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Caught out at the end of a good day

Caught out at the end of a good day


Postby Silverhill » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:46 pm

Munros included on this walk: Carn a'Gheoidh, Meall Chuaich, The Cairnwell

Date walked: 26/07/2014

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 24.7 km

Ascent: 1249m

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


Meall Chuaich, 15.3km, 668m, 4 hrs 30 min
The Cairnwell, Carn a' Gheoidh, 9.4km, 579m, 3hrs

So, what do you do when you’ve just arrived home from an exhausting fortnight of consecutive munro bagging? Start planning for next year of course! So that same evening I was studying maps and salivating over hills I could do next. Feeling a bit miserable that it wouldn’t be for another 50 weeks. Hold on, why wait a year? Especially with a week’s worth of annual leave left, to take before the end of August! Roll on a sneaky trip!

Meall Chuaich had got away in June, but this meant I had an easy hill to start my week off with. I parked at layby 94 and had a chat with another walker who had parked shortly after me. He and his dog were also going for Meall Chuaich.
This hill gets bad press. It doesn’t look very exciting the way it sits there shyly, turning away from you with a hunched back and donning camouflage kit. I’d been to the area before, in a pre-munro life, and thought the setting of this hill at the foot of the loch was absolutely lovely. So I was looking forward to returning.

It was just 9am, but it was already getting hot. The water in the aqueduct looked very tempting, but a refreshing splash had to wait until I got to the river just behind the little hydro station.

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Meall Chuaich emerging

Then onwards along the good track, turning right before the loch, past the bothy, crossing the river and up the hill. Meall Chuaich is a friendly hill. I can see why people save it for winter. First it’s gentle slopes, then the ascent steepens, eases off again, then a bit steeper, a flat section, a stony ascent, gentle slopes and then the summit. Ideal for my first day.

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Lovely loch Cuaich

The summit cairn is pretty impressive, just like the views. Towards the other Drumochter hills, Ben Alder, the Cairngorms. Ah, how lovely and peaceful it was up here. After a sandwich and many pictures I started on the descent, with an extra item of luggage in the shape of an empty tray of chicken drumsticks, which someone had left at the cairn.

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Summit Meall Chuaich

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Summit Meall Chuaich

On the way down I met the walker from the car park. We both agreed that Meall Chuaich was a very pleasant hill. Still lower down I had a chat with a father and son duo. Dad had already compleated and now happily accompanied his son every now and then.

All the while on the hill there had been a cooling breeze but once back down it was very muggy. I made a detour to the loch. It was very idyllic with the little hut and two fishermen. One was hoping to catch his lunch, but had had no luck so far. Even though the loch is a mere 3 kilometers from the road as the crow flies, it felt remote. It was very peaceful.

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Loch Cuaich

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Tour de France like finish

It was only 1pm when I got back to the car. A quick rummage through my map copies, and YES! There would be time for a few more hills today. Onwards to Glen Shee. As it was my holiday I took the tourist route from Pitlochry to Kirkmichael and from there along the B-road to Glen Shee. This was an exhilarating tour with cars driving on the wrong side of the road and suicidal sheep jumping in front of the car. Otherwise it was very pastoral.


The Cairnwell, Carn a' Gheoidh.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


I was glad to get out of the car again and onto the hills, the Cairnwell three to be precise. Given the chance of thunderstorms which had been forecast for later today, these hills were perfect. Not only is there the high start, but they are also close to the road, so lots of opportunities for emergency exits. In addition, with plenty of ironworks around it would be pretty unlucky if lightning were to hit a walker.
Without wasting time I got stuck in. Straight up the Cairnwell. The chairlift was operating and lots of families were enjoying their trip up. I didn’t feel the need to catch a ride: first day, fresh legs, good weather, plenty of time.

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Halfway up the Cairnwell

Actually the ascent wasn’t too steep, as long as you don’t follow the line of the chairlift. It took only 35 minutes. It was very windy on the summit and all sheltered places were occupied. So I took a few pictures and then went downhill again to eat a sandwich out of the wind. The views from here to Carn nan Sac and Carn a’ Gheoidh were amazing. Because of the high start I hadn’t expected anything spectacular. How wrong I was. The magnificent corrie, the steep slopes of Carn nan Sac and the Cairnwell sweeping down to the road. Fantastic!

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Cairnwell summit with view towards Carn a' Gheoidh

I skirted the 873m hump on its left on a narrow path that was clinging neatly to the hillside. The path then contoured to the head of the corrie, arriving at a trench-like bealach. Gentle slopes and then it was freewheeling along the ridge past the lovely lochans and with great views back to the steep slopes of the Cairnwell.

It was getting muggier and the sun had disappeared. The weather was going to change soon. Preferably I’d be off the hill before the rain arrived. So I took a short cut by continuing below Carn nan Sac to the next bealach. These are lovely hills for walking, nice firm ground, no mud, peat or bog around, making for quick progress which suited me perfectly right now.

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Shelter on the way to Carn a' Gheoidh

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Summit Carn a' Gheoidh, view towards the Cairnwell

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Summit Carn a' Gheoidh, bad weather on the way

The views from Carn a’ Gheoidh towards Glas Maol and Creag Leacach were fantastic. But I didn’t stay long, mindful of the looming weather. On the way back, when passing the lochans it started to rain and there was some distant rumbling. I stopped for the waterproofs and rain cover for the rucksack. Then took a few pictures of the lochans and the view over the road.
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View towards Creag Leacach, last ever picture of my camera :-(

Visibility was still surprisingly good. But not for long. As I started jogging along the hummocky ridge at the head of the corrie, hell broke loose. Horizontal rain, turning into hail, fierce wind, thunder and lightning, no visibility. I counted in between the flashes and thunder. It was getting closer. Best to get off the hill now, but not via the Cairnwell and all that iron on it. I only managed a few more yards before moving got impossible because of the wind. I pulled my hood down as far as possible to keep the lashing hail out of my eyes and as a result couldn’t see where I was going. Not that there was much to see anyway. OK, I’d have to sit this one out, until the wind eased off. Luckily the wind was blowing away from the steep east side of the ridge. The other side was much less steep, so that’s where I hunched down and waited for it all to pass, with lightning and thunder now following in quick succession. KLABANG! *curses* That sounded like something had served as a lightning rod! The thunder was now drowned out by the sound of my hammering heart. There is always an upside….

After 5 minutes or so the hail seemed to have become less. Ah, it had now turned back into rain. I got up and walked back to the ridge. The wind was much less as well. Good! On a compass bearing I followed the ridge back to the trench-like bealach and from there found a path heading north to Butcharts Corrie. At the bealach visibility was much better. I walked down west to take a picture of Loch Vrotachan. Unfortunately my camera didn’t work anymore.

There were still rumblings of thunder. I wasn’t going to tempt fate and continue up Carn Aosda. The thunderstorm might go round in circles and come back! So it was down the good track back to the car park. Here I had a chat with a couple which had also made a hasty retreat from the hills.
This was the first time I’ve been caught out in weather like this in the hills. Not entirely a bad experience, but I’m not asking for a repeat!
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Silverhill
 
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Re: Caught out at the end of a good day

Postby simon-b » Sun Jan 11, 2015 11:27 am

I agree, Meall Chuaich is a nice hill with good views. The storm sounded rough, but a good day overall, it would seem.
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Re: Caught out at the end of a good day

Postby Gordie12 » Sun Jan 11, 2015 12:23 pm

Hi Silverhill

I've climbed Meall Chuaich 3 times now and enjoyed each trip. Next time I'll take in the Graham (Creag Ruadh) at the other side of Loch Cuaich.

The afternoon in Glenshee sounded quite exciting. It's amazing how loud thunder sounds in the hills.

Sounds like it will be a while before I read another of your reports...........
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Re: Caught out at the end of a good day

Postby Silverhill » Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:18 pm

simon-b wrote:I agree, Meall Chuaich is a nice hill with good views. The storm sounded rough, but a good day overall, it would seem.

Thanks simon-b! :D The thunderstorm was pretty scary and I was glad I didn’t panic!
Gordie12 wrote:Hi Silverhill, I've climbed Meall Chuaich 3 times now and enjoyed each trip. Next time I'll take in the Graham (Creag Ruadh) at the other side of Loch Cuaich.
The afternoon in Glenshee sounded quite exciting. It's amazing how loud thunder sounds in the hills.
Sounds like it will be a while before I read another of your reports...........

Thanks Gordie12! :D I would like to try Meall Chuaich in winter too. Yes it surely was Dolby Surround thunder! More reports to follow soon, used the Christmas holidays to catch up.
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Re: Caught out at the end of a good day

Postby The Rodmiester » Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:15 pm

Hi there Silverhill, enjoyed your report, so I'm not alone in taking rubbish down from the hills, join the club :D Meall Chuaich is a fine hill with good views from the top. I must admit I don't care very m uch for Thunder and Lightning on the hills, and will like you probably head off ASAP, if I can. Pity about your camera, I had the same thing happen to me in December with my phone, I forgot to put it in a dry bag in my wee rucksack, tried to dry it out with rice as instructed to by my daughter to no avail :( , bye bye flip top bog standard basic model, hello new style very fancy smart phone. :crazy: At least you picked up 3 blue ballons on a day that the forecast was poor, cannot be bad :)
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Re: Caught out at the end of a good day

Postby gammy leg walker » Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:25 pm

Nice TR Silverhill didn't much like the sound of all the thunder & lightening.
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Re: Caught out at the end of a good day

Postby Silverhill » Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:34 pm

The Rodmiester wrote:Hi there Silverhill, enjoyed your report, so I'm not alone in taking rubbish down from the hills, join the club :D Meall Chuaich is a fine hill with good views from the top. I must admit I don't care very m uch for Thunder and Lightning on the hills, and will like you probably head off ASAP, if I can. Pity about your camera, I had the same thing happen to me in December with my phone, I forgot to put it in a dry bag in my wee rucksack, tried to dry it out with rice as instructed to by my daughter to no avail :( , bye bye flip top bog standard basic model, hello new style very fancy smart phone. :crazy: At least you picked up 3 blue ballons on a day that the forecast was poor, cannot be bad :)

Thanks Rod! :D I’m sure (well, hope) people don’t intentionally leave rubbish on the hills. To notice rubbish and then let it lie would be as bad as leaving it there in the first place. I hope you find your way with the fancy new phone soon. 8) I’ve now made a little dry bag for my new camera.

gammy leg walker wrote:Nice TR Silverhill didn't much like the sound of all the thunder & lightening.

Thanks gammy leg walker! :D I didn’t like it either but it was still a useful experience, just in case I get caught out again. :shock:
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