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Lochnagar at last

Lochnagar at last

Postby chrisoff » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:18 am

Route description: Lochnagar from Glen Muick

Munros included on this walk: Lochnagar

Date walked: 04/06/2011

Time taken: 7.5 hours

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These are some of the hills and places you can see from the top of Lochnagar. Apparently. To be honest the marker could have Edinburgh, Amsterdam and New York written on it as there would be as much chance of seeing those places as there was of seeing Ben Macdhui, Ben Lawers or Morven.

We left the house full of hope with MWIS saying there was an 80% chance of cloud free munros and determined to get the first one under our belt. We'd made plans to walk up Lochnagar a number of times before only to be scuppered by the weather. Once we'd made it to the car park only to find the cloud sitting just above head height once we got to Loch Muick so we decided to bin and go round the water instead. This time we were determined to go up.

It seemed we weren't the only ones. When we arrived at the car park at 10am it was completely full. We were directed to the coach area where two buses had just appeared and it's drivers were looking irritated at all the cars being sent up to fill their spaces. Apparently Aberdeen Mountain Rescue were having their annual sponsored walk from Glen Muick that day which is why it was so busy.

Setting off from the car park we were disappointed to see the top of Lochnagar obscured by cloud once again.

Nevermind. I was optimistic it would rise by the time we trudged to the top.

Dunno where all the sponsored walkers were but thankfully they didn't seem to be doing the same route as us but there was still a lot of small groups to say hello to on the way (most of them overtaking us). We made good progress and quickly crossed the stream and started the gradual ascent up towards the mountain which was now even more obscured by cloud :(

Though we were following the directions from Walk Highlands we had to stop for a quick map check to make sure the path off to the left was the turn we were supposed to check. Thankfully we weren't the only ones and we saw a few of the other groups having the same conversation. Turns out this wasn't going to be our only map check of the day so it was good to get into the habit early.

Once we turned off towards Lochnagar proper we were rewarded with a decent view across the valley towards Ballatar

Now we were engaged in a trudge up the hill edging closer and closer to the bottom of the cloud which seemed to be stubbornly staying put over the top of Lochnagar and Miekle Pap. Thankfully we were really enjoying the walk but I was a little apprehensive for what we were going to see at the top. I was keen to get a decent view of the corrie face and I was worried as well about walking to the summit through cloud.

We made it up to the bottom of Meikle Pap and decided we'd miss out that extra summit as it was still covered in cloud and there was going to be little reward for the extra effort. Wandering over to the corrie edge we were granted a decent view of the lochan below but unfortunately the view of Lochnagar was pretty obscured.

It was around 12pm now but after a brief snack and a drink of water we decided to push on and get lunch near the summit rather than hang around now. There were some large groups leaving to head up at this time and I thought it would be better to head for the summit at the same time as other people just in case we had any navigation issues. It was one thing walking through cloud at the top of Morven a few weeks ago on our own but I didn't really want to get lost on top of Lochnagar.

Onto the ladder with around 10 others it gave my girlfriend lots of encouragement to be walking up such a steep area with others so she could see that she wasn't the only one struggling to get momentum! It was a long trudge but with plenty of rest breaks we made it up to be rewarded with a magnificent view of absolutely nothing. *sigh*

Walking away from the corrie's edge we were faced with a pretty featureless landscape and a wall of cloud. It was pretty hard to see which direction to go and we stood for a few minutes before picking up the path and some marker cairns in the distance and set off again. There was a large group just behind us which had some members that had done the walk before so we decided to keep within site of them during this section as it was very hard to make out the path amongst the rocks at times but we soon got some momentum going again and became more confident about where we were heading.

After a while we started ascending again and picked up another path that joined our one. A quick map check suggested this was the Glas-alt-shiel path which we would be taking down and I set the compass bearing from here on the map. The compass bearing was a good sanity check as it confirmed we were where we should be and we should come across the Cac Can More cairn shortly. Sure enough it quickly appeared through the clag.

From here it was a short walk to the Lochnagar summit. As we were passing the Cac Can More cairn we noticed another path branching off which I thought we'd need to make sure not to take on the route back. That thought would bite us on the bum later.

After 3 hours we were delighted to finally see the Lochnagar summit loom into view through the mist. There was a group camped on the side of the summit having lunch and I was pretty jealous of their flasks of tea as we said hello. Five minutes previously we'd been having a conversation about food for future walks and I was adamant that a flask of tea should be essential. It was a great feeling to finally be stood on top of a munro after a year or so of false starts and building up to it with walks on smaller hills. Just a crying shame that once again we were robbed of a grand view.

Walking off the summit we finally stopped for lunch back at Cac Can More where we met a solo walker who greeted us with a cheery "2 and a half hours drive, 3 hours of walking an nothing to see". We could definitely sympathise! Thankfully we had a shorter drive and now we were off the summit we were hopefull of being back in the car in a couple of hours making a mockery of the walk highland estimated time of 7-8 hours.

We definitely wouldn't make it back to the car quickly if we continued on our chosen path after lunch. Setting off with confidence the path we were on quickly descended quite steeply and appeared to be heading off in a direction I didn't recognise. Time for another map and compass check which confirmed we'd done exactly what we made a point of saying we shouldn't do earlier and had taken path we noticed at Cac Carn More earlier in the day. Oops. We weren't the only ones confused by the more prominent path as a couple following behind us stopped at the same point before turning back and the group we'd met at the summit stopped for a long time at the top of the descent before deciding it was the wrong path. We quickly found our intended route and were back on track.

As we headed towards the Glas-alt-shiel path it was really, really annoying to see that now the cloud had lifted and the later walkers behind us were being given the views I craved earlier.

Unfortunately while this looked like a nice straightforward route back to the loch the majority of it is really boring. Nothing to see except the valley hills either side and the route back towards the summit. After a long, slow, gradual descent it starts to get a little more interesting as the stream starts descending more rapidly.

Eventually we turned a corner and were finally rewarded with a truly breathtaking view of Loch Muick. Finally! This really lifted my spirits and made me feel like all this effort was worthwhile.

Now the descent towards Loch Muick started proper as we followed the waterfall down towards the trees below. When we walked round the loch last year we took a short detour up past Glas-alt-shiel to see the waterfall and we we pretty underwhelmed. It's now very clear we barely touched the surface of it as looking back halfway down revealed it's true height and another magnificent view.

We also got a great view over the loch.

The legs were getting a bit tired now and it looked like our earlier hopes of a quick descent to the car were in vain. We reached the path back alongside the loch and I was glad to be back on the flat. I had it in my head that the loch was the end of the walk and once we reached it we'd have have a short sprint to the car. Wrong. Very wrong. It seemed to go on forever. By this point we were pretty fed up, tired and not really enjoying it as much. I think now we just wanted to back in the car and had started fantasising about the curry we were going to order once back in the house.

Inching closer to the car park there was a herd of deer grazing near the path.

Crossing the Lochnagar path again I looked back (foolishly) towards the mountain to see that now the cloud had cleared the summit :x

Finally our long trudge back to the car was over. We started just after 10am and got back to the car at 5.30pm. It was a long, hard day with some disappointment at the lack of view but definite triumph at reaching the summit eventually and finally getting started on the munros. I don't know if we'd ever get round to completing the list but it's definitely good to get off the ground and there will be more to come in the future.

Hopefully the next big hill we walk will actually have a view as I'm starting to think we're cursed after Morven was clagged at the top and now Lochnagar. Didn't help that one of the people we met on the way down yesterday told us how fantastic the views were at the top on a nice day. Thanks for that.
Posts: 51
Munros:6   Corbetts:3
Sub 2000:3   
Joined: Jan 4, 2010
Location: Banchory

Re: Lochnagar at last

Postby boabie » Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:53 pm

nice report chris, sorry you didnt get to see some of the stunning scenery from the summit! (ive seen it in pictures!) but now you've done it, you could always do it again in the future... hopefully on a better day :D

this is one that i want to do when i get back from holiday, still dont know if i want to just do lochnagar or do the 5! i might need some training first :lol:
Posts: 23
Munros:4   Corbetts:1
Sub 2000:3   
Joined: May 29, 2011

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