Friday, July 08, 2011

Coiliochbhar Hill

Little and Large
Evening sun from lower slopes of Coiliochbhar Hill.

Exploiting a weather window...

It had been raining. All day. Cats and Dogs. But, by early evening, the rain stopped, there was a break in the clouds and the warm temperature started the steam rising from the fields. Taking my chance, I grabbed my camera and headed for anothe one of my local Sub-2000ft Marilyns - Coiliochbhar Hill.

A short car journey took me to the unclassified road between Muir of Fowlis and Kildrummy. There's not much in the way of parking so I left the car at the side of the road, as out of the way as possible at grid ref NJ499137 (330m).

Start of Walk
Start of track at NJ499137

The route starts by crossing a gate at the roadside. The grassy track rises gently alongside some old forestry and then another gate is crossed which took me out onto the open, grassy hillside. Looking across towards Kildrummy, there were some moody looking scenes as the black clouds occasionally parted to let the sun through.

Window in the Clouds
Looking towards Kildrummy.

Looking ahead, the summit was still being obscured by low, grey cloud. I pressed on further up the track and came to another pair of gates - side by side. I took the right-hand gate and entered an area of new forestry. These trees were only a few feet tall and the landrover track through them was still clear and easy to follow.

Summit obscured by cloud.

At NJ507150 the forestry ends and once more gives way to open hillside - heather this time. The low cloud was still present but I was being teased with views of Alford bathed in sunlight. The OS map marks this top as
Coiliochbhar Hill but the actual top is still around 1km further on, through some old forestry. The landrover track veers to the west of these trees but I decided to cut straight through them, following the fenceline to the summit. The heavy rainfall all day had made the going underfoot very wet here and I was beginning to regret the decision to wear trainers.

Alford from Coiliochbhar Hill
Looking East to Alford.
Patch of woodland near summit of Coiliochbhar Hill.
Clearing Cloud
The Howe of Alford through the trees.

As I broke through the trees and arrived at the small summit cairn, the sun finally broke through in earnest. The views, especially west to Strathdon and towards the Cairngorms were magnificent.

Coiliochbhar Hill Summit Cairn
Coiliochbhar Hill Summit Cairn.
After the Rain
Sunshine on the summit of Coiliochbhar Hill.

After soaking up the views for a while, I retraced my steps through the wood and back to the top at around NJ507153. There's a tiny cairn here, as seen in the panorama below. The views, in the evening sunlight were grand. Nearby, the Corbett of Morven still had a cap of cloud clinging to it while further in the distance, Lochnagar stood proud and clear. To the east, Bennachie was also still hidden by cloud.

Coiliochbhar Panorama I
Looking South from the upper slopes of Coiliochbhar Hill. (Click to view large)
Don View
Looking down on the River Don and the Howe of Alford.

The return journey to the car took twice as long as the ascent. The views to the west, aided by the dramatic skies, demanded my attention and lots of time was spent taking photographs. I eventually returned to the car around 2145.

Little and Large
Evening sun from lower slopes of Coiliochbhar Hill.
Coiliochbhar Panorama II
Looking West to Strathdon. Lochnagar and Morven visible to the left. (Click to view large)
Glenkindie & Kildrummy
Glenkindie & Kildrummy.
Lone Tree
Lone Tree on Coiliochbhar Hill.
Coiliochbhar Profile
Looking back to the summit.