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Fitness workout on Conachcraig

Fitness workout on Conachcraig


Postby BlackPanther » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:09 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Conachcraig

Date walked: 05/02/2012

Time taken: 4 hours

Distance: 11 km

Ascent: 579m

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Our Sunday climbing trip was a "last minute" decision. The day before we checked forecast and it didn't look great. Adding all the snow and ice warnings we thought it wouldn't be wise to drive into a narrow glen and risk getting stuck there... We opted for a coastal walk somewhere in Moray, maybe, but... BUT...
I don't know what happened, we just changed our minds. Kevin woke up in the morning and simply said, let's go up a hill, I said why not, and soon we were sitting in the car, driving east (that's where the best conditions were predicted).
We chose Conachcraig in Glen Muick, for a few reasons, mostly because I have recently added this hill to my list for winter-adventures. When we came to climb Lochnagar the previous spring, I didn't even realize that there was a Corbett just next to it :oops: Conachcraig may be dwarfed by Lochnagar itself, but as I experienced myself, it is still a lovely mountain :D Here, a couple of my old photies, taken from the summit of Cac Carn Beag. Conachcraig is the longer, lower ridge just behind the pointly-shaped Meikle Pap:
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Roads were quite icy in the morning and getting from Inverness to Glen Muick took us about 2.5hours (usually it's about two). The narrow road down to the car park only allowed speed about 20 mph - but it's better to be safe than sorry. As we drove we passed another car stuck in an awkward position in the ditch... Ups... somebody was unlucky...
We were a bit late but still had about 5 hours of daylight left, which we concluded was enough to climb Conachcraig, even in winter conditions. Most of the route up is on the main path for Lochnagar :D

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Starting from the Pay&Display car park (£3 charge), we walked the track into the glen. The first bridge, over Allt Darrarie, is crossed just past the parking. The river was partially frozen with fresh snow on top of ice-shapes:
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It made me think about white marshmallows :lol: :lol: :
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The track crosses the glen to the second bridge, over River Muick. From here, our target hill showed up in full splendor:
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Upper river Muick and steep slopes of An t-Sron:
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Weather was still very good, blue sky with some patchy cloud in places:
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Plenty of snow in the area, compare to Beauly and Inverness (where we didn't see a single flake!!!):
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Local inhabitants were a bit shy and kept safe distance:
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The path passes through some nice woodland...
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...before emerging into the open hillside, with good views towards both Conachcraig and the more distant Lochnagar:
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Looking back down the path. It was rather easy to walk up at this point, covered with thick layer of fresh snow - no crampons needed. We met a few other walkers going down, but most of the time we were on the path alone. Quiet, white and not too cold as for winter day. I liked it!
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Unfortunately, Lochnagar was hidden in the cloud:
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Some very impressive icicles along the path:
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We walked to the highest point of the main Lochnagar route and then decided to simply charge up the slope of our target Corbett. I bet that there was a path to the summit hidden somewhere under the snow, but it would be impossible to find in given conditions. The final climb didn't look too bad anyway:
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I set off at quite a pace and soon it became clear that this friendly-looking slope was more a challenge than I initially anticipated. The climb turned into a first-class gym workout. Snow was much deeper here than on the path and very soft as well, with some slippery boulders hiding among the heather. I stopped thinking - just concentrated on pulling my legs out of the snow. Left - right - left - right... Oooh, my muscles loved it!
And views, even with cloud still hanging about, were well worth all the sweat:
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Black Panther determined not to be beaten by some sticky fluff on the ground!!!
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Higher up, the slope became even steeper and with more big boulders to climb over...
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...I got into the zone!
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Lochnagar pano still just as impressive:
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When we reached the summit after our workout :lol:, we noticed that bad weather was quickly coming in from the north. And this one was in a really dark mood!
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The top of Coanachcraig is a flat plateau with a few rocky outcrops, one of them has a small cairn so I assumed that this was the main summit:
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We didn't stay on the summit for long as the bad front has arrived and it started snowing (or rather hailing - small but painfull bits of ice falling from the sky). Kevin suggested that this nasty cloud may quickly pass over us and there may still be clear weather behind it, so we decided to continue the traverse and walked across the plateau to Caisteal na Caillich, across some more deep snow.
Kevin was right, as we reached the second summit, bad weather moved over us and we started seeing something again:
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The main summit of Conachcraig from Caisteal na Caillich:
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These rocky outcrops must be such fun to climb over in summertime! Fantastic playground not only for kids :lol: :lol: This time, I was restricted to only a short period of fun-and-games:
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it was worth getting the camcorder out and recording some views as the good weather could be gone any minute...
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Yes, it cleared finally! Lucky us :D We could now see all the way north:
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The blue and white world:
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To finish the circuit we walked back from Caisteal na Caillich to the 850m point. This was another opportunity to investigate some big boulders:
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Caisteal na Caillich:
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The cloud over Lochnagar never cleared. We chose the right hill for the day:
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The way down is straightforward. From the 850m point we continued down the ridge, heading south east. There was a path in places but we lost it at some point and simply walked down the heather.
Glen Muick from above:
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Loch Muick:
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Mount Keen so keen to say hello :lol: (and to be climbed at some point in the future):
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Weather was now improving again and we spent the rest of the walk really enjoying the scenery:
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Lookig back up Conachcraig:
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Back in the glen and on the beaten track:
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One more look at the frozen river:
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It was dinner time for the locals and my stomach was sending me signals I should think about the same :lol:
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Before we could sit down and enjoy our evening meal, we still had over two hours of driving in perspective, but I didn't complain. We spent another wonderful day out on the hills, even with all the working out and changeable weather it was yet another fantastic adventure. A good day for a cat. Meow!
P.S. We had a couple of interesting encounters with Glen Muick deer. Just to keep this report a bit shorter, I'll put some more pictures of them in "Wildlife sightings" chapter.
Last edited by BlackPanther on Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 3100
Munros:254   Corbetts:160
Grahams:110   
Sub 2000:40   
Joined: Nov 2, 2010
Location: Beauly, Inverness-shire

Re: Fitness workout on Conachcraig

Postby ChrisW » Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:51 pm

Great stuff BP, really brings back good memories of my favourite place, I'm glad you decided to do this one and share your lovely photos :D
User avatar
ChrisW
Scrambler
 
Posts: 4938
Munros:18   Corbetts:5
Grahams:3   
Sub 2000:6   
Joined: Jan 25, 2011
Location: Cochrane- Alberta - Canada

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