Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Monday, 29 September 2014

Friday 26 September - A walk back in time

Upper Glen Devon Reservoir as it is usually seen from the north shore - opened 8 June 1955

"... A farmstead, which is depicted on the first edition of the OS 6-inch map (Perthshire 1866, sheet cxxvii), now lies beneath Upper Glen Devon Reservoir"

We crossed the dam and followed the well known path above the reservoir to witness nature working its restorative magic on the upper the glen. Three deer sped across the mud; old fence posts, once marking field boundaries, were revealed; a quite delightful round sheep fold appeared; a wall, capstones still in place, ran down to the river from Glen Bee.

A delightful sheepfold; old fence posts can be seen on the opposite bank
I wandered down to the fold, touched the stones and imagined the past. A peaceful, somewhat melancholy place.

From Glen Bee
As far as I'm aware, 2003 was the last time the reservoir was so low - in fact lower. As we returned water was still being released to the lower reservoir so I imagine that even more of the glen has now been revealed.

More photographs can be found here.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Home and hoping for a NO vote

Well, that was an excellent trip with generally good weather, some very hot, some pleasantly cold but nearly always clear. The only serious rain was at The Gathering when it poured for a few hours before the sun shone to welcome the Queen!

I posted from the BlackBerry most days, largely for record purposes - I'd much rather read in the evenings really -  so the posts were fairly brief. Thanks to those who commented. I couldn't reply easily because although the WiFi on site improved, it was virtually impossible to publish comments.

Apart from days on the hills we went back to the Burn o' Vat at Muir of Dinnet and explored a bit more.

...and enjoyed a coffee or two at Braemar Mountain Sports cafe, The Bothy which opened last June. We didn't have breakfast so can't comment on that (their double Cappuccino was good) but it would be worth a look if you are on the TGO Challenge next year.

I expect we will get away again in October but for the moment it is the usual clearing up in the garden and elsewhere.

It's a big day here in Scotland tomorrow - just in case you don't know - and hope we vote to stay as part of the UK. I'll be very, very sad indeed if we leave.

I've posted some photographs here

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Friday 12 September - Morrone in good weather

Apart from one ascent at the beginning of April 1988 when the weather was alpine, every other trip up Morrone had been in poor conditions. I suppose that's because in good conditions we've always wanted to do bigger things. That April ascent was an 'arrival day' climb which gave magnificent views of the hills we had planned for the week, was a Corbett, and looked superb in the snow and spring sunshine.

It was the start of an exceptional week when day after day we roamed snow clad hills on foot and ski. Thinking back, many of the slopes we crossed and climbed were avalanche prone, especially in the afternoon, with dripping cornices above and thigh- deep wet snow below. I recall a particularly worrying descent of Beinn Iutharn Mhor where with every downward step the snow moved slightly. To say we were very glad to be down and on our way back to Altanour hardly captures our sense of relief. I must dig out some slides when the darker nights arrive.

Today, steel structures were still being dismantled after last Saturday's Gathering as we walked through the Games field. It was hot, oh so very hot and we were glad of the shade among the birks. On the open hillside it was hard to believe that this was a September sun and not even at 859m did we find a cooling breeze. White clouds drifted and poured over and down Carn a' Gheoidhe and the Glas Maol.

Flies irritated at a stop for refreshments so we moved off and crossed to Carn na Drochaide, lazed around in the sun and now, in the gentle wind near the edge of a corrie, enjoyed lunch and absorbed the scene. Afterwards we wandered back and forth through the heather visiting various cairns for no particular reason.

A not-so-rapid descent to the road and along past the golf course brought us back into a bustling Braemar. A quick shop at the Co-op then back to the site. Somehow we'd clocked up 20km on our 'short' day.
A few beers were needed.

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Saturday 13 September - a day off

Enjoying a Cappuccino at The Bothy in Braemar. Then bought a new Buff and a Mountain Hardwear shirt. Lynne is still looking. Cheaper to stay out on the hills!
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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Thursday 11 September - Baddoch, An Socach and the ridge to Sgor Mor

We met a local from the village as we started up the track by the Baddoch Burn and walked together until he broke off for Carn Aosda. I asked him who 'the guardians of the Christmas tree' were and apparently it's the work of another local, a TGO Challenger whose name I recognised from occasional visits to the message board. I'm sure AlanS will work it out!

Shortly after our new aquaintance left us, we took to the hillside and were quickly on the stony summit. As so often on this holiday, we were alone and it felt like forty years ago; so many memories of days such as this with just the wind and the sun in our faces and not a care in the world; nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other, think about where to go next, what to do tomorrow.

It was a bit hazy for photography but we took some anyway - a record of the day - and after a brief stop for sustenance we were on our way to the east top. From there we enjoyed a splendid walk on crisp cropped heather and crowberry out to the unnamed 855m top, our next objective being Sgor Mor.

A few years back we set out from Baddoch in poor weather to do today's route reverse. It was a well battered pair that arrived at Sgor Mor's cairn and we spent a miserable twenty minutes trying to decide whether to go on. It rained; the wind howled and we assured ourselves that the exposed route would provide little or no shelter or respite from the elements. We came down 'like fallen angels' to arrive at Baddoch just as the sun came out and a glorious day emerged. I'll leave you to imagine what we felt like.

At the bealach before the rise to Sgor Mor we found a mini lochan not marked on the map. An easy pull led to the summit where we polished off most of the tea. A fine continuation from here would be over Craig a' Mhadaidh, Carn na Drochaide, Morrone and so down to Braemar. Alas, with a vehicle parked in Glen Clunie, we descended to Baddoch to be met by the garrons once again.

What a great day out.
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Tuesday 9 September - a simple trip

"The old brig spanning the Cairnwell Burn below the rocky snout of Sron na Gaoithe leads to nowhere except the past" (Robert Smith)

Returning from a day on the heights we have often enjoyed a stop in the sun by this bridge - the Seann Spittal Bridge - where long ago a hospice (refuge) provided shelter for travellers using the Monega Pass. We would use part of the Monega on our return, but for the moment we were heading east to Carn an Tuirc.

Something has always managed to get in the way of a visit to Loch Kander or rather, I always let something get in the way: shooting, other plans; weather. Maybe it's the feeling that I want to leave something unseen, not done; imagined; for 'next time'; something to think about doing, to talk about doing.

The tablelands were deserted save for mountain hares and a few sheep. We exchanged greetings with an aspiring Munroist who rushed off for Tolmount and Tom Buidhe; two elderly walkers seemed to have vanished without trace. I descended somewhat reluctantly to the lip of the corrie, half hoping that Loch Kander would remain hidden from this particular spot; if so I would explore no further. Always leave something to come back for. But there it lay, quiet and still.

From Cairn of Claise we followed the rim of Garbh-choire and joined the Monega Pass path down to Sron na Gaoithe and its quartzite cairn. The late afternoon sunshine was strong and at the 'old brig' we paused, enjoyed it, imagined the travellers of the past then strolled back to base.

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Monday, 8 September 2014

Monday 8 September - Replies to comments

Christmas Tree

AlanR - in a small place like Braemar you'd think everyone would know who "they" are.

AlanS - it doesn't look like any attempt has been made to clear up although maybe we got it on a bad day. A second tree appears to be under "development" too.


AlanR - Faeries have always been important in Scottish folklore and since there has been an inn at the Spittal for centuries it's possible that traveller's exchanged tales of encounters with faeries, hence the name. Glen Sith. Who knows? Not me anyway. Just make sure you don't wear green near faeries - they regard the colour as theirs and won't be too happy about it!

Scampering through posts

AlanS - an interesting image that. The hills here, as you know, are ideal for scampering over once high up. Hope my brief blurbs brought back happy memories.

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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Sunday 7 September - Christmas is here

Today we wandered around the woods of Creag Choinnich just for a change. Imagine our surprise when we came upon the Christmas tree in the photo.

Hope you can read the board proclaiming "We are the Guardians of this Christmas Tree" etc. Who the "we" are I have no idea. Can't say that the sharp bits of broken decorations are much good for the wildlife.

How odd.
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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Saturday 6 September - Braemar Gathering

Early - before the arena filled up.

Had a great day at the Braemar Gathering watching the various sports, having an interesting conversation with a member of the Braemar MRT (and donating of course), getting very wet, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine, eating and generally taking in the spectacle.
At £10 for the whole day (not seated but many bring their own), it's excellent value by any standards.

Although the games finished around 5:15pm we can hear at least one pipe band still playing in the village (we assume).

AlanR and AlanS - Thanks for your comments. I can now get on my blog but reply I cannot do so later in a separate post. All the best for now.

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Friday, 5 September 2014

Thursday 4 September -Carn Aosda - no ski tows

Carn Aosda is one of the easiest of all the Munros if climbed from the Glen Shee ski centre and because of this the hill, with its tangle of ski tows and associated roads and cafe, is apt to be dismissed as a tick on a list. This need not be so, for a long ridge bounded by the Baddoch Burn to the west and to the east by Clunie Water, runs to a small top a short distance west of the summit and provides a pleasant ascent.

We gained the ridge more or less immediately and around Strone Baddoch met four quiet garrons used by the estate (Invercauld) to bring deer carcasses off the hill during the cull. No work for them today though.

The grassy terrain was soon left behind for heather with occasional shooting butts right and left of the thin track. Higher, we crunched over large areas of quartzite boulder fields and carpets of dry crowberry and moss. Thick dark clouds obscured Carn a' Gheoidhe - and the rest. To the east everything was clear.
A short walk led to Carn Aosda's cairn and the customary photographs. Oddly, the summit felt unfamiliar.

Combining this route with an ascent of An Socach and a return to Baddoch via Sgor Mor would be a worthwhile outing I think.

Another interesting but slightly rougher route up Carn Aosda would be by Dubh choire but that's best left for a Sunday (no shooting) or for a different time of year altogether.

Happy with our relatively short day we sauntered back down to the van arriving just as the rain started.

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Wednesday 3 September - a shelter occupied again

"In Glen Shee and all its side glens, the green hills, the rocky bluffs of varying colour from pink to black, the many fine big burns and the fertile grassy river flats give the scenery a distinctive character and charm" (Adam Watson).

The weather had turned raw as we arrived at Cairn of Claise's top. We spoke with a walker studying his map at the cairn, then noticed the group of three having lunch in the shelter; the same three we'd met on Carn a' Gheoidh the previous day. Their next objectives were Tolmount and Tom Buidhe and they asked us how they should pronounce the names. We had to admit that although we did our best and made every effort get the pronounciation correct, only a Gaelic speaker could make the names sound like music.

As they were leaving in deteriorating weather, one member of the party commented that she wished she hadn't consumed all her hot drinks. Maybe not the wisest thing to do given the cold weather and their day only half done, but I dare say she survived. Most of us do.

Hot tea for us plus scones on jam (no clotted cream!) and a flapjack fortified us and after donning some extra clothing and gloves we picked up the Monega Road for our return to Glen Shee. Thin mist drifted across Glas Maol's plateau changing the atmosphere of the place instantly.

Earlier in the day we had seen an elderly walker suddenly fall to the ground just as he started his descent to Meall Odhar. The fall looked heavy and we feared the worst so set off to help but before getting very far he got up and continued his descent. He must have been fine for we found no body on our way back.

As usual blue hares were everywhere their coats beginning to show patches of white; the first of the winter snows not too far off perhaps. Now that's always an exciting prospect.

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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Tuesday 2 September - on the hills of the west Mounth

Glas Tulaichean from Carn Bhinnein

We spent some time at Carn nan Sac's small cairn overlooking Carn Mor, and Creagan Bheithe, dismayed at the sight of bulldozed tracks. Not new to us by any means, but familiarity with vandalism doesn't make it any easier to witness.

Turning away we left the view behind (along with a bag of biscuits it seems, so if you're passing that way soon....) and enjoyed the tramp out to Carn a' Gheoidh where we found a family of three snuggled in the shelter. We sat at the cairn, the emerging sunshine nicely taking the edge off the wind

Carn Bhinnein looks quite distant but is a mere thirty minutes away - a delightful thirty minutes. From its airy top Glas Tulaichean fills the view across the glen while north-west lie Beinn Iutharn Mhor and Beinn Iutharn Bheag. Below the latter's southern slopes nestles lovely, lonely Loch nan Eun. We love these big rolling hills and those east of the Cairnwell, never grow weary of wandering amongst them, always long to return.

All too soon we had to leave. We met two lads a few minutes later and to a "it's a grand day" one could only manage "it's too far for me". He did look to be struggling. A large herd of deer, numbering around a hundred or so, slowly crossed Carn a' Gheoidh's slopes, rapidy taking off when they picked up our scent.

Descending to the car park we met a German tourist and chatted a while. Lovely chap. We said we'd look out for him at the Braemar Games on Saturday. Looking forward to them.
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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Monday 1 September - Creag Leacach and a reply to Oss

A poor pic taken using the BlackBerry

A few feet from the cairn on Creag Leacach the wall gave shelter from the wind and the sun beat down. It felt like summer. We spotted an estate vehicle on Shanovan Hill above Glen Brighty. A couple of gun shots rang out; only two, then the Land Rover slowly departed, back to Tulchan Lodge in Glen Isla. presumably.

We were reluctant to move, but move we must if the 943m south west 'Top' was to be visited.

Our boots first trod this Munro Top in July 1978 and having ignored it on more recent ascents of Creag Leacach, we made the short journey to its fine rocky summit. I regret to say that no memories came flooding back but Lynne did remember that our first ascent was via Meall Gorm.

A large herd of deer could be seen on the eastern slopes of Carn Ait; blue hares sat motionless a few feet away, unconcerned at our presence, safe in the knowledge that our pace was no match for theirs. All very reassuring.

Back at the main summit cairn some others arrived. Enthralled by their surroundings they immediately sat down and stared at their mobile phones. There would be no meeting of minds here. We left.

Inexplicably we (oh alright) I missed the well known path which skirts Glas Maol.

I've said before that path junctions are my nemesis and so it proved again today. Lynne assumed I'd decided to go over Glas Maol again and said nothing......

Oss. Thanks for your comment Dave. The WiFi on site is the worst I've ever experienced anywhere. At £3 for the duration of our stay (two weeks) it sounds great value, but isn't. I can't even get onto my blog let alone reply to your comment.

I have been appalled at the standard of the referendum debate and have indeed been animated at times but certainly never energised. I've already voted 'No' - I'm not explaining why because I can't easily respond with no access to my blog.
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