Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mountain hares (Blue hares)

Hares near the summit of Cairn of Claise

On our last holiday, one delightful feature was the number of mountain hares we saw everywhere on the high ground. They were brown rather than the 'bluish grey' which gives them their alternative name, but colours are known to vary widely. As winter approaches and the first snows arrive, they will change to pure white. We were enchanted by them. They were so wild and free, and so entirely at home in their beautiful mountain surroundings.

Only on two occasions have we seen so many – a winter's day on  Ben Chonzie (Ben-y-Hone) when their camouflage was complete, and one spring on Geal-charn Mor just before they had completed the transition from white to their summer colour. We rather felt that they needed to get on with it.

A sign


I don’t like modern signage in the Scottish hills – waymarks, and the like.

I do like old signs like this one. Ancient ways through and, in this case, over the hills. They stir the imagination.

Incidentally, ‘Glenisla’ should be two words ‘Glen Isla’. There are no rock climbs in Glencoe, the village, many in Glen Coe. And the 'Glenshee' (Glen Shee) ski centre is wholly in Glen Clunie!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Save the Monadhliath Mountains- Allt Duine windfarm

In the early 1980s the Cairngorm Chairlift Company proposed extending lifts into Lurcher's Gully. The Public Enquiry received 7120 letters of objection and 135 supporting the proposal. The proposal was rejected.

By contrast, to date, only a mere 657 people  have signed the 'savemonadhliathmountains' petition. This is pathetic! If you oppose the destruction of the wild Monadhliath sign this petition NOW. Win the battle or lose it, I can't  see how you can continue to walk or climb in the Scottish hills with a clear conscience if you don't.  Sign the petition HERE.

(The Scottish Government in their budget proposals for the next three years are planning to invest £200m in renewables btw)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wind turbine proposal – Druim Ba Sustainable Energy

 Councillors are to consider plans from Druim Ba Sustainable Energy to erect 23, 490ft turbines on forestry land between Abriachan and Kiltarlity. An Action Group has been set up to oppose the development. I wish them all the best.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Denny to Beauly Power line

Traffic management plans have been finalised for the B8033 Kinbuck Road (Kinbuck is north of Dunblane) as part of the work required for the above power line.

So, if anyone still harbours thoughts that the march of wind power stations across the Highlands, and not-so-highland parts of Scotland, can be halted or effectively opposed, think again.

It grieves me to say so having opposed such monstrosities since around 2004 when Mellock Hill, near Yetts o' Muckhart was threatened.But there it is.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Beer and Grouse at Loch Callater

On what was probably the wettest and windiest day of our recently holiday, we walked up to Loch Callater to the sound of gunfire in the distance. It wasn’t hard to guess what was going on and there in the vicinity of Callater Lodge was parked around £250,000 worth of Land Rover Discos and Range Rovers (admittedly you don’t need many to reach that figure). Grouse shooting was taking place on the lower slopes just south of the Lodge and wasn’t going to interfere with our plans – a simple walk to the head of Loch Callater.

This we did, stopping several times to watch ‘beaters’ drive the birds into the guns. My, what fine shots they must be giving the birds such a sporting chance. Tracked vehicles roamed the bulldozed roads and over the hillsides ferrying the shooters around. You couldn't exactly say it was a peaceful scene.

The weather wasn’t improving but even so, in the absence of all the guns about we might have gone higher just for the tussle with the elements. But no, after staring into the gloom at the head of the loch, we headed back.

Loch Callater (2)
A wet, but happy Lynne
Gloom towards Jock's Road
Not too bad really. If only there hadn't been guns about...
Something was going on at Callater Lodge when we arrived. Cans of beer, in large quantities, were being unloaded from a Disco and taken into the Lodge. McEwan’s export mainly. Might be enough for the shooters on the hill I thought but, judging by the tales, not nearly enough for that other ‘Braemar Gathering’ which takes place here every May! All being well, we should be passing this way ourselves in 2012, just a few days or so ahead of the Challenge. No beer for us at the Lodge though!

Callater Lodge

We paid a visit to The Stables Bothy which is maintained by the MBA, and noted some entries by Challengers who’d passed this way in 2011. One name I recognised, John Joycs, a regular who usually camped here on the crossing, had spent the night in the bothy (‘just too wild to camp’ I think were his words) and found it comfortable. It certainly looked it and although I’m not a bothy fan myself, in last May's weather it would have been a welcome haven for any backpacker.

The ‘beaters’ were now making their way back towards the Lodge driving yet more beleaguered grouse into the waiting guns.  Sheep, looking uneasy, gathered by the Callater Burn.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Day 1 - Loch Muick hills

The midges at the Spittal of Glenmuick car park were doing a fair imitation of their western brethern, but vanished as we made our way along the track by the loch.

Broad Cairn from L Muick

Lochnagar was cloud-covered but showed every sign of clearing, Broad Cairn was already clear and  looked inviting so really chose itself as the objective for today.  Shortly we came to the start of the Capel Mounth track which crosses to Glen Clova.

I will attempt the Capel Track,
Old stiff and retrograde,
And set some pal to push me on
Should resolution fade.
For I must see black Meikle Pap
Against a starry sky,
And watch the dawn from Lochnagar
Once more before I die.

Syd Scroggie – First verse, Ante Mortem

It was cool and pleasant as we wandered along the lochside track reflecting on what great backpacking country this was, but a stop at the bridge over the roaring, thundering Black Burn to consider which route of ascent to take brought out the midges once more, so high or windy campsites would have been desirable to escape the torment.


When we’d climbed Broad Cairn back in 1981 (was it really so long ago?) we had gone by Corrie Chash, so today we opted (quickly, to escape the onslaught) for an ascent via the ‘Streak of Lightning’ which would get us high on the plateau above Loch Muick and so to Allan’s Hut, 2km from Broad Cairn.


It might be Allan’s 'Hut' but a sign says it’s Sandy’s 'Seat'. Beyond the hut a path drops south  to Bachnagairn in Glen Clova.

The weather was picking up nicely by now so we decided to push on to the summit rather than stop for lunch, and soon we were crossing the lichen-covered granite boulders leading to the top.



Some rain and cloud had pushed in from the west as far as Cairn Bannoch and since we wanted to visit a ‘Top’, namely Creag an Dubh Loch in good visibility, we postponed lunch yet again. Rising above the Dubh Loch itself the 270m cliffs form the highest continuous face in the Cairngorms.

No adrenaline rush today though, but a pleasant easy walk to the cairn which is well back from the edge of the cold NE cliffs.

The top of Creag an Dubh Loch

Lunch was again postponed and had become ‘afternoon tea’ by the time we had returned to Allan’s Hut!

It was grand to be tramping these hills again with their great feeling of spaciousness and big skies.


I'd even forgotten about the £3 parking fee at the Spittal!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Braemar trip


Just back from a nine day trip to Braemar area. It's well known to us but, inexplicably, it's years since we've been there and so it all felt very fresh. Lovely. Now getting organised for another trip away, but I’ll try to write up a few reports before then. Mobile blogging would be so much easier than writing things up when back home.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Scottish Gamekeepers Association

The SGA has raised the question of whether a sea eagle could distinguish between its natural prey and children. The report can be found here. Oh dear, what next.