Monday, May 02, 2011

The Cairnwell Hills: Glas Tulaichean (79), Carn an Righ (102), Beinn lutharn Mhor (88) and An Socach (227)

Walk date: 01/05/11
My Munro #'s: 202, 203, 204 and 205

Pronunciations - translations - heights:

Glas tooleechan - green hills - 1051m
Kaarn an ree - hill of the king - 1029m
Byn yooarn vore - big hill of the edge - 1045m
An sochkach - the projecting place - 944m

Duration - 09:15 - 17:35
Distance - 37.5km
Total ascent - 1800m
Weather - sunny all day long, fairly strong and cold wind on summits, but generally ideal, hot once back in the glens
Team - solo
Other hikers: several

A little variation can be a good thing!

For some reason, the height profile here is in reverse!
The start of the hike is the right hand side:

With two consecutive long weekends this Spring, events had come together nicely to allow me into the hills one time before this year's full week away in the Summer. With opportunities few and far between, I wanted this one to count, so a bit of map-studying brought about a plan to link up my four remaining summits of The Cairnwell Hills into one fair beast of a day. Strangely, given this plan, possible companions for this day quickly found other things to do...
With Xavier waking at 5am, it was an early start before I even got to packing the bag, nevermind starting the 2 hour drive, but I still managed to set off from the car park at Spittal of Glenshee at 09:15. Speaking of parking, a sign at the start of the Dalmunzie Hotel road said that hikers could only park there with permission. Having not requested any, I stopped at the sign, meaning an extra 2km (of dull road walking) each way was immediately added to the day!
The good signs continued once I made it to the hotel, letting you know the way past the complex to the hill routes, and then which glen you want for what hills. No doubt they have learnt from experience!
The Glen Lochsie path was from the start a solid Landrover track meaning that the going was fast which was a relief given the distance to come. Even when the incline stepped up at the sorry-looking Glenlochsie Lodge, the track twisted along satisfactorily and height came quick. Without incident, with great views over to nearby Beinn a' Ghlo, and in fine but breezy weather, the summit of Glas Tulaichean was reached, with a departure from the track only necessary at the very end.
From Glas Tulaichean I had plotted a rather direct route over to Carn an Righ but in reality the loss in height looked substantial and steep. However, it turned out that it was a mis-judgement of scale given the few reference points around. In the end it was a mere drop to 700m and the slopes, once on them, were fine.
Upon reaching the col between Mam nan Carn and Carn an Righ the going was quick again up the rocky side of Carn an Righ. A short moment to appreciate the view and take some photos and I was off down again, mindful of the job still to do. It was here that I met my first fellow hiker of the day; in our little chat I was quickly told my way up Glas Tulaichean was horrible because of the Landrover track, and that he'd created a much better 'wild' route via Gleann Taitneach, although he'd had to deal with a lot of peat hags! Now, I can see his point, but wanting to do four hills I wasn't going to sweat taking a quicker route. In any case, 'wild' is relative; I was quick happy being on a wide track but taking in magnificent views while deep into the Scottish hills. When hearing I was up for An Socach in the same day, he then started criticising a book he didn't like assuming that I'd got the route from it. I assured him I'd just made the route up but he then moved on to criticise the majority's route up the next hill, Beinn lutharn Mhor, saying that lots of people took a path up the side of Mam nan Carn to avoid a boulder field on its main face, well, ok... I assumed he had a low opinion of these people. Anyway, I bid a good day to this chilled out man, and promptly took said path.
Beinn lutharn Mhor, like the two before it, came relatively quickly, and was a very similar hill in its rounded substantial mass to the two before it. The rest of the day was a different affair as I dropped down alongside Loch nan Eun and hit low level heathered terrain, with uneven ground, knotted roots and the odd peat hag for fun. An Socach was a significant distance away, and despite it being the shortest hill of the day, when I got to it I could immediately see it was also the steepest. Being quite tired now, the short loose final stages were a challenge on the old thighs but the flat summit was soon underfoot marking a glorious end to the day's round.
The return took me down to Feith Sile but only after disturbing a herd of a good 100 deer, who then seemed to run off in the same direction I was going for quite a few km! This river bed ended up being quite tiring as the river kept sweeping from side to side meaning a few crossings were necessary; easy in terms of width but even a small jump was unwelcomed at that stage in the day. Finally, the sides of the glen became so steep that I had to traverse up a slope, but that swung me out onto a mound looking down onto Gleann Taitneach and the return of solid paths.
After that the going was fast again although tough in the beating sun. The buzz on reaching the car was well worth everything of course!

Passing the swanky Dalmunzie Hotel at the start:

Good sign-posting keeps you right at the start:

Glenlochsie Lodge has seen better days:

Looking back down Glen Lochsie:

The landrover track provides fast walking up Glas Tulaichean:

Glas Tulaichean with the Cairngorms behind to the north:

Beinn a' Ghlo looking good to the south west:

Next up, Carn an Righ with a drop to 700m inbetween:

Cairn action on Carn an Righ:

Looking across to Beinn lutharn Mhor:

Nice quick walking on Beinn lutharn Mhor:

Beinn lutharn Mhor summit with the Cairngorms behind:

Coming up onto Loch nan Eun:

4th hill of the day An Socach is the far one in the middle:

And it's steep!

4/4, time to stomp on down to the car:

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