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Drumochter

Drumochter


Postby weaselmaster » Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:25 pm

Munros included on this walk: A' Mharconaich, Beinn Udlamain, Geal-charn (Drumochter), Meall Chuaich, Sgairneach Mhor

Corbetts included on this walk: The Sow of Atholl

Date walked: 01/12/2013

Time taken: 11.54 hours

Distance: 40.3 km

Ascent: 1956m

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Hills of Innocence - Hills of Experience

I did these hills back in early March when I only had a handful of hills under my belt - Beinn Udlamain indeed was my Number 50. At that time I remember looking down Loch Ericht towards the Alder hills - which were hidden by clag - and being so excited about the planned expedition we had for Alder at Easter time. I'd done no ridges, no scary stuff, no overnight treks or wild-camping multi-dayers - everything lay ahead and was all a new adventure. Ten months have passed and we've crammed so many fabulous experiences into that time. Coming back to do the hills this weekend as a bit of "catch-up" for Sick Kid did feel like setting foot upon them with an entirely different set of skills. Mind you, back in March I felt fit and healthy when I romped around the Drumochter 4 and headed off to do Chuaich later in the same day. All the trips since then have taken their toll of me physically and left me something of a decrepit shell of the man I was :wink:

We set off at 5.30 from Gourock and got to Balsporran Cottages just gone 8. A few other folk were there and setting off. As we set off to Geal Charn the sky to the south east glowed a fiery pink/red to start with, turning golden as the sun, and we, rose higher. Past the truncated cairns that used to be the marching men and up to the first hill of the day within an hour of leaving the car.

Image
P1050393 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Image
P1050395 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050397 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050398 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050400 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050402 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050403 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050406 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heading over to A'Mharconaich the clouds cleared sufficiently for us to glance down Loch Ericht and see the pristine snow on Alder, with the sharp edge of Sgor Iutharn to its right. Ah - such memories :) It's an easy trek through the heather, dusted with snow and up onto the flat plateau to traipse north to the summit cairn. Over to the south-east the sky looked impressive with bands of fiery yellow/orange and grey blue clouds behind the great curve of Sgairneach Mhor's Coire Creagach.

Loch Ericht
Image
P1050408 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Bhoil, Alder & Sgor Iutharn
Image
P1050411 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050412 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Cross the tundra to A'Mharconaich
Image
P1050417 by 23weasels, on Flickr

A'Mharconaich
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P1050419 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sgairneach Mhor
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P1050422 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050423 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050427 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Onwards to Udlamain, easy going on firm ground and a straightforward pull to the cairn. By this time the wind had got up, chilling fingers and noses. We sheltered in the cairn structure and had an early lunch - three tops down in just over 3 hours, this was good going given Sick Kid needs robot knee replacements not to mention my crushed feet bones :roll: We were joined by a guy from Inverness who we met intermittently on our route.

Over to Udlamain
Image
P1050429 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The hardest part of the route is heading over boggy pathless featureless land towards Sgairneach Mhor. Clag obscuring the way ahead didn't help. Eventually we emerged to dryer and grassier ground with the sun peeking through the mist and had a gentle amble up to the cairn.

Featureless bog :?
Image
P1050431 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The intimidating last section to Sgairneach Mhor's summit :wink:
Image
P1050432 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Well - that's the easiest 4 Munros you'll do :lol:
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P1050433 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Now it was my turn to get something out of the day in terms of balloons - last time round I'd not gone over The Sow - today the little piggy would get a visitation. Heading down from Sgairneach's top, past the semi-impressive coire edge and over the stony path towards the 758 top - making sure to take the path that contours round to the right, not the one that goes to the top of this hill, then onto the easy to see trail up the back of the Sow. In the cleft between was a huge herd of deer, only a section of which were captured in my photo. Top of the piglet as the weather started to close in and gentle smirry rain started.

758 top with the Sow beyond
Image
P1050435 by 23weasels, on Flickr

How many deer here?
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P1050437 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Where you end up if you take the trail over the 758 top :wink:
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P1050438 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Happy as a pig in...
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P1050439 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Yay - Sick Kid gets her 7th Corbett
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P1050440 by 23weasels, on Flickr

"Are those Robot Knees no' ready yet?"
Image
P1050441 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The descent was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated and even Allison managed it without too many swear words (although as she was well behind me, I might be wrong there :lol: ) Over the boggy ground at the bottom, heading for the river near the bend as I remembered the way under the railway line was to follow the south-bound track to the underpass. Met up with the lad from Inverness soon after, and chatting made the traipse back along the A9 more bearable.

Looking back on the Sow
Image
P1050443 by [url=http://www.flickr.com
/people/29312277@N08/]23weasels[/url], on Flickr

Image
P1050444 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We'd decided to head along to Layby 94 and take the tent some of the way along the track to Meall Chuaich. However, seeing the car parked all on its lonesome in a layby on a busy road did not feel comfortable and I decided to take the car a short way up the track and just camp nearby - worked out alright. Wasn't the most restful of nights however, as the sound of traffic from the nearby A9 and the trains was joined by an eerie wail from wind in the powerlines, sounding like a legion of ghouls attempting a lullaby (badly).

Meall Chuaich is a big whaleback of a hill, reached after a few KMs along a good track, past a huge pipeline that lies obliquely half buried in the ground. We whisked along the track and started up the steady slope, boggy inderfoot. Wildlife abounded - grouse took off and landed with their chortles, there was a whistling of wind from the wings of a squadron of ptarmigan that did a low-level flypast and many snow bunnies popped up here and there. White as the driven snow - but unfortunately for them there was no snow - driven or otherwise - to hide in. I wondered if they think they're perfectly camoflaged in their winter whites despite the fact that they stick out like a patch of snow in a coal bunker. Also pondered what triggers their switch in coat colour - turns out it's changing photoperiod as days shorten.

The task ahead
Image
P1050446 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050447 by 23weasels, on Flickr

"You can't see me, can you...what do you mean you can???"
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P1050448 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Atmospheric clag
Image
P1050449 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Meall Chuaich has an enormous cairn which pixified Sick Kid as she stood alongside it - only 38 behind me now :thumbup: We enjoyed a cup of coffee and flapjack out of the wind for our elevenses before heading back down - delighted to meet Trekker 53 whom we'd met at the WH Skye meet and having a good natter. Headed down to the dam at Loch Chuaich on the return to the car to enjoy our sandwiches by the water's edge, thinking what a perfect spot this would make for a wild camp. Back at the car for 1.30 and down the road by 4pm - amazing to get home on a Sunday these days before the moon's high in the sky.

Image
P1050450 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050452 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Perfect spot for a picnic
Image
P1050454 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050455 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050456 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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P1050457 by 23weasels, on Flickr
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
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Re: Drumochter

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:26 pm

Get a bad press these hills but I quite enjoyed them all :clap:
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Collaciotach
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Re: Drumochter

Postby rockhopper » Mon Dec 02, 2013 12:20 am

Good to see these hills in better weather - so often it seems to be rain and clag up here - cheers :)
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Re: Drumochter

Postby trekker53 » Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:51 pm

Enjoyed meeting you both again. It's certainly a small world. Took in the Graham Creag Ruadh. Weather improved a lot by then.
See you again sometime.
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trekker53
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Re: Drumochter

Postby Tomsie » Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:16 pm

That's some going both of ye 50 in March, wont be long till yer finished
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Tomsie
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Re: Drumochter

Postby ceaser » Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:24 pm

think you did the 4 of them in the time we did 2 ,snow was a lot deeper for us ,but we had a fantastic day doing them :D good to see your looking after Alisons knees and only had her doing 4 munros and a Corbett :lol:
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ceaser
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Re: Drumochter

Postby wilkiemurray » Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:30 pm

great piccies and report- I often head up Geal Charn or A.M- If headed home down the A9 with time to spare in the evening during summer - still think the view from the summit of Geal Charn is fantasic looking over to Loch Pattack and down Loch Ericht :) :D
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Re: Drumochter

Postby PeteR » Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:40 pm

Good to see you both taking it easy for once :D

Definitely much maligned these hills, but the Drumochter 4 are good with a covering of snow. Think I might just return this winter :wink: Don't think I got a single summit view on the two trips I made to do them :lol:

MC's a good hill too, with a nice walk in and out :D
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Re: Drumochter

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:06 pm

ceaser wrote: good to see your looking after Alisons knees and only had her doing 4 munros and a Corbett :lol:


Yep - you know me, always a gentleman thinking about how she can take it easy and rest up :D Had wanted to go to skye and do a couple of easy ones, but for some reason she wasn't up for that :?
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weaselmaster
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