15TH DECEMBER 2014 Creagan Rhiabhach (533m)
Monday Walks Report December 2014
Our final 2014 walk took place on one of those perfect winter days, crisp and cold but with blue sky, sun shining all the time and spectacular views over the hills beyond. We met in Ballater car park and made our circuitous way to the Pass of Ballater Road, taking care with the ice underfoot. Having walked a little way along here, we turned off to go up to the mast which overlooks the Dee Valley, where we had our first stop. The track up to here became progressively snowier but not enough to halt the progress of a 4 x 4 vehicle which sped past us up the hill.
Now the views from this stop were good, but the trees rather get in the way so we returned to the junction and made our way up Creagan Riabhach (533m). Here the view proper started with a wonderful vista of snowy hills as far as the eye could see to the south and south west. We met one solitary walker as the views continued on our way to the highest point of the day (547m and unnamed). From here, we descended to the Gairn valley through woodland, stopping on the way down briefly. We followed the valley to the main road and then picked up the 7 Bridges path to take us back to Ballater and a good but turkey-free lunch at the Deeside Inn.
This was a super way of rounding off our walking before Christmas and we must thank Catherine for finding a new path, the drivers Catherine, June, Geoff and Kendall, and the company of our non-members Ryan and Leo, the latter of whom thoroughly enjoyed rolling in the heather and then the snow. In fact, I had visions of him rolling down the mountain.
7TH DECEMBER 2014 Hill of Fare (Marilyn)
December Sunday Walks report 2014
This was Rosie's walk which she was unable to attend due to work commitments and when she, Brenda and I did the original recce, it was a beautiful day with superb views over Deeside. I was very much hoping that this weather would be repeated for the walk itself. It was raining when I left the house at 8am but before long, the sky cleared and yes, we were fortunate to experience a very similar day.
We left the quarry car park above Torphins at 9.20 and followed the track up through the forest, meeting the usual army of dog walkers en route. Then, in much more open terrain, the track becomes a pretty narrow path up through heather and old forest, unmarked on the map. On the recce this was not so much a path as a small burn but today, although there were very squidgy moments, the ground was a lot drier.
Near to the plateau that constitutes the large area of high ground that is Hill of Fare, we reached a track and, although we hadn't been going the statutory hour, we had a break before we experienced the windier conditions higher up. It wasn't a long break, however, as the temperature wasn't all that high. Soon we were near the summit of Hill of Fare and half the party struggled through the dense heather to reach the cairn on the rather undistinguished top of 471 metres.
Our second stop was at the Hut where we enjoyed the sunshine, continuing to the summit of Craigrath (436 metres) and descending the Skairs from there. Here we had another detour to look at the Shooting Lodge, a 3 storey building which has seen much better days and is now an slowly crumbling structure with large cracks in one wall and a necessary sign that it is dangerous. We then descended through the pleasant forest, made less attractive by recent heavy logging which has chewed up the ground substantially and was very muddy indeed. At a fork in the path, the left hand track of which goes down to Raemoir House Hotel, we turned right and followed the track past a house and back down to the bus waiting at the layby, arriving at 1.30pm. From here we went to Mains of Drum for lunch.
2ND NOVEMBER 2014 Brown Cow Hill (Corbett 117)
Under John Fowler's guidance, we all enjoyed our walk today. His report is as follows: 18 walkers set out and 9 returned: a 50% attrition rate which is considered good for a novice leader. It was cold-ish and showery up to Brown Cow Hill and onto Meikle Geal Charn, where the sun came out to reveal Ben Avon in all its glory. By that time the temperature had dropped noticeably and the wind was very strong.
At this point 9 walkers decided they were fed up with the astounding (in his own opinion) leadership and went off to investigate the Wells of Don, leaving the more sensible remainder who just wanted to get out of the freezing wind. They headed off down the hillside to join up with a track which later turned into the road along the main valley. Their walk took five and a half hours from start to pub. The walkers were marched till they dropped; indeed someone may have a photograph of Pete flat out on the tarred exit road. The break-away group returned a little later."
The walk was memorable for the fact that it was a Good Hare Day - loads of them here, there and everywhere, brown ones, white ones, brown and white ones, white and brown ones, all dashing across the hillside as if the devil himself were after them. Then there was the brown cow wearing antlers which was spotted on Brown Cow Hill and lastly a wonderful selection of rainbows, proof of the variable weather we experienced throughout the day.
20TH OCTOBER 2014 Green Hill (570m)
Walk Report - Green Hill, Monday 20th October 2014
Despite a damp drive out to Strathdon, the weather cleared as the group assembled in the car park at Bellabeg and conditions were calm and mild despite warnings of the coming storm (tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo) later in the day.
We set off around 9:45am along the track beside the Water of Nochty, passing 'Lost' and scattered several pheasants and a couple of deer in the nearby fields. We made good progress to the first bridge where the surrounding woodland had recently been cut down, leaving the landscape rather bare. We continued west along a good track following the Water of Nochty, finally leaving the felled forest enclosure and took a short break on open ground near the confluence with the Quillichan Burn.
Suitably refreshed, we continued along the track until we had to divert around the property at Tolduqugill, accompanied by a chorus of barking from adjacent kennels! We picked our way along a grassy track which soon crossed the burn and started to climb through the narrow gap between Hill of Righorach and Knapps. Finally we reached open ground at junction of estate tracks where we inspected a substantial open shelter, complete with table and benches. However, we decided to head for the nearby lochan and have our lunch break outside the modern cabin that was locked and guarded by several fearsome looking animal skins mounted on the walls. Our break was rewarded with sightings of two large predatory birds - possibly Buzzards but there was speculation they could be Golden Eagles. Sadly, no binoculars were available to verify this!
Our walk continued with an easterly climb to the ridge and we headed off track to the summit of Knapps, overlooking Water of Nochty to the north. From there we continued along the ridge line, scattering grouse and the occasional mountain hare to the outcrop of Red Craig where the surface was scattered with weathered chunks of rock. Our group split with some continuing to the summit of Green Hill (570m) and the others taking the main track skirting the hill.
We re-grouped for a quick break then decided to head up Breagach Hill, following a recommendation from a chance conversation with a local at the car park. By then the weather had cleared with some late afternoon sunshine affording fine views across Strathdon and the surrounding hills, as far as Clachnaben to the south and Ben Avon to the west. We then headed due east downhill, following a line of grouse butts and entered the woodland below. From there we worked our way around farmland and through conifer plantations to finally join a new way-marked track. This took us behind the primary school and the Doune of Invernocthy Castle then back to the car park, arriving around 4pm.
Our convoy of cars then headed back and we managed a quick tea break at the Alford Bistro just before closing time! A great day out!
5TH OCTOBER 2014 Creag nan Gabhar (Corbett 114)
October 5th Sunday Walk Report Creag nan Gabhar
Before you read the walk report for today, please do remember the walks meeting at the Popin in Culter which takes place at 7.30pm on Thursday 16th October. Everyone is very welcome, even if you don't intend to “lead” a walk, and any suggestions or comments will be gratefully received. And now for the report:
A chilly wind was blowing when we got out of the car at Auchallater Car Park and the mist on the nearby hills was lower than forecast. 11 club members and 2 visitors set off up the track which leads to Loch Callater, turning off to climb up along another well-made and zig-zagged path in the direction of Sron Dubh but turning south to follow the ridge up to Sron nan Gabhar. Although the map shows the path finishing there, we appeared to follow a reasonably marked path, continuing on the ridge, to the summit of Creag nan Gabhar, 832m. Unfortunately, it was misty here, so we had no view at all - the forecast continuing to be incorrect.
We visited the 2 cairns on the top of this Corbett, just to make sure we'd reached the summit, and then plunged off track down the steep slope in a south easterly direction, out of the mist and with a good view of Loch Callater, to reach a track where we had our second break. This would have taken us down to the Callater Burn crossing which has no bridge, so it was decided that we would take the small path off to the right which led to Lochcallater Lodge over a substantial bridge. Here we stopped to talk to some equine friends before taking the main track back down the glen to Auchallater. There was little wild life on this walk; we saw a buzzard on the way along Deeside, some fast running hares or rabbits on the way to Loch Callater and a few very fuzzy caterpillars on the way down from the Loch.
Although it was a bit cold to begin with and disappointing to be in the mist on the summit, particularly when the day cleared up considerably once we were down in the glen, we didn't have any rain, no-one was blown away on the ridge and I think we all enjoyed the walk.
22ND SEPTEMBER 2014 Airlie Ridge & Hill of Couternach (512m)
September 2014 Monday walks report Airlie Ridge
Although the Airlie Ridge does not possess the height of its neighbours Dreish and Mayar higher up Glen CLova or the corries of Loch Brandy and Loch Wirral the other side of the glen, it affords a pleasant “ridge” walk along the southerly end of Glen Clova with wide panoramic views. And we had a wonderful autumnal September day (although strictly speaking, it was the last day of summer) to enjoy our walk.
To accommodate all needs, we left cars scattered through Glen Clova and walked up from the cemetery through the woods to the monument. It is a pity that it is no longer possible to ascend this as it can be seen from miles around but it was a good spot to have our first break. The monument was erected in 1901 to the memory of the ninth Earl of Airlie, who was killed in 1900 on Diamond Hill in Pretoria at what must have been a fairly substantial cost in those days of £1,300.
From here we headed along the path past spot height 459 and The Goal to the Sneck of Corinch. An interest in navigation had been expressed, so we had a “Deputy Leader” for this part of the walk and a very good job she did of it too. Maps were studied by the party more than usual, but of course, it was an ideal day for this with little wind and sunny enough for us not to get cold when we stopped. Not only did we learn more about navigation, but also about sea eagles from a man who had been looking for them and who gave us a little talk about how common they had become, not necessarily on the coast.
We continued over Hill of Couternach (512m) and Hill of Balbae (494m) with a stop on the way before descending Carn Leith (439m) and turning towards the glen. Where the Minister's Path separates from the path onward to the woods, there is a signpost and we stopped here before the longer walkers headed off to the woods and the shorter walkers enjoyed the sunshine before following the Minister's Path down to Catherine's car. The former group took the path through the woods, coming out on the road opposite a signpost pointing the way to the Glen Clova Hotel. They followed this path over the bridge crossing the Clova, and along the road and path to the Hotel.
We were very fortunate with the weather, ideal for walking.
12TH-14TH SEPTEMBER 2014 Ben Klibreck & Ben Hope (Munros 195 & 256)
September 2014 weekend away in Sutherland
A long way to drive, you may say, but definitely well worth the effort for what turned out to be a special weekend away. Due to circumstances beyond our control and not in our original plan, we met at Lairg for lunch on Friday on a very murky day at a super café Catherine found called the Pier. If you're ever in the vicinity, it's worth a visit. Afterwards, we visited the Falls of Shin, walking round the forest and sampling a trim trail as we went. By this time, the sky was blue so we drove over to Raven's Rock Gorge, a small but nevertheless imposing gorge in woodland nearby, which afforded us some geological instruction by a member of the party. Then it was on to Altanharra, famed as being a cold spot in the UK, and its excellent hotel, with views on the way of Ben Hee and our goal of Saturday, Ben Klybreck, a large mass of mountain looming up from the plains below.
Saturday dawned great and misty with ideal conditions for midges, so we drove to our starting place and quickly left the cars to trudge up an ATV track to spot height 544 where we stopped for a midge-free break. We continued, traversing the mountain's long south west flank to a suitable lunch site before our final assault on the summit. 3 of us came down the same way, 4 made a detour to another spot height, 808, and we all made a final stop at 544 again before heading for the cars and the culinary delights of the hotel. We made good time, despite the very hot and humid conditions and, although the views were very hazy indeed, we were never in cloud.
On Sunday, the higher tops were in mist but this eventually burned off during the day, aided by a greater wind than we had experienced on the previous day. We drove along the single track road to Ben Hope (grass in the middle to show you how small the road is, but it had lovely views of the hills farther west). We parked the cars at Altnacaillich and legged it along the road to the waterfall which is the accepted route up the mountain. Despite dire warnings, we found this path very acceptable (the land was rather dry, so this probably helped) and enjoyed a sheltered stop just before we reached the plateau above. From here it seemed to me to be a long haul to the summit and we were now walking in some mist but at the trig point there was a shelter constructed against the elements and a HAM radio enthusiast broadcasting with his aerial.
Irritatingly, we kept getting fleeting views of the surrounding hills, lochs and sometimes more distant ones of the sea on the north coast, but after we left the summit, the mist finally went, revealing Ben Hope in all its glory. We came down to the plateau and walked back along its rim, crossed over a lovely waterfall, and followed a well-defined track straight back down to Altnacaillich and the cars. Because Ben Hope rises almost from sea level, it is a most imposing mountain with its interesting geology and the impressive view of its bulk brooding over the valley floor far below is one I'm sure we shall all remember.
Altogether it was a super weekend. Despite sometimes not having the views we would have liked, we had no rain or wind and Sutherland must have appeared at its best, a lovely part of the world which I for one would like to visit again. Because the mountains are so spread out and isolated, they tend to present a special character of their own, very different from those farther south which are more huddled together.
7TH SEPTEMBER 2014 A - Hill of Wirren traverse (Graham 136) B - Hill of Rowan
Sunday September walks reports 2014 - Hill of WIrren and Hill of Rowan
Hill of Wirren
Culter Hillwalking Club's September Sunday walk was a traverse of the Wirren Ridge from Tarfside to Edzell. A bus was in order for this 21km A to B walk, which took both the main and short walking groups to Dalbrack Bridge, 2km up the North Esk as the intended start at Tarfside was scuppered due to the final blocking of the very rickety and decidedly unsafe Buskhead Bridge, see an interesting article in the following link: http://www.brechinadvertiser.co.uk/news/community-news/bridge-closure-move-branded-unacceptable-1-3409318
Sunny weather in Peterculter had changed to light rain at disembarkation and for some it justified waterproofs but that was the only time they were needed, despite showers often being observed over distant ranges. The main walking group of fourteen left the bridge along the track to the farm of the same name then headed uphill on what was the old drove road from Glen Esk to Glen Lethnot and markets further south. Strictly following the pleasantly old and green drove road required the crossing of a small burn that caused an early morning challenge, before our route traversed uphill steadily to a bealach near Cowie Hill from which there were good views back to Glen Mark, capped with blackened, threatening skies. Now however the ancient drove road had been bulldozed into a modern estate landrover track with no pleasances whatsoever. The customary break after one hour of walking was taken at the ford crossing of the Burn of Berryhill after which it was another uphill jaunt to the flanks of East Knock, before descending again to the “Clash of Wirran”. (Clash = “A cavity of considerable extent in the acclivity of a hill; . . . the interstice between a large hill and a smaller one adjacent to it, and intervening between it and the plain” (Sc. 1808 Jam., Abd.2 1937).) Although not part of this day's walk, descent through the Clash shows it to be akin to a very miniature version of the southern half of the Lairig Ghru with cliffs, screes, boulder fields, pools of water and an emerging burn.
From the Clash at 360m, the real ascent began, still tramping the modern landrover track. Indeed it was “dual carriageway” madness along this estate boundary ridge with parallel tracks, and parallel fences, one for each estate, scarring the environment. Visually painful, it however made for easy walking, helped by a cooling blustery wind from behind, to the first summit, West Wirren at 628 metres. This spot afforded extensive views northward across Glen Esk to the summits of Mount Keen, Mount Battock, Clachnaben and Kerloch. A bit chilly to rest here, we descended to the next bealach to find a grassy embankment for a good lunch stop and views up to the cloud-kissed broad summit of our next Hill of Wirren at 678m.
The summit was characterised by an area of peat hags and a forlorn trig point with the advantage that the eternal landrover track took a drier detour and we thus had to go off-track to reach the summit. After the summit rituals we continued down its eastern hags before rejoining the landrover track which had recently been hacked out of the hillside leaving an eight foot peat “cliff” that would take centuries to slump, slip, re-stabilise and finally re-vegitate. A couple of mountain hares in summer attire showed us some speed of foot.
East Wirren at 639m was easily reached with its own trig point offset eastward from the highest point, but offering unrivalled views to the Firth of Tay, and across our destination, Edzell, to Montrose basin. A steepish descent brought us down to the Hill of Corathro which could be considered to be the southern sentinel hill of the entrance to Glen Esk. The blazoned land rover tracks gave way to more verdant, attractive farm tracks and rabbit country. In a sheltered spot we had time for another snack before working our way through agricultural land to the beech woods on the southern riverbank of the North Esk and its gorges and pools. We reached Bridge of Gannochy well ahead of schedule, and by chance we found our bus and driver parked at the “Blue Door”. He brought news of the “short walk” participants and so we followed in their footsteps for a further forty five minutes from the bridge, down the riverside to catch up with them at the Panmure Arms in Edzell.
Hill of Rowan
The club last climbed Hill of Rowan as a Monday Christmas walk when we had beautiful crisp, clear, sunny weather and the memories of an excellent walk remained strong with me, so when Hill of Wirren was chosen for our walk this month, I thought it would be a good idea to return to Tarfside for our shorter walk over Hill of Rowan.
The Buskhead Bridge closure made more of a difference to the B walk unfortunately, but from Dalbrack, we followed the road up Glen Esk a little way, and then bore right through a gate and along a track which winds round the west of the hill and takes you up to the summit in an hour, where it was very windy. The Maule Monument here was built in 1866 by Lord Panmure in the memory of seven members of his family - it is also dedicated to Lady Christian Maule, Lady Ramsay Macdonald, and Lord Panmure himself - and it is an imposing structure. Although this is only a little hill, 380m, it enjoys a wonderful panorama of the wide bowl of Glen Esk.
From the top, we retraced our steps down the hill, continuing towards and past Westbank Farm, before turning sharply right and climbing up to and crossing the col south east of Cairn Robie to drop down to the next valley and Milton Cottage. We followed the road from here back to Tarfside and a bite to eat. Knowing that our walk would take nothing like the time of the A walk, we retreated to the Retreat for slight refreshment and then continued walking along the River North Esk back to Edzell and the Panmure Arms.
Not much wild life was visible, although lots and lots of fungus of different sorts. We saw 2 buzzards, many rabbits (not with the buzzards) both alive and dead and a number of wheatears (which I also saw on the recce). The four of us very much enjoyed our walk and we hope to continue to offer B walks whenever possible.
18TH AUGUST 2014 Lair of Aldararie (832m)
Monday August 18th Walks Report 2014
August? Was it really August today? More like October, but perhaps we'll have an Indian summer then. We left the car park at Glen Doll with the comment that it was a little more chilly than we had anticipated and climbed up the Capel Mounth path, stopping in the sunshine and the lee of the wind before we reached the more open land to enjoy the views of Dreish and Mayar across the valley. When we reached the moorland top, the wind definitely didn't feel as if it belonged to August but we had a marvellous view of Broadcairn, Carn Taggart and the mass of mountain that is Lochnagar, including the Glas Allt path to the summit, but from that direction, clouds were gathering and soon we were donning our wet gear against the rain. This was to be the pattern for the rest of the day - sunshine one moment and rain the next but happily we were never in mist.
We turned off the Capel Mounth path to the right to scale the undistinguished summit of the Corbett Ferrowie (801 metres), undistinguished because, despite its Corbett status, there is no height for it on the OS map. From here, we were trackless for some distance, making our way across the plateau over not the easiest ground to our next hill, the Lair of Aldararie (832 metres, this only a sub Corbett top but with its height marked on the map). The summit of this hill had the distinction of being the site of Highland Games up to the 20th Century, being easily accessed from surrounding glens and having a fine turfed summit free of heather, tussock or peat. However, we personally thought it had rather a lumpy summit for such pursuits.
We had a second stop on the side of the interestingly named Boustie Ley (876 metres), not as pleasant as the last as it was difficult to find a spot out of the wind and the sun was hidden behind clouds by this time, so we were happy to move on and generate some heat again. We headed for the top of the cliffs which shelter Loch Brandy; we did consider going round it over Green Hill, but by now we were ready for the delights of the Glen Clova Hotel, where we had left a car, and so we took the shorter route down the Snub to the valley and a welcome drink.
On our way, we saw a herd of deer and a couple of hares which turned out to be nothing to the wildlife on the road by comparison.
3RD AUGUST 2014 A - Ben Rinnes circular (Corbett 106)
Report of Sunday A walk, Ben Rinnes, August 2014
After a night of torrential rain, but with a weather forecast of improved conditions, fifteen folk boarded the coach for the August 2014 Sunday walk at Ben Rinnes. The coach dropped the full distance walkers on the eastern flanks of the hill at an elevation of just under 400m and they made their way up the broad, well trodden track in dry conditions with good sunny periods. After a distance of less than 4km the 840m main summit tor of Ben Rinnes was reached, this point being adorned by a conventional concrete trig point which, since its time of redundancy, had been painted white and capped with a bronze plate sponsored by the Whisky Industry, showing directions of the various, and many, distilleries, and for those with other interests, one or two of the distant hills.
The cloud had increased to block the sun and the wind took on a chill, so advantage was taken of sheltered bowls amongst the Ben Rinnes summit tors for a refreshment break, with views down Speyside to the north east, and northward to the Moray Firth. Idle time and views of distant wind farms lead to entertaining discussions on how to mitigate their visual impact (paint them green!!) and their future beyond September 18th.
With midday barely passed, there was plenty of time to make a “Tour of the Tors” so the post snack pathway took us through the “Lady's Chair” (1:25,000 map) to the impressive “Scurran of Well” (Scurran = pinnacle or peak of hill) which offered even better photographic opportunities of Speyside, especially as the cloud had evaporated somewhat and the sun was winning the day. We disturbed a flock of upland sheep and on the horizon saw a lonesome deer avoiding us. After some individual scrambling amongst the tors we turned our backs on Speyside, cutting off-path on a bee-line for the next tor, Scurran of Morinsh at 760m. This now commanded views to the south and, to the west, the Cairngorms generating overcast conditions and our first sign of falling rain. A couple of summer-coat mountain hares rocketed across the landscape not far from us
Stiill off-path our route followed the lichen covered posts of some redundant boundary fence across the bealach to the minor bump of the interestingly named Hill of Knocknashlag. A refreshment stop was made at a modern, informal cairn on its flanks before what proved to be a taxing downhill stumble through a nasty mixture of slippery deer grass tussocks and clumps of blossoming heather with deep hidden ruts and holes in between. Twelve walkers, found twelve routes down the slopes before regrouping close to a section of the Tomintoul spur of the Speyside Way. This was easier walking, although gradually gaining 150m in altitude, which took us over the watershed towards the Burn of Tervie just before its confluence with the River Livet at Glenlivet. On descent, the Speyside Way entered into sheep pasture and typically for a “Way”, followed the boundaries of fields and dwelling places whilst offering good views of the local distillery. However the earlier Cairngorm showers had moved our way and some rain briefly fell before we reached our destination, Glenlivet Community Hall, 17km and 5.5 hour making for an excellent walking day.
The coach took us to the Croft Inn where we met up with those who had taken a shorter walk, learned of their adventures and enjoyed liquid refreshments of various types.
3RD AUGUST 2014 B - Dufftown
Sunday 3rd August 2014
August “B” Walk
Following the departure of the members undertaking the “A” Walk, three of us remained on the coach, travelling towards the vicinity of Tombae. As the narrowness of the road presented some difficulty in locating the elusive Allanreid Car Park (our intended starting point), we began our walk on the forest road, leading up through the Cairn Muldonich plantation. The weather was sunny and clear, affording us lovely views of the Ladder Hills, before entering the trees.
We then continued uphill on the track, to reach the shoulder between Cairn Muldonich and Cairn Dregnie. Due to large areas of tree-felling operations, we were able to enjoy many wonderful views of the surrounding hills, including Ben Rinnes, as the planted spruce and pine trees are still too small to obscure these. The track then descended to a small ford, crossing the bridge over the Allt a'Choileachan burn, before crossing the Allt Cullach burn, to enter the Forestry Commission plantations.
At this point we left the track, choosing instead a small path to the right which follows an old drove road up to the site of the Battle of Glenlivet. There we found a panel providing information about this battle, which was fought in 1954, between the Catholic Earls of Huntly and the Protestant Royalist army led by the Earl of Argyll. Despite being far fewer in number the Earls of Huntly defeated the forces of the Earl of Argyll.
Rather than retrace our steps, we continued past the site to reach a track which led us back on to the forest road (Red Squirrel Road). We followed this through the Morinsh woods, to emerge 3?4 of a mile from the Croft Inn, to where we repaired for refreshments. Sadly the only “wildlife” encountered, apart from a couple of buzzards, were a swarm of midges which attacked during our first “snack” stop, a rather unusual spider which fell out of its web down the clothes of one of our number, and an interesting bright green/ black-striped type of beetle.
As there was no sign of the “A” group, our leader encouraged us to embark on another short walk around the nearby Tom Dubh woods. This was a 1.5 mile peripheral walk, which afforded beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, and a number of strategically placed benches from which to enjoy them. Thereafter we returned to the comforts of the Croft Inn to await the return of our fellow walkers.
21ST JULY 2014 Carn Bhac (946m)
Monday Walk July 2014 Carn Bhac
The latest Met Office weather forecast on Monday morning didn't seem too positive for Carn Bhac, with rain at first, a brief respite at lunchtime, and more rain in the afternoon. However, I'm pleased to report that not a drop fell and there were times when we were so hot that a little soft refreshing rain might have even been welcome. Seriously, we had lovely weather for this walk, with high cloud, enabling us to enjoy views of lots of high Cairngorms to the north, south, east and west.
We set off from Inverey and walked up to the ruins on the right of the track, some of us having inspected the Colonel's Bed on the way. Here we stopped for a bite to eat before starting the climb proper on the track at right angles to the valley. This is a great track but it suddenly disappears and after that, we had to fight our pathless way to the bealach below our chosen mountain. This was heavy going, so much so that we stopped again to gird our loins before the final summit push. Carn Bhac (946m) has quite a large and rocky summit and from here, as I say, the views were magnificent and we lingered awhile, reluctant to leave a panorama which, had it been misty, we would have missed.
We then descended towards Geal Charn, but turned off right for more exciting off-path terrain on our way to the Top of the Battery. This strangely named hill, at 784m, is the 1518th highest peak in the British Isles and the 1332nd tallest in Scotland but you may ask how it developed such a name. This appears to be a mystery; its local name is Carn Damhaireach which means "cairn of the brindled or grey stags” but what that has to do with a battery is beyond our understanding, despite an exhaustive trawl on the web. A great number of car battery adverts appears but nothing about our little hill.
From here the appropriate word might be “plunge”. We certainly went down very steeply for some considerable distance, sometimes on a small path, sometimes wading through heather, to a bridge over the burn which provided a great opportunity for paddling for some of the walkers. This led to a good track which in turn brought us back to the Ey glen and thence to the car park. On our walk, we had seen brown hare, young ptarmigan and lots of toads, along with some very noisy fighter planes. Nothing like a peaceful walk in the country.
However, we all agreed that it had been another grand day out, helped by the excellent weather.
19TH-21ST JULY 2014 Weekend away including Ben Lomond
Weekend report for Aberfoyle July 2014
We drove over to Aberfoyle, meeting at the Rob Roy Hotel and from there to Rowardennan, famous as a point on the West Highland Way, which is on the shores of Loch Lomond. From there we joined all the world and his wife climbing Ben Lomond, the most southerly Munro. The temperature was rather hot to begin with, but as we gained height, we also gained wind - strong wind - and this dropped it considerably. We passed a herd of lovely black cows on our way up to the plateau before the final push to the top, where we encountered a large party of school children. There was a great view, but we didn't stay long as the wind was becoming stronger. We didn't use the tourist route again to go down but went down the Ptarmigan Ridge instead. This is very steep in places but a very easy path to find and there is little road walking at the bottom back to the car park.
The forecast for Saturday was not good; heavy rain and thunderstorms were promised in the afternoon, so our planned climb of Ben Vorlich and possibly Stuc a' Chroin (a long day) didn't seem such a good idea. We therefore drove over to Arrochar and attacked Beinn Narnain. This is described in Walk Highlands as “a very rocky little mountain with some scrambling and several false summits, a very accurate description. We were able to walk up the path cum stream, the stream not being very high, steeply through the and out to the moorland, where we stopped. We continued to the rocky ridge, passing the Spearhead and by this time in the mist, where found some interesting scrambling which we all enjoyed, particularly in the gully. The summit plateau is quite broad but our able map readers brought us down over a small boulder field to the bealach joining Beinn Ime to Beinn Narnain. From here, we turned left and made our way to the woods on a good path, passing the very impressive two Narnain boulders. The final stage of our route took us through the woods and back to the car. It had rained off and on during the walk, but we just reached the car in time before the forecast heavy rain began, but thankfully, there were no thunderstorms.
Sunday was the complete opposite, high cloud, little wind and, out of the wind, quite hot. We left the Rob Roy hotel and drove to the south of Loch Earn, parking the cars at Ardvorlich. Our goal was Ben Vorlich, postponed from Saturday. From Ardvorlich, we climbed steadily south up the glen, following the course of the burn on a track until we crossed a bridge over the burn and continued on a path. There were quite a few people on this walk too (we only saw one man on Beinn Narnain on our ascent), with quite a few dogs and one group with bicycles. The path was reported to be well repaired, but there was much braiding and erosion nevertheless. We stopped after just under an hour and reached the top in just over 2 hours. Here we enjoyed great views, particularly over to the Lawers group and Stuc a' Chroin. We ate our lunch there and returned the same way.
All 3 walks were very different and, in their own ways, very enjoyable. Thanks to Catherine for finding them and the hotel for us. Aberfoyle proved to be a good centre for the weekend away and, as ever, there are still mountains beckoning us for the future.
6TH JULY 2014 A - Ben Avon and Beinn a' Bhuird
A Walk Report - Sunday 6th July 2014
Despite an early start and a rather pessimistic mountain weather forecast with heavy showers and possible electrocution, 5 of us set off for the longest walk of the 2014 calendar - the 2 eastern Munros in the Cairngorms, Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon. We used bikes from the car park at Linn of Quoich, headed up the west side of Glen Quoich and parked them near the confluence of Quoich Water and Allt an Dubh-ghlinne around 9:15am.
We set off up a good track through open woodland then grassy moorland for the steady climb up the SW ridge to Beinn a' Bhuird. The weather was fair with high cloud and dry conditions under foot. We stopped for a short break above An Diollaid then continued onto the sparse grassy plateau of Beinn a Bhuird around 12 noon. We crossed to North Top (1197m) and the views across the corries were spectacular with some patches of snow remaining below the edge. We then headed eastwards towards a rocky knoll at NJ 108010 where we had a longer break for lunch. Conditions remained clear and dry but with a cool southerly wind and no wildlife was evident in this rather barren terrain. After lunch we continued east, down a steep, loose stony track to the col of The Sneck with fine views to the north towards Glen Avon and south down the Glas Allt Mor. Finally we climbed the steep ascent onto the plateau of Ben Avon and continued east towards the largest of the granite tors and the summit of Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe (1171m). Still no sign of wildlife on the tops but met a few other walkers at or near the summit.
We managed the scramble to the rocky summit, leaving packs and sticks at base and were rewarded with spectacular views as far as the Moray Firth to the north, Cairn Toul to the west and the many hills to the south of Braemar. The weather was starting to deteriorate with heavy showers visible to the south and it felt quite chilly in the fresh wind. We retraced our route back to The Sneck then took a rough path southwards down Glas Alt Mor, eventually joining a well prepared path that took us south past the Stone of the Clergy Man, a large lump of granite stranded in the base of the valley. We spotted a herd of deer high on the ridge to the east not long before the rain started and cloud began to cover the summits.
We reached the top of Glen Quoich and cut across to join a clear path to the burn crossing where the track from Carn Fiaclach joined our route. We had to negotiate some slippery rocks while crossing the burn and we had a couple of minor dunkings! However, the weather improved with warm sunshine we were able to dry off on the walk through the lovely remnant of the Caledonian Forest in Glen Quioch. We arrived back at the bikes just after 5pm and headed back to the cars, dodging a few heavy showers on the way.
6TH JULY 2014 B - Shooting Greens
And this is the report of the C Sunday July walk: For various reasons, (none associated with age/infirmity), four of us opted for what could technically be called the "C" walk of the day. Setting off from Shooting Greens car park, we followed the path, past the trig point, until we came upon a broad track, which led us alongside the Feugh Valley. It was a beautiful sunny day, and although this was primarily a woodland walk, we were afforded occasional lovely clear views of Clachnaben and Mount Battock. We then followed a path which took us out of the woods, and we progressed up Scolty Hill, where we had our third "snack" stop of the day.( Unofficial stops along the route were also permitted to sample blaeberries). Two walkers nipped up to the top of the tower for some extra exercise (admittedly, doesn't quite match climbing a Munro). Thereafter we descended the hill, cut through some woodland, and eventually joined the Deeside Way, which led us back to the car park. The only wildlife sighted was three buzzards and a vole. Nevertheless, this was a lovely, very enjoyable 8-mile walk.
1ST JUNE 2014 A - Cairntoul & Angel's Peak
Our first big Munro walk of the year took place on June 1st. Considering the length of the walk, we had a super turnout, with 13 members and one non-member taking on the challenge of a gruelling 20+ miles walk. The 4 walkers left Linn of Dee at 8am on a lovely morning and after the statutory hour reached Derry Lodge where we stopped and awaited the arrival of the 10 bikers. Having given them a breather, we then left for Corrour Bothy at 9.40. We crossed over the Luibeg burn, rather than go round by the bridge (some of us with less success than others!), and after nearly 2 hours we were sitting outside the bothy having our lunch, and making the most of the facilities there!
This is when the real climbing begins as we headed up out of the Lairigh Ghru, looking as stunning as ever, to Corrie Odhar, where we had to negotiate an off path detour to avoid a large snow patch, and out on to the bealach between comparatively little Devil's Point and dwarfing spot height 1213. Here, we turned right up the aforesaid spot height and now our paths separated with 10 then climbing Cairn Toul and a further 5 skirting round this and heading directly for Sgur An Lochaine Uaine (Angel's Peak), which sported huge cornices and where we eventually met the rest of the party after their ascent of Cairn Toul. On both summits lovely little snow buntings (one ringed) were seen and elsewhere we saw both ptarmigan and dotterel, all birds very much associated with the Cairngorm Plateau. Flowers of note were creeping azalea and petty whin.
All of us then retraced our steps to a large extent heading for the top of Coirre Odhar, where a number of walkers peeled off to make the most of the day by climbing Devil's Point. Having had such excellent weather at the start of the walk, the cloud now came in and the rain started, but our peaks had been conquered, with marvellous views from the tops. We mustered at Corrour Bothy, before climbing yet again out of the Lairig Ghru. This time, some of us used the bridge over the Luibeg burn and the walkers bade farewell to their cycling friends at Derry Lodge, before trudging the last section of the walk back to Linn of Dee. Our grateful thanks are particularly due to James; there were doubts about how it would work to have some walking and others cycling, but under his control, there were no problems at all. Our thanks also to the drivers, particularly June and her son-in-law. This is a long walk, 3 hours of walk-in basically, but if you want to "bag" the large mountains to the west of the Lairig Ghru, you can't get away from this, and a number of us were pleased to "bag" either one, two or three of them, while others were pleased to renew the acquaintance of these giants of the Cairngorms.
4TH MAY 2014 A - Little Geal Carn
6TH APRIL 2014 A - Finalty Hill
2ND MARCH 2014 A - Ailnack Gorge
2ND FEBRUARY 2014 A - Meikle Carewe