Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Cairnwell Hills: Carn Bhac (221) but NOT An Socach (227)

Walk date: 31/10/09
My Munro #'s: 191

Pronunciations - translations - heights:
kaarn vachk - hill of peat hags - 946m

Duration - 11:00 - 16:05
Distance - 26.1km
Total ascent - 840m
Weather - a little windy but pleasant for most of day except half-hour torrential rain storm on summit!
Team - with Steve W
Other hikers: 6

Well, ok, we're moving house soon and the clocks have gone back; time for one more hiking session? Of course! Trying to cut down on the drive, I was interested in checking out some more of The Cairnwell Hills. These hills are pretty deep, but I'd heard that some tracks in are pretty good, so it was time to get out the bike rack again. Now, I was up for two hills in the day but my hiking partner Steve had problems getting to my place in the morning so we ended up setting off pretty late and for me that really put the second hill in doubt, hiking in the dark is not my thing!

Fortunately, the track in from Inverey was as good as its reputation and even with a strong headwind we still managed the 10K track in an hour. The half-kilometre before Altanout Lodge however is less good so we dumped the bikes and headed straight up the steep buttress of Carn Creagach. This was a rapid and tiring ascent but it was great fun too, with deer running away as we climbed towards them.

Once on top we were rewarded with fine views north to the Cairngorms, but also a fierce wind. We togged up and made our way along the broad and rocky ground. Unfortunately, a good portion of our climb proved redundant, as we dropped a good 100m before starting the ascent of Carn Bhac.

Once we made the summit, we took our pictures and sat down ready for lunch, only to be rudely interrupted by an intense torrential hail & rainstorm that seemed to come from nowhere. While we clambered to protect our unprotected electronic equipment and get the waterproofs on, we got thoroughly drenched. Still unfed, we retreated down the mountain, following a thin but continuous path that led all the way down Alltan Odhar to Altanour Lodge.
With a brief stop for lunch we were back at the bikes for 15:30. Steve was still up for An Socach, but it would have been at least a two hour climb and descent, meaning the return down the track would have been in pitch black. Possible considering the quality of the track and with our head torches on, but not my cup of tea at all. In my mind, anything in the dark means inadequate planning. Instead, with no wind and slightly more downhill on the return, we were back at the car after only 30 minutes, which gave us time to call for a pint on the way home, now that's planning!

Approaching the head of the glen on the track from Inverey:

The uncompromising Carn Creagach:

A nice bit of sun for Hallowe'en:

Fine views from Carn Creagach (1):


(3) toward Carn Bhac, today's target:

Steve before the rain hits:

Hmm, is it getting dark? Is that rain?

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