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An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee


Postby jupe1407 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:46 am

Route description: An Socach from Glen Clunie

Munros included on this walk: An Socach (Braemar)

Date walked: 21/02/2015

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 773m

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I hadn't intended going out at all this weekend, but a sudden turn to an acceptably clear forecast, albeit accompanied by ferociously cold winds at the tops meant a change of plan, which is a more impressive way of saying heading up a hill was marginally preferable to dossing around the house all day :lol:

The forecast was for a clear morning, with poor weather coming in later afternoon. I woke up at 4:30am, had a bit to eat and headed for Glen Shee. The roads were better than expected and i was well up Glen Isla by 5:30am, so i stopped off at backwater dam as the stars were still out.

An Socach 01.jpg
Backwater Dam, Glen Isla


After faffing around here for a very cold half hour, I headed off through Glen Shee and soon arrived at the small layby south of the gate into Baddoch Cottage. It was absolutely freezing, and my fingers were hurting just tying my bootlaces. I set off shortly after 7:00am, through the gate and following the access track to the cottage, which looks to be some sort of holiday cottage now. It was empty anyway.

An Socach 03.jpg
Baddoch Cottage


An Socach 04.jpg
Back towards Glen Clunie


I headed on past, following the fine track up the glen. After around 1.8 miles comes the burn crossing, at which i faffed around trying to find a crossing point :lol: Eventually i found one, and got across without any amusing slips or disasters. A rougher path heads up the hillside from here. It gains height fairly quickly. My legs were pretty stiff after a spin class the night before and I wasn't hugely enjoying this part. The skies were dull, it was freezing and I was starting to get the "Can I be ars*d?" today question.

An Socach 05.jpg
Heading to Socach Mor


I stopped at the Socach Mor cairn for a breather after taking a wee while to reach it. The ground was a mix of frozen turf and solid snow, though I'd imagine this bit is extremely boggy in spring/summer.

An Socach 06.jpg
View from the Socach Mor cairn


Swapping the walking pole for the ice axe, and donning thicker gloves, I headed along the gentle rise to approach the initial, and steep-looking ascent of An Socach itself.

An Socach 07.jpg
An Socach


My laziness in failing to invest in crampons resulted in me spending 20 minutes cutting steps in the steep and solid snow. The sun had come out to brighten my mood and I was nice and toasty after the step-cutting. After the initially steep section, the slopes ease slightly and it's a fairly easy walk up to the massive summit plateau. The sun stayed out for the rest of the walk, but it was absolutely bitter, with strong winds dropping the temperature to what felt like around -10. The views however were fantastic.

An Socach 08.jpg
Beinn a'Ghlo in the distance


An Socach 09.jpg
Carn a'Gheoidh, Carn Bhinnein and Glas Tulaichean


An Socach 10.jpg
Glas Tulaichean (zoomed)


I didn't stop long at the first cairn, I'd had the gloves off for about two minutes and was absolutely baltic :lol: I headed off along the plateau. It's a fair distance to the summit cairn at the far end, and the strong wind was bitingly cold, and in my face the whole way. It took around 40 minutes to reach the summit shelter (also visited the wee cairn beyond - just in case :lol: ). The views were still glorious, despite the cold.

An Socach 11.jpg
Back to the 938m Top


I'd been looking forward to a wee shelter to eat my cheese pieces, however it was not to be :(

An Socach 13.jpg
Snow-packed Summit Shelter Cairn


It was too cold to hang around so i set off fairly quickly, looking forward to descending out of the wind. Though another photo-stop couldn't be helped.

An Socach 12.jpg
Beinn Iutharn Mor and it's wee brother


An Socach 14.jpg
Glas Tulaichean, Mam nan Carn and Beinn Iutharn Beag


The walk back was considerably quicker, partly due to wind assistance, but mainly due to the fact that it was absolutely freezing, and I wanted a sheltered spot to have my piece. I headed back along the plateau and carefully descended, soon picking up the steep section where i'd previously cut steps. Rather than gingerly work my way down the steps, I opted for a combination of bumsliding, using the axe as a brake. It wasn't bonny but was good fun and made quick work of the descent. Having seen no-one all day I met a couple of guys at different stages on the way up, I hope they enjoyed the hill as much as i did.

An Socach 15.jpg
Steep section


An Socach 16.jpg
Back towards Socach Mor


The rest of the walk was a relaxed meander to the Socach Mor cairn, then down to the vehicle track. A last shot back up the hill was impossible to resist though, and a big contrast to the dullness of the early morning ascent.

An Socach 17.jpg
Socach Mor and An Socach - A slight contrast to the ascent!


After that I wandered along the vehicle track, bumped into another couple of walkers and found shelter to finally eat my cheese piece :lol:

All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable winter walk, especially as i hadn't been expecting much on the way up. It's probably fairly bland in summer, but this makes a tremendous winter walk.
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jupe1407
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby rockhopper » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:58 am

nice one, jupe - the forecast certainly looked better for the east yesterday - great photos as ever, esp the first one of the stars - cheers :)
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby danielarn » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:09 pm

We were on Beinn a Ghlo yesterday and had similar conditions! Great views but nippy wind! Great snow conditions too!
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:10 pm

rockhopper wrote:nice one, jupe - the forecast certainly looked better for the east yesterday - great photos as ever, esp the first one of the stars - cheers :)


Thanks Rockhopper :D

It did look rather grim further west, and the high 'gorms looked a bit foreboding as well.
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:11 pm

danielarn wrote:We were on Beinn a Ghlo yesterday and had similar conditions! Great views but nippy wind! Great snow conditions too!


Beinn a'Ghlo looks pretty special in winter. I did it in blazing heat in July. It looked fantastic yesterday (from a distance). Hope you had a great day!
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby litljortindan » Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:11 pm

Good set of pictures to inspire a visit. On a warmer day for me though!
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby Collaciotach » Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:05 pm

Some great photos :D

I did this one at midnight in July last year , sure looks different today :D
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:02 pm

That first photo is just amazing - the rest are good too :D :D Enjoyed this hill in winter conditions many years ago - although without such a ferocious wind. Thanks for bringing back some lovely memories :clap:
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby Graeme D » Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:08 pm

Good stuff as ever JP. Love the pink tinge to some of the early shots on the walk in. I did this one around this time of year too on a similar sort of day. Definitely a hill best walked in winter I think. :D
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby Fife Flyer » Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:28 pm

Nice one JP, photo's up to your usual high standard :clap: :clap:

We were up there March last year & it wasn't overly warm then either, I ended up down a waste deep snow hole, much to my colleagues amusement of course :lol: :lol:

Rather than get crampons JP, have a look on EBay for micro spikes, got mine for £9.99 + postage, do a great job and much easier to fit. I have crampons and still to try them out :lol: :lol:
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:01 am

Collaciotach wrote:Some great photos :D
I did this one at midnight in July last year , sure looks different today :D


Thanks Collaciotach. I've been toying with the idea of a moonlit mountain walk myself, just need to figure out where!

Huff_n_Puff wrote:That first photo is just amazing - the rest are good too :D :D Enjoyed this hill in winter conditions many years ago - although without such a ferocious wind. Thanks for bringing back some lovely memories :clap:


Thanks :D

Graeme D wrote:Good stuff as ever JP. Love the pink tinge to some of the early shots on the walk in. I did this one around this time of year too on a similar sort of day. Definitely a hill best walked in winter I think. :D


It was a lovely morning, bit cold though :lol: But definitely a good winter walk, though might revisit in summer with Anne.

Fife Flyer wrote:Nice one JP, photo's up to your usual high standard :clap: :clap:

We were up there March last year & it wasn't overly warm then either, I ended up down a waste deep snow hole, much to my colleagues amusement of course :lol: :lol:

Rather than get crampons JP, have a look on EBay for micro spikes, got mine for £9.99 + postage, do a great job and much easier to fit. I have crampons and still to try them out :lol: :lol:


Excellent idea Martin. The internet is being scoured :lol: I remember your report last year. Didn't you have to come back due to the river being in spate?

litljortindan wrote:Good set of pictures to inspire a visit. On a warmer day for me though!


Thanks :D
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby Beaner001 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:20 am

Great pictures Jupe, can I ask what type of camera you use? All your photos seem to be top notch :clap: :clap:
Well done
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby BlackPanther » Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:42 pm

Fantastic. This is a winter hill and on a good day views are spectacular. I did it in similar conditions a couple of years ago and spent far too much time wandering around the summit area. Thanks for bringing back memories :D :D
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby jupe1407 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:16 pm

Beaner001 wrote:Great pictures Jupe, can I ask what type of camera you use? All your photos seem to be top notch :clap: :clap:
Well done


Thanks Beaner. I now use a Canon 6D (I was using a 70D until 3 or 4 weeks ago). It handles noise and higher ISO really well. I was using an ancient EF 28-80mm standard lens with it.

BlackPanther wrote:Fantastic. This is a winter hill and on a good day views are spectacular. I did it in similar conditions a couple of years ago and spent far too much time wandering around the summit area. Thanks for bringing back memories :D :D


Thanks BP. Coincidentally, I used your report as inspiration when looking for a near-ish single hill. I spent far less time on the summit plateau than you guys though!!

Brilliant day out though, thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Re: An Socach - An Unexpected Gem in Glen Shee

Postby PeteR » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:18 pm

Superb photos JP......as others have rightly said.

I need to return to this hill, as the day I did it a few winters back I ended up clagged in for most of it, so missed any views.

It's also the site of my only hill walking injury to date......a eventual lost fingernail occasioned by a slip on some ice on the plateau and punching a rock as I fell :shock: "Ouch", I said. So I need to be putting that right somehow.
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