A KEENLY COLD MOUNTAIN
With the rest of the UK being hit with some rather heavy snow showers, Matt and I decided to head up to Glen Clova, as there appeared to be a potential weather window and we might get the chance to bag a few hills.
Thursday night found us in the Bunkhouse next to the Glen Clova hotel discussing, over some liquid refreshment, where we should should try first, Glen Esk or Glen Doll. We settled on attempting to get up Glen Esk and wander up Mt Keen.
Up early on Friday morning and away, the drive into the Glen being interesting with both of us thinking, if it snows will we get out again!!
We parked the car at Invermark with the outside temp being -5*C and headed up a very icy track to the Queens Well.
After about an hour of slipping and sliding we reached the Queens Well, which surprisingly wasn’t frozen. Boots were tightened and up the hill we headed, following an obvious snow covered path. We spotted a herd of deer on the hillside but they soon disappeared in the snowy landscape
The next obstacle was a rather frozen iced up stream with a metal grid which looked like it was going to be fun to cross but we decided that it was on with crampons time and away we went. . . nae bother
Mt Keen soon came into view as we hit the ridge and by this time we were walking straight into a rather cold wind (that’s putting it mildly) The last couple of hundred meters of climbing seemed to take forever, we were glad we had our crampons on as the ground was frozen, a snow layer that had melted and refrozen, with a layer of powder snow on top that was being blown into drifts.
Once we hit the summit it was a quick couple of pics and away, definitely wasn’t the weather to hang around it. We estimated that it was around -25*C on top with the wind chill. Heading down I lost Matt a couple of times as the powder snow being blown everywhere made visibility rather difficult.
The rest of the trip back to the car was uneventful apart from recrossing the iced up stream, just as I stepped onto the ice I took cramp in my calf and at the same time caught my crampons, luckily enough I fell backwards onto dry land otherwise it would have been a rather icy early bath.
We were soon thawed out and back in the hotel re-hydrating and checking out the weather for Saturday as we were intending to wander onto Glen Doll and attempt Mayar and Driesh.
However when we looked outside on Sat morning the car was covered by an inch of snow and it was snowing quite heavily, so we decided to pack up and head west to see if the weather got any better as we didn’t fancy getting stuck in Glen Doll.
Snow showers were following us, so after a quick trip around the Trossachs and wandering along the side of a frozen Loch Venacher, trying to break the ice with stones, we decided to head south back to Englandshire.
Only the one Munro “bagged” but a fun time had in the snow!!
As I’d just spend 4 days away on the Dales Way, a Wednesday to Friday “weekend” trip to the Cairngorms just fitted in before some weekend guests arrived, although it involved hasty preparations. However I was Easily Led into it by Franks Itinerary of Bob Scott’s and Corrour bothies.
In the car with Frank and Matt Diggle – YMC’s foremost afficionados of granddad rock – there was a Whole Lotta Led booming from the speakers as we sped north. I was amazed to reflect that its eight years since I last slept at Corrour in 2002, and – gasp – three and a half years have already slipped by since Tenk and I made our somewhat infamous “Ten Years Gone” trip to Monad Mor with its seisimic consequences at Bob Scott’s.
The Fife Arms at Braemar was driven straight past, so parking at Linn of Dee we went immediately to Ramble On in the gloaming for a quick 50 minute march to Bob Scotts. The bothy was in darkness, but in fact was occupied by three cyclists with guitars, copious alcohol, and towing a baby trailer to Bring It On Home; they’d arrived at 5pm and crashed out by 11. Anyway we were able to actually sleep inside the Hut this time, which was a first !
Thursday looked like a Misty Mountain day,
but the skies eased as we marched west into the wilderness and the heather was Trampled Under Foot. My right knee began to take notice of the steady tramp. In a couple of hours we approached the Lairig Ghru, and saw the Black Mountain Side of Bod am Fhitich — the Devil’s Penis, as the Gaels called it before Queen Victoria came.
I like the southern end of the Lairig Ghru:- the scenery is massive yet with a simple grandeur, which is somehow both awesome and calming too. Arriving at remote Corrour, we found ourselves sole possessors and laid out spaces. Behind the bothy, a repaired path leads like a Stairway To the plateau and round to the Summit of Bod am Fhitich at 1004 metres.
The clouds had retreated above 1200 metres, but my arthritic knee continued its commentary on the day’s walking. Anyway, we swung north now up rockier territory to Stob Coire an t-Saigheir at 1213 metres, on the way to Carn Toul, Britain’s fourth highest summit.
As I’d been this way before in thick mist, what I really wanted was the views down into the Garbh Corrie, so as the mist was closing in again on this occasion, it wasn’t too much of a Heartbreaker for me when the Knee suggested quite strongly that it would prefer to be resting at Corrour. So I went to get the tea on, whilst Frank and Matt went to bag the summits but not the views. Shame, as I can’t say How Many More Times i might get back there.
Another bothy evening. Food, tea, wine, a bright fire, convivial conversation, the company of friends, and of course uisge…….. not to mention the bothy dominoes !!
We were joined by a couple of Aberdeen students, who kept nipping outside (as it seemed) to smoke something which smelled nice, but they didn’t get overly Dazed and Confused and then slumber overtook us all.
Friday was an early morning with a big plan. Matt proposed going back up the “stairway” path and taking high ground to make a circuit of Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain.
As I’d already been there twice before – and with smashing stories attached to each occasion- I felt free to listen to my Knee instead, and chose a leisurely 4 -hour stroll down the infant River Dee via Chest of Dee waterfalls
and White Bridge to Linn of Dee car park. As there was a little of What Is And What Should Never Be – ie bothy rubbish – I could happily carry out a couple of bags. So it was “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” for a walk by the river In The Light of the early morning. I saw no-one, heard little but running water, for the first 3 hours, and remembered the various and hilarious Good Times Bad Times which we had hereabouts.
We had made some good estimates of time, and Frank and Matt turned up at the car park in the afternoon, just as expected. No Communication Breakdown, so with all of us well satisfied and the Munros bagged, off we set for Glen Shee and England once more
Thanks for a good couple of days guys. I didn’t plan any of that, but I’m Easily Led
The YMC motley crew of Kate, Guy, Chris, Matt and myself met at a friends cottage at Camus Cross on the Sunday evening. Kate having come via Mallaig on her bike and Matt, Chris and Guy via Ciste Dhubh in Glen Shiel.
The plan was to head on to the Cuillin and see what we could do, Sgurr nan Gillian was in clag so we headed south to Glen Brittle hoping for better weather. The trip up to Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda was uneventful apart from Guy and Chris wanting to paint a rather large rock red, the fact that it looked like Postman Pat’s van had nothing to do with it. The top of Sgurr nan Eag was in clag so instead of heading North we headed south across Gars-bheinn and followed the ridge downhill, eventually making our way back to Glen Brittle. We now know where the deer hang out on Skye.
Matt and I headed up to Glen Carron and went for a wander up Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh, we would have had good views if it wasn’t for the snow showers. Mean while Chris, Guy and Kate headed up the Bhasteir gorge with the intention of playing on Sgurr nan Gillian and Am Bhastier unfortunately they found themselves in low cloud and ended up slightly misplaced so they bailed out to the Slig, good idea.
Matt, Kate and myself went back to Glen Carron and played on Maol Chean-dearg, good day out with more snow showers. Chris and Guy, not to be put of by the weather went back onto the Cuillin and managed to get from Sgurr nan Gillian down to Bruach na Frithe with a couple of abseils off of some big pointy things. Nice one guy’s.
Day off, Kate went kayaking with Gordon Brown and some seals, I wandered up to Portree and the rest visited the mainland. The local hostelry was visited in the evening for food and one or five pints consumed, don’t mention the wood !
Matt went back to Glen Shiel and bagged a few more Munro’s, Carn Ghluasaid, Sgurr nan Conbhairean and Sail Chaorainn. The rest of us headed up to the Inn Pinn with Guy and Chris intending to head north and possibly bivvy on the ridge. Needless to say the weather wasn’t nice so Kate and I turned round at about 900m and left the racing snakes to it. Having eaten that night in the cottage the call was then received from Guy, Plan B, so we met the snakes at the Slig. They had done the Pinn and headed north getting as far as An Dorus in the clag and decided that a bivvy was not the best idea so headed down to the Slig.
Chris and Guy had a leisurely stroll up Bla Bheinn, Kate went for a spin on her bike and Matt and I went for a wander around Beinn Fhada.
Sunday – home time after a quick clean of the cottage.
Good time had by all, Matt and I managed a few more ticks off of that big list and Chris and Guy have their eyes on completing the ridge next year and Kate found out that everything starts at sea level. Good company, some excellent cooking and the odd drop of alcohol.
Items found, 2 slings, pair of gloves and a pair of poles. Items lost ….. better ask Matt about that.
Role on next year