Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Monday 30 January - a few hours on Innerdownie

I’m trying to keep this blog up to date, mainly as some sort of record of days out (but not necessarily in order done) so you are unlikely to find much new of interest for the moment!

I finished the previous post by writing “In the meantime a pleasant and familiar circuit - in more sun and snow – awaits”, but the ‘sun’ bit proved over-optimistic. Not my fault – blame the weather forecasters.

It was a raw and windy day as we set off from Castlehill car park much later than intended, and apart from a runner returning to her car, we were the only ones around.


It was an enjoyable walk (it always is) along the little road that leads to Glen Quey Reservoir and the drove road through to Dollar. The steep-ish slopes which lead to the broad NE ridge of Innerdownie Hill warmed us up nicely but the experience was short-lived and, in the strengthening wind, we donned Paramo jackets and our Cascada trousers (the originals with the thicker lining and the best we’ve ever owned I think). On taking the first photograph of the day the camera informed us that it was being saved to internal memory – I’d left the memory card in the computer. Luckily a spare was secreted in the camera case so all was well.


Being a lee slope there was a fair covering of snow on the final pull to the top. The appearance of blue sky was just a tease, alas, and the cairn no place for lunch.


A few photographs ‘for the record’ and we scurried off to the shelter just below the summit.


Lynne wished she’d brought her Annapurna duvet jacket and, wearing six layers, I was just managing to stay on the right side of warm.

Eventually the fine weather pushed in from the east around 4pm, but by then we had our feet up at home and were enjoying mugs of hot chocolate.

Some stats from the Satmap Active 10 for this short day.

2012-01-30 2221-44 ScreenShot

Monday, 30 January 2012

Friday 27 January - Gloom


The weather was gloomy but the forecast was for bright sunshine in the ‘afternoon’. By mid-day it was getting worse. Wind, rain and low cloud have been ever-present companions on the hills during January and now the first real snow of the year was tagging along. That was welcome. There should be snow in winter.


After a brief discussion on the summit of Wether Hill we dropped down towards the reservoir and over some hot tea discussed the route back. Then, and it’s always a magical event, some blue appeared.


Then more.



Ben Shee – Common Hill in the foreground (Innerdownie in the distance)

The improvement was as rapid as it was welcome, so we re-ascended to pick up the broad ridge leading to Common Hill and had more tea, this time relishing the warmth. A bit more snow and the tussocky Ochils would be skiable and, inevitably, thoughts turned to some of the great days we’d had touring on spring snow in the Cairngorms.

Lynne ski touring in spring, with our first collie Morag, on the Cairngorm plateau  (Scanned from a slide and 1983 I think)

On the day pictured we met some Swiss skiers and sat in the sun above Loch Avon chatting. They loved the unspoiled wildness of Scotland and bemoaned the way ski development in their own country had all but spoiled their mountains. What would they think now? They gave us some chocolate as we moved off – Swiss, of course.

If the sun was relentless on that April day, now it quickly lost its strength and we descended to the cold glen below.


They are not the Cairngorms, but we are lucky to have such a lovely little range of hills virtually on our doorstep.  When at home we get out on them four or five times a week which keeps us fit without really having to try. Unfortunately, they are further threatened by a proposed extension to Burnfoot Windfarm which will span Clackmannanshire and Kinross-shire, the former now an SNP controlled county. We will fight it of course.

In the meantime a pleasant and familiar circuit - in more sun and snow - awaits.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Missing hillwalker - Grant Cunliffe

Please read this urgent appeal on Martin's Banfield's blog here

I do hope he is found safe and well.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Trump halts work on golf course over turbines

This will be interesting - see article here.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Allt Duine rejected

Highland council have voted 9-3 against the construction of the Allt Duine windfarm. Fantastic - but what will Mr Salmond do now I wonder.

Friday, 13 January 2012

A new toy

The weather leading up to Christmas was dire, to say the least. We escaped storm damage and power cuts but days on hills were few. A short trip on the 29 December to an anonymous little hill above Glen Eagles gave the usual mixture of rain, snow and strong winds with a brief glimpse of blue skies as below.  With the exception of yesterday January has been little better, although we did get our traditional day out on the 1st.

From Haunting Hill (1)
Looking towards Crieff

From Haunting Hill (2)
A few moments later.  The bad weather headed our way giving brief blizzard conditions

Another miserable and very cold day
The 'view' soon disappeared and heavy rain pushed westwards
Yesterday was one clear skies and a bitter wind but plans for a day out from Glen Devon were thwarted by a ‘road closed’ sign shortly after the Yetts o’ Muckhart. For several days fallen trees, supported only by other trees on the opposite side of the road, and downed power lines, spanned the A823. I’d driven underneath them several times the previous week, uneasily it has to be said, hoping they’d been declared safe! Presumably trees were now being removed and power lines fixed. Our only option was a drive to Dollar to do the King’s Seat – Tarmangie – Whitewisp circuit – a pleasant little outing.

Stuc 'a Chroin and Ben Vorlich
Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorlich

I’d prepared our route from Glen Devon on Memory-Map and downloaded it to a new toy, Satmap 10, just to see how well it all worked. Thwarted (again) by the change of plan I was able to utilise one of the features that had attracted me to Satmap in the first place -  the ability to plan a route on the device itself.  It only took minutes to do this in the car and off we went.

Now, I'm not really into 'gadgets' - I don't have a Smart phone for example [Edit: I do now!] though I've talked of buying one and the reasons against doing so for almost a year now. (Lynne says 'watch this space' because it's a dangerous sign when I talk so much about not buying something, particularly when my present basic mobile 'doesn't owe me anything' -  see Byeways for a persuasive post on the subject) - and I’ve always preferred map and compass to GPS. I did buy the Garmin 12 in 1996 or thereabouts then hardly used it; then a basic Etrex a couple of years ago which has only been used occasionally.

The Satamap 10 seemed a different proposition, or so I convinced myself, but isn’t cheap when you add in the cost of buying the maps on SD cards. Luckily I came across the ‘bundle’ version, Satmap 10 Plus which includes 1:50 000 OSGB worth £203 and LiPol battery and charger, worth £40ish all for the basic price of the GPS unit. I wouldn't have bought it otherwise. Yesterday was its first day out and initial impressions were favourable, even if we were both half-frozen to death stopping regularly to work out how to use specific features (the Online Guide is easily the worst I’ve ever used). The other slight worry is the delicate connection for the LiPol battery and AA battery cradle – one has to be removed to accommodate the other. I wouldn’t like to try and change them on a hill so for me the LiPo will only be used for day trips from home, or where I can easily charge it if away, and Lithium Energizer batteries (with adequate re-supply) on a long walk.  I'm sure I'll enjoy using the Satmap, but you still won't find me on a hill without a map and compass!

Andrew Gannel Hill from the slopes of Tarmangie
We appeared to be about the only folk in the Ochils yesterday despite a fairly busy carpark at Castle Campbell and can only surmise that most were happy to stay low and enjoy the winter sunshine rather than embrace the strong cold winds on high.

As far as future plans are concerned, we've almost finished planning our West to East walk through Scotland for next May, a week ahead of the Challenge, and while most of the route is in our heads I'm sure it will find its way onto the Satmap. Plans are also afoot for trips north with the motorvan in March and April so 2012 looks like it's off to a good start.

Have a rewarding 2012 on your hills.