Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Lochnagar Round

Broad Cairn
Broad Cairn Summit

These are my local Munros, less than an hour from the front door if the road is clear and I've done Broad Cairn and Lochnagar multiple times but never strung all five together. Big distances involved, especially the punishing stomp along Loch Muick, so I dug out the bike from the shed.

10km biked
23km walked
5 Munros bagged
Total ascent 3847 feet
10 hours(ish)

(As usual, more, and larger photos available in my Flickr set at:

I set out early(ish) and dumped the car at the Spittal of Glenmuick carpark (remember your £2!). Onto the bike and cut across the the other side of Glen Muick and then down the road to the Glas-allt-sheil where the bike was dumped behind the bothy. I set of on foot around 0945 and headed round the end of the loch and began the climb up into Corrie Chash via the Steak of Lightning path (at least I think that path is the Streak of Lightning). The day had really started to heat up and the views back down Glen Muck were fantastic:

Loch Muick
Glen Muick from the head of Corrie Chash. Mount Keen on horizon

When the path climbs out of the corrie, it reaches a junction. Turn right, and in a small depression you come across Sandy's Seat, an animal shelter with a bench along the side. Normally, the bench is good for a quick break, but I've used the shelter in heavy rain and snow showers too:

Sandy's Seat
Sandy's Seat. Rest stop en-route to Broad Cairn.

Just past Sandy's Seat there is a smaller path to the left which leads down to Bachnagairn and Glen Clova. Keep on the main track and you'll soon start the ascent to Broad Cairn. The 'path' used to be a 4x4 track consisting of rocks but in the past couple of years has been vastly improved, with a new line up the hill.

Fairly soon, the slope levels off as you reach the shoulder and the terrain changes to soft, springy peat. Great for walking on and makes you feel like you are wearing slippers. The final 100m onto Broad Cairn is boulder field. I arrived onto my first Munro of the day without seeing another person since I woke up. The weather was still great and the views even better from the summit:

Broad Cairn
Broad Cairn summit looking East(ish). Mount Keen & Mount Battock on horizon.

I descended straight down the other side of Broad Cairn and headed for Cairn Bannoch via Cairn of Gowal. It's pretty flat and featureless here and straightforward walking in good visibility but there are some big cliff dropping down to Dubh Loch on the right. Deer aplenty here, but they kept their distance and did the usual trick of peering at me from just over the horizon. 2km of plateau and I was on top of Munro number 2 for today, Cairn Bannoch:

Cairn Bannoch
Cairn Bannoch summit looking North West towards Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and the Cairngorms

A quick snack stop and I was off, heading for Carn an t-Sagairt Mor. Another simple walk across 2.5km of plateau, spiced up with more peeping-tom deer and a boggy, peaty bit in the middle. Again, a direct ascent straight up Carn an t-Sagairt Mor. Before tagging the cairn, I passed the summit and down the far side slightly in search of the aircraft wreckage which I had heard was there. As well as finding some of the wreckage, there were also great views down Loch Callater and into Coire Loch Kander:

Coire Loch Kander
Coire Loch Kander

Aircraft Wreckage
RAF English Electric Canberra - 50 Squadron, crash date 22/11/56 on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor summit

Back up the slope to the cairn (there are two - I touched both to make sure!) and my first sign of a human today. As I sat at one cairn, a woman appeared and sat at the other cairn. I waved. Maybe she didn't me as there was no response.

Carn an t-Sagairt Mor summit
Carn an t-Sagairt Mor summit. Lochnagar behind.

I got up to leave and head back down to the path. I passed the other cairn and said 'Hello' and the woman turned her back on me. Charming! Anyway, back down to the path and contour round Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and Carn an t-Sagairt Beag.

In retrospect, I should have walked directly onto the top of Carn an t-Sagairt Beag in an Easterly direction. Though it would have meant coming off the path (which I knew was there from the OS map), it would have probably saved me some height and let me explore some more of the plane wreckage. Nice views back down to Dubh Loch though:

Dubh Loch
Looking into Dubh Loch at the head of Glen Muick

The ascent onto Carn a' Choire Bhoideach, while not steep, was starting to slow me down. There was a slight pain developing in my right knee every time I lifted my left. I was on this slope I saw my second human of the day. He was a little friendlier than the previous one.

Once the slope eased off, it was a simple 5 minute walk to bag the 4th Munro of the day, Carn a' Choire Bhoideach. While not the most inspiring Munro, it had a nice view and a pretty little cairn:

Carn a' Choire Bhoideach summit
Carn a' Choire Bhoideach summit

From the 'summit', I retraced steps back to the path and then detoured slightly to the edge of The Stuic, with it's impressive views down to Loch nan Eun and across towards Balmoral.

Only another couple of kilometres, the slope start to steepen slightly and a quick visit to the top of Cac Carn Mor, followed by a wander round the cliff-edge to Cac Carn Beag - Lochanagar, and summit number 5 of the day:

The Stuic from Lochnagar
Cac Carn Beag (Lochnagar) summit

An interesting way to approach Lochnagar. It makes sense to leave it until the end as the highpoint of the walk, but, on the other hand - you don't get to be smacked in the gob by this:

Lochnagar - February 2008

Didn't hang about for long as the midges were out in full force on the summit. Instead, I headed south-east for the Glas Allt burn and the path down to the waterfall and the Glas-allt-sheil to retrieve my bike.

(As an aside: While descending this path on a previous occasion, I met a foreign lady, walking on her own with jeans, no rucksack and poor English. She pulled out her 'map' to ask me directions and it was one of those 3-fold tourist leaflets. Loch Muick was represented by a blue oval, Lochnagar by a black triangle, the Ranger's Station with a circle and some nice thick dotted black lines for paths!! I tried to convince her that the only way to go way down, but she continued up. Good job it was a nice day)

By this point my knee was in agony. Every step felt like someone sticking a knife into the outside of my kneecap. I really struggled down the side of the waterfall and was at a snail's pace by the time I reached my bike.

Fortunately, the ride back wasn't too bad. I was using different muscles to pedal I guess, and was able to rest it a little, although having a bike with a frame that is slightly too small doesn't really help your knees much either Confused

I seem to remember returning to the car between 1830 and 1900. Sunburnt and knackered but having had one of my best ever days on the hills


Plumbago said...

Do I detect something of the HDR Fairy in these photos? Very nice.

chimpaction said...

Yep. These were early efforts though. Not too subtle...