Lockdown is over, the hills are back open for business!
It's been possibly the most sedate winter I and many others have had due to the lockdown so I tried to pick out an easy-ish hill for the year’s first. It was to be An Socach by Braemar.
I headed out early and arrived at the layby on the A93. I was the first one there and set off up the hill.
The walk from the car park to the path that leads up the hill is a flattish walk with nice views up the glen on a track which is good underfoot. Had it not have been for a flat tyre I would have taken the bike which would have cut probably 1/1.5 hours off the total walk time.
After crossing the second ford I left the track and headed up a grassy track up to the cairn on Socach Mor. This ascent was fairly continuous in its gradient, not too steep but very boggy at parts. As there is no clear path at this part of the walk I had to make my own way up sheep tracks, through heather and following little streams. At all times though the cairn at the top of Socach Mor served as a point to aim for ensuring I didn’t stray off course.
After crossing the gradual incline past the cairn the going got steeper as I headed up to the plateau top. After a bit, the path up was indistinguishable and I ended up making my own path up, through some snow drifts about a foot deep. At the top of the plateau I was greeting with cracking views of the Cairngorm Hills Ben Macdui and others in the area. There was a lot of snow falling up there and looking south it looked like torrential rain but so far in the day I had nothing but blistering sunshine.
A half hour walk along the top and I had reached the summit. It earned me a well deserved lunch break as by that point I was absolutely starved.
On the way down I retraced my footsteps through the snow back to the other side of the plateau. I descended back down the Socach Mor Cairn and then back down to the low level track back to the main road where the car was parked. It was a good gauge of fitness and I look forward to the next one.
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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.