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The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience


Postby laconic surf » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:42 pm

Route description: The Cairnwell Munros

Munros included on this walk: Carn a'Gheoidh, Carn Aosda, The Cairnwell

Date walked: 03/07/2012

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Distance: 11.5 km

Ascent: 621m

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With MWIS predicting a total peasouper on Tuesday, I cancelled any plans for something picturesque in the Glencoe/Fort William area and chose to head to The Cairnwell pass. Sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. Having done Meall Bhuidhe in total clag and rain 2 weeks ago and then last weeks beautiful outing to the Buachaille, this was firmly back in the rough :lol: With this horrific summer weather we've been having I seem to be getting through hills I had saved for winter at some rate :?
Parked up at the Ski centre with thick cloud waiting up above for me.

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Off into the clag. I may be some time...

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Headed up the short but fairly steep path with a last look at the ground below. It would turn out to be the last I would see of virtually anything for the next few hours

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Bye-bye view



Map, compass and GPS at the ready, I realised that the summit of Carn Aosda should be just up on my right. I had read a comment on someone else's report of this round that Carn Aosda was at it's most beautiful when completely covered in cloud :lol: All I can say it must be one ugly hill :lol:
Here's the summit evidence picture and not a lot else...

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Summit cairn

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Harvey at Carn Aosda


Turning round I followed the fence line as a guide. I could see the first chairlift pole and that was it. The path was clearly defined and I occasionally glanced down at my GPS to ensure I was still on track. The wind picked up slightly and for a brief second I was able to reference where I was as Loch Vrotachan appeared down to my right.

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Loch Vrotachan

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Going, going, gone



I then reached the junction where I was to turn off to head out into a more remote location to reach Carn a'Gheoidh. Not that it made a difference that I was heading into a wilder area - I could have been on the moon for all I could see. The occasional rock and patch of grass suggested I was still on Earth and so I mentally map marked and followed the GPS waypoints. There was a clear track to follow though I could only see it for about 10 metres in front. What at first I thought was a giant bog appeared on my right so I steered well clear of it, but then a slight gust revealed a little more and I realised it must be one of the little lochans on the map.

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Another mental map mark and I carried on into the gloom. Shortly after this, the path disappeared and I was left with little to work with. With no more points to reference on the map it was now down to total faith in the GPS. I knew it was pretty much a straight line I had to walk so I just picked out objects like a bit of quartz on the ground ahead and strode towards them. Funnily enough I never felt at any point uncomfortable or panicky. I think having done a walk or two in pea soup really builds your confidence and means you can get out in the hills whatever the weather. That said I was glad to have Harvey with me for a bit of company. When you can see nothing it's nice to know your not completely on your own.
At this point I thought I could hear voices but when I stopped to listen I couldn't hear anything. Checking the map I reckoned I was just below the top of Carn nan Sac so there may have been people up there. I carried on passing a couple of waymarking cairns. Occasionally I could feel myself climbing even if I couldn't see what it was I was going up :lol:

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something craggy up ahead



Eventually another cairn appeared out of the mist and checking the GPS told me I had finally reached the summit of Carn a'Gheoidh.

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Summit of Carn a'Gheoidh


There is a small wind shelter here, where I had a drink before heading back the way I came. Before long the threat of rain became real. I went to get my waterproofs out my pack when the bar steward of a zip got stuck :( I wrestled with it for a few minutes and got a good lashing of rain before I freed it and was able to get the proofs on. Felt a wee bit sorry for the dog as he was proper soakit but I knew he'd rather be out with me in this than stuck in the house. I thought I could hear voices again but nobody appeared. I then freaked myself out as I thought I could hear a huge dog or wild beast rustling/breathing behind me before I worked out it was the sound of my wet pack rubbing on my soaked jacket as I walked :lol: :lol:

Trusting the GPS I followed the waypoints until I picked up the path by the Lochan again. I came to the path junction before heading up the side of The Cairnwell. The path appeared to be a very narrow route on the side of the hill and in one or two places I had to use my hands to steady myself over wet rocks. Finally I could make out a line of fences and a huge path so I followed this to just below the summit. A short climb and I was climbing over the debris at the top. I had half thought about getting a little shelter in the hut at the top but as usual it was full of junk and what seat was left looked drenched anyway.

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With no reason to hang about I headed down to the top of the chairlift. Here I met a couple of guys who were doing the circuit in reverse. The rain had just begun to tail off and it looked as though the cloud may have begun to lift so hopefully they had better conditions for their round than I did. After a wee chat with them, I was ready to head down. I knew the slope was steep, not that I could see the ground below. I had kept the dog on the lead so far as I didn't want him running off into the clag. I decided to let him off here though as otherwise he was likely to pull me over and it was a long slide down. I managed to kick a rock and it tumbled down the slope and disappeared into the mist. The dog, thinking it was something running away chased after it and disappeared :lol:
I took my time climbing down as it was very wet and steep

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The way down



Eventually I came out below the cloud base and saw a view for the first time in just over three hours. Harvey was waiting at the bottom for me, apparently deciding the rock was not worth eating :D

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Looking back at The Cairnwell

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Carn Aosda finally revealing itself



Arriving back at the car I was pleased with a good day out. Saw nowt but it was actually a fun walk and great navigational experience. But next week can we have some sun please, it is July after all :wink:
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laconic surf
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Re: The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

Postby pollyh33 » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:50 pm

Hello Award Winning LS!

Yes I did these three with my daughter in almost identical conditions and I must say she was seriously underwhelmed by the whole experience!!! She didn't even bother going to the summit of the Cairnwell even though it was only about 10/15 mins away!!! Wise decision!! :crazy:

As you say, better than staying in the house- just!! :lol:
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Re: The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:24 pm

Your photos look spooky :shock:
We did these three last winter and though the cloud was patchy, still we almost got lost returning from Carn a'Gheoidh. We wandered off to the summit of Carn nan Sac instead of going straight to Carn Aosda. One good navigation training :lol:
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Re: The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

Postby basscadet » Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:36 pm

Oh, another fine report there.. :clap:
Out of all the local hills, I think these are the only ones I wouldn't want to go back to.. I had a claggy day too, I see a pattern emerging :think:
:lol:
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Re: The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

Postby simon-b » Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:12 pm

A good foggy story, LS!

And a pretty accurate description of the top of the Cairnwell. But did you notice how the hares and ptarmigans still stay around, despite the artificial developments?

At least the Cairnwell Pass was below the cloud. With those huge car parks and no white lines, it's sometimes hard to tell where the road is when driving over it.
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Re: The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

Postby laconic surf » Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:25 pm

pollyh33 wrote:Hello Award Winning LS!

Yes I did these three with my daughter in almost identical conditions and I must say she was seriously underwhelmed by the whole experience!!! She didn't even bother going to the summit of the Cairnwell even though it was only about 10/15 mins away!!! Wise decision!! :crazy:

As you say, better than staying in the house- just!! :lol:


Thanks P :D
Your report was one I re-read before I went as knew the conditions were similar. Not a round, particularly in that weather, to get someone addicted to the hills. It takes a while to build up that level of masochism :lol:


BlackPanther wrote:Your photos look spooky :shock:
We did these three last winter and though the cloud was patchy, still we almost got lost returning from Carn a'Gheoidh. We wandered off to the summit of Carn nan Sac instead of going straight to Carn Aosda. One good navigation training :lol:


Easily done BP, particularly when the path runs out :shock: All good experience though :wink:


basscadet wrote:Oh, another fine report there.. :clap:
Out of all the local hills, I think these are the only ones I wouldn't want to go back to.. I had a claggy day too, I see a pattern emerging :think:
:lol:


Cheers BC. Yep not one i'll rush back too, though doing it in the in zero viz gives a bit of excitement that's probably lacking normally :lol:


simon-b wrote:A good foggy story, LS!

And a pretty accurate description of the top of the Cairnwell. But did you notice how the hares and ptarmigans still stay around, despite the artificial developments?

At least the Cairnwell Pass was below the cloud. With those huge car parks and no white lines, it's sometimes hard to tell where the road is when driving over it.


Cheers. Funny you should mention that, the only noise that could be heard was the constant squeaking of the grouse, probably cos the dog was around, not that either me or him could see where they were :lol:
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Re: The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

Postby jonny616 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:46 pm

Nice wee leg stretch shame about the clag, but not much to see there anyway 8)
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Re: The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

Postby Lenore » Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:41 pm

Glad you had a good day despite the weather. I'll help you hope for better weather though ;-) Am flying to Scotland on Sunday and will try to bring some sunshine from the continent haha!
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Re: The Cairn Ne'er do Well and the Clag Experience

Postby laconic surf » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:09 pm

jonny616 wrote:Nice wee leg stretch shame about the clag, but not much to see there anyway 8)


Aye, that's why I chose it, save the nice days for great views - good fun this in the clag mind :D



Lenore wrote:Glad you had a good day despite the weather. I'll help you hope for better weather though ;-) Am flying to Scotland on Sunday and will try to bring some sunshine from the continent haha!


Please do :lol:
Safe flight and have fun in Kintail - I look forward to hearing about it. Can't wait to be up on the ridge next week myself 8)
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