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The Return, A White Mounth 5 Adventure.
by ScottishLeaf » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:26 am
Route description: White Mounth Munros, Glen Muick
Munros included on this walk: Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch, Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Lochnagar
Date walked: 01/06/2013
Time taken: 10 hours
Distance: 29 km
Ascent: 1230m3 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).
For Alan and Gary, it was a return to Scotland from N. Ireland to see one of our most iconic mountains. While George and Chantell, it was a return to the hills for their first big walk since the birth of their son. The White Mounth 5 had gotten away from me almost exactly a year previous, when I had only managed to bag the first 2, plus the corbett.
For Dawn, well it was a return to the mountains after the ones last week!
The first wee section, heads out past the end of Loch Muick up to a derelict hunting lodge, then skirts round about the building through a short section of path through the forest. Soon after this the only burn serious burn water obstacle of the day is reached, a crossing of the Allt na Guibhsaich.
All safely across, we began the trek round the side of the corbett Connaghcraig, for a short while the path follows the side of a small ravine, Glas Rathadan. The path is strewn with small, loose rock and makes for mildly tricky going in places. As the corbett is rounded, it is forgotten. All eyes directed more or less dead ahead, as the rocky peak of the Meikle Pap comes into view.
Lochnagar, also offers a tantalising glimpse of the it's finest feature from here as well. The very tips of the tall crags above Lochnagar Corrie and Loch just visible. The secondary summit of Cac Carn Mor on the end of these cliffs.
After not too much effort a large cairn is reached by the side of the track, at a cross road and fleetingly the corbett is flickers back into your mind as you realise the tiny right hand path takes you to it's summit. The route straight ahead descends down towards Balmoral, so a left hand turn is taken. Heading obviously over towards the bealach between the Meikle Pap and the base of The Ladder.
The good path begins on a slight descent, then begins climbing again on a gradient that steepens a bit as the the bealach is approached.
Despite the increasing gradient, our pace increased as we anticipated the spectacle about to befall us, the great casm that is Lochnagar Corrie, with the loch of the same name down below. The main path continues up to the left, but thousands of feet have worn a dirt path across the bealach to try and gain the best possible vantage of the three Lochnagars. Winter had even been kind enough to leave behind some artistically placed snow patches, to highlight and underline the beauty of the location. There is something magical about this place, especially in the sunshine. As you might expect, numerous photies were taken!
Even from here, the gigantic cairn atop Cac Carn Mor is visible.
Shame it's not the summit, cause that is one epic cairn!
Tearing ourselves away from the corrie was a difficult chore, but it had to be done in order to bag the first munro of the day and soon we were climbing steeply up The Ladder and reaching the height of the Meikle Pap across the col.
Lochnagar is a generous mountain though, stunningly beautiful and it doesn't keep this steep stuff up for long. Soon the ladder is scaled and the path leads out onto the plateau of the White Mounth. We split into two groups here, three followed the rim of the corrie up the rocky slope, while the other three followed the main path to be greeted by "stunning" views of what would be the second munro of the day, Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach (CCB.) There can hardly be a more overshadowed, ignored and virtually irrelevant munro in Scotland than CCB.
The well maintained path heads past these fabulous views and gently corkscrews round the back of Cac Carn Mor, approaching it well away from the corrie's edge. Here we teamed back up with the thrill seeking, corrie rimmers.
From here it's a short walk, across the plateau, before a clamber up onto a tor, to reach the real summit of Lochnagar, Cac Carn Beag. This would be my first ever repeat!
Our easy pace had gotten us to the top in a fraction under 3 hours.
We sat and ate our lunch, enjoying the views and the banter, but we knew we'd have to be going fairly sharply in order to get the round done in at a decent hour. So we set off, for our riveting appointment with CCB, at least from this angle the cliff of The Stuic and Loch nan Eun add a little drama to the scene.
Barely half an hour later, we had wound our way down another good path and were standing at the top of CCB. It's worth sticking to the path, as cutting the corner onto CCB more directly is boggier and muckier than it looks, as I found out last time I was here!
From here even the The Stuic looks a non-event.
The busy, but uninspiring summit of CCB was quickly left behind and we were on our way back to the main path and heading for munro number 3 of the day, Carn an t-Saigairt Mor (CSM.) We made the short and easy descent back to the main path and began heading roughly west, hoping that the weather would hold as we watched the clouds roll in.
A fair wee bit of height is lost into the bealach between CCB and CSM and there was still a good amount of snow lying in this sheltered area and we had crossed the Allt an Da Chraobh Bheath without even realising it until we saw it magically appear from out underneath the snow sheet.
Looking back, CCB was still failing to inspire, but at least the snow added something to the scene. Lochnagar still looked a decent pointy peak from even down here in the hollow between two of it's poor neighbours.
When the path curved round Carn t-Saigairt Beag and reached the bottom of CSM, taller than it's wee brother by a whole 3m, again we split into two packs of three. Some followed round to the path, while we struck off straight up hill over the quite steep grassy slopes. In jig time we were at the first of the twin summit cairns of CSM.
When the others had rejoined us, we investigated the second summit cairn and part of the aeroplane wreckage that is dotted across the northern portion of CSM. Not many hills can claim an plane's wing as their best known feature, CSM can. However, it's a sobering thought to think of the life lost here in January 1956.
Remarkably the wreckage shows barely any sign of corrosion and will no doubt be here for a long, long while to come unless it is removed by man and that would leave CSM nearly as boring as CCB.
We found a sheltered spot on the southern side of CSM, to munch second lunch. With views of the two remaining munros of the day; Cairn Bannoch and Broad Cairn; their rocky summits promised of two better munros to come.
As we sat though, the weather finally broke and it was on with the waterproofs. In the dip between CSM and Cairn Bannoch we came across the only wee patch of boggy ground we'd experience all day. A black gooey ribbon of mush and mud that was crossed in only a a couple of minutes.
Once across this it's a straight forward pull up easy slopes to the rocky peak that is the summit of Cairn Bannoch, with only the odd boulder to provide any kind of obstacle. Apart from the stoney summit peak, it's another almost featureless hill and the broad rising plateau up to the summit means the path isn't as well defined as it had been up until this point. We had good visibilty though and we made straight for the rocky top.
With the wind and rain still on, we didn't hang about the summit of Cairn Bannoch too long. Though the views up and down the glen were decent. Cairn Bannoch probably gives the best view of CCB and I felt noticibly lower down than I did on the summit of CCB or CSM. The route also felt like a bit of a circumnavigation of CCB at this point!
Heading on, once again on a good path, we made for Broad Cairn. This final munro of the day seemed to hold promise as to being a far more distinguished than the three we had experienced since leaving Lochnagar behind.
The rain was, at least, at our backs as we made our way across the plateau, passing by the minor summit of Cairn of Gowal and onto Broad Cairn. Another easy ascent up a broad ridge.... it's a well named hill.... and once again I was standing at the top of another tor and the fifth munro of the day.
I was closely followed by the rest of the gang and Broad Cairn had a final treat in store for us, a magnificent rainbow, very vivid in the sky above us and it's end appeared to lie right on the path down to Loch Muick.
Even without the rainbow, Broad Cairn has great views down Loch Muick and back up the glen to Cairn Bannoch, CSM and CCB. Easily the second best munro on the round and would probably be far better known if it weren't right next door to Lochnagar! Mayar & Dreish looked surprisingly near and what must be the upper lip of Corrie Fee could be made out below Mayar.
From here, we made our way down the tin shed/barn at Sandy's Hillock, hoping to find the rainbow's pot of gold. (Nae luck there!) We instead stopped to decide on whether to take the High Road or the Low Road back to the car and to take the waterproofs off due to the minor miracle of the sun reappearing.
Upon the advice of a fellow walker, we opted for the High Road and it was a good call in the sunshine. We were treating to fab views up and down Loch Muick as well as a glimpse down into Glen Doll as we made the pretty, but long walk back to Spittal of Glenmuick.
Then right at the end, we were treated to seeing Rudolph, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen etc enjoying their summer holidays. Only 6 months before they're pressed back into service you know!
So in almost exactly 10 hours, our return to the hills was complete and a grand day was had by all. Happy Days!
PS Special thanks to Alan McKee for letting me use some of his photographs in writing this report. Most of the good ones are his!
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