As always rough guide only - do not use this on your GPS toys
Saturday morning I waited to be picked up at 6.45am, the rain was drizzle, the air still and warm, and the day was certainly going to be a day for waterproofs. The previous nights Mountain Weather Information Service, and Met Office websites, again said pretty much, "Aye! Yir doomed!".
Continuous downpours for several hours and moving showers forecast. Sunscreen chucked away. Sunglasses Pah! Waterproofs and I was doubled up with a ruck sack liner and a bin liner. The boot bag contained spare clothes, I was certainly in for a long wet soaking of a day. But thats what Scotland is all about is it not?
Our group all met up and headed up the road for Aberdeenshire and the Grampian hills. Destination Glen Shee.
You will see on the map this was our starting point. There is a few ways you can take in An Socach. This was our starting point.
On the way to the car park we saw not one hill. Just grey misty bleakness. And these moments can dampen you or prepare you for a long wet day. So all the gear on. Waterproofs. Raincovers on the rucksacks. And not to speak it out loud, or even dare, but just a little bit of hope for the day.
Path to start is an easy track up and behind the Ski Centre. Passing Carn Aosda on our right, the track splits. Left heads down to routes toward the Cairnwell. Right takes the path up to Carn Aosda. Straight ahead takes you off the paths and into the heather and off toward Loch Vrotachan.
The walk is one of up and down. And the munros close to you dont look like the usual munro as it is easy to forget how high a start point Glen Shee is. I believe its a good 2000ft and more above sea level already.
Our route took us past the loch and a little up and over and down toward the Baddoch Burn. Where the stream runs down from the Loch into the burn you will find a small and handy bridge.
The burn is quite fast flowing and was today certainly fast. So there is many rocky crossing points but the handy bridge is wiser. As we made our way down something quite remarkable was happening in the sky.
The top layers of waterproofs were off. The ground soggy and wet of course kept the gaiters on. We reached the bridge crossing and once over it was time for the first tea break of the day. Still not really daring to say it looks like this weather may be clearing up.
So back on the feet and the walk to An Socach.
We headed to the left summit side first. The hill and heather meets a path which carries you up to the top. Looking back from the path you get an idea of how far you have crossed the country so far.
In that picture looking back, top left, the little silvery line is Loch Vrotachan. Basically we went down the left side of that pic and met up where the loch stream meets the burn and the bridge.
Its a long walk through marshy, boggy, grass and heather. Its not all boggy just recent weather has made the hills quite wet. And we were yet to discover far far later how much of a day it had been for the weather.
It was quiet just our group on the hill the whole day, never saw another soul - no doubt the forecast maybe keeping people away from this hill at least.
And remember there was that hint of blue sky? Just a chance the weather may hold out.
So a well earned summit sandwich or two and rest. All around us some peaks were being dusted with cloud. But by chance we seemed to be in the one spot where all was well.
Our route back the way we came was more direct heading down the slighty steep slopes and making a bee line for the stream and bridge.
It is worth saying that this large area and relative quietness of the day treated us to some great peeks of the local habitants. Including this little cheeky fellow.
This is not my picture its from an image search on the web. But we were treated to a little peek at a cheeky chappie just like this one. A little water vole.
Saw many hares, like dogs they are the size of them. Including a few who bolted from the summit of An Socach. Clearly today we were not the only ones bagging a hill. Frogs are abound everywhere also. And we caught sight of what we believe was a lizard, the common lizard I think.
And on the way down off An Socach one of Scotlands finest sightings.
Not the best of zooms on my little Cannon 7.1MP Powershot, but we had the treat of maybe 40 and more deer. Being upwind and concealed a little as the hill dipped it was a few minutes before their excellent sense caught sight or sound or smell of us and they legged it.
The distance they can go in just seconds is amazing. Then they mocked us almost!
They raced along and up the edge of An Socach in mere minutes if that.
So the weather held out. A great day was had by all. Our route back we went the opposite side of the Loch for our next teabreak.
After this some of our group thought, why not pop up Carn Aosda as well? So a few of us said well why not indeed.
So far a novice myself having just enjoyed the day and munro number 8 was very happy to have a very quick number 9 to boot also.
I could not believe, having forgot how high up we start from, just how quick we reached the top. A very quick and easy munro.
So An Socach is a great walk, a great area. I will be happy to walk this again from the same or any other route. I think it would be a great try out area for people like me who have not walked munros in the snow. Also I think An Socach would offer fun ice axe practice.
The weather was great and I am grateful to the group for the day. The return car journey we drove through thunder and lightning and terrible rain. After our routine visit to the pub and a well earned pint of course.
Driving back through Perth we saw debris, the roads a mess, overflowing drains, and sandbags at doorways!
I got back home and the news told me Perth had flash floods and Edinburgh too. Yet at An Socach all day existed a wee window of great weather that made a great day.
Finally the summit video ignore any ramblings from me. Thankfully the wind got the better of them
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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.