Whilst lounging lazily on a beach in Portugal (Carvoeiro) a plan was hatched to get back onto the hills on return to Scotland. Daniel Craig has no need to worry from this shot..........
CarvoeiroOct2013 110 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
Last sunset before heading back to Scotland..........
CarvoeiroOct2013 022 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
With the clocks due to go back a bucket list trek over the Lochnager 5 would be a realistic goal. I decided to tackle this set from the Glen Callater side necessitating some backtracking. The option to cut the walk short at Carn an t-Sagairt was available if need be.
I set off at 6am from a bleak Black isle shrouded in thick fog. After 90 miles of on edge driving I reached the car park beyond Auchallater farm. I got kitted up and removed the bike, which I had taken to protect my missing toenails from further impact damage from pounding the road sections. I began the outing at 8am.
The road up the glen was sound and followed the Callater river up to head of the loch. I left the bike on the fence outside the lodge as the horses clocked another walker.
LochnagarOct2013 087 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
An obvious path on the left hand side ascended the south flank of Creag an Loch passed the wild horses who must have laughed at another homosapien heading for the hills in the poor weather.
LochnagarOct2013 003 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
LochnagarOct2013 078 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
The views ahead were grand but the cloud formation was ominous. I took a precautionary bearing for the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt. At the col an old boundary fence line was evident and led up to the top.
Visibility was poor but I did notice some parts of aircraft carnage en route.
LochnagarOct2013 011 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I reached the summit at 930 with a large cairn adorned with fence sections. It was raining now and pretty cold so it was time to get the full gear on. (I was sure that chill blains were not far away, especially after the sun exposure last week)
LochnagarOct2013 013 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I opted to head out to Broad cairn first then return and re assess. I took another bearing and estimated timings before heading off into the wet fog toward cairn Bannoch. I then headed out to the top of Fafernie 1000m at 1015 with two nice cairns. I then took another bearing and set off to locate the summit cairn of CB at 1030. Visibility had not improved and the air remained cold and wet.
LochnagarOct2013 022 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I noticed something that had been placed on the rear of the cairn. RIP.
LochnagarOct2013 033 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I checked the map and took a bearing to the nearby top at 991m and headed off. Once there I took another bearing for Broad Cairn. There was a path but experience has shown that they do not always end up where you assume they will. After walking over the wet patches I climbed up the boulders to reach the summit cairn of Broad Cairn at 1105.
LochnagarOct2013 025 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
Weather did not improve so it was a case of returning as quickly as possible to the sound of music from the phone. I kept on the main path on aback up compass bearing and passed three birds
LochnagarOct2013 032 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
before returning to the point where the stalkers path crossed the south flank of CatsM at 1205. I decided to continue on to the other two munros on the N side. I checked the map and compass and headed off. At the col I turned right and headed out to the summit of Carn a Choire Bhoidheach at 1250. The cairn was surrounded by water.
LochnagarOct2013 036 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I returned to the col and continued on a bearing toward lochnagar. I passed a few snow pockets, a stark contrast from Wednesday when I had been lying on a beach with a cloud free sky dressed in budgie smugglers feeling the skin burn. Five days later here I was sitting on the snow in a wet fog, adorned with full gear and the with skin stinging from the cold.
I pushed onwards passed a large cairn and then the top of Cac Carn Mor emerged. This is where I met other walkers. I looked at the cairn and realised that this was not the true summit.
LochnagarOct2013 045 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I checked the map and took another bearing to lead to the main summit Cac Carn Beag at 1344 with the large trig point and identification plate. Alas the visibility was poor and the grand views from the summit were non existent.
LochnagarOct2013 060 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
LochnagarOct2013 050 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
It was easy to relate to Queen Victoria’s record as she topped out; cold, wet and cheerless… Despite this the summit was busy with cheerful walkers. I had a quick chat with some fellow walkers before seeking shelter to refuel. A big wet black dog called Egg joined me for a moment, at the same time the lady owner shouted out sandwich alert. Egg was duly summoned and the sandwich was finished.
LochnagarOct2013 051 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I set off on the return leg and followed the yellow brick back to the junction on the south flank of CatM. I followed the stalkers path around the lateral contour rather than revisit the summit in the hope of clear skies.
LochnagarOct2013 072 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
The path led back to the iron fence, where I noticed a random gate and wondered when this was likely to have been in use.
LochnagarOct2013 069 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I continued down the path with nice views down to the loch
LochnagarOct2013 079 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
reaching the lodge at 1600.
The final section was easy going. I returned to the car at 1620, ahead of schedule.
The 90 mile return drive was over the roller coaster road over the Lecht, then Tomintoul, Grantown on Spey and then A9 back to the Black isle for 1830. On reflection it was a safe and enjoyable day out in the hills which provided a good opportunity to hone the navigational skills.
Shame that half the sun tan was left up there too………
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.