red squirrel in one of the Caledonian Pine Tress but it wouldn't stay still long enough to take a photograph.

At the end of the day I think the client was glad he hadn't included Ben Avon in what was a longish walk.

Beinn a'Bhuird Munro sixth ascent 1197 metres

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Braeriach

25 June 2005

This was the third attempt to climb this Munro with Shona and Laila. On the first occasion we only reached the Sron na Lairige ridge when we had to abandon the attempt due to gale force winds. On the second occasion the walk was cancelled again due to gale force winds and on this occasion snow.

I met these clients, and another lady Sue, in the Sugar Bowl car park on the access road to the Coire Cas Ski Centre. We could have done with some of the wind that thwarted us on the previous occasions as the midges were out and attacking us.

We set off on the path to the Chalamain Gap, which has been upgraded in places. On reaching the boulders, which slowed us down, as we searched for the best route over them, we again encountered the midges which were obviously waiting for their breakfast of blood from the walkers heading through the gap.

Once through the gap we descended into the Lairig Ghru and followed a newly constructed path onto the Sron na Lairige ridge. A reasonably steady climb followed with some easier sections but as we gained height we were able to see the summits of Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui, on the opposite side of the Lairig Ghru.

Higher up we spotted a Dotterel before heading to the summit of Sron na Lairige. Here we came across a large heard of reindeer and their young. One came up to Sue and sniffed her hand to ascertain if she had any food. I presume they were there to avoid the midges lower down.

From the summit of Sron na Lairige we descended slightly before the climb to the east ridge of Braeriach and along the top of the cliffs above Coire Bhrochain. The summit was easily reached with some great views of Sgorr Gaoith, Cairn Toul and the Lairig Ghru and further south to the cloud covered Lochnagar. To the east we had views beyond Ben Macdui to the tors on Beinn Mheadhoin.

We had our lunch here taking in these views and down into the Garbh Coire. Laila had a butterfly join her on the summit cairn and before we left we were entertained by a Snow Bunting perched on the highest point of the cairn singing loudly. It was rather entertaining seeing this bird which appeared to have little fear of our presence.

The return was by the route of ascent but we avoided the summit of Sron na Lairige and took the path round its east side. The weather was pleasant with some sunny periods and an occasional slight breeze. At the Lairig Ghru we were met by stewards who were checking off walkers on the annual Lairig Ghru charity walk from Braemar to Aviemore.

The crossing of the Chalamain Gap, although still awkward wasn't as bad as earlier as there was a slight breeze which prevented the midges getting another blood meal. However they were still frequenting the car park so we didn't hang about before heading home at the end of a successful day.

previous ascent

Braeriach Munro seventh ascent 1235 metres

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Winter in May

7 - 8 May 2005

My client booked this walk early in the year as he wished to experience walking in the Cairngorms in summer conditions. He got more than he bargained for.

On the first day we arrived in the Coire Cas car park and it was snowing and there was evidence that higher up the mountains were covered in the white stuff. What a difference from early April (see below) when there wasn't even enough snow to ski on.

We set off from this car park and took the path that passes to the west of Cairn Lochan. Shortly thereafter we crossed the snow line and into the cloud. The path was difficult to follow and higher up we lost it completely for a while as we crossed a large expanse of fresh snow. It was very windy higher up and we had a brief view of the snow clad Sron na Lairige ridge of Braeriach before the next snow shower arrived.

As we approached the two highest lochans in Britain, which were very difficult to see, the path was once again lost as we also encountered sections of ice where my client had difficulty staying upright as he had brought with him north of the border his summer boots. We were fortunate that the strong northerly wind was on our backs as was the snow and hail.

The summit of Ben Macdui was eventually reached in poor conditions and some photographs were taken, without any views. We then had something to eat sheltered behind the large cairn. While seated there, out of the cloud appeared, not the old grey man of Macdui as he was already there, but a couple who had come up from the Linn of Dee side. It appeared from our conversation with them that the conditions were better on the south side of the mountain.

We set off back to the lochans searching for the path and our boot prints but they had been filled in by the blowing snow. On this descent we met a chap who was backpacking. He had been camping overnight in the Lairig Ghru after a traverse over Cairn Toul and Braeriach. Walking into the snow, hail and wind was very difficult especially if the hail hit any exposed skin. Once again my client had problems staying upright on sections of ice.

On reaching the lochans we picked up the path below Cairn Lochan. However the winter snow soon obliterated the path as did the fresh snow and ice. Conditions deteriorated at times to nil visibility as we fought against the wind, snow, hail and spin drift, so we had to stop several times to ensure we were on the correct bearing.

We reached Stob Coire an t-Sneachda and commenced the descent to its bealach with the Cairn Gorm. As we did so the cloud suddenly cleared and we had views of the surrounding mountains and over as far as Lochnagar. However this only lasted long enough for my client to take some photographs before it closed in again and we were blasted by a hail storm.

In the hail and snow we climbed to the summit of Cairn Gorm where we were able to shelter behind the weather station for a very late lunch.

The descent still in poor visibility took us via the funicular's top station and down to the mid station where we ventured out of the cloud and the short walk back to the Coire Cas car park.

The next day we decided on Bynack More as my client's next Munro. The weather forecast was for the weather to be similar to the previous day but with the wind speed slightly higher.

The walk from Glenmore Lodge to A'n Lochan Uaine, the green lochan, was fairly pleasant despite the rain shower. It was very sheltered and we made good progress to this lochan and onto Bynack Stable where the shelter, they threatened to demolish, has in fact now gone.

After a short break we commenced the climb up the Lairig an Laoigh path to its highest point and as we gained height the wind became stronger. Once on the plateau we reached the snow line and the first of several snow and hail showers.

On gaining the foot of the north ridge of Bynack More we commenced the climb through drifting snow and strong wind that brought us to a halt several times. On reaching the leveller section of the ridge the walking was fairly difficult as here we were more exposed to the wind. However we struggled onto the summit cairn where my client had his usual photo shoot of himself in the cloud. We tried to have some lunch sheltered behind the cairn but the spin drift was getting everywhere and I gave up eating my snow coated sandwiches.

The plan had been to continue over A'Choinneach and down towards Loch Avon but due to the time the ascent had taken, my client opted for the route of ascent which was harder as we were now face into the snow, hail and wind. We worked our way down to the plateau and out of the cloud. We were searching for somewhere to shelter from the wind to continue with our lunch but we didn't get out of the wind until the area beside where Bynack Stable previously stood.

Once we had finished lunch we followed the track back to Glenmore Lodge and the end of a tough two days in the Cairngorms.

This was a new experience for my client who had never been in these conditions before. Although things were tough at times he seemed to have enjoyed the experience with a new string to his bow - winter walking. He has now climbed six Munros, three of them in winter conditions although this wasn't in the plan.

previous ascent of Ben Macdui and Cairn Gorm

previous ascent of Bynack More

Ben Macdui Munro tenth ascent 1295 metres
Cairn Gorm Munro eighth ascent 1245 meters
Bynack More Munro seventh ascent 1090 metres

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Guiding on The Cairngorms

3 April 2005

I met my client in Aviemore and we drove to the Coire Cas car park. It was devoid of skiers as the snow had all but disappeared.

This starting point had the advantage of being at 630 metres so it gave us a good start. We set off along the path that headed towards the Allt Creag an Leth-choin and up the ridge of the unnamed peak shown on the map as at 1083 metres. From here we were able to see the cloud covered Braeriach and Cairn Toul corries.

We continued up to the small lochan on the March Burn. Apparently this lochan and the nearby Lochan Buidhe are the highest areas of water in Britain. That is not surprising as we were en-route to the second highest mountain in Britain.

The path continues over some stony ground before climbing to the summit trig point of Ben Macdui at 1309 metres. We found some shelter for lunch behind one of the numerous stone structures that cover the summit.

After lunch we returned to the lochans and headed towards Stob Coire an t-Snechda. Here we crossed a vast expanse of snow for over a kilometre before ascending this Munro Top.

A short descent took us to the head of Fiacaill a'Choire Chais and a climb to the summit of Cairn Gorm with its radio mast and weather monitoring devices.

The return to the car park was via the Ptarmigan Restaurant and down the Sron an Aonaich before descending to our starting point.

The weather had been reasonably good although a bit windy at times. However we were afforded views of some of the other Cairngorm mountains.

Ben Macdui Munro ninth ascent 1309 metres
Cairn Gorm Munro seventh ascent 1244 metres

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Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain

29 January 2005

Frances had booked this trip in December 2004 and when I accepted the booking I was hoping that the access tracks were not deep in snow as this would have made the trip virtually impossible as these mountains are a long way from any road.

The moon was out as I headed west to Braemar to collect Frances but the temperature was above freezing so that was a good start and it looked like the planned walk could go ahead.

I uplifted Frances and drove to the Linn of Dee car park where we set off on foot along the track to the White Bridge. The clouds were well above the summits and only the higher peaks were snow covered.

Once over the White Bridge, we took the path up the west side of the River Dee. This was originally a track but as is the case with several of the tracks on the Mar Estate they have been replaced by heather and a new path constructed. Further up Glen Dee the path becomes a bit boggy for a short distance with lots of dead heather about but further north it does improve.

The path gradually turned to the west as we entered Glen Geusachan with the Munro The Devils Point to our right. We followed this path, which was a bit wet in places, until it turned north. Here it became a bit awkward to follow, due to patches of wet snow, so on occasions we were either walking through snow or knee deep heather.

We now started to gain a bit of height and as we approached the outflow from Loch nan Stuirteag we kept to the south to avoid large areas of soft snow. When level with the Loch we picked a route that would avoid a lot of the snow and take us up towards the north ridge of Monadh Mor. Initially this was successful until we reached some ice covered rocks. We stopped to fit crampons which allowed us to climb over hard packed and ice covered snow onto the ridge.

Once onto Monadh Mor's north ridge we had good views of the Cairn Toul/Braeriach plateau and the Ben Macdui area. To the west Sgorr Gaoith and Mullach Clach a'Bhlair were covered in rolling white clouds.

The wind was quite strong on the north ridge but it was mainly on our backs as we headed across ice crystal snow. The ice particles were clear and parallel to the surface as if they had fallen as rain blown in the wind and had immediately frozen on impact. The noise of the ice being broken by our crampons were like wind bells according to my client.

We soon reached the summit but it was too cold to linger so we headed off south along the ridge following two figures in the distance. This was the first people we had seen all day. On reaching the bealach between Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain we stopped for lunch as it was less windy here. Unfortunately the lid of my lunch box took off down the ice covered snow and despite descending to retrieve it there was no trace of it. I then had an exhausting climb back to the bealach before finishing my lunch.

From the bealach we climbed up onto Beinn Bhrotain where the trig point was covered in ice crystals obviously formed as the wind swirled round the summit. Once Frances took a photo of the crystals we headed down the south-east ridge towards Carn Cloich-mhuilinn and traversed round its south side rather than climb over its summit.

This traverse took us over some heather, boulders and wet snow but as we descended there were less patches of snow. However the new problem was it was getting dark so it was difficult to spot the bog or small streams amongst the heather. We could hear the water from the River Dee but were unable to see it but continued on our planned route until we picked up the path that we used earlier that day.

We walked down this path towards the White Bridge using our head torches. The sky was amass of stars. There were thousands of them, so that kept us entertained as we reached the White Bridge and headed towards the Linn of Dee. One advantage of walking in the dark is you don't see the finish and therefore you can't see how far you have left to walk.

The car was reached just over eleven hours after we set out and the temperature was now below freezing, although we weren't aware it was that cold.

We headed for Braemar Youth Hostel for a shower, something to eat and a well earned rest before the next day's walk.

Monadh Mor Munro sixth ascent 1113 meters
Beinn Bhrotain Munro fifth ascent 1157 metres

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Donside and Deeside Grahams

12 December 2004

The forecast for the east coast was for reasonable weather so I planned to climb hills nearer my home city of Aberdeen. As I have been to the summits of all the higher hills in the area I decided on a couple of Grahams, which are between 2,000 and 2,500 feet in height.

My first Graham was located in Donside, north of Strathdon on the Glenbuchat Road. Strathdon is famous for the Lonach Gathering held in the park at Bellabeg every August.

I parked my car near a small copse just beyond the farm at Invernettie and set off across fields until I reached the heathery hillside. I tried to follow some animal tracks through the deep heather passed shooting butts. Nearer the summit the heather was shorter and the walking a lot easier.

I reached the summit cairn of Ladylea Hill half an hour after setting out from my car. This is one of the lowest Graham's, just reaching the 2,000 feet mark. The cloud was well above the summit with streaks of sunlight breaking through the clouds above the village of Strathdon. I was also able to look down on the roofless Glenbuchat Castle, built around 1590, which is said not to be a ruin.

My return was by the upward route and I was back at my car within an hour of setting out.

I then drove to just east of the village of Tarland on Deeside and up to the farm shown on the Ordnance Survey Map as Pett but the sign leading to the farm and on one of the buildings indicate that it is called 'The Petts' so I presume the owners would know best.

I received permission to park my car beside the farm and set off along a track through the forest. The path branching off from the track that I was looking for isn't obvious so anyone following this route should think about pacing the distance to ensure they find the correct route. I am not convinced that there was a path there as I had to work my way across old bits of trees and dead bracken.

Higher up I reached another track, not a path as shown on the map, which subsequently joined another track that went west and north through the forest. At the tree line a track, again not shown on the map, continued across the heathery hillside to within meters of the summit of Pressendye, where the trig point and large cairn are separated by a broken down fence.

As I neared the summit a hawk, possibly a red kite, was hovering above the heather looking for some lunch.

I had my own lunch sheltered behind the cairn as there was a cool breeze blowing despite the fact that the sun had been shining since I left The Petts.

My return was by the route of ascent. The red kite was still searching for its lunch and the sun was still out when I arrived back at my car. One of the few days this year that I can remember walking in the sun. It was a pity about the cool wind on the summit but at least it was dry.

Ladylea Hill Graham first ascent 610 metres
Pressendye Graham first ascent 619 metres

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Sunday Stroll in the Gorms

25 July 2004

I had a weekend at home but the weather forecast indicated that Sunday was to be a reasonably fine day so I decided to take a stroll in the Cairngorms.

An early morning drive saw me arrive at the Linn of Dee car park but it was already busy with walkers and cyclists. Remember to take two pounds in change to pay for using the car park. The money collected is used to maintain the paths in Upper Deeside.

I cycled along the track to Derry Lodge where I abandoned my cycle along with numerous others. Several people were camping in this popular spot.

I headed along the path to Glen Luibeg accompanied by a chap from Edinburgh. On reaching the Luibeg burn I let him go as he was in a hurry as he intended taking in three Munros. The crossing of the Luibeg was easy as the water level was low and there were plenty of stepping stones.

I walked to the highest point on the path that leads over to the Lairig Ghru and climbed up the hillside where there is now traces of a path. Once higher up the walking became easier as I climbed to the summit of Carn a'Mhaim, cairn of the large rounded hill. From this viewpoint I saw a fellow walker on the summit of The Devil's Point, on the opposite side of the Lairig Ghru, and a few campers in the vicinity of Corrour Bothy. Unfortunately the 4,000 feet summits were covered in cloud and there were still patches of snow in some of the northern corries.

I continued along the north ridge of Carn a'Mhaim, which becomes a bit narrower, before I dropped to the bealach and down the side of the Allt Carn a'Mhaim. This was my first venture into this pathless glen where I was on my own. So it is still possible to find a lonely spot in the Cairngorms even during the height of summer. The only thing I disturbed was a family of five Grouse whom I almost stood on before they flew off in panic. The cloud that was covering the highest peaks had cleared and the sun was now out.

I joined the path on the east side of the Luibeg and headed back to Derry Lodge to collect my cycle. Freewheeling down the majority of the track back to the Linn of Dee was a fine ending to a pleasant short day in the Gorms.

Carn a'Mhaim Munro fourth ascent 1037 metres

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Cairngorms

15 March 2004

This day I was to take two ladies to Braeriach. It was predicted that the overnight gales would subside but on meeting my clients at the Sugar Bowl Car Park it was still very windy.

We set off across to the Chalamain Gap where a snow bank had to be climbed before we found our way through the boulders buffeted by the wind. The next section was down to the Lairig Ghru and across a burn which had patches of soft snow covering it. Unfortunately Laila slipped and fell into the water but a passing “knight of the hills” gave her his spare pair of socks. We continued onto the Sron na Lairige ridge across some snow fields but a decision was made to abandon the climb, due to the strong wind, and return to the car park.

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Braeriach

13 December 2003

The forecast indicated that the weather in the morning would be a lot milder and that it would turn colder again in the afternoon. My main concern was the wind strength which was predicted to be around sixty miles per hour with gusts of eighty miles per hour.

It was with slight trepidation that early that day I met Janice at Aviemore before driving to the ‘Sugar Bowl’ car park on the Glen More road. Janice’s hill for the day was the Munro, Braeriach, which is the third highest mountain in Britain, at well over 4,000 feet.

We set off on the path that leads to the Chalamain Gap. A lot of the snow that was lying on the Cairngorms the previous day had melted but it was still windy. On reaching the Gap it was less windy so we took the opportunity for a coffee break as once on the open hillside there would be no shelter, which as you will see later, proved correct.

The Gap required some careful navigation to avoid the spaces between the large boulders and they were also a bit greasy from the dampness. Once through we descended to the Lairig Ghru, which is a ‘Right of Way’ between Aviemore and Braemar. On the other side of this pass we started the long climb up the Sron na Lairige ridge. It was extremely windy here so we kept away from the edge of the ridge in case we were blown into the Lairig Ghru. A single walker could be seen on the opposite side of the Lairig Ghru heading from Lurcher’s Crag towards Ben Macdui.

Once well above the 3,000 feet mark we encountered some lying snow, low cloud and snow showers. The cloud did break occasionally to give us views of Braeriach and down the Lairig Ghru towards Braemar.

Once over Sron na Lairige we headed for the east ridge of Braeriach and it was here that the weather tried to prevent us reaching our goal. I think Janice was worried she wouldn’t get to the summit as she failed on a previous occasion due to strong winds, not even reaching the Chalamain Gap.

We walked along the east ridge towards the summit being buffeted by the wind which forced us at times to a halt. Driving snow or spin drift, it was difficult to tell which, also made it extremely awkward and we were again forced to stop and turn our backs on the summit. Between times we were able to look down the rocky face of Braeriach into the Garbh Coire and Janice even managed to take a photograph.

I was aware we were almost at the summit cairn when Janice tried to speak but it was impossible to hear her. The look of concern on her face told me that she wasn’t sure if we would make the last few yards to the top. A few minutes later we arrived at our destination. Janice tried to take a photograph but her camera had seized up in the cold.

Now all we had to do was to return to the car park. The snow showers were more frequent on our descent and the wind was still strong. As we approached the Lairig Ghru we saw a chap heading up the ridge. There was only an hour or so of daylight left and it would take him possibly two hours to get to the summit. Fortunately he had the sense to turn around as not only would it be dark in an hour or so but the weather was deteriorating.

On reaching the Lairig Ghru around three in the afternoon we managed to find somewhere sheltered from the wind for a late lunch. Once fed and watered we climbed up to the Chalamain Gap and negotiated the boulders in the semi-darkness. This just left the path to follow back to the start and required the use of torches on the latter stages.

This was Janice’s 275th Munro and must have been one of the most difficult due to the weather, so well done Janice, only nine to go and you can retire.

Braeriach Munro sixth ascent 1296 metres

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Bynack More

12 December 2003

Bynack More was the choice of Munro for Laila and Shona. The weather forecast the previous evening predicted gale force winds and blizzard conditions so I wasn’t very hopeful of reaching the summit.

We set off from Glenmore Lodge through the wooded glen and past An Lochan Uaine, known as the ‘green lochan’ due to its distinctive colour. The path continued past Bynack Stable before climbing the shoulder of Bynack More. This is a ‘Right of Way’ for those wishing to head for Braemar although there is a serious river crossing at the Fords of Avon to negotiate if you wish to take this route in preference to the more popular Lairig Ghru path.

As we climbed up this path the wind blowing down Strath Nethy was fairly strong and buffeted us about at times. Laila in particular found it hard going and to add to our problems very fine particles of snow were being blown horizontally in the strong wind stinging any exposed skin. Care was also required as patches of ice on the path had to be avoided.

Higher up a thin layer of snow was encountered as we walked head into the wind across more exposed ground. We reached the bottom of a steeper section of the north ridge where we were sheltered from the main strength of the wind. However this didn’t last and as we headed for the summit we were once again attacked by the wind and driving snow. We were also in the cloud so visibility was impaired and the last fifty metres of climbing was tough.

Once we reached the large summit cairn we retraced our steps but on this occasion with the wind on our backs. We descended the steep section of the ridge and found shelter for lunch. The cloud lifted and the snow showers ceased so we now had some views for our homeward journey. It was a pity that the wind continued to cause us problems.

We arrived back at Glenmore Lodge before dark. The only consolation for Laila and Shona was that they had each bagged another Munro.

Bynack More Munro sixth ascent 1090 metres

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Cairngorms

15 November 2003

This day saw me back on home territory, the Cairngorms, where I spent my initial hillwalking years. I was here to take a lady to the remote Beinn Mheadhoin. This was my second visit to this Munro this year, and with the possibility of ice and snow, which would have made Coire Raibeirt dangerous, we opted for the longer approach from the Linn of Dee.

The lady, who likes to remain anonymous in case a certain mountain leader finds out what she is up to, and I cycled up the track from Linn of Dee to Derry Lodge where we left our cycles. Janice (oops) and I walked up Glen Derry on a path replacing the old track. The Estate has removed the unsightly track and replaced it with a more eye pleasing path. After several miles we encountered a stream that was in spate after heavy overnight rain so wet feet were the order of the day. This is not the first time this stream has caused me problems. Many years ago coming down from the Lairig an Laoigh in bad weather I had to cross this stream and it was knee deep, so it was a long walk back to Linn of Dee soaked. On this occasion it was only our feet that got wet.

We continued to the Hutchison Memorial Hut where we took a break before climbing up to Loch Etchachan. Once across the outflow of this loch we climbed up towards Beinn Mheadhoin. The wind was getting stronger and the cloud base lowering with some snow and hail showers stinging the face. Just prior to the summit we met a group of walkers who were returning from the summit. They had obviously come from the Aviemore side. The summit of Beinn Mheadhoin is a large granite tor so Janice and I had a short scramble to the summit.

It was too cold and windy to remain long at the top so we returned to the Hutchison Memorial Hut for a late lunch. The cloud base was lowering and we met three backpackers heading up towards Loch Etchachan.

Once we had partaken of our lunch we vacated the hut and headed back down Glen Derry. The hut wouldn’t be empty for long as we saw the three backpackers returning from Loch Etchachan, obviously to stay overnight at the hut rather than camp out in the wind and snow.

On returning to our cycles at Derry Lodge it was almost dark, however we were able to cycle back to the road near the Linn of Dee without the use of a torch. Once on the tarred road it was harder to see each other in the dark but we successfully made it back to the car park without colliding with anything.

previous ascent

Beinn Mheadhoin Munro sixth ascent 1182 metres

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Cairngorms

1 August 2003

In early August saw me back in Glen Feshie with two ladies from Edinburgh, Shauna and Laila. They wanted to climb the two Munros, Mullach Clach a’Bhlair and Sgor Gaoith. After parking our vehicles at the car park at Achlean we walked up the Glen towards Carnachuin keeping to the east side of the river. It was a lovely stroll through some long grass and flowers which reminded me of walking in the meadows of Switzerland.

A track took us close to the summit of Mullach Clach a’Bhlair with a short stroll onto its rounded summit. A return to the track and a walk across the Moine Mor beside the water eroded path took us to the climb up to Sgor Gaoith. Moine Mor is a very featureless area and is regularly used for navigational training purposes by staff from Glenmore Lodge. However as we approached the summit we had a magnificent view down into Loch Einich which was probably the best view of the day. A descent down another path took us back to Achlean and the day’s starting point. It remained dry all day with the cloud base well above the summits although there was a cool wind blowing.

In the morning two Sikorsky helicopters and another military helicopter were flying about in the area obviously on a training exercise. In the afternoon a glider pilot was showing us his skills in the wind. He even had the nerve to wave to us as he glided past. No wonder we never saw any wildlife.

Mullach Clach a'Bhlair Munro fourth ascent 1019 metres
Sgor Gaoith Munro seventh ascent 1118 metres

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Cairngorms

12 July 2003

On this Saturday in July I met three ladies at the Coire Cas car park on the Cairn Gorm for a walk to the rather remote Beinn Mheadhoin. For those, like me without the Gaelic, Mheadhoin is pronounced ‘Veeoin’.

The walk was organised by Jean. Those who read last month’s newsletter will remember her as the talkative one on Gulvain. Jean’s reply was “as they say at BT it’s good to talk”. The other two walkers were Jan and Dougie, whom I have known for a few years and have walked with before.

The day was rather cloudy but fortunately the cloud base was above the summits. It was fairly warm and a pleasant day for a stroll into the heart of the Cairngorms.

We climbed up the ridge known as Fiacaill a’ Choire Chais and descended down Coire Raibeirt to Loch Avon. At the head of this loch, beside a sandy beach, we had a coffee break but didn’t linger long as the midges were prevalent.

The next part of the walk took us up towards Loch Etchachan and onto the Munro Top Stacan Dubha as Dougie is bagging Tops where possible. The party were getting on well together and even Dougie was in great form, I ask myself why? It’s not like him.

A short walk took us to the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin with its large granite tor. A scramble up the rock saw us on the top and three happy Munro baggers. I helped the lady members off the rock by taking their hand and so that Dougie didn’t feel left out I also held his hand on the descent. This caused a few laughs and a bit of concern on Dougie’s face. He has subsequently mentioned this incident on a phone call to me and I think he is a bit concerned about his reputation when this article is published.

We then sat and had lunch in pleasant surroundings with the cloud base well above the summits. This allowed us to view the mountain scenery for miles around.

After lunch it was a short walk out to another Munro Top, Stob Coire Etchachan before the long return to Coire Cas. En route we visited the Shelter Stone, a climber’s howff, which consists of a very large rock sitting on top of several smaller rocks and gives shelter to several people.

Below the Shelter Stone a small tented village had sprung up in our absence and the surrounding hillside was swarming with walkers. I thought Loch Avon was in a remote area!

At the end of the day it appeared that everyone had enjoyed themselves, even Dougie.

Jan and Dougie have now completed 230 Munros while Jean has 258. Jean is obviously determined to finish her Munros as she has now taken the plunge and booked a week climbing the Skye Munros.

Beinn Mheadhoin Munro fifth ascent 1182 metres

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