Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Drumochter Hills: A' Bhuidheanach Bheag (240) and Carn na Caim (232)

Walk date: 07/04/07
My Munro #'s: 102 and 103

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
A vooanach vek - the little yellow place - 936m
Caarn a kym - cairn of the curve - 941m

Duration - 11:45-15:30
Distance - 15.8km
Weather - warm. Blue sky with fragmented cloud. Light winds at height but pleasant throughout. Some remaining snow in hollows.
Team - solo

An extra point for spotting lovely Dalwhinnie:

Big and broad, today's targets basking in the sun:

The hiker from the black lagoon, avoid at all costs:

With fine weather forecast and the Easter break stretched out, it was time to visit the Drumochter hills again and take in some of the peaks that foul weather denied to Sonia and I when we last visited the area. This time, the poor girl was PhDing it back in The 'Deen, so I did the decent thing and left her to it!
After a great drive over, I proudly started stomping up the obvious and fast quarry path in my selection of recently obtained brand new gear; Sonia-gifted walking trousers, a new rucksack accompanied by a lovely set of water-proof inner bags, and a spiffing Theakston's Old Peculier T-shirt to finish it all off!
Within an hour I was up to height and began the 3km route over to A' Bhuidheanach Bheag. Although the path remained 'obvious', I did briefly lose it as I walked over the top of A' Bhuidheanach! From the return route it is obvious that the wide track goes more around this mound than not up it. However, with hills as flat as this, there is no real correct way so just generally follow your line and you'll soon be there.
Anyways, the top of A' Bhuidheanach Bheag is only slightly above its surrounds, so the trig point sitting neatly in place served as a handy reassurance that I was actually there! After managing to convince the friendly dog of some fellow hikers that a) I wasn't going to give it any food and b) I wasn't going to play fetch at 936m, I set about having some lunch on this peak. As I sat there I looked over ESE to Glas Mheall Mór and got quite paranoid that it was also a munro and having missed it from my book I should take it in just in case.. However, sense prevailed and a quick look once home later proved it was 'merely' a subsidiary top and I'd gladly saved 4km by not checking it out.
The top of A' Bhuidheanach looks similar to the rest of it:
Having had my fill, and with the light winds even on this fine day giving a bit of a chill, it was time to move on. Soon I was warm again and taking in fantastic views from the great mountain regions bordering these hills on all sides, not only hills but Dalwhinnie distillery too; this pair of peaks are not the most picturesque, but they do have a great vantage point!

Great snow and views over to A' Mharconaich & friends:
Hiking in view of Dalwhinnie distillery, bliss!

The approach to Carn na Caim was similar to A' Bhuidheanach Bheag, although with its defunct iron fencing, it also reminded me of Ben Chonzie. In any case, continued striding over easy dry grass soon brought the second hill home and there was little to do but start about my descent.

The approach to Carn na Caim, watch for the drops!

Grand views from the summit:

Although the usual route back would be back along to the quarry path, I opted for my book's suggestion of a steep 'heather run' down the slopes directly west from the peak. This was completely freestyle, and not for those who have concerns for their ankles or knees, but it was damn good fun!! Within half and hour I was back at the car.
Impressive gullies mark the descent route:
Being so near to Dalwhinnie distillery, I had a sneaky thought as I was taking off my boots at 15:45, that there might be a 16:00 tour! I couldn't risk not calling in to at least check, and my curiosity was rewarded as I got booked into the last tour of the day. Unfortunately my visit coincided with Dalwhinnie's annual shut-down period, so there was nothing active to see, but the tour was friendly and informative, but then again at £5 a go it should be!
One sore point however was that in the shop I saw a previously unknown expression of Lagavulin; the Lagavulin 30 year old!! This beats my megamalt Lagavulin 25 both in terms of age and price - the elder being £210 compared to the mere £173 of its younger sib. Thankfully, I am armed to resist it; the 25 is gorgeous and does beat the 16, but not by enough to justify an extra £137 - by the same rationale, I am not upping the expenditure for the expected return in taste. I salute it, but from afar!!!

I should not have seen this, new L30!

My kind of garden decoration:

Dalwhinnie's pagodas standing proud:

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