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The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles


Postby weaselmaster » Sun Sep 17, 2023 9:36 pm

Fionas included on this walk: Càrn a'Ghille Chearr, Càrn Glas-choire, Cnap Chaochan Aitinn, Cook's Cairn, Creagan a' Chaise

Date walked: 17/09/2023

Distance: 72 km

Ascent: 2830m

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An unusual weekend, this one. Allison was away on her fortnight's holiday (expect wall to wall rain :( ) and I was through at my mum's on Thursday and Friday morning for her 85th birthday. And I baked her a cake (spicy carrot, rather tasty).

https://youtu.be/HUHB-bVUD4s?si=DqYTcgVB1V4of5BH


I set off from Grangemouth after lunch on Friday with the intent of heading to the north east where I had half a dozen Grahams® needing picked off - the forecast seemed quite good for that part of the world compared with other places. None of the hills were particularly interesting and my main challenge was going to be seeing where I could camp for the night. I also had to take stalking season into account, so thought I'd stick to clear tracks for the most part. Carn Glas-choire was going to be the first - I knew it was an easy track in, with loads of sheep, so probably not much stalking going on there. We'd been up quite recently and from what I remembered, I'd get camped at or near the summit - that would mean a nice early bed for me and a walk out in the morning.


Track_CARN%20GLAS-CHOIRE%2001-01-16.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



I parked up at the opening to some forestry about 200m south of the start of the track in, wandered briskly up the track to Auchterteang Farm, passed through the heathery plantation before the sheep and had a good sight of the hill ahead, the weather being clear and still quite mild. A chap on a bike raced past, don't know where he was headed as he didn't go up the hill. Onwards to the summit, where there's a soggy ATV track that cuts through some peat hags before the trig point is reached. Ten to six, so it had taken me about one and a half hours to get up here after I'd faffed about with my kit at the car. The wind was to come from the north all night, so I picked a spot a hundred metres south of the summit , by the fence, where there was
some shelter. Cooler now, I pulled on my jacket while I sat and ate my tea. Lovely to be midge-free. Crawled inside the tent and read for a bit, though I felt tired, so tried to get to sleep quite early. Nights are certainly drawing in now, darkness - proper darkness - from not much after eight.

ImageE30553C2-5D82-4182-9EC2-90103F0B55FF_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image1781AAA3-5476-4E11-8F0C-6AA0071C5D62_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image3E3A9C0C-B88E-4051-8690-D1722BED5130_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

A claggy morning and chilly. Got breakfast over by seven, packed up the tent and set off back to the car. No-one about. The sheep appeared somewhat dejected as I walked by, making only a desultory attempt to move out the way. The forecast for today was meant to have been sun all day, but clouds predominated. I hoped things might improve as I drove over towards Tomintoul for the Cromdale two. These can be climbed from the west, from Cromdale, or from the east, from Ballenlish. The east gives a better circuit imo. I'd downloaded Black Panther's route rather than my own, as I've noticed some of my old routes are saved as raw-gpu files, which I can't import into OSMaps. I wish I'd taken mine as the start of BP's route had me trying to find an invisible footpath through Mains of Inverourie farm which also involved having to hop across a couple of barbed wire fences. Far better to walk north from the car park and take the clearly marked track that goes through Knock, which the other, invisible path does finally join up with.


our_route-11.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


(thanks BP)

Anyway, after a bit of quiet cursing I got onto the better track and slowly ascended into clag and drizzle. Ended up having to put waterproofs on, which was not in the original plan, thanks very much. There's a slow, soggy rise to Carn Each once you leave the track and a soggy-in-places continuation for another kilometre to the summit. Clag, drizzle. For two accessible hills that must be done together quite often, there's not much of a path down from Carn a'Ghillie Chearr, unless I just missed it in the clag. Peat hags, swamps of various sorts and clag until I'd got closer to the bealach, where I spied the fence line I remembered from previous trips. There's a bit more of a path here, although still soggy. Past the impressively pointy jubilee cairn on the 635m summit and on, on, on towards the second Graham® Creagan a'Chaise. Not a soul about the whole day. There's a much clearer path leading down from Creagan a'Chaise which eventually joins with a gravel track past various gross butts and thence to the road, maybe 2.5km back to the car park. Saw a cat stalking a partridge, but it ran off into undergrowth with its plan foiled as I walked by.

Carn a'Ghillie Chearr
Image22540803-B518-4737-89ED-0175EE9EC062_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image2C3CE095-2A6C-4BCC-B88B-17F9B3460C20_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image89F8959B-33E2-4ACB-BA5E-8C379FAD8AC6_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Trig and stone spaceship
Image4749943C-B02D-4298-BE21-B9E3EBE1822D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image08054EF1-E458-462E-9298-438D529413D7_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

A better day now, typically
Image6A31AE71-47F9-42D4-9823-32D500FFBD40_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I was back at the car by just after 3, so about 5 hours for the circuit. My next objective was Cooks Cairn, which I'd decided to do from Aldivalloch rather than Allanreid which we've used in the past. I had found the route from WalkingWithKids. Had I realised there was a shorter route from this side, I'd have done it on one of my two recent visits to Cabrach to do The Buck, particularly the one when I did various Simms and came back over Dead Wife's Hillock to Steplar. I reckoned this approach would be safe from stalking as it's on a way marked trail then a wind farm. Twisty roads to the parking area at Steplar, which was occupied by a motor home when I arrived at around 4pm. Changed over packs, from the day pack to the overnighter, hoped I hadn't left anything vital behind and set off...


20220717-Cooks-cairn-from-Aldivalloch-Track.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


(Thanks WWK)

There's a gentle ascent, through sheep and on grassy ATV track initially, until a gravel path is joined a bit higher up. Then, on the other side, a horrifying descent of almost 150m to the Black Water. The descent itself wasn't horrifying - just the knowledge that I'd have to come back up it tomorrow. Across the stream - there are some stepping stones and I managed to get over without the water coming over my boots. Onto wind farm track, which is still way marked for the route to Glenlivet. It's just a steady pull up on the track, past various turn-offs for turbines until a signpost - yes! a signpost! for Cooks Cairn is reached and about 150 more metres of ascent to the top. 6.15pm now. I had the option of camping at the summit or of descending back towards some suitable looking ground by the banks of the stream. The latter would leave me with less to do tomorrow, but I was feeling quite tired and besides it was a nice evening, finally. I looked over at Ben Rinnes, just starting to emerge from a blanket of cloud and decided to stay high.

ImageB551A3A5-0C3F-48FE-A311-39498C8FA57C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageC49C38C8-B3B5-488D-A261-4EEC85211C14_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageEDEC2DC7-6A47-4EE8-A8DB-523839363392 by Al, on Flickr

Ben Rinnes
ImageE2EACEA6-2EB3-4A04-A7AF-744C593293CD_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I camped beside the cairn and used that to sit on while I ate my tea. I noted the wind was to change direction from N to SE overnight and I also noted, with some concern, after I had pitched the tent etc that the temperature was to be 2 degrees overnight. 2 degrees in September! After all these sweltering nights!! I wasn't really equipped for that, having two season gear with me. As the sun sank the air became chilly and I retired inside with my book. It was cold - I ended up wearing pretty much all I had with me, including my new Buffalo Mitts. I had a substandard pillow as I had to wear my belay jacket rather than using it as a pillow. I did not get much sleep. To make matters worse, I was once more engulfed in cold clag in the morning, the tent dripping.

Image7EBE24F0-16F7-4950-94ED-3B06867D8094_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Actually it was quite a good learning point for me - I had been thinking about using this tent if I do a winter CWT, but having had two nights in it in rain/clag I have decided that although it's nice and light/non-bulky and has a good porch, there is no way I could spend two weeks in it, particularly in winter - it's just too narrow at the head and feet and too low for headroom when lying down. That means probably using the Niak, the tent Allison and I generally use when away.

I packed away the wet tent and set off down the east side of the hill, as done by WWK, which saves a bit of time and distance. I began to regret that quite quickly as the terrain was heathery tussocks and green swamps, all soaking with dew. Eventually reached the track again, crossed the stream without getting any wetter and set off back up the 10m slog to Dead Wife's Hillock. The motor-home was still beside my car as I shoved my kit inside and headed off for the next destination.

Image1804D5CF-6822-40E2-8E55-72D82CFACE10_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr


snapchoireaitinn2simm.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Cnap Chaochan Aitinn is just south of Tomintoul, a mere 11 miles ATCF from where I was, but 30 miles by road. I hit a small bird as I drove past Ben Rinnes distillery, something I hate doing. Sheep were lying, lined up in parallel rows, in the field, the road black with crows. Drove through Tomintoul, past the little cottage where we had a short break in Feb 22 and down the small lane to the car park at the beginning of Glen Avon estate. My previous ascents of this hill have been in February snows, so this would be something different.

Good track/road basically, which descends to run along the river Avon. It feels like you are losing height as you walk south, but actually the loss in height is minimal. After maybe 4km you reach a pair of bridges - one exciting, the other prosaic, and head up to Wester Gaulrig farm, which looks in good order, but is uninhabited. West, through trees and sheep, to reach gravel track which takes you to your chosen destination. the track appears to have been recently upgraded and widened and there are new gross butts on several bits of hillside. No-one shooting today. No-one walking either, it seems. I paused for an early lunch out of the wind in a quarry-spot beside the track, then continued on to the summit. Another chilly day, and the wind was quite strong at the top. It's always windy here, it seems. Views across to Ben Avon with its tors and dinosaur spines.

Image40BFAE3B-5F12-4E2C-866C-4872FEA42A6E_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Cnap
Image22F340D3-DD91-432C-8F39-BCD32F500D84_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Ben Avon
ImageA03CB06D-EACF-4E35-943F-078A5FF2A31D_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image4FB180F0-9709-4377-8E6A-F0B7F3C7873B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I'd decided to return over a couple of Simms, imaginatively named Carn na Ruabraich and Carn Ruabraich. Actually I had once scoped out a larger walk around here that took in some of the Simms on the other side of Glen Loin including Big and Little Garvoun, but they involve a fair bit of down and ups. It would also be possible to tag on the Corbett Geal Charn, although it would be a lengthy out-and-back to reach your car. No, the two Simms would have to do. A bit of a boggy traipse to the first one from Cnap Chaochan, past the white bones of murdered trees poking out from the peat, then a descent into more bog to reach the second. Off through the heather to meet up with a track, which joined my outward track beside the sheep, and a return the way I'd come from there.

The second Simm, from the first
ImageC29AC333-C2C5-4602-9223-660F7277F1ED_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image04581836-B072-4B5F-B0EF-0FB85AFC0199_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

I was doing OK for time and wondered if I could fit in the remaining hill I'd hoped to do, Creag Bhalg round at Linn of Quoich before heading home. A check of the forecast told me that heavy rain was coming in at 4 and would continue until tomorrow evening. I decided to leave that hill for another day, even though it was the only remaining Graham® I have in the north east - no point trudging miserably through the rain just to get it done. On the last bit of the walk out I met two women, kitted up for an overnight. They were heading to Ben Avon and hoped to get their tent up before the rain began. As it was almost 3pm by this time I didn't give much for their chances and indeed the rain started as I was driving away from Tomintoul at seven minutes past three and continued all the way down the road.
weaselmaster
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 2444
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Re: The Age of Miracles

Postby WalkingWithKids » Sun Sep 17, 2023 10:18 pm

You are welcome!

weaselmaster wrote:2 degrees in September! After all these sweltering nights!! I wasn't really equipped for that...

That must have been hard.
WalkingWithKids
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 188
Munros:20   Corbetts:33
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Joined: Sep 26, 2020
Location: Moray

Re: The Age of Miracles

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Sep 17, 2023 10:48 pm

WalkingWithKids wrote:You are welcome!

weaselmaster wrote:2 degrees in September! After all these sweltering nights!! I wasn't really equipped for that...

That must have been hard.


Don't know about hard, but it was a long night 🥶
weaselmaster
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 2444
Munros:277   Corbetts:219
Fionas:199   Donalds:75+31
Sub 2000:395   Hewitts:33
Wainwrights:15   Islands:33
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: The Age of Miracles

Postby Andy Milne » Fri Mar 01, 2024 11:41 am

The parking area you used for Carn glas-Choire now has gates and a padlock on it.

Possible to get 1, and possibly at a push 2, cars just outside the gates without blocking them
Attachments
DSC_0018_44.JPG
gates at the parking area
Andy Milne
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 93
Munros:244   Corbetts:46
Fionas:18   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:26   Hewitts:1
Wainwrights:4   
Joined: Jul 31, 2017

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