Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Seasons Greetings to one and all


There has been little to report lately as my shoulder has taken much longer to heal than expected so hill activity has been restricted. None at all in fact. Physio and yet more physio with various physiotherapists appears to have resolved the issue, although I have not had a rucksack on recently. Fingers crossed.

Enjoy the festivities and have an exciting 2017.




Monday, 5 December 2016

Oops - wrong blog!

Sorry the previous closure post should have gone to a second blog which I had on blogger. Hit the wrong one on the iPhone! Phew! Glad I caught that..

Monday, 24 October 2016

Montane Air Jacket

Readers will know the story - the jacket leaked, at the pocket zips and front zip in my view. However
Montane tested it and could not find any fault so the retailer refused a refund asking that
photographic evidence be provided so that they could take up the case with Montane.

Needless to say we had a very dry, cold and beautiful first week in Braemar at the beginning of this month followed by only a little intermittent rain until the middle of the second. At the Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve I wore the jacket on an easy stroll and it rained for about 10-15 minutes - steady but not heavy and with no wind. Small areas on the inside mesh at the pockets became wet and the inside baffle very wet. Back at the motorcaravan I took pics and emailed them to Swaledale Outdoors from whom I'd bought the jacket

They felt the evidence was clear and the money has been refunded. My thanks to Richard.

All a bit of a hassle and a pity because I did like the Air Jacket in every other respect - quite light, a nice fit, packable etc.

I won't, however, be buying anything made by Montane in future and will revert to my usual trusted
brand - Mountain Equipment. I don't expect to stay 'dry' in prolonged rain no matter what kind of waterproof I'm wearing but I know what's acceptable, and the Air Jacket was not.

Wearing the Air Jacket on a cold and very windy October day on Cairn of Claise






 


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Sunday 9 October - on a cold and frosty morning

We woke to the most beautiful morning, the grasses white with frost, light mist drifting over Morrone's lower slopes, the stags noisy. It was a day for a top.

So, it was up by the Baddoch Burn in an hour and a half, a stop for tea and then the stony ridge and summit of An Socach. We met a few walkers but not as many as expected given the hill's Munro status and the fine weather.








In the cold clear air, views of the surrounding hills were sharp and only as we left the summit did the sky cloud over. Unlike on previous visits, when we've returned via the east top to Sgor Mor and so down to Baddoch, we retraced our steps and soon were enjoying the late afternoon sun by the Baddoch Burn.

There is no shooting on a Sunday - on a weekday we'd have been on the ridge mentioned above - but a stalker with binoculars was studying the deer on the western slopes of Carn Chrionaidh, no doubt in preparation for the morrow. We've heard rifle shots a few times on this holiday.

It's been a lovely week with lots of sunshine by day and starry skies by night, but as a result I've not been able to use my Montane Air Jacket and photograph the water ingress, thus demonstrating that the jacket is faulty. There's some rain forecast for tomorrow so hopefully my point will be proved.


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Saturday, 8 October 2016

All things fishy

Some photos of the usual delightful display provided by the Deeside Knitwits.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Hares

It was a beautiful October day with sunshine from the off but a strong, bitterly cold wind met us on the summit of Carn an Tuirc and had full play on the exposed walk to Cairn of Claise. The cairn here is now half its previous height, cause not obvious.

One of the great pleasures of walking these hills is seeing the mountain hares but none were to be seen today. Why? Because they've been slaughtered by landowners. Massacred for sport, no matter what the landowners say. Hundreds and hundreds have been shot - including apparently on the Balmoral estate. Sadness was mixed with fury at this carnage. Just Google "cull of mountain hares in Scotland" and be disgusted (I hope).

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Monday, 3 October 2016

A quick getaway


A good weather forecast, a quick stocking of the motorcaravan and we were off back to Braemar. 

The Glen Shee ski park was a very windy place today but down in the village it was a perfect autumn day, the surrounding hills looking as fine as I can remember. Tomorrow we'll be on them. 

When we were here in September I reported my 'leaky' new Montane Air Jacket. It was returned to Swaledale Outdoors who in turn sent it back to Montane for testing. Their lab tests showed no fault, so no refund. In fairness, Swaledale have offered to 'work with me ' to resolve the issue i.e. go out in the wet and photograph the water ingress. Go out in the Cairngorms in the rain with a jacket I know doesn't work? Er, no thanks. 

For the moment I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions. 




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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Thursday 15 September - Deeside Physiotherapists

This holiday and the July one in the Lake District have both been marred slightly by a nagging shoulder/back muscle problem. In the Lakes it got so bad I went to a GP in Keswick who was utterly useless. He could barely drag himself out of his chair to examine me - Co-codamol tablets was his solution.

Here in Braemar I decided to visit the excellent Dr Cruickshank, although I'd already decided that physiotherapy would likely be the best course of action. He agreed, so on Wednesday I saw Richard in Aboyne and ... On Thursday we visited two old favourites, Glas Maol and Creag Leacach. I didn't really expect any great improvement after one treatment but I was wrong and whereas prior to physiotherapy I would have been stopping every fifteen minutes or so to remove my sack and massage my shoulder, on today's walk I felt no pain at all.

Early morning sunshine didn't last and we shared the misty summit of Glas Maol with a couple out for the Munros. With that all behind us we felt no pressure to push on but eventually decided to go out to Creag Leacach. The sun shone.

On Friday we walked out to White Bridge and up Glen Dee - very little pain - and today another old favourite Carn a' Gheoidh. Perfect day. Shoulder likewise.

Thumbs up for Richard and Deeside Physiotherapists.

I don't suppose the photo will appear. Don't know who to blame Google or the site wi- fi.







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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Derry Lodge

Note: photos at end of post. What problems getting this post to go!

As we drove the beautiful six miles from Braemar to Linn of Dee we wondered if we'd made a mistake. All the signs of a cycling event were present suggesting that the car park might be full. 

Fortunately it wasn't and we found a slot for the 'van. The way through the dense Scots pines soon joined up with the familiar estate road to Derry Lodge, a road cycled countless times when out for the Munros, or tramped, foot-sore sometimes, returning from day trips. It always seemed to be hot and the shade offered by the pines near the Lodge was a relief; today we sheltered from the wind.  The boarded-up Lodge is now a sad sight but I'm in two minds as to whether the plan to turn it into a hostel for walkers is an improvement or not. I fear it will turn into a base for groups, pre-booked and of little use to lone stravaigers or couples looking for a bed.

We passed quietly by and came across Aberdeen MRT vehicles. Down by the temporary bridge over the Derry Burn the team, on a training weekend, had earlier established and were now dismantling a Tyrolean rope traverse between two Scots pines. The previous day they had been practising stretcher lowering on Stob Coire Etchachan. Grateful thanks to all MRTs. We spoke for a while with one of the team who told us that many of them joined having been involved in 'incidents' themselves or knew people who had. 

We had just settled under a Scots pine by the burn for a late snack when a lone backpacker arrived. At first glance, with beard and sandals, I thought it was Chris Townsend but no, he was a New Zealander who'd camped in Glen Derry overnight having come in from the Linn of Quoich the previous day. An interesting half hour was spent covering the Land Reform Act, walking in New Zealand, his love of art and the time he'd spent in Paris before flying to Scotland and our own exploits in the Cairngorms. We were also happy to offer some information on Glen Affric, his  next destination and, given this was his first visit to Scotland and the weather forecast was for a stormy night, we tentatively suggested he seek a sheltered camp rather than a high one, although I'm sure he was well able to look after himself in the hills. I'm always reluctant to offer unsolicited advice (as opposed to information) to people in the hills - it seems presumptuous and patronising to me, so I rarely do it. 

We watched him shrink in the vastness as he set off for the Lairig Ghru and Aviemore. I envied him his passage through the Lairig, particularly since a current shoulder and neck problem is making carrying a day sack difficult and painful for me so lugging one full of gear for a few overnight camps is impossible at present.  

Hopefully next year we can have some days like the one in the last two photographs. 

Photos:  Derry Lodge; looking towards Glen Derry; Aberdeen MRT by the Derry Burn; A backpacking trip from Linn of Dee in May 1982 - Lynne on Carn a' Mhaim and Loch Etchachan*

*The route was: Carn a' Mhaim, Ben Macdui, down to Loch Etchachan, on to Beinn Mheadhoin and camp near the Lairig an Laoigh. The following day we climbed our 100th Munro, Beinn a' Chaorainn and walked out. What happened to May weather like this?



Thursday, 8 September 2016

Wednesday 7 September - Creag Bhalg (Graham). NO 091912. Map 43




It was a beautiful walk by the east bank of the Water of Lui as it rushed through gorges or quietly made its way to join the Dee.

The path through the pines, heather, cranberry and blaeberry bushes was overgrown in places and eventually disappeared, but the going was still easy and soon we joined the track from Derry Lodge just in time to receive a cheery greeting from four backpackers.

Our route to Creag Bhalg took us through the open woodland of the Doire Bhraghad and so to the heathery hillside where we were glad to discover a path going all the way to the top. The deer fence mentioned in the guidebook was nowhere to be seen. 


The views in all directions were superb but it was those across Glen Quoich to Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon which constantly drew our eyes. We could even see the mighty Mitre Ridge.  A great day we had on those hills in June 1984 ending with our Border Collie, Morag, in a rucksack! 

She was a hardy collie and had roamed the Cairngorms with us in all weathers on day and backpacking trips with our Saunders Basecamp tent, but on this outing the granite granules had worn through the epidermis of a front paw. 


Two cairns welcomed us, the furthest away one being the summit, and we stopped briefly before continuing on the thin path to the 657m top for lunch and a fine view towards Braemar. 

An easy descent and an all too casual attitude ensured we missed the start of a track. The penalty? Much ploughing through and up slopes of long heather to finally gain it. The reward? A lofty panorama of the Dee, Mar Lodge and the hills of Glen Ey and beyond. 

From Claybokie it was all road with the river and pines for company, and finally the car park. We used to just leave the car by the bridge at Linn of Dee but now this is not allowed. At £2 a day with toilets provided one can't complain but it's this sort of change - seemingly quite a small change - that reminds of how simple and how different things were during our Munro years. 

But, today's walk had been quintessentially 'Cairngorms' and in that, the most important thing of all, nothing had changed at all. 

Photos: By the Lui; from the Doire Bhraghad; Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon



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Monday, 5 September 2016

Friday 2 September - Morrone

As usual at this time of year, Braemar was bustling with visitors arriving for Saturday's Gathering, the games field a hive of activity as final preparations were made and sunshine had replaced the rain clouds over Morrone.

The fact that the route was familiar, the ascent having become a sort of annual event, did not detract in any way from our enjoyment. High up very heavy rain for half an hour or so meant wearing full waterproofs but that gave me a chance to test my new Montane Air Jacket made from Pertex Shield AP. When the rain passed I opened it up to find my mid layer wet at the front. I hope the wetness inside was as a result of my initial delay in fully zipping up the jacket because I'm sure it wasn't condensation.[ Edit - it wasn't because of the initial delay, as two subsequent wearings showed. Awful jacket as far as 'waterproofness' is concerned]. We shall see, but the AquaGuard zips don't look as well sealed when closed than the ones on my ME Morpheus. I hope I've not made a mistake in not sticking with ME jackets which have never let me down. Somewhat perversely, I'm now hoping for a wet day to settle the question - any doubts and the jacket is going back.

We took the bulldozed track and left the windy summit, identifying various distant hills as we went. Lochnagar was luxuriating in sunshine while An Socach, Beinn Iutharn Mhor and the like lay under dark skies. Ptarmigan darted about and startled grouse occasionally exploded from the heather.

This is all wonderful country. It's good to be back.

Photo: From the lower slopes of Morrone towards
Braemar.


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Friday 2 September - Morrone

As usual at this time of year, Braemar was bustling with visitors arriving for Saturday's Gathering, the games field a hive of activity as final preparations were made and sunshine had replaced the rain clouds over Morrone.

The fact that the route was familiar, the ascent having become a sort of annual event, did not detract in any way from our enjoyment. High up very heavy rain for half an hour or so meant wearing full waterproofs but that gave me a chance to test my new Montane Air Jacket made from Pertex Shield AP. When the rain passed I opened it up to find my mid layer wet at the front. I hope the wetness inside was as a result of my initial delay in fully zipping up the jacket because I'm sure it wasn't condensation.[Edit - it wasn't because of the initial delay, as two subsequent wearings showed. Awful jacket as far as 'waterproofness' is concerned]. We shall see, but the AquaGuard zips don't look as well sealed when closed than the ones on my ME Morpheus. I hope I've not made a mistake in not sticking with ME jackets which have never let me down. Somewhat perversely, I'm now hoping for a wet day to settle the question - any doubts and the jacket is going back.

We took the bulldozed track and left the windy summit, identifying various distant hills as we went. Lochnagar was luxuriating in sunshine while An Socach, Beinn Iutharn Mhor and the like lay under dark skies. Ptarmigan darted about and startled grouse occasionally exploded from the heather.

This is all wonderful country. It's good to be back.

Photo: From the lower slopes of Morrone towards
Braemar.


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Friday, 2 September 2016

Thursday 1 September - A year skips by

I can't believe it's 'Braemar time' again. But here we are having travelled up yesterday past fields of wheat, oats and barely, the rolling hills beyond Blairgowrie and through the starker hills of Glenshee.

As usual we stopped in the ski centre car park for a coffee, the weather dull with some rain in the air though it had eased now we were in Aberdeenshire!

We had a leisurely drive down Glen Clunie with Braemar Gathering parking signs in place for the benefit of those arriving on Saturday for 'The Games'.  Clunie Water was, unsurprisingly, low, the hillsides dry. 






It's a bright morning and for our first walk we are off up Morrone for the umpteenth time. I expect we will find signs of preparations for tomorrow's  the hill race.



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Friday, 26 August 2016

Some Isle of Rum photographs






I've not had time to post about our trip to Rum in May/June so here are some photograph at smugmug

You can watch as a slideshow by clicking the solid arrowhead  (or whatever the technical name is)
at the top right of the page once the gallery is opened.

Monday, 15 August 2016

iPhone 6s Plus pictures

Here on Sir Hugh's blog a 'lively debate' took place on the merits of the iPhone 6 or 6s's camera. AlanR then posted some iPhone pictures on his blog to demonstrate the quality of photographs which can be taken using the iPhone 6 - and very good they are too.


Over the summer I've used my recently acquired iPhone 6s Plus to snap the odd shot when I've not had my camera to hand so here is a selection. None have been edited and they were taken in a fairly casual manner.

Judge for yourselves!

St Andrews harbour

Telford's Bridge, Dunkeld

Mallaig harbour

Rum

Lord of the Glens leaves Armadale

Zoomed slightly









Thursday, 2 June 2016

30 May - Rum

An Sgurr as we approach Eigg on our way to Rum. More later when (if) the signal improves.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Friday 27 May - Meall Onfhaidh 681m Graham

We asked permission to park the motorcaravan by a cottage since the small car park at Fassfern had a height barrier. These are now quite common in the Highlands, partly to prevent 'travellers' from setting up camp but also to stop some motorcaravanners, too mean to pay for a site, staying overnight. As usual, the few ruin things for the many.

The initial part of the walk up Gleann Suileag through native woodland provided a pleasing interlude with a cuckoo for company, before the bulldozed roads materialised. Construction of a hydro scheme is underway. A lorry trundled its way up a newly established highway in a cloud of dust to what looked like a site car park. Say the words 'hydro' or 'wind' and anything goes in Scotland.

We pushed on to Glen Sulaig bothy and up the path to the Allt Fionn Doire for a stop and some tea below Meall a' Phubuill. A straightforward but steepening ascent then took us onto the broad south-east ridge and fine walking on crisp moss to the summit. Gulvain was grey on this sunless day, the first of the trip, and the Nevis range never lost its cloud cover.

We returned the same way eventually stopping back in the glen at a convenient seat by the An t-Suileag for more refreshments, only to be driven away by the midges.

Thoughts have now turned to Rum so Lynne is busy buying a few supplies in The Fort. All being well we sail on Monday.




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Monday, 23 May 2016

Hols

Stopped here for a few days. Sunset on lower slopes of Ben Nevis.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

BBC Scotland 'Landward ' programme



To mark the 150th Anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth, Lynne is taking part in three events in Perthshire this year: an event in July at the Birnam Arts Centre when she will read 'The Tale o Peter Kinnen', her Scots translation of 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' and in September she will give a talk based on her book 'Beatrix Potter's Scotland - her Perthshire inspiration", also at Birnam Arts.

Today though, we are at Dalguise House near Dunkeld where Lynne is being interviewed for the above programme talking about Beatrix's holidays at Dalguise and the influence this had on her life.

Dalguise House

The countryside around Dalguise
Others parts of the programme are taking place at Eastwood House, Dunkeld, where the picture letters that became The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher were written.

We should have been on holiday this week enjoying this stupendous weather but have delayed until next week. We did manage a superb day on Tuesday doing our final Graham in the Amulree area starting from Glen Quaich by Loch Freuchie - but more of that later.

Now enjoying coffee and cake in the sun at Birnam Arts.

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Saturday, 30 April 2016

St Andrews (Mobile Test)


Glorious day in St Andrews with North Sea breakers crashing on the beach. Looks like extensive snow cover on the Angus hills.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Tuesday 19 April Mor Bheinn (Graham) 640m NN716211 Map 57 and Ben Halton 621m Graham Top

The day started well. It was as beautiful a spring morning as you could hope for and yet again the kirk car park in Glen Artney was deserted.


A large pile of neeps was piled by the steadings at Dalchruin, no doubt for the ewes waiting to lamb in the fields opposite. It was cool in the shade of the trees by the Water of Ruchill, but once across the bridge we were in warm sunshine as we took to the pastures and long rough grasses.

The initial slopes of Mor Bheinn
Southwards across the glen the fine rounded hills of the Graham Uamh Bheag along with three Donalds were noted for another day's circuit. A large wind farm lies on the south slopes of Beinn Odhar, the blades being visible from hills on this side of the glen once some height has been gained. This is the awful Braes of Doune Windfarm.

Uamh Bheag hills
A new barbed wire fence with no stile that we could find had to be climbed but once over, a gate allowed us through the deer fence. Here the route takes an atv track uphill but we opted to use the the quarry track for a short while before beginning our climb.

Once on the slopes, banks of celandines and primroses brightened up the bleached grasses which covered deep moss. It was like walking through soft snow and made for heavy going. 



We were looking forward to getting off this stuff and onto the ridge but instead we found ourselves surrounded by slopes of  long heather which went on forever it seemed. Perhaps we should have kept further west nearer the deer fence, but we'd expected to quickly emerge onto high ground with our way clear ahead and with good views to keep us company. Instead we found hollows, peat hags, deep heather and rocky outcrops. There was little sense of progress as we ploughed upwards. 




The photographs don't really capture the nature of the terrain (nor did our out of date OS map) but we agreed that we'd seldom encountered so much toilsome ground on on a hill before. Attempts to find alternative routes usually took us on tedious detours.

Ben Halton
Then at last a lovely lochan and Ben Halton appeared, raising both smiles and spirits. A short detour on a pleasant path led to its cairn and views down to Comrie, to Ben Vorlich and to a previously climbed Graham, Beinn Dearg. It was just the place for a cuppa. 'We'll halt on Ben Halton'

Ben Halton with view to Beinn Dearg and Ben Vorlich
Mor Bheinn, its white trig pillar visible, looked distant beyond an intervening long drop. In fact it was only around 130m loss of height followed by 150m ascent but it was probably going to be more of the same - heather, holes and mire on the descent, then peat hags to negotiate before the final pull to the trig point.

Mor Bheinn from near Ben Halton
Off we went and once in the broad col another deer fence had to be climbed, fortunately by a stile. Then another fence. What's with all these fences?  Various 'animal tracks' as the guide called them, led round and over little outcrops, then suddenly we emerged by the trig point. A welcome sight. Happy 80th birthday to you!


Loch Earn and St Fillans lay below us and it was wonderful to have an open view at last.


Loch Earn and St Fillans


Descending by a broken ridge and picking up narrow paths we aimed for a grassy rake.


The grassy rake on the right
The rake gave an easy, if wet, way up and back to the lochans - an altogether much more pleasant return journey.



It was hot lower down by the quarry track and we relaxed for a while, finishing off our remaining food and tea. Then it was over the barbed wire fence again. We watched a beautiful red kite for a while as it sailed above us. Wonderful.

Back at Dalchruin, the shepherd was out on his quad bike, collie aboard, checking his ewes and lambs, one newly born. If ever a scene spoke of spring, it was this one.

Glen Artney is becoming a favourite place and worth exploring further but we won't be venturing in here:




Note: I can't offer any explanation as to why we felt as we did about Mor Bheinn. After all, it's not as if we are unfamiliar with Scottish hills! Best not to analyse perhaps. Anyway, in retrospect it wasn't all that bad...