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Arctic Hares, Scary Grouse, Charred Heather and wet feet!

Arctic Hares, Scary Grouse, Charred Heather and wet feet!


Postby jakeyboy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:04 pm

Route description: Creag nan Gabhar circuit

Corbetts included on this walk: Creag nan Gabhar

Date walked: 25/03/2012

Time taken: 5.15 hours

Distance: 14.5 km

Ascent: 479m

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My first outing of 2012, and with nobody available to go with me, I went through the agony of deciding what I should tackle. I went from Corbett to Long Walk, back to Corbett, perhaps a nice Graham would be more sensible for my first this year. Break me in gently I thought. I briefly back-tracked to Corbett and then settled on the Cairnwell Munros!! :lol:

Aye, no wonder your laughing! When I got to the Ski Centre at Glenshee on what had promised to be a beautiful day, I was met with a cold un-welcoming wind, and thick fog which started behind the Ski Centre and just seemed to thicked as I looked up towards the summits! :( I went back to the car and sat for a while pondering my position. If I wasn't on my own, It may have been feasable to attempt the hills in the hope that the fog would have cleared, and I would have found myself in the wonderful position of capturing some much sought-after inversion photos. But I was on my own, and simply not experienced enough, nor blessed with adequate navigation skills, so I did the sensible thing and left the Ski Centre somewhat downcast and disappointed, (as much in myself as in the weather at not doing my homework better) :?
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The deserted Ski Centre


Luckily, I had prepared better in other ways, in that I had an alternative, (just in case!) in the shape of the Creag nan Gabhar circuit.

As I headed back down towards Braemar, I realised that I had prepared this alternative, and so I pulled in to the carpark at Auchallater and although it was still very dull, I thought I'd take the chance and walk in a bit rather than just dismiss it! After all, I hadn't come all the way from Nairn just to go back hill-less (?)
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Still looking dull at the start


Feeling a lot better now, and with a new-found confidence in the weather clearing, I headed up the path. I must say, If I hadn't stopped to take some pictures of a jogger coming up behind me, I would have completely missed the start point of the ascent! As it was, I realised immediately that this was the turn off point, and away I went shaking my head at my own apparent incompetence! :? "Simply out of practice" I reassured myself, and set about tackling the zig-zag path up to Sron Dubh and the start of the ridge.

SInce the spring is springing all over the place just now, mating Grouse are in abundance, and bloody hell do they give you a fright! Suddenly diving out of the heather, their alarm calls are enough to scare the bejeezus out of you :shock: until you somehow seem to get used to it! And I saw more than one of the wee buggers simply lurking around in a suspicious manner :lol:
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It's that Grouse from the advert!


As I carried on along the very broad ridge, a new-found exhileration filled me, and I realised that all you need are the sights and sounds of the Scottish hillsides to enliven your spirits again! :D I was even relishing my next outing before I was even fully under way on this one! :)

If scary Grouse weren't bad enough, I nearly soiled my drawers when an Arctic Hare the size of a bloody horse suddenly dived from the undergrowth and took off like Seabiscuit up the path ahead of me!! (Ok, a horse is an exagerration, but jeez it was big!) Just as well I was completely alone up there with my ungodly expletives resounding across the Cairngorms!! :lol:
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This one stood still and was a long way off


So anyway, the views were beginning to open up despite the low cloud. Although I still wasn't getting the views back towards Braemar and the North that I had hoped for. I did notice that as I advanced, the fog seemed to be dropping below the Munro summits ahead of me which briefly brought back the disappointment from earlier. Still, the sounds of the wildlife and the familiar smell of charred heather kept the sense of freedom alive and I tramped on towards the summit.
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A panorama showing the surrounding conditions


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Looking to the summit


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The Summit Cairn


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The nearest I'll get to an inversion!


I was rewarded with superb views from the summit, though not as clear as I'd hoped. And of course, there were views of The Cairnwell and it's buddies to taunt me! On reflection though, I doubt my fitness would have sufficed on such a first outing. But so far, I was pleased with my progress on this, the chosen Corbett. After some lunch on a windy summit cairn, it was time for the descent.

I must say, I was a little confused by the walkhighlands notes on the descent and found myself worryingly off course crossing the "boggy shoulder". Not a problem of course, as I was heading to Loch Callater and could see my way clearly enough. I just didn't meet up with the main track until a lot later than I had anticipated. But join it I did. :?

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The Cairnwell


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Loch Callater


Looking across to the Bothy, I noted lots of bodies milling around, and I deduced this was likely a party of kids. Not being particularly partial to the company of possible inner-city neds in the great outdoors, I decided against the visit to the bothy and loch. I had wanted to have a wee look around Braemar as well and thought I would save the extra time for that. Besides, I was enjoying the solitude and saw no need for it to be shattered by company. My task was almost complete anyway so I continued along the track. (Those of you whom have read the guide, will now know what happens next :? ) That great feeling of being a tiny speck in a vast landscape hit me as the views North along Glen Callater opened up! But I had wished I'd read the notes more carefully when I reached the "un-bridged ford" along the track! too stubborn to go back to the path and bridge, I opted to chance crossing the ford! :shock: So, half way across I realised I was just going to have to trust a small leap forward and........... sploosh! Yep, feet soaked! :lol:

Luckily my brand new Meindl boots proved their worth, but some water got in over the ankle and my feet did get a little uncomfortably wet. :? We live and learn eh?
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Looking North up the glen


As I arrived back at the car, I congratulated myself on my first outing of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and have added another Corbett to my quota. The initial disappointment of the day gone completely, I now look forward to a full and busy year of weekend and holiday climbing!
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jakeyboy
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 68
Munros:11   Corbetts:3
Grahams:4   
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Location: Nairn

Re: Arctic Hares, Scary Grouse, Charred Heather and wet feet

Postby Tomsie » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:20 pm

Jakeyboy good decision if you wernt too confident going to do the Cairnwells as they say it will always be there for another day, sill good that you got a good walk in anyway. I'll be doing most of my next walks in Braemar area welcome to tag along or look out on the meeting up forum.
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Tomsie
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Posts: 1162
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Re: Arctic Hares, Scary Grouse, Charred Heather and wet feet

Postby jakeyboy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:46 pm

Tomsie wrote:Jakeyboy good decision if you wernt too confident going to do the Cairnwells as they say it will always be there for another day, sill good that you got a good walk in anyway. I'll be doing most of my next walks in Braemar area welcome to tag along or look out on the meeting up forum.


Cheers Tomsie! I'm glad I'm no that daft after all! I couldn't go home without climbing something either though :lol: Aye, that was my first time climbing in the Braemar area, be glad to meet up if I'm there again I'll let you know.
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jakeyboy
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Posts: 68
Munros:11   Corbetts:3
Grahams:4   
Joined: Sep 9, 2010
Location: Nairn

Re: Arctic Hares, Scary Grouse, Charred Heather and wet feet

Postby ScottishLeaf » Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:12 pm

Great pic of the wildlife, the closest I got this weekend was just about flattening a grouse on Schuehallion road!
Looks like the views were decent too :)
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ScottishLeaf
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Re: Arctic Hares, Scary Grouse, Charred Heather and wet feet

Postby jakeyboy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:23 pm

Also watched this beastie for a while! Not sure what it is, but didn't look that big. Maybe just a Buzzard? Any wildlife experts out there?
DSCF4323.JPG
Just a Buzzard?
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jakeyboy
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Posts: 68
Munros:11   Corbetts:3
Grahams:4   
Joined: Sep 9, 2010
Location: Nairn

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