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