11TH FEBRUARY 2019 Corwharn
Culter Hillwalking Club’s February Monday walk took us south to the Angus Glens with the hill of Corwharn, a respectable 611m. After a frosty night the drive down was in clear blue skies and good road conditions so no major winter challenges and by 10.00 am nine club members, two guests and a dog were ready at the Backwater Reservoir car park to set off briskly further up the tarmac to Glenhead farm. A grouse butt track heading steadily uphill took us into open moorland and eventually we reached the first peak of Bad Buidhe at 524m from which we had good views around to higher summits clad in a blanket of overnight snow. Despite a windless start lower down there was a slight breeze at this level, and it had a fair nip, so we headed off track south-eastward dropping 100metres altitude, before turning northeast and heading up again to the next summit of Eskielawn at 607m. This summit gave us good views across Glen Prosen to snowclad Mayar, Driesh and Hill of Strone and behind that over Glen Clova to the hills encompassing Loch Brandy.
The sun was slowly disappearing in a veil of cloud, and the wind was a little more cutting, so down again we headed to find shelter in an open planting of old, twisted larch trees. An estate vehicle arrived on the distant horizon to the north, never moving, but we did get back onto our feet well replenished and ready for a third ascent to Corwharn, our target of the day. A semi-formal cairn was offset from the fairly indistinguishable flat summit on the other side of a stock fence, but it provided another chance to absorb the views, and, just as we were leaving, two other walkers arrived.
A south-westerly course took us along a natural ridge from Corwharn labelled as Mildewan Hill then pathless through some sheep pastures before reaching the morning tarmac road back to the parked cars. 18km walked, 750 metres climbed, was good reason to stop at Peggy Scotts café on the A90 to refuel on tea and cakes before the drive back home. Many thanks as always to Catherine for putting together an interesting circuit, perfect for a February day out, and to the drivers for transporting us a good distance.
3RD FEBRUARY 2019 Geallaig Hill
12 hardy club members ventured forth on Sunday and braved the elements to ascend Geallaig Hill 743m. After some amusing parking antics near West Milton burn we climbed up through quite challenging snow conditions in a south-easterly direction on a hidden vehicle track. Our first fuel stop was just short of Carn Dearg. The group then continued on to Creag na Creiche with a cold wind hastening the walking pace. Much credit goes to Bill, Graham N and David for taking turns in riding point and breaking through the virgin snow. Just before the summit a club member , who shall be nameless, lost their mobile phone, but a watchful Trevor ( one of CHC’s Laurel and Hardy duo!) recovered the item. Lunch was taken at the summit in the shelter of the trig point. The wind and low temperature, however, encouraged us not to prolong our summit stay. The descent was then made in improving visibility and sunlight. Making good speed, we arrived at Braenaloin farm and then crossed the river Gairn before stopping for the last fuel stop at Tullochmacarrick, a deserted dwelling. At this point one of the group looked into the sky and spotted a large raptor circling overhead. By common consensus it was decided that this was probably an eagle given the height and pattern of flying. By this stage the heavy snow conditions were slowing the pace and the Gairnshiel bridge was a welcome sight. We then strolled down the road to the day’s starting point narrowly missing being taken out by an ambulance! A slightly weary group then adjourned to the Bothy in Ballater for hot drinks.
Thanks to all the drivers who had to negotiate some testing road conditions. Finally, many thanks to Bill for leading a very enjoyable winter walk in fairly taxing conditions.
21ST JANUARY 2019 Coiliochbhar Hill
For once we had a luxurious parking area - off-road, picnic benches, shady trees. Just a shame it was snow and ice covered....
We had an easy start up the main Strathdon road before climbing up through trees then moor to the summit of Ardhuncart , a small rounded masted hill with good 360 degree views. A much-used cattle track, fortunately frozen, led us round above the Don before reaching the bridge and entrance to Brux estate. Clearly an active sporting estate, their lovely dogs were duly very excited to see us as we passed by, on our way though mixed woodland to drop down to an old track along the Don where Catherine was duly thrilled to see a dipper thoughtfully posed on an icy rock mid flow.
The track wound up amid old mixed plantings with the view across to Lord Arthur’s Hill steadily improving as we rose. Bennachie appeared and Tap o Noth too.
The cold wind blasted us when we emerged onto the high moor, with watering eyes we could admire Morven and the Ladder Hills, pausing at the flattened Coiliochbhar summit cairn (all that wind...), before dropping down into warmer air to walk along the Don for a final stretch back to the cars.
An attractive winter walk, giving beautifully pastoral views of the Don valley - and just the right amount of snow! As always, many thanks to our drivers (and to Alford Bistro for the wonderful bakes).
6TH JANUARY 2019 Conachcraig
2019 kicked off for Culter Hillwalking Club with a Sunday circular walk up Conachcraig, out of Spittal of Glen Muick, a walk originally intended for the less snowy months of November. Distance was short to fit with daylight hours, but summit height at 862m, though fine for November, was ambitious for early January normal snow conditions. But, despite some recent overnight low temperatures (minus 10-6 Celsius at Braemar) there was no snow encountered at the elevations of our whole walk
Twenty nine walkers, surely a record, assembled to start the walk on the level track across Glen Muick to Alt na Giubhsaich then up the tourist path towards Lochnagar. But at the first junction we parted ways with two walkers heading south across the lower flanks of Lochnagar, then dropping down Glas Allt to Loch Muick, whereas the bulk of the party headed north on an unmarked path ascending steadily to the first summit of Conachcraig, and billed as the Corbett at 865m. Weather was still air, no winds, with cloud hanging at many levels, but at this point some breaks gave glimpses to Meickle Pap and behind, Lochnagar with snow cover. But this twenty-minute window through the clouds was just a teaser as soon cloud enveloped the tops leaving us walking in drifting, damp cloud drops. We made our way along the ridge to Conachcraig summit two at 850m, examined the tors and progressed on to Caisteal na Caillich, 860m where we stopped for lunch amongst further tors, now slippery and wet. After lunch we retraced steps, and then with careful navigation took a more easterly route along the ridge towards Cairn an Daimh then from there descending on grass and heather which was becoming increasingly slippery as some real raindrops briefly fell. By the time we were back down in Glen Muick we were out of the cloud that had thickened further, and it was just a case of following the morning outbound route, back to the car park.
Little wildlife was spotted, merely a lone distant-horizon red deer from the car park, but nothing more. But a good walk to start off the year, and compliments to John and David who had thoroughly reccied the walk, and managed to keep the “flock” in a single walking group,
Sunday walk January 2019, shorter (?) walk Tourist route and across to Glas Allt path and down. Nothing more to report really, apart from patches of ice increasing the braiding of the path across Lochnagar particularly. We certainly experienced that welcome window through to Lochnagar itself but, as James said, the mist very soon returned. I did see a very small plaque on the side of the path, to Anne who was born in 1951 and died in 2017 put there by her husband Mike. And in the absence of wild life, I picked up a large black feather which I believe belonged to the wing of a raven.