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Beaten at Braemar

Beaten at Braemar


Postby weaselmaster » Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:55 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Pressendye

Date walked: 31/01/2015

Time taken: 10.5 hours

Distance: 28.5 km

Ascent: 1176m

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Something should have told me this weekend was going to be a washout. We'd chosen to head to Braemar to try for 3 Corbetts: Culardoch & Carn Liath on Saturday, Creag nan Gabhar on Sunday despite the weather forecast of snow and "60-80mph winds". The first warning sign was Braemar Caravan Park letting me know that although they were open the camping area was "closed due to the weather". Oh well - I'd scoped out an altenative to camp at the parking space at Keiloch, so we could live with that. Then I realised I'd forgotten my walking trousers/top which necessitated a call in at home on the way off on Friday. The drive up was alright til we got to Glenshee - it started to snow - which hadn't been forecast til after midnight. Coupled with very strong cross-winds the spindrift coming from the sides of the road rose up in blinding flurries which made driving fun :roll: We passed through Braemar with not a lot of folk about and drove the couple or so miles to Invercauld Estate. I remembered being in Jamaica, coming across a "Great House" in Black River which bore the name "Invercauld Estate" having been built by 3 blokes from Scotland, now here I was in the original. Well it couldn't be much less like Jamaica here - about 4" snow covered the ground and it proved difficult to get the tent to pitch in stony compressed ground, but we managed eventually and parked the car across our wee corner to stop any zealous car parkers running over the tent. Not that there were any on a night like this.

Invercauld Great House - Black River, St Elizabeth's, Jamaica
Image2.07invercauld by 23weasels, on Flickr

Invercauld Estate, Braemar
ImageP1050601 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Morning dawned, although inside the tent remained gloomy on account of the accumulated snow on top. Shuffling it off we prepared breakfast and got ready to take the tent down - I don't usually leave it pitched if we're not at a campsite, although it seemed unlikely that many folk would be about today. So I agreed with Allison to leave it pitched and we set off along the track along past the estate houses and towards Invercauld House, turning up into the woods before we reached it. We had snowshoes on from the start today and seemed to have mastered walking in them after last week's practice. Heading up through the woods was reasonably pleasant, even when it started to snow we were protected from the might of the wind. However when we broke out of the trees, with Meall Gorm to our right, the wind became more of a challenge. There was only a blank white vista ahead, no sign of any hills we were supposed to be climbing. We plodded on, the snow in deep drifts in places, faces whipped by icy spindrift, visibility becoming less and less. Every so often grouse would emerge from beside the our feet and rise up into the maelstrom, to be rapidly engulfed in white. We came to the place where the track stopped - on the map at least - we hadn't been able to see any sign of it for snowcover for some while. Somewhere up to our right should be Culardoch, and to the left Carn Liath. i was fairly confident we'd get up Culardoch, hoping its western flank would have been scoured of snow by the gale, but less sure about Carn Liath, expecting heavy deposits of snow and maybe cornice on the east flanks we were supposed to ascend, without having any visibility. To make matters worse, the wind was blowing the fine spindrift so hard that it penetrated the ventilation holes in my goggles and had formed a layer of icy slush on the inside of the goggle lenses. It was therefore almost impossible to see anything - the surroundings were all white and I couldn't even see my GPS screen. We slumped down after being blown off our feet (note - snowshoes and very high winds don't mix well) and tried to have some food. The wee polythene clip bag I use for my coffee granules was torn out of my hands by a gust and went cartwheeling over the icy snow to end God knows where. The pleasures of a hot cup of water are somewhat less than of hot coffee, but at least it took the chill out of my throat. Allison was having similar problems with the wind/spindrift. I then took off my hardshell to put my belay jacket on underneath and had a tantrum when I couldn't get the hardshell zip done up - it must have taken about 20 minutes to fix, most likely a piece of ice in the bottom of the zip lug, but could I get it in - of course being unable to see properly or manipulate the zip with double gloves on, all the time being blasted with snow didn't help. We started off again in less than good spirits and when - after walking for a few hundred yards I took my goggles off to glimpse the GPS and saw we were walking the wrong way i agreed with Allison that we pack it in and head for home. I don't often give up on a hill, but today was just a step too far. I was annoyed with the failure of my goggles to permit visibility although I was pleased that I was warm and dry despite the worst of the weather. We trudged somewhat dejectedly back the way we'd come having taken an inordinate 6.5 hours to travel 16km and achieve no hills. By the time we returned to the tent the snow had settled another couple of inches on everything - I was glad we;d left it standing as it would have been a challenge to pitch in the deeper snow. We rallied somewhat with steaming mugs of homemade mushroom soup and some spicy chickpea/aubergine stew and turned in early. Allison kept a vigilant eye on the snow on the tent, pushing it off every half hour or so. My word it was snowing heavy for most of the night - again more than forecast.

Great day for the hills!
ImageP1050602 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Cosy Camping
ImageP1050603 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050605 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heading through the woods
ImageP1050606 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Our hills are somewhere ahead...
ImageP1050609 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Yeah :lol:
ImageP1050610 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Heading back - stripy trees
ImageP1050611 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050613 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Warm bed for the night?
ImageP1050614 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050615 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Sunday morning - we can see the snow level up the sides of the tent, half burying us. I'd been awake quite a lot of the night worried about driving - would we get out of the car park, would we get over Glenshee etc. No sound of traffic on the A93 we could hear, nothing going past on the road alongside the car park either. We got set to go about 9.30 - a full foot of snow now smothering the Yeti and burying all trace of the car park. Fortunately the car performed flawlessly in the snow and we tootled into Braemar to stop off at the public conveniences (always recommend these ones) before heading over to Creag nan Gabhar. Only to find, as we got to the southern edge of Braemar, that the snow gates were shut. Bugger :lol:

I reckoned that with the high winds, the drifts could be quite considerable and had no idea if / when the ploughs would have the road open. I didn;t fancy sitting around in Braemar so considered the option - head along Deeside and go home via Aberdeenshire. There must be a hill somewhere along here to do, so that we've managed something over the weekend? I knew that our remaining Corbetts were up in Moray and I wasn't heading form Tomintoul in present weather conditions. Allison switched on the GPS and found Pressendye, which looked possible. The roads to Tarland were relatively clear of snow and we parked up in the centre of the town. I knew this area vaguely from home visits when I used to live in Aberdeen, but it must have been more than 20 years since i was last in Tarland. We booted up and set off, without a proper map, but with the GPS.

The route is fortunately way marked as a "circular route" and heads north on track and road before entering a splendid corridor of beech trees. With an icy stripe running up the trunk of each tree it felt like walking into an enchanted realm. We'd left the snowshoes back at the car and for the first section of the walk this seemed reasonable. As we skirted through Gellie Wood the snow started, with the wind making conditions unpleasant for a bit. Then the sun came out and the sky was Cobalt Blue for a while. We were on open ground then walked through another wood at Pittenderich. The trees were heavily laden with snow and the only footprints were of lolloping hares. The snow was by this time getting deep and I regretted leaving the 'shoes behind. This was to intensify as we moved toward the top end of the wood and the final open section to the cairn. It took 50 minutes to cover this measly 1km, sinking up to mid thigh with each footstep and being blasted by wind. Eventually we reached a new deerfence and I used this to haul me up towards the summit, admiring the ice that had formed in the hexagonal spaces in the wire. Eventually made the top, in bright sunshine and sought shelter to eat our pieces behind the large cairn. Looking north I could see a band of heavy snow coming down over the Buck and Bennachie and thought we should be on our way back, so as not to get caught out by the weather another time. I decided we'd just follow our ascent route rather than complete the circuit - this would save 3km and allow us to use our own trail to follow. Back at the car it was a matter of driving snowy miles to Banchory then Stonehaven before getting onto the clear A90 and heading home. Quite a weekend, all for bagging 1 Graham too :? :lol:

Tarland
ImageP1050616 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050620 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050621 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Entering an enchanted realm
ImageP1050623 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Blizzard..
ImageP1050625 by 23weasels, on Flickr

..then sunshine
ImageP1050627 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Pressendye
ImageP1050630 by 23weasels, on Flickr

"path" through the trees
ImageP1050632 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Bit of a trudge
ImageP1050633 by 23weasels, on Flickr

The fence
ImageP1050636 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Icy hexagons
ImageP1050637 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050638 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050639 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050640 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050641 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050642 by 23weasels, on Flickr

More snow from the north
ImageP1050644 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Back through the woods
ImageP1050645 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050646 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Beech Corridor
ImageP1050647 by 23weasels, on Flickr

Red berries
ImageP1050648 by 23weasels, on Flickr

ImageP1050649 by 23weasels, on Flickr
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weaselmaster
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby basscadet » Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:07 am

Good effort in those Conditions.. Saturday was wild :crazy:

Even we thought it was a bit cold for camping this weekend, and got ourselves a wee hobbit hoose :lol:
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby The Rodmiester » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:40 pm

Good effort you two Crazy People :crazy: :crazy: :clap: :clap: At least you got Pressendye done. I just knew that the snow gated were going to be closed, that's the East Coast for you :lol: :lol: Hope your going to head back to retrieve your polythene clip bag you litter lout :lol: The things you do for blue balloons, Well done again :)
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:55 pm

The Rodmiester wrote:Hope your going to head back to retrieve your polythene clip bag you litter lout :lol:


Cheers, Rod - believe me I searched about for it - felt in need of a strong coffee after all that wind and spindrift, but alas it had departed somewhere towards Ben Avon. Will use a different sort of container that's not so blow-away-able in future :D
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby PeteR » Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:16 pm

There's a lot to be said for Grahams and Donalds :D My knowledge of the Southern Uplands and Galloway areas is set to increase in recent weeks as I tick a few of them off, rather than risk heading north along snowy roads (not my favourite driving conditions :shock: ). I'm leaving Corbetts and Munros for springtime onwards, unless the weather makes it a "no brainer" at the time.

But despite your trials you still managed some good photos from your two days :clap:
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby weaselmaster » Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:17 pm

PeteR wrote:There's a lot to be said for Grahams and Donalds :D My knowledge of the Southern Uplands and Galloway areas is set to increase in recent weeks as I tick a few of them off, rather than risk heading north along snowy roads (not my favourite driving conditions :shock: ). I'm leaving Corbetts and Munros for springtime onwards, unless the weather makes it a "no brainer" at the time.

But despite your trials you still managed some good photos from your two days :clap:


Aye Pete, the Galloway Hills were getting the green light on the BBC Scotland weather spot on Friday night.
We were just keen to get a bit of practice in for the next week's challenge - 10 days in Torridon climbing proper hills in the snow :shock: Something I am feeling less than happy about at the moment but what could possibly go wrong :? :lol:
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby Collaciotach » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:35 pm

I was down Luss on Saturday visiting a friend ,could see spindrift from the road up on the tops which were clear and bright sun making me think I was missing something ..... maybe not ! :wink:

Your hardy !
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby malky_c » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:53 pm

Hmmm - think I'd have picked driving up on Saturday morning to camping (or perhaps just staying in bed till 11, which is what I actually did). Good effort :lol:

Nice avenue of beech trees on the way up Pressendye - missed those out myself but I'm still not sure exactly how....probably started from the wrong place :?
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby Fife Flyer » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:06 pm

Good effort, you two really are on a mission :lol:

I am with Pete on the Munro front, hence the trips down south.
Not worried about driving on snow even in my car, don't want to drive miles only to find a road is closed :wink:
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby Graeme D » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:49 pm

Estais locos!!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:09 pm

malky_c wrote:Hmmm - think I'd have picked driving up on Saturday morning to camping (or perhaps just staying in bed till 11, which is what I actually did). Good effort :lol:

Nice avenue of beech trees on the way up Pressendye - missed those out myself but I'm still not sure exactly how....probably started from the wrong place :?


It was a very pretty avenue indeed (though I prefer the term "corridor" as it was narrow)
I've just been reading your Torridon Corbett reports seeing as we're heading up that way this weekend - some crackers there, might pinch some of your routes if the conditions permit
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:13 pm

Graeme D wrote:Estais locos!!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:


nah Graeme, the week coming up is going to be Estais muy Locos - last weekend was just a wee daunder in the snow and wind :lol:
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby weaselmaster » Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:16 pm

Fife Flyer wrote:Good effort, you two really are on a mission :lol:


The mission was a very straightforward 2 Corbetts a weekend.
We've done badly this month - 5 weekends, only 5 Corbetts.
Bad bad weather :thumbdown:
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby rockhopper » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:35 am

think I'll just stick to English........you're barmy :lol: :wink: :wink: - cheers :)
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Re: Beaten at Braemar

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:45 am

Some seriously crazy people about :wink: :lol: :lol:

Well done for managing a hill after all, in these conditions. We had to abandon any hopes for getting to Loch Affric... The access road was too snowy.

I remember Culardoch and Carn Liath as one of the easiest, most pleasant Corbett duos, a good track almost to the summit of Culardoch and not much re-ascent to the second hill, plus nice views, especially to Lochnagar and Ben Avon. Great autumn stroll. How bad weather can change the perspective... :D
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