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Just another windfarm story...

Just another windfarm story...

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:33 pm

Date walked: 07/02/2021

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 16.8 km

Ascent: 404m

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I always fancied Meall a'Chrathaich in winter conditions, but the recent big dump of snow makes walking so difficult that I didn't even dare suggesting it to Kevin; he himself came up with the shorter version of the Corrimony approach, a walk which we had done several times before. We hoped to visit the Corrimony Bothy and maybe, if snow conditions allow, climb up to the viewpoint by the wind turbines, which offers fine views to the peaks of Glen Affric. We were very lucky that a four wheel drive had been up the track almost all the way to the windfarm, probably on Friday, and we could easily follow the fresh tyre trails, otherwise the walk would have taken 6 or 7 hours, considering the snow cover even on lower levels. It is certainly one of the harshest winters I had ever experienced in Scotland!

Track_CORIMONY 16.8 KM.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We started from the small car park in Corrimony, stopped for a short time to photograph the ancient cairn:
2021-02-07 corimony 003.JPG

The route to the bothy passes through RSPB reserve but today we didn't see any birds. It was a cold morning and I bet they were reluctant to spread their wings :wink:
A tree stump wearing a white hat:
2021-02-07 corimony 122.JPG

We were so thankful to whoever has driven up the track recently, for leaving an easy trail to follow:
2021-02-07 corimony 125.JPG

Coos in Glen Urquhart were busy chewing their breakfast. I hope they didn't feel too cold today... I don't eat beef anyway so my conscience is clear :wink:
2021-02-07 corimony 021.JPG

As long as we stayed on the beaten track, it was easy going, but any attempt to go off piste reminded us, we were in the middle of snow-covered nowhere :lol:
2021-02-07 corimony 016.JPG

The first glimpse of Corrimony windfarm:
2021-02-07 corimony 027.JPG

We couldn't even see Loch Comhnard, it was all frozen and covered with a layer of fresh snow. In spring/summer, this spot is a haven for bird watchers, but today there was no sign of any living creature, apart from one Black Panther testing the depth of snow:
2021-02-07 corimony 033.JPG

Loch Comhnard? Where???
2021-02-07 corimony 038.JPG

A local stream still not frozen:
2021-02-07 corimony 138.JPG

The bothy can just about be seen from the road when walking up the glen - the small building under the trees. It was still early so we decided to visit it later, after climbing to the viewpoint.
2021-02-07 corimony 040.JPG

Now we know where the tyre tracks came from - someone has driven a digger up to the generator hut:
2021-02-07 corimony 147.JPG

River Enrick looked more like a tiny burn...
2021-02-07 corimony 045.JPG

Kevin on the bridge, trying not to fall over :lol:
2021-02-07 corimony 150.JPG

Past the hydro hut, we were forced to walk on pristine snow, but we had already done our training on previous weekends, so we didn't mind a bit more exercise. We needed to move to stay warm!
2021-02-07 corimony 058.JPG

Looking back to the bothy from the windfarm track past the bridge:
2021-02-07 corimony 057.JPG

Please, shut the gate! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
2021-02-07 corimony 061.JPG

Kevin gazing at something in the distance...I was wondering what he had spotted, maybe the Big Grey Man?...
2021-02-07 corimony 160.JPG

Nah, just a trio of deer also struggling in deep snow...
2021-02-07 corimony 065.JPG

We were in a slightly better position than the deer, as we could walk on an even track. But even here, we encountered snow drifts occasionally. And the wind picked up as we reached 400m, but at least we knew we were near our objective:
2021-02-07 corimony 068.JPG

Suidhe Ghuirmain, an outlying top that always intrigued me. It turns out, it isn't even a TUMP, but we might visit it in spring, just to prove the point:
2021-02-07 corimony 080.JPG

The gate to the windfarm area was not padlocked and soon we were walking in the shadow of the big turbines. I always feel uneasy standing right under them - feels like they are going to collapse on me :roll:
Kevin has no such fear!
2021-02-07 corimony 177.JPG

Once on the flat shoulder where the turbines are situated, we discovered we could hardly walk any further, the snow was so deep and so soft...
2021-02-07 corimony 089.JPG

We agreed this was as far as we were going today. It would be stupid to even try getting closer to Meall a'Chrathaich which is 200m higher than the windfarm hill.
Meall a'Chrathaich - so close yet so far:
2021-02-07 corimony 086.JPG

We left the track and hopped through deep snow to the highest point of the flat shoulder, which is a superb viewpoint to the hills of Affric. We had been here many times but never in such super-snowy conditions, so seeing the local mountains in full white coats was a real treat!
2021-02-07 corimony 091.JPG

Zoomed peaks of Affric:
2021-02-07 corimony 093.JPG

2021-02-07 corimony 094.JPG

2021-02-07 corimony 095.JPG

Kevin busy photographing:
2021-02-07 corimony 183.JPG

BP and wind turbines:
2021-02-07 corimony 108.JPG

Having finished our photo session, we turned back and retraced our own footprints back to the gate. At least it was easier walking now, and the weather also brightened nicely:
2021-02-07 corimony 110.JPG

Crossing the 200 m from the bridge to the bothy took us longer than climbing some hills in our career :lol: :lol: Snow was even deeper here and I volunteered (stupidly) to break the trail...
Panther's paw prints:
2021-02-07 corimony 200.JPG

Knock, knock, anybody home? Kevin had to bend in two to get into the bothy:
2021-02-07 corimony 201.JPG

Inside, it was warm and quiet. We spent maybe 15 minutes in the bothy, resting and drinking tea, tried not to touch any surfaces. There was no notice "bothy closed" and the door was not blocked so we assumed it was OK to enter the building for a short time. We didn't intend to stay overnight of course, too cold for any naughty behaviour :wink:
Kevin thinking about naughty games in the snow :lol:
2021-02-07 corimony 202.JPG

Getting back out on the beaten track proved just as hard as reaching the bothy:
2021-02-07 corimony 112.JPG

This time I allowed Him Who Knows It All Best to go first, excusing myself with my yet not fully recovered knee. It was hard enough even following in his footsteps :lol:
2021-02-07 corimony 115.JPG

Once on the track it was easier going once again:
2021-02-07 corimony 116.JPG

By the time we returned to the car park, 5 hours have passed. In summer conditions, one can reach the summit of Meall a' Chrathaich in 6.5 hours, using this approach. More details about the full route, including the Graham and Loch ma Stac in my old report here.

The coming weekend doesn't look as good as the previous two, so I don't know if we're going to venture as far from Beauly this time, maybe just a local wander from home, it is wintry enough to make even that a challenge :lol:
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Re: Just another windfarm story...

Postby gld73 » Fri Feb 12, 2021 11:21 am

Don't know if you saw in the local news this week, but there might be more wind farms coming to the area around there....:

I don't like walking under wind turbines in freezing conditions, some of them have signs up warning against it as ice can fall from the rotating blades ...but on the other hand, in winter conditions, wind farm tracks can be very helpful routes to getting any sort of ascent!
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