Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Southern Cairngorms: The Devil's Point (Bod an Deamhain) (130), Cairn Toul (4) and Angel's Peak (Sgor an Lochain Uaine) (5)

Walk date: 04/06/05
My Munro #'s: 24, 25 and 26

The Devil's Peak, no feeling inadequate now:

Ah, the wonderful views! Coming up to Cairn Toul:

Looking north up Glen Dee at the end of the bagging:

This day was my first outing taking along my aging mountain bike, but I was amazingly grateful for even its rickety frame on this long and wet dreary day. I took it past Derry Lodge into Glen Luibeg, hiding it amongst the last trees at the eastern edge. The cloud was very low, completely obscuring even the lower slopes of The Devil's Point (which incidently is more correctly referred to as The Penis of the Demon, its alter-ego coming about due to John Brown deftly avoiding embarrassment upon being asked for the peak's name by Queen Victoria!). By 900m up the cloud began releasing its rain and didn't stop for the rest of the day. Visibility was down to 20m at best and this contributed to my surprise at how much work was required to reach Cairn Toul from The Devil's Point. I had been interested in Cairn Toul since seeing its impressive slopes from Monadh Mor, and the lack of views on this day only added to the required respect, giving the hill an epic quality. A straightforward drop and climb to Angel's Peak was accompained by an increase in the rain leading to any dry patches left giving up the ghost. On returning to the col I allowed myself a second lunch complete with a welcomed hot drink from my flask before starting the long journey back. Satisfied, but ready for warmth, food, music and beer! Finding my bike on the way back was like being reunited with a long-lost friend!

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Crieff and Loch Earn Hills: Ben Vorlich (165) and Stuc a' Chroin (182)

Walk date: 17/05/05
My Munro #'s: 22 and 23

The summit ridge of Ben Vorlich:

Stuc a' Chroin from Ben Vorlich:

Loch Earn:

(6 hours) These hills are to the south of Loch Earn and so travelling west a sharp left is needed before the Loch starts at St. Fillans. Park around Ardvorlich and start climbing the path as it passes attractive gardens. This is a traditional straight up ascent; very different from the long introductions of the Cairngorms. The spacious ridge of Ben Vorlich is soon reached and the effort is rewarded with grand views of Loch Earn, the surrounding glens and the next target, Stuc a' Chroin. This hill is steeper than Ben Vorlich. I took a route to the east of the main buttress, which was basically a scramble over steep grassy slopes. My descent took me over heathery slopes across Ben Our but a route returning to Vorlich and rejoining the main path would likely have been much better than my sporadic stumbling progress. This was a very hot day and I took my time. Very enjoyable though!

This day was also the debut of my GPS (a Garmin eTrex Vista C!). I had happily taken in many a walk without such an item and would have continued, except for my parents insisting that if I was going on solo bagging expeditions I was having one of these. And I have to say I have since come to like it. You do have to be careful not to rely on them too much (and to take spare batteries), and to keep your actual navigation skills in check, but they can be a handy reassurance and they can save you a lot of time, which is especially handy if daylight is an issue. My initial thoughts on this day included the realisation that the plotted route is only an estimation! Even with Ordance Survey maps via Memory Map on my PC, there's no way to exactly know the features of the hill when you're sat safely at home (especially as to start with I only had 1:50,000 scale mapping). For instance on this day my plotted route up Stuc a' Chroin included scaling sheer sections of its rock face. I declined the leyline option and used intuition instead - beware of the purple route line!

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Friday, May 19, 2006

The Southern Cairngorms: Monadh Mor (40) and Beinn Bhrotain (19)

Walk date: 23/04/05
My Munro #'s: 20 and 21

Cairn Toul from Loch nan Stuirteag:

Monadh Mor from Beinn Bhrotain:

Beinn Bhroatain from Monadh Mor:

09:00-16:30. From Linn of Dee again, but this time going due west toward White Bridge. The weather today was hot from the start; almost no clouds around, but hazy on the tops. Still being without a bike, I plodded the long walk in, bending north-west at White Bridge (which is actually red!) getting into the hills. The good path from White Bridge soon ends and instead becomes a wide rough track which is surprisingly hard to walk on due to its spongey softness. The route turns west just before Devil's Point and finally starts to climb. Ascent to Loch nan Stuirteag is fun but slow and tiring and is rewarded with good views of Cairn Toul's back. Once on Monadh Mor (an easy walk from the Loch), the walking is even easier with just a brief boulder field upto Beinn Bhrotain. Descent down Allt Garbh was boggy and slow. Then a good stomp/jog back along original route in order to make it back in time for Jim's BBQ!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Southern Cairngorms: Beinn Bhreac (249) and Beinn a' Chaorain (58)

Walk date: 16/04/05
My Munro #'s: 18 and 19

Snow on the slopes of Beinn Bhreac:

The ice-capped cairn of Beinn a' Chaorain:

Derry Cairngorm from Glen Derry:

11:45-18:45. Two hours after setting off, I finally park up after tracking down the Linn of Dee carpark some way past Braemar. The forecast had been for poor weather, and with heavy cloud and drizzle even in Aberdeen the signs were not good. This walk is typical of the Cairngorms, starting with a long stomp out to Derry Lodge (made a mental note to get the bike road-worthy!). Due to no path, I had some hesitation to start the climb up Beinn Bhreac and this had the knock on effect that I had to double back once on the tops to reach the actual summit. The walk across the rather flat Moine Bhealaidh to Beinn a' Chaorain was very slow going taking an hour in all with bogs, snow drifts, ice, slush and thick grass adding to the fun; feet got very soaked. However, the effort was rewarded with fantastic views from Beinn a' Chaorain! Descended free-style from the summit, partly on snow banks with no path in sight! Path in valley was initially 70% river due to snow-melt. Today's weather steadily improved from Beinn Bhreac to the point that the walk back was in glorious sunshine.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

[Lochnagar (Cac Carn Beag) (21)], Carn a' Choire Boidheach (White Mounth) (42), Carn an t-Sagairt Mor (83), Cairn Bannoch (117), Broad Cairn (142)

Walk date: 25/03/04
My Munro #'s: 14, 15, 16 and 17

Lochnagar (Cac Carn Beag) standing proud:

A Cambra engine on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor:

And its wheel:

Looking over to the Spittal of Glenshee from Carn an t-Sagairt Mor:

Loch Muick coming into view at the end of a 5-Munro stomp:

This walk in the Lochnagar and Spittal of Glenshee Hills in known as The Lochnagar Circuit for obvious reasons, and is a great day out taking in 5 Munros in a surprisingly short amount of time. I was up and out early given the task ahead, being booted up and leaving the car by 10am. Good progress up Lochnagar. I realised at the top that the previous time I had been up, in a full-on blizzard (not a listed walk here), I had actually been about 10 metres off the summit peak. At the time the slight downward slope from the Cac Carn Mor cairn got me worried, and I erred on the side of safety and made the turn for going back home! Anyway today there was no trouble and I soon moved onto the uninspiring peak of Carn a Choire Boidheach, a large rounded featureless mound of grass! From here I made my way to Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and ascended its immediate steep front, disturbing winter hares and deer as I went! On this hill, I contemplated including some of The Spittal hills to the west, but a lack of map for the area kept me to my (relatively) sensible plan. Moving off down the west side of this hill, I came across the wreckage of what I later found out was a Cambra from a crash in the 50's; I was amazed so much was left! This was a nice find considering I had no inkling that it was there. Cairn Bannoch and Broad Cairn were formalities from here - the dramatic corrie of Lochnagar does spoil the rest of this day's hills! Despite a generally overcast day, the sun came out for the victory stomp alongside Loch Muick. Back at the car at 16:30 after 6 and a half hours.

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