Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Monday, 17 September 2018

Thursday 6 September - Tap o’ Noth 563m Marilyn

In July 1997 we escaped the worst weather we'd  had in the NW by going to Craigellachie in Moray. As well as climbing The Buck o' the Cabrach, Mither Tap and Bennachie, Tap o' Noth was on our list because Lynne wanted to see the the Iron Age hillfort, one of the largest in Scotland. That was not to be because the turn into the narrow road up to the small carpark at Brae of Scurdargue was too tight for our motorcaravan. Why we didn't park the van in Rhynie and walk from there remains a mystery.

Now, some twenty one years later we set off from Braemar for the fifty two mile trip to Rhynie and the Tap. The A97 is not a fast road but we were in no hurry and enjoyed the drive, the scenery being pleasant rather than remarkable. Using the car instead of the motorcaravan makes life easier on some of the narrower hill roads hereabouts.

It was dry and bright as we took the grassy track through farmland, but with darker skies to the north there was always a threat of showers we thought. It was easy going all the way and it took about forty minutes at a leisurely pace to the trig point.

The second highest in Scotland, the remains of this hillfort are impressive having been constructed of stone walls 6m thick and 3m high,vitrified in places. 
Unfortunately those darker skies mentioned earlier soon produced heavy rain so good photographs were well nigh impossible to take. On a clear day the views would be extensive, an information board just short of the top showing exactly what might be seen: the Cairngorms to the west, the Moray Firth, the North Sea at Aberdeen and the Angus Hills plus lots more. The outer circle on the board was 50km if I recall correctly.

Today we could see Morven, Mount Keen, Lochnagar, Bennachie, The Mither Tap and The Buck o' the Cabrach so we didn't do too badly.

We spent a fair time examining the walls - Lynne is fascinated by hillforts, standing stones and so forth. She should have been an archaeologist really.

Our plan for the day had included a walk out to Hill of Noth but it did not appeal in the grey conditions. Did the weather improve once we were off the hill? Of course it did, so we stopped off in Rhynie and had a look at the war memorial in the well kept village green. This is no tourist destination and given the mayhem being caused in the west by the appalling North Coast 500 I regard that as a big plus.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018


Well, I've tried to upload a post with three photos (iPhone) and it won't go. I may try again or just wait until I'm home. I may not bother at all. Life's just too short!
Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 7 September 2018

Photos that failed to upload on previous post

Tuesday 4 September - Carn a Gheoidh, Carn Bhinnein and Carn nan Sac

We had made a considerable diversion from our planned route to this spot, knowing that if there were hares to be found, here they would be.

Lynne spotted the first one sitting among the boulders. Then another appeared and within a few seconds there was a gathering.  Here and there others raced to join the crowd covering the ground with ease. Eventually they diasappeared among the boulders and we retraced our steps and pointed ourselves in the direction of Carn Bhinnein, a Munro Top with superb views into the corries of Glas Tullaichean. Before departing though, Lynne gave Mr Spock's Vulcan salute: "Live long and prosper. " And yes, she can do the hand salute properly! 

The two lochans north of Carn nan Sac were dry, never seen before by us despite passing them many times. This is all great backpacking country although  with shooting in progress September and October are probably not the best months. Guns could be heard in Glen Ey.

Back on Carn a Gheoidh two geocachers had discovered their cache. Apparently there are caches on many of the summits hereabouts but we've never seen anyone looking for or discovering a cache before. Mind you the probability of us being on any given hill at the geocach location just as it is found must be very small.

We returned over Carn nan Sac then followed the lip of the corrie and so back to the bulldozed tracks of the Cairnwell and so down to the car.

Two geocachers in background

Monday, 3 September 2018

Friday 31 August - Glas Maol and Creag Leacach

A strong cold southerly wind quickly extinguished any thoughts of wearing shorts today. Others were clearly feeling the chill too as hats and gloves were extracted from sacks. 

We made rapid progress reaching the cairn on Glas Maol without a stop, though it would have made more sense to have paused in the shelter of the ski buildings on Meall Odhar to put on a windproof. As it was, my Rab Kinetic Plus was in danger of taking flight as I struggled to put it on at the cairn. 

The ascent of Glas Maol is by no means an arduous one, but even so I was pleased to feel so fit given my relative inactivity throughout the summer, courtesy of a pulled calf muscle. 

Unusually we didn't stop to check the grazing cages.

For those unfamiliar with these, here is a comment from Rene van der Wal of Aberdeen University made on my post of 5 October 2011:

"These are grazing cages which I have erected with colleagues to determine the influence of primarily sheep grazing on the summit vegetation on Glas Maol. We are particularly interested in the fate of woolly fringe moss, or Racomitrium lanuginosum, which is perhaps best known as key habitat for dotterel to exist"

I must contact Rene to find out 'the fate of woolly fringe moss', if the data is available.

I do know the fate of the mountain hares that once graced these hills: they have been exterminated. Numbers have not been reduced. This is slaughter. 

The group which had been following us went off for Cairn of Claise and Carn an Tuirc, we to Creag Leacach. A fine hill, its bulk provided some respite from the wind until the top was reached. As always we chose the boulders rather than the path which finds a way through and round them. All ways are good though.

After lunch in the sun near the howff, we took the narrow path skirting the western slopes of Glas Maol
to join the route to Meall Odhar and down. 

I'll always love these hills but they are much diminished without the mountain hares. We both feel a great sadness at their loss - and anger. So few of us seem to care it seems.  

This post has been reduced somewhat since I lost most of the original.

Test of iPhone photo to Blogger