Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

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.


Sir Hugh said...

Some years ago I had a day on the Monadhliath when I could see at least twenty mountain hares all at the same time basking I the winter sun after most of the snow gone. Great memories, but sad in the present context.

afootinthehills said...

Sir Hugh - we had a similar sighting on a Corbett above Lynwilg. It was early spring and they were still in their winter coats basking in sun as you say ,but on snow-covered ground.

Dave said...

Hi Gibson, I don't know if this is still the case but there certainly used to be a thriving population of mountain hares in the area between Amulree on the A822 and Loch Freuchie. You'd easily spot them from a parked car if you took the minor mountain road fro Amulree towards Kenmore.

I'm not sure how much shooting goes on around there (I know there's a 'sporting' estate at Auchnafree- further along the 822) but there were also decent raptor populations back then, which may be indicative of something.

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Dave said...

Addendum: None of which excuses the practices on and around the hills you were walking; it merely illustrates which is the problem species in all of this.

afootinthehills said...

Hi Dave - we drove over that very road to Kenmore last year and didn’t see any hares nor have we seen any when on the hills around Amulree.

Given that SNH recently granted a licence to Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders to shoot ravens (now suspended for not being scientifically robust) I would fully expect that hares were shot in great numbers in the area.

afootinthehills said...

Dave - sorry ‘are shot’. An annual event no doubt.