Thanks to Katie H for taking my kids for the night, Jon and I headed to the hills. I was running and he was on/carrying his cyclecross bike. First time up Conachcraig and the running on the top over to Caisteal na Caillich was lovely. We then took the main track towards Meikle Pap and down through large boulders to the mouth of the loch at Lochnagar, Jon was cursing me at this point as there was no cycling. We went up the north side to reach lochnagar summit and then down past the waterfall. Some showers on top which were cold but overall nice day.
Friday 11th Sept
From Glenmuick carpark, up to Caisteal na Caillich via the usual track up to Lochnagar. Then down and across the grassy bog around the north shouder of Meikle Pap to approach Lochnagar Loch from the north side. Very strong wind gusting down the cliffs and across the Loch, so went around the north shoulder and saddle to approach Lochnagar top up its NW shoulder. Brief stop on Lochnagar, very low visibility as cloud down over the tops. Then off to the Stuic – will have to come back when there’s good visibility. Then followed track west until the first burn, and followed that down to Dubh Loch. All reasonable running on descending ground. Followed track down from Dubh Loch for half k, then struck out up to Loch Buidhe and then across the flat mossy ground to the track down to Glasallt waterfall. The return back along the loch was quite an effort. 32Km walking/jogging, 6 hours moving time. Fab scenery.
Up Glenmuick to ascend Caisteal na Caillich. I started up the Lochnagar path and, although no path is marked, there is one directly opposite the turn off the Gelder path and cairn for Lochnagar. It was very warm and still as I headed up, first on to the un-named hill, then on to Conachcraig and up to the summit. Again it was a hill I’d never been up. Birds included common sandpiper, grey wagtail, spotted flycatcher, goldcrest, skylark, golden plover and red grouse.
Coming on from cp46 by bike, we rode past Meall Gorm, eyeing up Caisteal na Caillich and looking for the optimum route up. I suppose this hill is mostly reached from the Lochnagar track but that’s too convential for us. We crossed the boggy area between the track and the foot of the hill and started up.
Its a long climb without any helpful tracks but some tactical contouring and straightforward grunt got us up in an hour.
The boulders on top provide a few extra feet of vantage and a 360 degree view. It really is a superb view from Benachie to Mount Keen to Lochnagar and up into the (still) snow-clad Cairngorms. Absolutely the best view so far and worth the climb.
Long trek back down to our bikes and a speedy journey back to the car at Easter Balmoral
1 – looking back north
2 – looking over to Lochnagar
Sent from my Xperia™ tablet
Sunday on Stob Coir’an Albannaich was enough to make me stop winter activity in the highlands. A 10 degree temperature inversion, ran and strong head winds meant hard work to no climbs and no views. Where as today will be one I will rememberfor all the right reasons. For a start Daves hill challanges got me to visit Lochnagar using ways I have never done before. Hard snow made walking easy and I have never seen and heard so many birds on a day in the hills.The hares seemed happy to have me as company and virtually no pathways in the snow.
Caisteal na Caillich provides a varied view of the cliff, and I was surprised by the weather station just beyond Lochnagar, as in the loch, not the cliff. Tiredness nearly had me heading down but the ticker one and Central Buttress (II) was a pleasure with a tricky step near the top to get the adrenilin running. The Stuic was a pleasant stroll westwards to fine views. The return shortly joined the tracks which led to the Falls of Glassalt and the path down in evening sunshine. Thouroughly recommended as a day out.
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