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Waving goodbye to summer - Culardoch & Carn Liath

Waving goodbye to summer - Culardoch & Carn Liath


Postby BlackPanther » Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:27 pm

Route description: Culardoch and Creag an Dail Bheag, Keiloch

Corbetts included on this walk: Creag an Dail Bheag, Culardoch

Date walked: 08/09/2013

Time taken: 6.5 hours

Distance: 22 km

Ascent: 850m

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Summer 2013 has come to an end. It feels like autumn now, especially higher up on the hills. Soon, winter will knock on our doors, crampons and ice axes will be dug up from storage spaces, snow will fall and we will be climbing singing "jingle bells" :D
But before all that comes, let's say goodbye to summer!
We intended to go to MFR carboot sales, but weather on Sunday was simply too good to ignore... We headed east to bag two Cairngorms Corbetts: Carn Liath and Culardoch :D
These two would be a nice winter outing as most of the route is done on tracks/good paths, but for us they were more convenient for a longer day, as we needed to spend 2hrs each way in the car. No regrets though, another pair of hills with superb views and another proof that the "lesser" mountains can sometimes be just as good, if not better, than their bigger brothers.
Our route:

Track_CULADOCH 08-09-13.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


The starting point is at a walkers' car park in Keiloch (Invercauld Estate). As it was Sunday, we needn't have been worried about stalking. The car park is charged &2.50.
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The first stage of this route follows tarmac road through the forest:
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We walked almost as far as Invercauld house, where I spotted an interesting art addition to the landscape:
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We turned right up the forested slopes, following a waymarked track. This part of the route is also a cycling circuit but we didn't meet any cyclists. Indeed, we didn't meet anybody all day, again we had the hills all to ourselves :D
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It was a lovely stroll through the pine & birch forest until after about 4km we walked out of the woods...
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...and immediately, the views became wide and impressive. The sky was blue, not much wind - true "Indian summer" day. We walked with big smiles glued to our faces - ahhhh, that's what it is all about!
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Towards Linn of Dee, the distinctive hill in the middle is another Corbett to bag, Carn na Drochaide:
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The meanders of River Dee:
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Having walked through one more forested area and past the heathery lump of Creag a'Chait, we saw our first target hill:
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The track still offered excellent going and looking up we could see it climb up to just below the summit of Culardoch. Wow, that's some easy approach :lol: :lol: :lol:
We took a short break on the wooden bridge over Allt Cul. From here, gazing back, we could just about see the top of Lochnagar peeking out from behind Meall Gorm:
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The proper ascent started now, but because we were walking on a wide track, it still felt more like a Sunday stroll. But soon we had the best possible panorama behind us:
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The track climbs to the col between Culardoch and Carn Liath - from the col one can turn either left or right, depending on which hill is first to be tackled. We went for Culardoch first. The day was still lovely, though higher up it felt much colder:
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Ben Avon entering the stage:
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Looking back, the track we walked so far is clearly visible:
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One could drive in a 4wheel-drive almost to the summit of Culardoch :lol: :lol:
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We took a short detour to investigate the vegetation experiment on the higher slopes of Culardoch, and then turned off the main track (it starts to descend the other side of the hill here). We followed another, fainter track - the branch of the two seen here, with Carn Liath in the background:
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One can ignore the track and head straight up the slope, its less than 200m of ascent, but we have been spoiled by the easy walking so far :lol:
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The track narrows to a path which eventually peters out just below the summit, and the final short climb brought us to the trig pint. But even before then, we were greeted with some breathtaking views. I liked this one, to Loch Builg:
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Winter gear time officially started! It was cold enough for me to wear gloves - for the first time this autumn:
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The summit was a wee bit windy... and no summit shelter, just the trigpoint. But I was happy enough to cuddle it :lol: A nice, round number of 60 - my annual Corbett target reached!
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Even with the wind and cold, it was still a perfect place to be. Such a splendid viewpoint! Most Cairngorms Corbetts have a bad reputation of being boring, rollin' rollin' hills with little character and not much to see around. But not these two!
And that's what we saw from the top of Culardoch, exactly 900m:
Ben Avon:
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Back to Carn Liath:
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Distant Ben Rinnes:
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Wider pano to the north:
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Morven, another Corbett still on the list to do:
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...and the wide pano:
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Mount Keen, our previous mountain:
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View east, from Mount Keen (left) to Whitemounth Munros (right):
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Towards Linn of Dee and the hills beyond:
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If I'm correct, the distinctive peak in the middle is Glas Maol:
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Kevin was fascinated by the rocky outcrops on Ben Avon. Another big walk still to do :D
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But of course, the one driving the most attention was mighty Lochnagar:
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We enjoyed a cup of tea on the summit and I was reluctant to leave, with all these magnificent views around, but we still had one more Corbett to bag, so eventually we left... But not before I made my statement again, that I have successfully climbed 60 Corbetts now! Meow!
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We returned to the top of the col, where we left the track to climb Carn Liath. A small cairn marks the start of a path, which to start with, crossed some boggy area and a few small peat hags (seen here behind me):
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The final ascent didn't take us much time. As soon as we crossed the initial wet bit, the path was obvious:
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Views to Ben Avon - priceless...
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In my element:
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Earlier on, some cloud gathered around, but they were now dispersing and more blue sky revealed itself. It didn' feel as cold, either. I kept glancing towards the mighty Lochnagar:
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Just below the summit of Carn Liath, the ground becomes... ehm... a bit rocky:
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It is actually tricky to determine, which point on the summit plateau is the true top of the Corbett. According to WH description, the little outcrop seen here in the middle of the picture is regarded as the summit:
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Around this point, we came across a few cairns. Maybe this is the summit one:
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...or maybe this one?
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It is said that the purists should also visit the second top, which on the map is marked at the same height as the summit. Kill me if you want, we decided not to. As far as we see it, we climbed the mountain, we reached its highest point, so we can tick the Corbett off.
To my judgement, the second top looked lower, anyway :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Views from Carn Liath are just as good as from Culardoch, especially towards Lochnagar:
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Basking in sunshine:
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Kevin spent some time walking around the rocky area with his GPS, checking the height of each cairn :lol: :lol:
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Along the N-S shoulder of Carn Liath, we could see another cairn and a stone dyke with a wind shelter. We decided to stay on the summit area though, as wind has dropped and it felt much warmer now. Poppyseed cake was waiting in the lunchbox :D
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Shadowy Ben Avon:
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Lunch break finished, we walked to the next cairn - according to GPS this one was 5m lower than the summit. But it still offered good views :wink:
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We descended due south for a short distance, following the stone dyke, and then turned east into the glen, alongside a small stream. The ground was pathless here, and heather quite high, but as it was a dry day we made good progress. Lower down, we used animal tracks to get down to Allt Cul.
Culardoch from the descent route from Carn Lath:
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The last minutes of freedom in the wild...
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We crossed Allt Cul and found ourselves back on the main track just above the wooden bridge. Now we faced the long walk back to the car park, but with views around us still great, it wasn't a problem :D
River Dee reflecting the afternoon sunshine:
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It's a long way to Invercauld...
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The whole circuit - 22km. Not a foot-killer. The track is very much cyclable. And it is definitely a must-do for all "good view seekers". I would love to return here in winter, to see it all in white :D Maybe some time.
I guess these hills are popular enough, no need to advertise them. Just wanted to say, they are worth the effort. It's a shame that we had to say farewell to summer, but it will be back... next year. Now I can't wait for the first snow and "snow leopard" adventures. Meow!
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BlackPanther
Mountain Walker
 
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Re: Waving goodbye to summer - Culardoch & Carn Liath

Postby Collaciotach » Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:48 pm

Superb colours :clap:

Aye Autumn is here :D
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Collaciotach
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Re: Waving goodbye to summer - Culardoch & Carn Liath

Postby Graeme D » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:38 pm

Nice one BP, and welcome to the "swinging sixties Corbett club"! Two decent wee hills these, with good access as you say. I've been past Invercauld House many a time but never noticed that sculpture before! :shock:
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Graeme D
 
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Re: Waving goodbye to summer - Culardoch & Carn Liath

Postby The Rodmiester » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:48 pm

Some nice photographs there BP, I'm sure that sculpture must be new, I would not have missed that! surely :) Great viewpoints from both hills, worth the walk in.
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The Rodmiester
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Re: Waving goodbye to summer - Culardoch & Carn Liath

Postby litljortindan » Sat Sep 14, 2013 5:39 pm

Some grand and inspiring views and somewhere new for us to explore. Thanks for the report.
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litljortindan
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