After a few days not being able to do any hill walks, thought I'd try and get a bit of exercise again by getting up 1 or 2 wee hills before my next shift. With wintery showers forecast to come in from the west through the day, I headed a bit east to these two sub-2000s, fairly close to each other, but done as 2 separate walks. Had a look at some walk reports on here before heading off in the morning, so thanks very much for posting these routes folks, always a great help for walk ideas.
Carn na Loine
2.6hrs, 10km, 340m ascent
Parked in the handy rough parking area right next to a good place to start the walk at Auchnagallin, room there for 3 or 4 cars. Don't know whether the walk is better clockwise or anti-clockwise or whether there's no real difference, but I decided on clockwise, setting off through the gate opposite the parking area rather than continuing down the minor road to Knock of Auchnahannet. Dry and a bit of sunshine when I set off north along the track, but chilly, and had the waterproofs ready in my bag if I needed them. Good view of Carn na Loine to the east as I walked along, didn't look too daunting.
Easy walking on the track; in better weather or with an earlier start I might have wandered off the track to look for Lord Huntly's Cave, but I was hoping to get round before the downpours reached this far east so continued up the track on the lower slopes of Sgor Gaoithe. When the track turned left/north again I looked to leave it and head up Sgor Gaoithe - there's a low fence to climb over which probably wouldn't be too hard to get over at any point, but I'd rather not risk rusty barbed wire if I can help it, so went just a little bit further along the track and found a section where the barbed wire strand has been removed and I could step over. No path on the other side that I could see, but low heather, so a nice walk up to the cairn on Sgor Gaoithe.
Not sure if there's a better way to get from that point to Carn na Loine's summit than the one I took .... I took pretty much a direct line, or as near as possible given the meandering through bog, tussocks and heather. Surprisingly easy to keep my feet dry despite recent rain, but still a very good leg work out which is what I was needing after a week of enforced rest. By the time I noticed the row of grouse butts further up and thought they might have an ATV track or path along them I was most of the way up Carn na Loine anyway, so just carried on with my direct line approach. Made it to the summit marked by a trig point .... the views made me appreciate I'd picked a good location for a walk today, plenty heavy showers in the west and over the Cairngorm plateau to the south.
I left the summit and headed SSW towards the track that goes round Tom Mor, the hill with the transmitter on. Quite easy going down through the heather initially, but then I had to take it more carefully once getting to the tussocky area where hidden holes and streams were ankle twisting hazards waiting to happen. Once I was down and reaching the track and looked back, I could see nicer routes (probably) through patches of burnt heather or grassy streaks on the slopes which would probably give easier going. So then it was just down the track to Knock of Auchnahannet at a brisk walk, aware that black clouds were rapidly approaching, then turned right along the minor road to get back to the car. Timed to perfection, I unlocked the car just as the first heavy drops of rain started to hit, and I was in and dry by the time the downpour started properly.
Wasn't sure whether I'd be staying dry for Knock of Braemoray, but I was so close to it that I decided to head for it anyway, a quick one good to do when you're in the neighbourhood rather than a special trip I suspect...
Knock of Braemoray
0.6hrs, 2.5km, 150m ascent
Heavy rain as I drove the few miles north up the A939 and A940 to Knock of Braemoray, but as I passed Dava the clouds passed, and by the time I pulled into the layby on the east side of the A940, it was all dry again. Parking there for 3 or 4 cars again, and a narrow path leads directly from the layby up to the summit, saving walking through the heather.
I didn't really hang around on this walk, it was definitely just a case of a fast walk up to the summit, quick look at the awful weather hitting other places and coming towards me, and a very fast walk back down. No perfect timing this time, the rain hit full pelt on my way down, but the distance was so short there seemed little point in digging out full waterpoofs. Nice wee hill, if I'm passing it again I'd pull over and nip up again to appreciate the views a bit more.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.