Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Saturday, 14 September 2013

14 September - Dilemma

With the holiday nearly over (and it has been a really enjoyable one) I/we now face a decision: to go to the Lakes at the beginning of October for 12 days and then get my GP to set the ball rolling for knee surgery, or cancel the Lakes trip and just get things moving next week.

If I were advising someone else I'd probably tell them just to get on with the surgery asap and be fit for next year. I've never been good at taking my own advice, but I'll have to make my mind up soon.

Meantime an easy day with perhaps a coffee at Gordon's.

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Friday, 13 September 2013

12 September - Loch Kinord

A short walk today to see the 1200 year old Celtic Cross by Loch Kinord on the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve. It's a lovely walk through the birch, Scots pine and rowan trees. At one point an information board told us we standing on a 13000 year old esker (remember your physical geography)?

The cross, carved from granite was dug up around here in the 1820's and taken to Aboyne Castle, but returned in 1957.

Also to be seen are the remains of a crannog, built around 2500 years ago. It was built on oak stilts with sides probably woven of hazel wood.

There are several trails to enjoy so it's worth a visit on a day off from the hills or just for its own sake. Arrive early if you want to appreciate the peacefulness of the place.

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Thursday, 12 September 2013

10 September - Creag nan Gabhar mystery and Burn O' Vat (9 September).

As noted on the post of 4 September we were unable to recall anything about our first ascent of this Corbett back in 1989, which we had assumed had been from Auchallater by Sron nan Gabhar.

Well, yesterday we went back to the summit by that very route and a most enjoyable tramp it was too. However, nothing triggered any memories so we concluded that either it was foul weather the first time or we had simply struck up through the heather from Glen Clunie.

Two other walkers were met but ours was the only vehicle in the car park on our return.

The previous day we drove up to Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve after a stop in Ballater, and visited The Burn O' Vat. The Vat is a deep bowl, formed by melting water at the end of the last Ice Age, which gradually filled with sand to a depth of about 7m - the floor of the Vat today. It's an impressive place about 18m wide with walls 13m high. It's well worth a visit if you are in this area and is only a short walk from the small Visitor Centre. Entry is through a narrow opening in the rocks though if you prefer, a viewing platform allows you to look down on it (take the main path, not the 'spur path'. Queen Victoria went right inside. I took some video which I'll try to post when home.
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Berry heavy

The rowan tree just outside the 'van. Lovely.

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Location:Berry heavy

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

8 September - Glas Maol to Cairn of Claise and back again

We arrived at the cairn virtually simultaneously with a couple who'd come up from Glen Isla. After discussions about winter motorcaravanning, the benefits of snow-shoes (which I've never used), ski touring, how quiet it was for a Sunday etc, they departed for Creag Leacach, we for Cairn of Claise.

As we descended towards the Monega path, the mountain hares which populate these rolling, spacious, hills appeared and entertained us with their antics. A joy to behold!

Following the wall across the broad ridge between Garbh-choire and Caenlochan Glen, we spotted a large herd of deer - the first seen on this trip.

Given the wind direction, the small summit shelters were of little use so we didn't hang around. Thoughts of adding Carn an Tuirc were rejected with little more than a glance at each other; the reward for walking and climbing with someone for decades. Down to a warm world, but summer has deserted the high tops.

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Sunday, 8 September 2013

7 September - Braemar Gathering

What an excellent day we've had for £10 each (stands £20 but fully booked). The Massed Pipe Band was superb, the individual bands equally so. The distant sound of the pipes was a constant throughout the day as the various sporting activities took place.

Perhaps I'll write more about this when home but today it's sunny and warm and hills beckon.

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Friday, 6 September 2013

6 September - Morrone

Late afternoon and back in Braemar there is much activity and an air of excited expectation as the day of the Gathering draws near. The sun is shining, Range Rovers prowl the village street, the car park is full of motorvans, the Co-op is bustling with beer-buying locals and visitors; the staff are helpful and very pleasant. All in all a lovely atmosphere pervades the village.

We've been up Morrone via the golf course road and access track which although an ugly scar, makes for easy walking. Several others were there when we arrived all wrapped up against the cold. Down the way we came. Views variable. Some rain.

Not much else to say really.

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Thursday, 5 September 2013

4 September - Creag nan Gabhar

From the bridge just north of Baddoch a path strikes east between the steep heather covered slopes of Carn nan Gabhar and Creag an t-Sean-ruigh, climbs to around 700m then drops north east to Glen Callater conveniently depositing you at Lochcallater Lodge if so desired.

After the initial grassy section we entered the narrow un-named glen and just as we emerged from its confines came across the flattened remains of a hare. It resembled an ancient cave painting we thought.

Crossing the burn and gaining a bit more height, Carn an Tuirc came into view as did the great bulk of Tuesday's hill, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor. What a magnificent, immense landscape this is; what a privilege to walk its glens and high plateaux.

By the path a large area of turf had been removed and used to camouflage shooting butts, a common enough sight in these parts unfortunately and a reminder of the loathsome slaughter that is about to commence on these hills.

From near this point Creag nan Gabhar, a Corbett which we had climbed from Auchallater back in April 1989, was easily accessible via a variety of tracks - tracks and paths are important to me at the moment - so we decided on a second visit. The bone-dry peat hag before the final pull was crossed easily, and the going good all the way to the stony top. Neither of us found the summit environs familiar - 1989 is a long time ago after all.

On these September holidays we always seem to be seeking some shelter from the wind so that lunch or whatever can be had in reasonable comfort. Today was no exception - I expect at or above 1000m wind strength would have been a major obstacle to progress. Anyway, down it was after the obligatory photographs of course. Did we take as many of them pre-digital?

Almost back at the 'van we spotted what we thought was a merlin, our smallest falcon.

Back at Braemar preparations were well underway for Saturday's 'Gathering' with B&B's filling up as well as the site. It'll be a busy place this weekend.

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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

3 September - Carn an t-Sagairt Mor

The Callater Burn was quiet today which was more than could be said for the track. Two-wheeled transport was popular choice and a sensible one it has to be said. We regularly used bikes when doing the remoter Munros such as Ben Alder, cycling down the estate road to Loch Pattack where we left them. The bikes were Raleigh Stowaways, as used occasionally by Hamish Brown on his continuous Munro trip. Today our mountain bikes remained firmly on the rack; Carn an t-Sagairt Mor can hardly be described as remote.

We seem to have an uncanny knack of arriving at summits in the worst weather of the day. Only the need for sustenance made us hang about, huddled as best we could by the cairn, unsuccessfully trying to obtain a bit of shelter to gulp down couple of mouthfuls of hot tea and some calories.

It was a rather different world as we lazed by the path just above the Lodge; smoke rose from both chimneys; a fellow stravaiger collected his bike, hidden in the heather, and set off down the track; judging by the cacophony, something had disturbed the sheep on the lower slopes of Creag nan Gabhar.

I've seen the heather in better shape at this time of year but a few bees were busy all the same. Time slipped by and all too soon we had to leave. We will, of course, be back.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

2 September - Glas Maol

If the wind strength at the car park was anything to go by, the Glas Maol plateau was going to be fun. The welcome sight of a mountain hare greeted us near the summit of Meall Odhar; less welcome was thick mist sweeping in from north and south.

No matter. This was to be a short day to assess the knee before venturing too far into remoter country. (I'm not going to mention it again unless its complete failure necessitates my extraction by the big yellow bird, although I think I'd rather hop and crawl back down than suffer that ignominious fate).

A few pics were taken at the cairn when the mist temporarily cleared, but it was no place for a bite to eat. Despite the poor visibility we noticed the grazing cages, first spotted in October 2011, were still in place. These cages were erected by Rene van der Wal and colleagues of Aberdeen University to "determine the influence of primary sheep grazing on summit vegetation on Glas Maol. We are particularly interested in the fate of fringe moss, or Racomitrium languginosum, which is perhaps best known as key habitat for dotterel to exist". (You can see a photo on a previous post from our October 2011 trip).

Back at Meal Odhar the sun appeared, the cold wind whistling through the ski-tow cables suddenly warmer. We had taken only an hour and five minutes to the top of Glas Maol (it has to amount to cheating to start at the car park), and would be back at the 'van at the absurdly early time of one o'clock at this rate. A long stop in sun was called for.

Coire Odhar is a fine place, or it would be if it were not for the ski-tows, fences and other detritus. And yet we'd both had some of the best fun days of our lives skiing here. I substituted that vision for the one that lay before us and felt all the better for it.

The drive down Glen Clunie and back to the site provided a pleasant conclusion to the day. What a simple uncluttered life this is!

A longer trip tomorrow.

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Monday, 2 September 2013

1 September - Annual Braemar bash

We arrived in Braemar yesterday afternoon in what you might call breezy weather and after setting up on site, wandered down to the village. A pipe band was playing opposite the Fife Arms and pretty good they were too. The Braemar Gathering takes place next Saturday so, depending on weather, we might pop along if tickets are still available.

It's a lovely morning so it's a hill for us today.

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