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Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:40 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bhrotain

Corbetts included on this walk: Carn na Drochaide, Sgor Mor

Date walked: 07/12/2014

Time taken: 11 hours

Distance: 40.2 km

Ascent: 1979m

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A look at the weather forecast suggested east was going to be drier this weekend, so I shelved my plans for hills around Glenfinnan and decided to head up to Braemar. Unfortunately the campsite at Braemar opens next week, so we would have to do a bit of non-campsite camping. I reckoned we'd probably be OK at Linn of Dee car park. We drove up in the dark, roads busy through Glasgow then quieting as we got into the countryside after Blairgowrie. The temperature was nestling just the wrong side of freezing as we turned into the woods at Linn of Dee and the first flurries of snow danced through the headlight beams. A warm night in store then :wink: Surprisingly there weren't any other cars about and we pitched on the firm gravel of the car park. We could hear the winds soughing in the trees above but :wink: down here we were sheltered and as comfy as you can be camping in December.

ImageP1040930 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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

As we were getting ready in the morning a number of walkers/cyclists arrived and headed off up towards Derry Lodge. We dissembled the tent and set out, the weather dry and quite bright. Our path took us back along the road and onto the track westwards along the Dee, heading for Sgor Mor. I'd decided to combine this Corbett with my last remaining Cainrgorm Top, Carn Cloich Mhuillin on Beinn Bhrotain. We needed to be quick about it to get the 30km covered in daylight, but at least the return path was along good track if darkness fell before we returned to the car. After a kilometre or so we cut up into the heather, initially following a track, which became a deer path then disappeared in the undergrowth. A new electric fence has been installed by Mar Estate to assist with re-forestation, so we found the gate rather than risk electrifying our nether regions. We headed for the first top, Carn an 'lc Duibhe then found a new deer fence to follow heading towards the next objective, Sgor Dubh. Unfortunately we had risen into the cloud line by now, but at least the going got easier as the heather became more scrubby. A trig point and small cairn shelter marked the top as we set off westwards for Sgor Mor, invisible in the clag. The wind rose walking across the flattish terrain. The familiar red granite gravel appeared underfoot and the hillside became stonier as we neared the summit. From the cairn we wandered over to the large flat slab or rock that looked to be higher and noticed a couple of the "washbowls" that you can find on certain other Cairngorm tops - on the tors of Beinn Mheadoin for example. Eschewing the opportunity to rinse our faces on account of the ice in them we prepared to head down for White Bridge and the route up to Beinn Bhrotain. When I'd been route planning I had wondered if I could descend west either from Sgor Mor or its neighbouring top Creagan nan Gabhar and head for Carn Fiaclach Beag, but the unknown was the crossing of the Dee. I decided to play it safe, although as it happened we could have saved a few kilometres if we'd gone for a paddle. The terrain down to White Bridge was a bit boggy but the cold temperatures helped firm up the ground and we had lunch in the shelter of the bridge, which, in case you haven't noticed, isn't very white at all :roll:

Start up the hill
ImageP1040932 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Looking east along the Dee
ImageP1040934 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Nice walking terrain up to Sgor Dubh
ImageP1040936 by 23weasels, on Flickr

New deer fence
ImageP1040937 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sgor Dubh
ImageP1040939 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heading west to Sgor Mor
ImageP1040942 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040943 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040944 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040947 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Icicle roots
ImageP1040949 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Towards White Bridge
ImageP1040950 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040951 by 23weasels, on Flickr

White Bridge
ImageP1040952 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We set off alongside the Dee on a very fine footpath, something I hadn't really expected. The autumnal colours were lovely when the sun glimpsed through and the flow of the river leant a restful soundtrack to our walk. We turned up to our left at the Allt Iarnaidh - again I was surprised to see a cairn and find a boggy track to follow until it dawned on me that this would be an approach to Beinn Bhrotain - I'd climbed the hill twice but from the west each time. Over grassy slopes we climbed to Carn Fiaclach Beag then puffed up to Carn Fiaclach before picking up a path for Mhuillin itself. As we neared the Top, the grass gave way to boulders and our first sight of snow - small drifts only. We'd been in the shelter of the hill most of the day, but as we approached the summit the wind found us and let rip. Any thought of continuing on to the top of Bhrotain itself was quickly abandoned when we felt the strength of the gusts - icy boulders and gale force winds is not a benevolent combination :crazy: Anyhow, I made it to the top first - this was to have been Sir Hugh Munro's final summit (when it was a full Munro not merely a Top) and was the last of my Tops in this part of the world (Lord knows there are enough of them in the Monad Ruadh). I celebrated with an imaginary pint while waiting for Sick Kid to catch me up then we about turned and headed down again. The weather was clearing as we descended towards Glen Dee and permitted us a view of The Penis of the Demon and the snowy back of Cairn Toul in the upper reaches of the Glen. Back to White Bridge, fill up for our bladders then a march along the track back to Linn of Dee. We reached the car park just as darkness fell and the first pitter-pats of rain began. As we were putting the tent back up the party of walkers who'd left in the morning were returning - suspect they thought us a little mental. But what's another night in a frosty car park when there's hills to be done :lol:

(Not very) White Bridge
ImageP1040957 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Make up your own story...
ImageP1040958 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Glen Dee
ImageP1040959 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040960 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Great path
ImageP1040961 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040964 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Carn Fiaclach Beag
ImageP1040965 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heading for Mhuillin
ImageP1040969 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040970 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Celebratory pose
ImageP1040971 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Here she comes...
ImageP1040972 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040973 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040974 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heading down
ImageP1040976 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Penis of the Demon (zoomed)
ImageP1040978 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040979 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Rain gave way to some snow overnight and it became cold around 4am. As we began to emerge into the cold air we could hear the frost slipping off the tent. A hopeful robin danced around the tent door hoping for food and was rewarded with some potato scone. A warming bowl of porridge made exit into the frosty air a little easier and we drove along snowy roads to Linn of Quoich to climb Carn na Drochaide. If we were OK for time I'd planned to add a stop driving home to climb Creag nan Gabhar down in Glen Shee and snare a third Corbett, but much would depend on the weather - I knew a weather warning for later in the day had been issued. We parked up at Allanquoich and set off long the road for Allanmore. The sky ahead to the East was blue and clear, whilst behind us was it heavy and full of snow - and the wind was bringing the snow our way. We passed Allanmore cottage which has a tree house with its own chimney - how cool is that - and found the track that cuts back on itself up the hill. To be honest I think it would be easier to just head up the hillside earlier in the route as the track is at best faint and soon disappears into longish heather. Not the best day to leave your gaiters behind.

Frosty morning
ImageP1040980 by 23weasels, on Flickr

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

Linn of Quoich
ImageP1040983 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Road to Allanmore
ImageP1040985 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040986 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Allanmore cottage
ImageP1040987 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Treehouse with chimney
ImageP1040988 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040989 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Carn na Drochaide
ImageP1040990 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Troubled sky
ImageP1040992 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040994 by 23weasels, on Flickr

We stopped off on Creag a'Chleirich which gave good views north to Beinn a'Bhuird and Beinn Avon - illustrating well how far apart the southern Tops are on that hill. Descending briefly we returned to the slopes up Carn an Drochaide, following a deer path through the snowy heather that seemed to be making for the summit. Maybe it's a Corbetteering deer? As we reached the last 50m or so of ascent the wind grew icy and fierce, cutting through gloves and making the summit not a place to linger upon today. We found several cairns, located the summit one then headed back down, taking a more direct line back to the road. We stopped in the shelter of a group of granny pines to have lunch before walking the short stretch of road back to the car. It was now around 12.30 - what to do? The weather looked pretty - snow showers had stopped and the sun made an appearance. We halted in Braemar to use the facilities and pondered - I decided we would leave the hill for another day as the weather was bound to deteriorate before long by the look of the sky in the NW and I didn't want a drive back on icy roads in the dark. Driving through Glen shee the hills were sparkling, resplendent in their white coats and it was tempting to nip up, but I pressed on. Coming down the A93 to the Spittal was quite scary as the roads were treacherous, and this increased in the section to Bridge of Cally, where there were several accidents where cars had left the road and ended up through fences or perched on top of walls. I suspected, as the snow continued to fall, that there would be a few more accidents by the end of the day. This was my first experience of driving the Yeti in snow and apart from one icy slide it fared pretty well. Back in Glasgow early enough for a trip to Tiso's and home at a reasonable hour.

View to Beinn Avon
ImageP1040995 by 23weasels, on Flickr

..and Beinn a'Bhuird
ImageP1040996 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1040997 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Nearing the top
ImageP1040998 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050002 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050003 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050004 by 23weasels, on Flickr

More snow to fall...
ImageP1050005 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050007 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050011 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050012 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Carn na Drochaide from Dalgowan, on the road to Braemar
ImageP1050013 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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Re: Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Postby AnnieMacD » Mon Dec 08, 2014 12:04 am

Good for you getting out this weekend. It's been pretty dismal here with thunder and lightning all afternoon today and rain yesterday. Great photos of the snow.
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Re: Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:54 am

Looks a good trip, nothing better on a viciously cold morning than vicarious enjoyment of someone else's winter walking :lol: We're planning a backpacking trip to the Eastern Cairngorms next summer so it was good to see the landscape, thanks.
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Re: Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Postby robertphillips » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:12 am

well done wm east was best over the weekend, wasnt far away from yis in ballater all weekend bagging marilyns.
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Re: Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Postby PeteR » Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:25 pm

You two are hardy souls, that's for sure :clap:

I took this weekend off........to bag me some Christmas shopping :lol:

Some very nice snowy shots on day 2. I did that Corbett as part of a circuit taking in Avon and a'Bhuird.
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Re: Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Postby Fife Flyer » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:52 pm

Nice one Al, enjoyed that :clap:

As Pete said you two are sooooo keen, camping in December is not what I would describe as fun :lol: :lol:
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Re: Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:16 pm

Ahhh, you two hardy creatures :lol:
We hope to return to the Braemar side of the Cairngorms next summer (really enjoyed camping by Clunie Water this year). We have 4 Munros left to do here, plus a few Corbetts... Enough to keep us occupied for a few days.

I wonder if this snow will last till the end of the year... Very unlikely we'll be able to do any hillwalking before Christmas - Kevin is working as Santa's little helper :wink:
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Re: Braemar Corbetts and the first snow of the season

Postby jepsonscotland » Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:02 pm

Another couple of belters. :clap: :clap:
Glen Dee is amazing, but does go on and on!
A big day out, by any means!
Well done.
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