Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Friday, 15 September 2017

14 September - Pressendye  Graham 619m NJ490089. Map 37

Generally, this September's holiday has been wet with thick mist often hiding the hills. The persistent rain has, however, provided a good test for my Mountain Equipment Lhotse jacket and Lynne's equivalent, ME Manaslu. Both have performed flawlessly keeping us bone dry, the Gore-Tex Pro fabric proving extremely breathable with no condensation. [I make no apologies for using the term 'breathable' despite some - can't remember where I read this - objecting to the term because it isn't actually the same as breathing in a living organism. As if any of us thought it was...]
On some days respite from the rain has been found in beautiful Glen Lui, in the Morrone Birkwood, the Nature Reserve at Dinnet and Braemar Mountain Sports - shop and The Bothy. Amazingly I've not bought a single piece of gear, though admittedly the holiday isn't over yet. Coffee? That's a different story.

Pressendye's isolated dome is clearly seen on the drive from Tarland and much to our relief the parking spot just off the B9119 at the start of the road to Pett farm was vacant. Cars are no longer allowed to park at the farm, so parking space really is limited.

Pressendye rises north of Tarland and the Howe of Cromar. From the parking spot we took the road, bordered by fields of oats and barley, to Pett. This gave fine, open and unfamiliar views across the farm lands of Cromar. In contrast, the track from Pett led us through glorious Scots Pines which were eventually replaced by Sitka Spruce as we reached a wider forestry track.
Breaking out of the trees, open slopes led to the trig point where we were met by a strong north wind. Pressendye, isolated as it is from other hills, gives superb views: Bennachie, The Buck of Cabrach, Morven, Tap o' Noth, Clachnaben, Mount Keen and Lochnagar.

The large shelter provided a welcome place for tea and rolls, the wind howling over our heads.
Pressendye is a fine hill and in calmer weather there are other tops to visit and enjoy.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Saturday 2 September- Braemar Gathering. Tuesday 5 September - Mona Gowan, Graham 749m, NJ335085. Map 37

It was a perfect day for the Gathering and we joined others following the Ballater and District Pipe Band through the village around 9am. We watched band after band as they marched to the games field, the whole village being completely taken over by this annual event.

As usual the Braemar MRT had their stand set up and we chatted to a couple of team members for a while and said 'hello' from Allison Todd a former member.

We'd met Allison and her SARDA collie Midge last March on Innerdownie in the Ochils and remembered reading about them both in the team's book 'Mostly Happy Returns'.

2017 has been a relatively quiet year for the team because of the lack of substantial snowfall, although the rescue of a climber who'd fallen and broken his pelvis while climbing on Shelter Stone Crag was a highly technical affair. This was a joint rescue effort - and what an effort - with the Cairngorm and Aberdeen MRTs. 

Tuesday 5 September.

Mona Gowan lies east of the A939 in the rolling hills between Glen Gairn and Strath Don. No sweeping slabs of granite or wild lochs here.

A sign told us that this was adder country. It is also grouse shooting country which we'd completely forgotten - thankfully. The guns we could hear seemed to be coming from the hills to the west of the road so we wasted no time setting off from the car in case other shooting parties arrived on our patch and ruined our day.

It's all easy walking using narrow tracks through the heather or on grass with Morven dominating the view. Our route went over Scraulac and Craigangour Hill, a Graham Top, and so to Mona Gowan's huge summit cairn erected in 1887 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubiliee.

Cloud and rain threatened, Morven being briefly lost. We departed and walked towards sunnier skies with Lochnagar and Mount Keen, obscured by thick cloud all morning, eventually coming into view.We arrived back at the road in time for a drive to Corgarff and some photos of the castle. In 1998 we'd had the guided tour after an ascent of Brown Cow Hill. Time flies.


Mona Gowan; Morven in distance; descending from Scraulac.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Friday 1 September - an old friend

The 360 degree view from the summit of Morrone was one of the best we've ever had on this fine hill. In particular, Lochnagar held the eye, even though its impressive cliffs aren't visible from here.

The approach through the Birks is always a memorable part of the walk but today it was a beautifully silent place. I felt it would be a shame to break this peace by talking, but paradoxically said so to Lynne...

Some German walkers arrived at the top with their children but otherwise we had the place to ourselves - or so we thought. Fluttering, bright yellow canopies apparently rising out of the heathery slopes a few metres away revealed the presence of parapenters. Soon they were airborne.

We took our seats by the mountain rescue hut and enjoyed the sun, a rare treat this year. The despoilation of the top with masts and buildings didn't detract from our sense of happiness at being back among our beloved highland hills.

It was a very different story this time last year. I arrived at the windy summit wet, my brand new Montane Air Jacket in Pertex Shield AP fabric proving useless. I was irritated, understandably. Much worse, I was tired from an easy ascent and didn't know why. Altogether I was less than happy.

Today I was feeling good, stronger than I have done for a very long time and relishing the day out in such perfect weather.

Click to enlarge Lynne's photo 

Sent from my iPhone

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Thursday 31 August - Hoping for better

With summer and most of spring spent recovering and two holidays pretty well ruined, I'm hoping that this one will be different. We are in Braemar (as usual at this time of year) and have settled in at the site here - beautifully kept and we'll run my Emily and Dean. It's busy, but will quieten down after Saturday when the Gathering is over.

Over recent months I've not really felt like blogging, though I have read all my 'regulars' - without commenting very often it has to be said. I usually make it a rule to comment on posts, even if only briefly and reply to comments on my own posts. I don't see the point of blogging otherwise, but that's just my take on it of course.

I'm now pretty well mended with only a trip to Perth Royal Infirmary for a brief follow-up on Monday. We've brought the car with us to make the parking at the hospital a bit easier and also to make parking for some Grahams here in Aberdeenshire and in Moray less of a hassle. Even our relatively small motor caravan is a nuisance when there is 'limited parking', as guide books like to say.

So, hopefully there will be a few posts about new hills trodden as well as about our usual favourites in the Braemar area - if I can find something interesting and fresh to say about them.

Thanks to D & A for house watching.

Edit. This was posted using Blog Manager and it appears that clicking to enlarge the photo doesn't work - at least on my iPhone. 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Sunday - 2 July. A struggle

With a recent blood test showing little progress on the haemoglobin front I expected to feel less than my usual self on the fells. But I didn't expect to struggle on an ascent of - wait for it - Walla Crag. Yes, Walla Crag. It was of little comfort to pass a few walkers who were clearly unfit. No comfort at all.

I felt better at the summit - I was stationary there - so we continued along the path and down to Ashness Bridge where a few midges appeared to have followed us south. The re-ascent was easy enough and with the weather improving we headed for Blaeberry Fell. 

I thought the final steep-ish slopes would be a trial but they weren't, perhaps because of a ten minute halt to talk with a couple from Kendal descending from the very windy summit.

The shelter provided none, so we set off downwards stopping at the sheepfold to enjoy the much needed warmth of sun. A stream of walkers passed by so intent on looking at the path that they didn't notice us only feet away.

Since last Sunday, we've been on eight familiar summits so perhaps more of that later.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Travels once more

Unfortunately the weather is exactly the opposite of that shown in the above picture. Never mind, it's bound to improve and at least there are no midges.

Thanks to D & A for house watching.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Was this coffee shop preparing me for a shock?

The cost of the cake was conveniently hidden.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Wednesday 31 May - Fiarach 652m Graham

Unfortunately the posts are few and far between at the moment having no signal for most of the time.

The car park at Dalrigh was almost full and we just managed to get a slot for the motorvan. Nearly everyone there would be heading for the Munros we guessed, primarily Ben Lui, Beinn Dubhchraig and Ben Oss. We, however, would be on our own and so it was except for two folk on our Gleann Auchreoch track who'd mistaken it for the WHW. A quick confab and they were retracing their steps. 

After passing stands of Scots pines the forest edge was reached and we took to the hill. We stopped often to take in the fabulous scenery recalling the many days spent here, in another life, it seemed. In due course Lochan Fiarach revealed itself along with many other smaller pools not shown on the map and after some squelchy walking following a fence - wire everywhere Conrad, barbed and otherwise - the small summit cairn, sitting on the dolerite wall, was reached. We dropped down to have a look and couldn't resist an easy scramble back to the top.

A long lunch in the sun viewing the views, back along the broad ridge then down into the hot glen.

Note: I'm grabbing any signal I can get so these posts are brief. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Friday 26 May. Creag Gharbh - 637m. Quick post - 4th attempt!

I'm not a fan of waymarked trails but having used various sections of the Rob Roy Way to access some Grahams this year and last, I have to admit to enjoying the trail almost as much as the hill itself.

Our original plan was to climb this Graham from Killin but the camp site owner, a local, suggested we start go via the Allt Breaclach. Alas, we couldn't get the 'van parked so drove on to Ardeonaig where the hotel kindly let us use their car park.

The weather was muggy and it was a steady pull up the narrow road to the Abernethy Outdoor Centre. Once we gained height though, a May breeze made for pleasant walking over open country gently rising until the pipeline was reached. This carries water to Loch Lednock Reservoir and soon disappears underground.

Reaching the site of the old mast we stopped for a bite to eat and watched what we assumed to be 'Rob Roy Wayers' after which a yomp through the heather and slightly boggy ground brought us to the trig point.

We had a leisurely return by the same route and to finish the day off, enjoyed apple juice with ice outside the four star Ardeonaig Hotel.

Lochan Breaclach and Lynne at the Ardeonaig Hotel.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 26 May 2017

Creag Gharbh - Graham

There's no signal at the site so sending this from summit!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Monday 8 May - Ciste Bhuidhe a' Claidheimh 759m (Graham). Maps 51, 52 NN 729 351

This fine little hill lies above the hamlet of Ardtalnaig on the south shore of Loch Tay. Often referred to as the Shee of Ardtalnaig this was Lynne's choice for today's outing and an excellent one it proved to be.

It was also Lynne's suggestion that we take the single track road from Amulree through Glen Quaich to Kenmore rather than the usual route by Loch Earn, Glen Ogle and Killin. It was an interesting drive with hairpin bends as the road climbed to 520m after Garrow and again on the descent to the loch. Not a route for the motorcaravan though!

The start of the walk up the road to Claggan
It was the most beautiful morning at Ardtalnaig, a quiet and peaceful place with superb views across the Loch.

Near Claggan we spoke with a chap who was busy erecting posts in the stony ground. Hard work in the heat. The factor (we think) greeted us with a smile and conversation even though we'd just ignored a sign pointing to the route avoiding the farm yard, but in our defence the direction indicated was ambiguous.

Claggan farm
Once through several sheep pen gates - the price of going through the farm yard - the wide bulldozed road traversed south across the hillside above Gleann a' Chloidh eventually giving way to a pleasant grassy track which took us almost onto the ridge.

Up on the ridge a thin path through the bone dry hags brought us to the Bual a' Claidheimh, a cleft caused by a rock slip.

Hags and the top in the distance

Bual a' Claidheimh - the rock is mica-schist

Approaching the top

At the small summit cairn we pondered our route back. A descent to Gleann a' Chilleine was eventually rejected in favour of staying high with fabulous views to the Ben Lawers group, the Tarmachans and beyond.

The sun was strong but the wind cold so we had to don windroofs and seek shelter among the hags for lunch before continuing downwards.

We easily succumbed to another stop above Claggan and took in the scene.

From our last stop above Claggan
At Ardtalnaig we wished we'd brought the tent but we hadn't so we explored a bit then headed for home via Killin. Another special day in the hills was over.

A rare sight these days

The small graveyard and the lower slopes of the Shee

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Meall nam Fuaran 805m (Corbett Top) - Map 52 NN 826 362. Thursday 4 May 2017

Wednesday 3 May was my first day on the hills since coming out of hospital a couple weeks or so ago and we enjoyed a well known circuit in the Ochils. All things considered I felt pretty fit so on Thursday we took the familiar road to Amulree, our objective Meall nam Fuaran, a Corbett Top although we were unaware of this at the time.

Parking is pretty limited along the single track road by Loch Freuchie but the Yeti fitted nicley on the grass verge a short distance beyond the start of the walk at Croftmill where 'Beater's Bothy' signals that you are entering grouse country.

Looking back to Loch Freuchie
With oyster catchers and curlew to distract us we found ourselves off route. Never mind, a few minutes through deep heather and we'd be back on the track. Maybe not.

Quite a surprise!
The track ended at these islands of peat and we followed the rim of the eastern corrie over grass and heather for a short distance before turning west through hags for the summit cairn. Here I picked up a comment on a previous post from Gayle ( but it was too windy and cold to attempt a reply.

Our original plan was to pick up the track which descends to Glen Shervie, but a direct route by a burn provided a more pleasant (and shorter) way down and not far above the Glenshervie Burn we found an ideal spot for late lunch with good views up the glen. The track in Glen Shervie climbs NW to the 817m summit of Carn Bad an Fhraoich and continues over two Corbett Tops (Meall nan Eanchainn, 858m and Sron a' Chaoineidh, 870m) the Corbett being Creagan na Beinne at 880m). The last of these we did many years ago before 'Corbett Tops' existed as a list so a plan is forming! [Note: we now know that Meall nam Fuaran has another Corbett Top - the North Top at 797m]. The plan has just gained several kilometres.

Lynne on the pleasant descent
Reluctantly we left our sunny hollow and after a kilometre's walk down the glen we joined the path to Glen Lochan - part of the Rob Roy Way as it happens.

The path in Glen Lochan

Looking back to the hills beyond Auchnafree

Once in the narrow pass formed by the steep slopes of Meall nam Fuaran and Beinn na Gainimh the wind strength increased significantly, the funneling effect quite dramatic and sudden. The glen is well named with two small, dried-out lochans being passed before we reached the larger Lochan Uaine.

Lochan Uaine

All too soon we reached the flats and Lochan a' Mhuilinn. A hare still in winter coat darted here and there; another lay dead.

Lochan a' Mhuilinn

We enjoyed a final stop in the lee of the fishing hut for the last of the tea before returning to Croftmill and the car. What a day. A day I could not have imagined just a few weeks before.

Click to enlarge (also photos)

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Barbed Wire

This reminded us of Sir Hugh's recent fall, caused by wire left lying around by landowners.

Note: I'm using Blog Manager on my iPhone to get familiar with it and to monitor the results.

Friday, 21 April 2017


As some may know I have recently spent six days in The Acute Surgical Receiving Unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee being discharged on Wednesday evening.

I have said elsewhere (mainly commenting on Sir Hugh's blog - that from the moment I arrived at the Unit until I left, the care and kindness received from everyone - and I do mean everyone - was exceptional. The NHS at its absolute best.

Many thanks to Conrad (Sir Hugh - see above for blog address), MartinB ( and AlanS ( for their good wishes. While in hospital I was following Sir Hugh as best I could on his long walk from Berwick to Somerset, drooling over his description of his meals at various places while I was 'nil by mouth' for three days, when disaster struck him and he broke his arm. Good luck with the op Conrad and may you quickly be back in action.

For me, thoughts are now turning to the soothing balm of the hills:

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Wednesday 18 January - Corb Law and Corb Glen to above Coul

Corb. 1428 'Crob'. Derivation for this form 'compare Gaelic 'Crob', later 'Crobh', a hand, a claw, possibly referring here to some perceived shape in the terrain. For instance the contours on the north side of Corb Law on OS maps trace the shape of a hand with outstretched thumb and clenched fingers (Angus Watson, The Ochils, Placenames, History, Tradition).

He's correct of course, but we had no knowledge of this when setting out for Corb Glen and Law. Watson does point out that the hand shape is not easy to see on the ground and the reference may be a 'tantalising coincidence'. We need to go back.

Can you see the hand?

A locked gate, the top festooned with barbed wire, gave the distinct impression that walkers were not welcome. We squeezed through a gap with me taking extra care not to catch my brand new ME Lhotse jacket and headed into the cold, raw, wind. A short distance up the track and yet another barbed gate appeared but at least this one opened. We had been in the Glen many years ago dropping off John's Hill but had never approached from the delightful B934 to Dunning although we've used it to access other hills in the area.

Barbed gate number two and Corb Law

The steepish slopes of Corb Law and John's Hill (left) form Corb Glen

Around this point we left the track for Corb Hill, an easy ascent over the usual tussocky Ochils ground but again barbed wire covered the top of an old wooden fence which we had to cross. It was cold and the strong wind battered us as we followed the fence northwards. We're not fans of walks where at some arbitrary point we turn round and retrace our steps, but today that's exactly what happened. Black Hill of Kippen, a vague objective initially, seemed hardly worth a visit so once the view north opened up, we hurried back to Corb Law and downwards for some lunch.

Our day out having been thus shortened, Lynne suggested we wander through the Glen to the point above Coulshill Farm where the RoW from Glendevon to Auchterarder descends to meet our route.

The new sign was damaged. Note the 'avoiding Coulshill Farm'.

I suspect this was damaged on purpose. Perhaps more evidence of hostility to walkers. Note the ghastly Greenknowes Windfarm

We went no further and enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to the car. Somewhere along the way, I lost my sit mat.

Not a good day for photos but click to enlarge if you wish.

A circuit would have given a slightly longer day