Some time ago I was diagnosed with a nasty bug called "Munroclimbus crazus" or, if one wants to be less specific, "Hillclimbus nuttus". There's not much that can be done to cure me and to soothe the symptoms, regular hillwalking is suggested. Over the last year or so, I took this treatment to the extreme, getting really angry if I had to live through a longer period of time without touching a cairn or two
On a serious note, if hillwalking is an addiction, it certainly classifies as a healthy one. As long as you know where you're going
I knew exactly where I wanted to go last Sunday and it was The Buck of Cabrach. Having done a few of neighbouring hills (Coryhabbie, Ben Rinnes, Ladder Hills) I remembered the pointy shape of this little mountain...
The Buck from Coryhabbie Hill, September 2011:
I know, it is a very modest target, with only 300m of ascent, but I really fancied it for a winter day. As forecast looked promising on Sunday morning, we also planned to visit another hill just around the corner, Tap o'Noth. But let's start from The Buck.
It still snowed early in the morning and as we left Beauly, driving conditions didn't look so great. Just past the Carrbridge junction roads weren't gritted and we had to slow to 30 mph (better safe than sorry). It improved past Grantown, still by the time we eventually reached the Buck it was past 10 o'clock.
I wasn't really worried about time - it's a short, straightforward ascent. Space for car parking alongside the narrow road is limited, but there was only one other car parked (surprisingly, as I expected the hill to be busy, it's a great viewpoint).
Careful driving required on minor roads:
The route starts at a wooden gate - locked, so some climbing abilities required:
Even from the bottom of the hill, some good views NE, snowed-in fields and Tap o'Noth on the horizon:
Certainly an interesting little hill, this Tap chap
The Buck, on the other hand, didn't make a great impression on me, when seen from below. Just a bump in the ground but for "Hillclimbus nuttus" sufferer any hill will do!
We quickly found a boggy path and followed it along the fence:
I kept glancing back to have another look at Tap chap:
Higher up, the ground was less boggy and provided pleasant walking. It was a wee bit windy but I wasn't going to complain:
Soon, we arrived on the summit:
The crags on the top form some interesting shapes:
Kevin by the trig point:
The mysterious carvings in the rock:
Weather started to improve significantly and we spent a while on the summit of The Buck, lovely views in all directions. We had a laugh playing "guess which mountain"
Tap o'Noth again:
Cloudy Ben Rinnes:
Panorama from the summit:
Eventually I insisted on descending and going to Tap o'Noth, even though views were stunning. The Buck may be an easy hill, but well worth climbing!
On the way down, we simply retraced our footprints:
Here we come, Tap chap, here we come...
The Buck in sunlight:
Recording the last moments of winter... With temperatures up to +10*C today, not much chance to see white landscape again!
The drive between the two hills only takes about 10 min (or more like 20 for us as roads still were not gritted). The sky was now nicely blue and the sun shone...
The car park for Tap o'Noth is signposted, with space for, I guess, 7-8 cars and explanatory boards. The route again is very easy, some boggy ground to start with but soon one joins a well-worn track circling the hill. This track will take you straight up to the summit. But let's do it properly.
The narrow access road to the parking area:
The route starts here:
Just one not so little obstacle to overcome
Looking down the track with The Buck in the background:
Mount Keen? I'm not sure...
The Tap chap revealed
The track passes a couple of gates:
...and higher up views are simply awesome, especially towards The Buck:
Ben Rinnes, now clear of all cloud:
After only about 300m of ascent on a good track, the reward is waiting! Summit views are superb. Additionally, for those interested in archaeology, there is an iron age fort on the top, with some very impressive rocky ramparts. The site was excavated many times since the 60-s and remains of many houses have been found.
More info on the fort here:
Bennachie from Tap o'Noth:
I was impressed...
...and enjoyed the moment! here, posing with the impressive stone wall:
More stuff to record...
The trig point is situated on the western end of the wall encircling the summit platform:
These walls may be even 3000 years old!
Kevin enjoyed his day as well and he didn't complain or moan about anything this time (apart from being hungry, but I quickly quieted him down with a box of homemade doughnuts). He even allowed me to use his precious camera and take some pictures, probably to keep me busy while he tackled his sugar rings
Me &The Buck of Cabrach:
It was a wonderful feeling when we walked down the track, marveling at the landscape around, truly touched by winter... But we also found one unmistakeable proof that spring is waiting just around the corner:
Now I feel much better, with symptoms of "Hillclimbus nuttus" gone for a time being. As for The Buck and Tap o'Noth - two highly recommended little hills, great fun for anybody, fantastic viewpoints. Just go out there and enjoy!
Sadly, the winter wonderland we experienced on Sunday must be gone by now, my digi-temp is showing +12*C at the moment. On the other hand - I'm ready for spring and for more challenging expeditions. Meow!
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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.