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A Corbett and a quest for a secret howff
by basscadet » Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:57 pm
Corbetts included on this walk: Carn na Drochaide
Date walked: 19/02/2012
Time taken: 6 hours
Distance: 26.87 km
Ascent: 818m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
And so I decided just to go out walking by myself.. I went to get the bus not really sure where I was going, but the idea originally was to climb a couple of corbetts near Invercauld, so that sounded alright.
I fell asleep on the bus, and was awoken by the bus driver shouting that we had reached Invercauld.. I sleepily grabbed my rucksack and jumped off the bus, only to find out I was about a mile down the road from where I'd intended Thats what you get for sleeping on public transport
The snow out Deeside, hadn't looked too bad, in fact it had looked sunny to begin with, but as I started the walk up the road the snow came on. At least it was falling vertically I thought.
I made my way through the forest, and saw several fairly large herds of deer feeding on hay that had been put out for the sheep. They were actually scaring the sheep away from it! How delightfully cheeky
As Carn na Drochaide came into view between the trees ( Well it was actually creag a chleirich if you want to be pedantic) the sky had started to look decidedly blue, and by the time I made it out of the trees, there were some fine views of white mounth, Braemar, Lutharn mor, Ghlo.. It was just lovely!
I was just out of the trees, contemplating a tea, but knowing it was too soon, when I was almost attacked by a Capercaillie! I've wanted to see one for such a long time, but as fast as it came, it went, and I was left wondering if it actually happened
The climb up the last 200m of carn na Drochaide was really hard going.. Steep, rocky, big heathery tussocks. I dont think the book says you should climb it that way but it passed soon enough, and after a longer than expected trudge over a couple of lumpy false summits on the plateau, I managed to find the top. By this point the snow was back on, and there were no views to be had. I thought about sticking around for a while to wait for it to clear, but the wind was super icy, so decided to keep moving.
From there I dropped down into Gleann an t-sluigan for some lunch. Many years ago (15 or 20?) I cycled up Gleann a t-sluigain with my dad and stayed in one of the secret Howffs, and I thought it would be a good place for lunch if I could find it again. My memory of the exact location was hazy - I couldnt of pointed to it on a map, but I was sure I could remember what the track looked like where you had to turn off, and we were just talking about it a few weeks ago and my Dad had said it is just where the 't' is in Gleann an t-slugain on the map. I had my doubts as the ground I remember, did not look like the ground that was under the t on the map. I started to wonder if my memories were too old and wharped to be correct (dads never wrong). I searched the area under the t, climbing up and contouring round the area at different Heights. Nothing. I didn't really expect there to be, the ground was all wrong. I sat and had a sandwich and a cuppa to think. I supposed that my dad had a different map. Probably inch to the mile knowing him I looked up the glen, and I saw an area a couple of miles up that looked just like how I remembered. Could this be it? I set off to find out.
The miles passed quicky, and twice I thought it may of been the spot, went uphill and searched, but neither time I was 100% sure it was the right place and neither time was fruitful. The third time I was sure though. I looked up and everything was just like I remembered, the bend in the track, the incline I had just climbed, the view down to the burn below. I started to get excited that I might of found it, and headed up the hill. I searched around for only a couple of minutes beore I saw the gully.. When I got to the gully I noticed a faint path heading up it, when i got to the path I saw the howff! As I got closer though, it was clear that it wasnt the right howff, or not the howff I remember anyways. Mine has a 2 foot high door and no windows, this was a full size gap (where there should of been a door) windows, about twice the size, and nothing like what I remember inside.
Unfortunately though, this howff's roof was mostly absent, but it was really well constructed, with 4 berths. I had heard there were 3 up there somewhere - I had found the wrong one. I sat and ate another piece, had some more tea, and contemplated. I felt completely bamboozled, I was sure I was in the right place, but the Howff had changed somehow. Unsettling. There was evidence that someone had been up recently, and had been working on the place, which is great.. Well done if it was you. I might try and go back in the summer with a few tools myself
After much nosing about, I noticed that it was almost 4 already, so would have to practically run back to get the bus on time.. cripes! The track was icy as hell so I didnt run, but there was definately some haste going on. The GPS recons I made it up to 8.4 mph! (stupid thing) Made it down in time though, the bus driver looked quite shocked getting flagged down by a bedraggled lassie in the middle of nowhere at dusk for some reason. I noticed at this point that my GPS also said I climbed 818m, which is the exact height of carn an Drochaid on the map.. Another weird thing to happen today. It was a good day though, not much hill really, but still good fun.
by Gable Gable End » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:08 am
by basscadet » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:46 am
frozen drinking tube, so must of been chilly outside the buffalo
by gaffr » Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:52 am
by basscadet » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:09 am
gaffr wrote:Looks as if there are now two secret howffs. The one that I stayed in for one night in the early nineties was in a more elevated position and I'm sure that there a was an old rowan tree nearby.....maybe it just isn't there anymore? I don't have any images of it but it looks like the one in your image would not take too much effort to make it habitable again?
I have heard there are 3 howffs. The one I was at previously must exist, I saw pics of another one on an MBA members blog, and then I have found this one. Definately wouldnt need much work to get it ship shape again, the main problem would be getting materials up there, but that is just a case of getting a crew together. Have to sneak it all past Invercauld in the cover of darkness.. Maybe even take the car up to the end of the tarmac Definately a job for the summer though.. I shall think on it, and literally weigh up roofing options
by kevsbald » Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:34 pm
Must take a trip to look around up there.
by malky_c » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:11 pm
Great stuff, must return and have a look sometime. Still not done this hill, so maybe that will give me an excuse.
by basscadet » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:40 pm
I dont think there were any photos of anything anywhere near Derry, I think you are looking up the shots up toward clunie water and glen callater?
It is an unusual view of the area I thought.. I've walked it many times, and didnt realise it looked like this from the other side of the glen
by Cairngormwanderer » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:52 pm
by malky_c » Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:24 pm
basscadet wrote: I think you are looking up the shots up toward clunie water and glen callater?
That's the one . Good thing this wasn't in the 'where's the hill?' quiz
Cairngormwanderer wrote:it is considered very bad form to say publicly where it is.
That's fair enough. This report doesn't really give too much indication though. If I'm ever lucky enough to find it, I have no intention of showing exactly where it is either. I think the approximate area is pretty common knowledge though.
by basscadet » Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:39 pm
Cairngormwanderer wrote:At the risk of sounding sniffy, the 'Secret Howff' may not be the best kept secret in Scottish mountaineering these days, but it is considered very bad form to say publicly where it is. It was built (necessarily) clandestinely in the 1950s and the tradition remains of finding it through your own efforts or being taken/directed there by someone who knows its whereabouts. As far as I know no book, journal or website has had the bad grace to publish its position.
Why do you think I never put up the GPX file of where I went
I know a few folk who would give me a grid reference if I wanted it, that would just be too easy though. I'm sure that my hazy memories will lead me to the right spot eventually and I will enjoy looking for it some more..