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Up the Herdsman the wrong way at 4 years old
by dogplodder » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:35 pm
Route description: Meall a' Bhuachaille circuit, Glenmore
Corbetts included on this walk: Meall a'Bhuachaille
Date walked: 08/09/20125 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Two of my grandsons and two of their pals had already had a taster up a wee hill at Abriachan and were now asking to climb something bigger - a proper mountain! I wanted somewhere not too far away that had a good path and gave good views from the top. The Corbett Meall a' Bhuachaille ticked all these boxes and had the added bonus of magical Lochan an Uaine on the way up. So when MWIS predicted 80% cloud free tops for the Cairngorms on Saturday we decided to go for it.
Meall a' Bhuachaille is highest point on ridge opposite as seen from Cairngorm car park
I'd walked the ridge in 2004 starting from the west end and I'd climbed Meall a' Bhuachaille in 2009 going up via Ryvoan so felt confident about the route.
Meall a' Bhuachaille summit in 2009
I printed out the Walkhighlands map and route in duplicate, gave a copy to one of the parents and kept a copy myself. We parked at the Visitor centre which costs £2 a car but felt it was worth it for the children to have access to civilised toilets at the start. The idea of civilised toilets proved to be less of a draw to the children who unanimously "didn't need" and it was left to a parent to prudently avail themselves of this privilege.
We reckoned that the 4 and 5 year olds might not manage the full walk so the plan was to walk up via Lochan an Uaine and stop for food at Ryvoan bothy where there would be a choice of going on to climb the hill or returning to Loch Morlich to play on the beach. That was the plan.
Leaving the car park at the Visitor centre the WH instruction is to skirt round to the left of the building and find a path heading steeply uphill with a blue and orange marker post. This we did. The path climbs up through pinewoods until it reaches a track where you are told to turn right.
I tucked the map away, left compass at bottom of rucksack and chatted to the kids about the interesting things we were going to see on the way to the hill - the Green Lochan and Ryvoan bothy. I have absolutely no memory of coming to the track where we were to take a right turn, assumed we were on the right path and just kept walking up though the trees, for most of the time with the children slightly in the lead.
Little people leading the way to climb their first 'mountain'
Calum (5), Daniel (7), Finlay (4) and Katie (6)
Katie and Calum's parents - dad carrying daughter's rucksack - but that's what dads are for!
Somewhere about this point I began to feel uneasy about the terrain. It didn't look right for approaching Lochan an Uaine by either of the two paths we could have taken to it. And that was because we were heading firmly up the Allt Coire Chondlaich path. We were doing the walk the wrong way round. If it had just been the kids I might have got away with it but there was no disguising my mistake to their parents who must have wondered how someone who'd done the walk twice before could get it so wrong.
We decided the best thing was to keep going. All the kids were doing well and maybe this approach would mean we would all do the climb together as there wasn't the same obvious turn back point as at Ryvoan bothy.
Out of the woods on to open hillside
View of Loch Morlich opening up
View from ridge of Cairngorm's northern corries and Braeriach
We had a brief pit stop to refuel once we reached the ridge then followed the path to the summit. Thanks to the path maintenance folk there were no difficulties on the way and it wasn't long before we were tucking into more food in the large windshelter at the top.
Made it to the top of the Hill of the Herdsman at 810 metres
No mean feat for 4 year old Finlay and 5 year old Calum
These two still had energy to play around the cairn while their parents sat inside!
View west to Aviemore and continuation of ridge
On such a beautiful Saturday a popular hill like this was busy and we passed many people on the way up. Some were finding it a stiff climb and expressed surprise to see small children trotting down the path having already been to the top! Coming down that path we were in no doubt the way we'd gone up was easier for the kids.... and we still had the bothy and Green Lochan as incentives to keep them going.
Lochan an Uaine down below
Katie developed a blister but with the aid of a special hill walker's plaster (always carry a supply of them ) she kept up a good pace and with the occasional distraction of holding one of the dogs' leads or a walking pole we made it to the bottom without mishap.
Looking down zig zag path to Ryvoan bothy
I'd told the kids the Mountain Bothy Association like folk to check out bothies to make sure they are tidy. They handled this responsibility most conscientiously checking what was inside, noting the bag of tea bags sitting on the shelf and expressing concern about the number of empty bottles left standing in the corner.
Then they nipped up to check the roof
While dad sat with the dogs and applied sun screen
Next motivational gambit was to find the Green Lochan or (since Katie and Calum are at Gaelic school) we used its proper title Lochan an Uaine.
Heading down the path to find Lochan an Uaine
The lochan was a big hit with the children and the dogs.
Tess wanting a stick thrown in for her to retrieve
But not quite as far as my cricketer son threw that one!
It was such an idyllic spot we all agreed that if we'd come to the lochan first (as planned) it would have been difficult to persuade the younger children to go any further!
Calum sitting on beach at lochan. Is that a scattering of fairy dust around him?
We had told the children about the vivid green colour which has given the lochan its name but from the east end this was not all that obvious. You have to walk to its west end to get the true effect of the colour.
Legend has it the green colour is due to the dye running when the fairies wash their clothes. Either that or because they use mild green Fairy Liquid.
Looking to east end of lochan where beach is
From the lochan there was still a fair way to go and we had the added complication of a bike race going on which meant keeping in to the side to let them pass. Holding Jack and Tess on their leads then became a useful distraction - along with the promise of ice cream when we got back to the Visitor centre.
Well earned ice cream!
It was a fabulous day that worked out better than it might have done due to missing a turning. A good example of the way our best laid schemes are sometimes over-ruled to give us something better.
by mrssanta » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:40 pm
by PeteR » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:47 pm
Oh, and what's all this about the wrong way? Surely there's no right or wrong way up or down a hill. Clearly I must be doing something wrong
by davedanson28 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:50 am
by dogplodder » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:21 am
mrssanta wrote:superb what a cracking day and a great adventure, hope you have many more with that crowd!
Hope so too Mrs S.... and suspect when they're grown up I'll be wanting to get out there with my zimmer frame!
by dogplodder » Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:06 pm
PeteR wrote:Oh, and what's all this about the wrong way? Surely there's no right or wrong way up or down a hill. Clearly I must be doing something wrong
I agree Pete, there's no right and wrong way. It's just that I intended to do it the WH way round (anticlockwise) but missed the turning and felt a proper numptie!
by Graeme D » Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:16 pm
by pollyh33 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:23 pm
Its brilliant to see the kids (of all ages!) having such a good time
As for the lochan, I was totally blown away by how beautiful it is. Definitely worth doing this walk just to sit on those shores
by dogplodder » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:36 pm
davedanson28 wrote:Cracking! kids in the great outdoors is the best way! Well done to all concerned!
Thanks Dave. It's great to see them enjoying it and just hope it sows seeds for the future.
by dogplodder » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:39 pm
Graeme D wrote:Kids up Corbetts and in bothies! Marvellous!
But don't think we're going to beat your Ailsa at 18 months!
by 147cjl » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:15 pm
by dogplodder » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:23 am
pollyh33 wrote:As for the lochan, I was totally blown away by how beautiful it is. Definitely worth doing this walk just to sit on those shores
We could easily have spent all day there and if we'd done the walk the way we thought we were doing it don't think we'd have got the kids to go any further!
by BlackPanther » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:35 am
The Herdsman is one of my favourite "quickies", not to mention the Green Lochan - it looks like there's much less water in the loch since my last visit in January, but the colour is just as green.
We'll have two weeks of holidays since next Saturday so weather allows, we'll venture into the Cairngorms - can't wait
by Huff_n_Puff » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:46 pm
You seem to have an unerring ability to do walk reports on routes that I've been mulling over - and with great photos too, a big thank you for that I'm planning this one for later this year, if I don't give way to the temptation you've thrown in my path an go up this weekend