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East side story part 1 - the call of Callater

East side story part 1 - the call of Callater


Postby BlackPanther » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:40 pm

Munros included on this walk: Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor

Date walked: 11/03/2012

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 22.5 km

Ascent: 1001m

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Last year in spring we climbed Lochnagar from Glen Muick and I absolutely loved the experience. I wanted to come back to Whitemounth for more :D In February we enjoyed a short jump up snowy Conachcraig, but I couldn't forget about the remaining four Munros waiting for us!
There is a logistical problem with climbing so far east for us: 1. The cost of petrol to drive there 2. The time spent in the car (over 2 hours each way). That's why initially we considered doing the traditional circuit with a re-visit to Lochnagar, have all peaks in the area done and dusted. But a sudden obstacle emerged: I also wanted to explore Glen Callater! With two good, sunny days forecast for 11th and 12th of March, we eventually decided to split the Whitemouth adventure in two parts. The first trip would include Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach and Carn an t-Sagairt Mor with a walk up to Loch Callater, the second one would cover Broad Cairn and Carn Bannoch, and that would also give us an opportunity to visit the impressive cliffs of Creag an Dubh-Loch.
So having solved all logistics, we set off for the Callater trek :D This route involves about 1000m of ascent and is 14 miles long, but there are no technical problems and most of the walking is done on good stalkers paths.

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The car park is situated on the A93 on the south side of the bridge over the Callater Burn and it has a contributory ticket machine. I was a bit curious and checked all the cars already parked, every single one had a ticket behind the windscreen. That made me feel obliged to pay as well, not that the £2.50 charge would dry my pocket :lol:.
Cars in the car park:
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The first part of the walk-in is on a good track and along a lovely river cascading down the glen:
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So the stroll up Glen Callater was a pure pleasure. Weather was "simply the best" as for this time of the year, a bit windy but with sunny spells and temperature reaching double figures it felt more like summer than spring!
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I found it hard to believe that only a week earlier we climbed Beinn Eighe in proper snow and posed for pictures with a snowman on the top of Schiehallion. This year's spring has blossomed so quickly and nature is fully awake now... Winter is truly gone, well, at least for another 6-7 months :lol:
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On the track to Loch Callater, enjoying the spring weather:
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We didn't even notice the passing time and soon we reached Lochcallater Lodge. Here we picked up a well-worn stalkers path which omits the lodge buildings and followed it uphill. Now the real beauty of this glen showed, as we gained height:
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Lochcallater Lodge:
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The path is steep-ish for a short distance...
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...but soon it turns and follows the side of Creag an Loch, with beautiful views down to the Loch:
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It was getting even warmer and we had to stop for a while to remove layers of unnecessary clothing :lol: We could see the bulk of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor now, and with the blue sky above it looked so inviting that my heart was singing. I was ready to meow!
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The path was dry and in very good condition, no real obstacles whatsoever. We crossed the bealach between Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and Creag an Loch and soon we were only a few steps away from ticking another Munro:
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Looking down the path:
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We were high enough now to see past the hills surrounding Glen Callater:
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The distant summit of Cairnwell:
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The final climb is a wee bit rocky. The main stalkers path goes around the summit but all we had to do was to follow old fence posts all the way to the top of the mountain.
There are two cairns at opposite ends of the summit plateau. Not sure which one was the true one, I took my summit pictures with both of them :lol:
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We were now in the very heart of Whitemouth, with Lochnagar to the east of us:
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The next day target - Broad Cairn and Carn Bannoch:
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As seen in pictures, it was very windy on the top! We planned to take a snack break on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, but had to give up that idea and quickly retreat down the eastern slope of the mountain to run away from the wind:
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A lovely view down to Dubh Loch:
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The area was buzzing with mountain hares, I counted over twenty of them when walking on higher ground. They were easy to spot, still wearing their winter fur with little snow left anywhere:
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We crossed the col between Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and Carn an t-Sagairt Beag (which is only 3 m lower than its higher brother) and climbed the bouldery slopes of the latter.
Views from Carn an t-Sagairt Beag:
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Broad Cairn and Carn Bannoch:
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It was getting a bit cloudy on the western side:
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I walked over the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Beag and was so much in the zone that I didn't notice that Kevin was falling behind... When I looked back eventually, I was down in another col, the one between Carn an t-Sagairt Beag and Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, whereas he was still somewhere near the previous top :shock: I sat on a rock and waited for him - he caught up with me, complaining about a sore foot. I inspected his heel and found a big blister :? :?
Even with a swollen heel, my husband didn't even mention turning back! No way! We were only minutes away from the second Munro top anyway, so he played tough cookie for the rest of the day - but I adjusted my pace to his just to make sure I didn't loose him somewhere in the wilderness :lol:
Lochnagar from the col:
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Setting off for the final push:
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The summit of Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach doesn't have much to offer apart from views, the small cairn didn't protect us from the wind but I felt like I deserved a rest:
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This nasty cloud was still lingering about... A bit worrying...
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To find a better shelter for lunch break, we walked along the summit ridge to the edge of Coire Lochan nan Eun. Here, for some time we admired the steep buttresses of The Stuic:
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Looking back to the Munro summit from The Stuic:
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Lochnagar and Loch nan Eun:
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Fascinated by the landscape:
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Lochan an Feadaige:
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Looking NW along the cliffs:
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Panorama:
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Time for a cuppa and some grub:
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The return route looked straightforward. One option was to retrace our steps, the second - to follow stalker's path around the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Beag. I didn't fancy either of these and I talked Kevin into cutting the distance by crossing the northern slopes of Carn an t-Sagairt Beag. I remembered somebody mentioning a plane crash site somewhere near the top of this Munro and i wondered whether we could find any remains.
We didn't really do any proper searching, but just as we walked in straight line, we encountered a few small bits of the plane:
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We carefully crossed a big boulder field on the northern side of t-Sagairt. I wouldn't recommend this way in winter conditions, especially with large amount of snow - boulders are big and with lots of gaps between them it would be easy to slip and end up with a broken limb. In good, dry weather though, we had fun jumping from rock to rock. Kevin noticed one more fragment of the crashed plane:
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Mountain hares watched us with some interest:
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Once we returned to the stalkers path, the rest of the day was plain sailing:
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The gray cloud we saw from the summits never arrived - lucky us! We enjoyed the return trek just as much (even Kevin put his blistered foot out of his mind). Glen Callater bathed in afternoon sunshine:
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Once we got home, I was a little concerned if my husband would be able to face another long walk the following day, but he just shrugged his shoulders, put some germolene on the blister and started packing his rucksack for the next trip!
So that's how the first part of this story ends. The second one will involve the remaining 2 Munros in Whitemounth and another fantastic day. Witnessing the transformation from winter to spring and "being there" out on the hills is one thing that makes my life worth living. Meow!
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BlackPanther
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Re: East side story part 1 - the call of Callater

Postby laconic surf » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:02 pm

Nice report BP. If I remember correctly the wreckage is from a Canberra bomber that went down in early 1956. They never found out what went wrong...
Nice photies too
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laconic surf
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Re: East side story part 1 - the call of Callater

Postby ChrisW » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:16 pm

This is beautiful BP, and for the first time since I left I really did feel homesick looking around my favourite area in almost the exact same conditions as when I was up there......I'm heading for part 2 right now :D
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ChrisW
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Re: East side story part 1 - the call of Callater

Postby Bod » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:44 am

Good thinking BlackPanther, explore more of the area and don't miss out on locations like Glen Callater.....I'm planning a revisit to these two doing something similar to this, though I fancy starting at Invercauld bridge and finishing in Glen Callater or vice-versa? Would need two cars though, or a very help friend in Braemar and mates in Braemar have moved to Inverness :D :D :lol:
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