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Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some!

Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some!


Postby malky_c » Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:14 pm

Munros included on this walk: Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, Lochnagar

Corbetts included on this walk: Conachcraig

Grahams included on this walk: Geallaig Hill

Date walked: 11/07/2013

Time taken: 10.25 hours

Distance: 36 km

Ascent: 2100m

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With Gill away for the week, I had the car again, and a few plans. I booked Friday off work and tried to finish up early on Thursday evening. I failed miserably, and by the time I had packed and got into the car, it was 7:30pm. On my way down to Balmoral, I had planned to stop off and make a quick ascent of Geallaig Hill. I almost left this out, but changed my mind at the last minute.

The main problem with the next series of reports is how to split them up, but that doesn't really matter to anyone else apart from me.

The warm-up:
Grahams: Geallaig Hill.
Date: 11/07/2013.
Distance: 6 km.
Ascent: 380m.
Time taken: 1 hour.
Weather: Warm, calm.

I didn't arrive at Braenaloin until 9pm, but it was still warm and light, so I decided to take a quick trip up Geallaig Hill before heading to Balmoral. Plenty of parking room at the start of the track.

Geallaig.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Parking at Braenaloin:
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There are a number of tracks to the summit, but this one was the shortest. I went in running gear, just taking my keys and camera, but I didn't run much of it. The evening was atmospheric, but it didn't translate very well to camera.

River Gairn and Brown Cow Hill:
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Eastern end of Ben Avon:
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Morven:
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Sunset over Brown Cow Hill:
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Tracks up,from the other directions looked pleasant enough too. Views up and down the Dee Valley were good from the summit, with endless folds of hills in all directions.

West along the Dee Valley:
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I went back down the same way, and managed to trip and fall forwards. Stinging grazes to both knees were the immediate effect, but by Saturday, I had a twinge in my right knee too.

Sunset and the Gairn again:
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I was back at the car just after 10, still with daylight to spare. Next, it was down the hill to Crathie.

The main walk:
Munros: Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach, Lochnagar
Corbetts: Conachcraig.
Date: 11-12/07/2013.
Distance: 33 km.
Ascent: 1720m.
Time taken: 9 hours, 15 minutes.
Weather: Hot and sunny.
(of which 5km, 190m, 1 hour was done on Thursday night)

I'm definitely better at packing for an overnighter when I'm using public transport - much more disciplined. I'd just thrown everything I could possibly need into the car with the idea that I'd sort it out later. There is a big pay and display car park at Crathie, and I wasn't expecting to find any free parking for the plebs. Luckily there is space for 2 or 3 cars at a crossroads on the distillery road. Conveniently this is right at the start of the walk-in to Gelder Shiel. I packed a smaller bag into my overnight rucksack so I could go lightweight on the hill.

Lochnagar.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


After working my way through the Balmoral maze, it was an easy walk up a forestry track to the edge of the trees. This then continued via a couple of junctions to the bothy. An easy walk, even in the almost-dark. An hour of walking got me to the bothy for 11:30pm. A nice clean bothy in the outhouse of Gelder Shiel lodge, although a bit characterless (probably due to the lack of a fireplace).

I had a lie-in the next morning, and was walking just after 9. It was already warm outside.

I walked up the track behind the bothy to the end, with tantalising views of Lochnagar up ahead. There was something of a path continuing to the left, although this eventually headed into the corrie of Lochnagar. I left it and headed though heather towards Creag Liath.

Lochnagar from Gelder Shiel:
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Lochnagar from the slopes of Creag Liath:
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Meikle Pap:
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Beinn a Bhuird and Ben Avon:
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Skipping out on the summit of Creag Liath, I headed for Meall Coire na Saobhaidhe. This is a lovely rocky summit with an unusual view of the north side of Lochnagar.

Lochnagar from Meall Coire na Saobhaidhe:
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Conachcraig with Mount Keen and Mount Battock beyond:
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N flank of Lochnagar:
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I headed down over boulders and traversed across to a subsidiary corrie then to Loch nan Eun. This started with ankle-trapping boulders and heather, but got easier on the final climb.

The Stuic and Coire Lochan nan Eun:
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Loch nan Eun was so attractive that I just had to strip off and jump in! I was only in for a couple of minutes but it was very refreshing (and cold). I just hope no-one was looking with binoculars from the summit :wink: .

The Stuic from Loch nan Eun:
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Loch nan Eun:
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The Stuic started right next to the lochan. There was a faint path to follow, but for an easy scramble onto a Munro, there was surprisingly little evidence of traffic. The most sustained bit was near the top, but it wasn't much more than a steep walk for the most part. Still, like Lancet Edge, it is in a fine position.

Ascent of the Stuic:
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Lochnagar and Loch nan Eun:
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Sandy Loch and Loch nan Eun:
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Sandy Loch:
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From the summit, it was a 10 minute stroll across the plateau to the summit of Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach.

Coire Kander:
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I was going to head straight for Lochnagar, but I decided to try and get some views of Creag an Dubh Loch. The second most impressive crag in the White Mounth is quite hard to see from most places. Wandering SE across the plateau took me past lots of deer. Not a bad view of the crags, but I still couldn't see the loch. I hadn't been going to bother with the tops of Top of Eagle's Rock and Creag a Ghlas-uillt, but the former looked like it would be a better viewpoint for the crag. It was, but I had to drop down the S face a bit for the view.

Deer on Carn a' Choire Boidheach:
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Trying to get closer to Creag an Dubh Loch:
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Beach on Dubh Loch:
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I headed back over Creag a Ghlas-uillt and joined the main path, passing a couple of other folk on the way. I had a stroll around the top of the Black Spout - impressive stuff - before moving on to the summit.

Top of the Black Spout:
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The summit of Lochnagar:
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Loch nan Eun and the Stuic from the top:
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This was my 6th time up Lochnagar, but my first since moving away from Dundee in 2006. Unlike Carn a Choire Bhoideach, the summit of Lochnagar is far from uninteresting. I found a nice flat slab to sunbathe on and had some lunch.

I passed a couple more folk on the way back to Cac Carn Mor, then I decided to follow the edge of the cliffs. I could see more people, but they were all sticking to the main path. Here's some of what they were missing:

The cliffs of Lochnagar:
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This was quite a change from my first visit in 2001. Back then, there had been intermittent white-out conditions, and when someone's map broke free in the wind, a member of the group leapt out to catch it, landing on a cornice :shock: . Luckily it didn't break off, but I haven't forgotten about that since.

I took a diversion over to the summit of Cruidhe Crom, which I hadn't been up before, despite passing it on numerous occasions.

From Cruidhe Crom:
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I took a diagonal line back to the main path over boulders. Meikle Pap is a great viewpoint for the cliffs, but it was interfering with the laziness of the day, so I left it out. Still good views of the cliffs from the col though.

Meikle Pap:
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Outflow of Lochnagar:
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From the col below Meikle Pap:
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West Buttress:
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And finally onto Conachcraig, which is the reason I came up with this route in the first place. A motorway down to the vehicle track, then a much smaller path up to the outcrops at the summit of Conachcraig. The weather had turned a bit greyer now, and the sun was in the west, so the views back t Lochnagar weren't as good as hoped for. However the eastern summits were a good lookout for Glen Muick and the Coyles of Muick. At one point, I had thought that the Coyles would combine well with Conachcraig, but in the end, Lochnagar was too good to resist.

Conachcraig:
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Back to Lochnagar from Conachcraig:
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Coyles of Muick and Glen Muick:
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Lochnagar:
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A rough descent down the NW face took me back to the track, from where it was a mostly straightforward stroll back to the bothy. I couldn't see any evidence of the path that cut off to the bothy, so headed cross-country as soon as I was level with the stand of trees surrounding it. Where I joined the path just above the bothy, it was so overgrown with heather there was no surprise I didn't find it.

Looking back to Conachcraig:
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I grabbed my overnight stuff from the bothy and strolled back out to the car. The day repeated the pattern of previous days,with the temperature carrying on up into the evening.

Gelder Shiel bothy:
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Gelder Shiel lodge:
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Back at the car at 5:15pm - a day of perfection :) . I drove off towards Braemar with more perfection in mind. The next part of the plan was to park up at the Linn of Dee and take the tent up onto Sgor Mor. But that is for another report...
Last edited by malky_c on Tue Nov 18, 2014 3:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby simon-b » Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:00 pm

Some really good views there Malky, and an interesting approach to the Lochnagar range.
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby nathan79 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:32 am

I've done the rest of the white mount and Conachcraig, but I'm saving Lochnagar for some reason. The Stuic approach is definitely the best approach up there imho.
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby rockhopper » Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:36 pm

The warm up was nice enough malky but the main course was a bit of a cracker - interesting route which affords excellent views - can see why you'd want to take a dip. Really must try to get back up here as I saw nothing in the clag - cheers :)
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby Sabbathstevie » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:04 pm

Excellent stuff Malky. A man after my own heart - when doing Lochnagar last summer I couldn't understand why so many people stuck religiously to the summit path, rather than clicking to the cliffs for those stunning views. :o

Looks like it was well worth the detour for the view of Creag an Dubh and the Dubh Loch.

I've still got to conjure a route for the other two munros on the north side of Glen Muick and this, via the Stuic, looks like the best route - thanks for sharing. :clap:
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby soulminer » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:43 pm

Certainly The Stuic looks limpressive ! I enjoyed a wee meander round the cliffs, why not -they are a fine feature of the mountain 8)
Cheers.
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby Collaciotach » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:08 pm

Thinking of heading over here before the end of summer so might follow your route ....... after I pop in and see auld Lizzie for a dram :D :D

You don't half get about a bhalaich :clap:
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby malky_c » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:10 am

A somewhat delayed thanks for your comments :wink:

Sabbathstevie wrote:I've still got to conjure a route for the other two munros on the north side of Glen Muick and this, via the Stuic, looks like the best route - thanks for sharing. :clap:

Yes, the plateau is so easy going that you could make the detour to Carn t-Sagairt Mor and back without much effort. Worth checking Basscadet's report for an alternative starting point as well.
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby ChrisW » Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:17 am

Many reports make me think of home, some even give me the odd pang of homesickness, but Lochnagar and Conachcraig.....well they put me over the edge. what a fantastic wander down memory lane for me. Though I took the Loch Muick access for both, the photos of the tops left me longing for a little something of home. Really enjoyed this Malky, thanks :clap: Not sure about the skinny dipping though :shock: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby Merry-walker » Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:12 pm

What a fantastic report and those photos are stunning.

Lochnagar's one of my favorite hills. We scrambled up the stones which wasn't the greatest but getting to the top was an achievement to be proud of. Your photo's make me feel I was there again. Thank you malky_c....

Big walk you did, hope you recovered okay after doing all that :) :)
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Re: Lochnagar from the N, The Stuic, Conachcraig & then some

Postby Alastair S » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:30 pm

Another great report and another innovative route :thumbup:

Which reminds me... folks may have seen this photo a while ago:

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Well if you look at this Daily Mail :oops: article and know the area you can sort of see that it was shot at Gleder Shiel. Thinking of taking a tripod with me next time I'm that way and creating my own version :lol:
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