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A tale of fences and three Deeside Grahams

A tale of fences and three Deeside Grahams


Postby Jaywizz » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:32 am

Grahams included on this walk: Creag Bhalg, Mona Gowan, Pressendye

Date walked: 20/04/2015

Distance: 22.5 km

Ascent: 1010m

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With the new SMC guide to Grahams and Donalds hot off the press - and a weighty tome it is too - I thought I would try a couple of the described routes.

Pressendye
6.4 km, 343m ascent, 1.75 hr
WH map 1.jpg

Good parking space beyond the farm at Boag and a short walk back to the signpost for the walk to 'Cushnie and Humphrey's Well'. The track was dry and inviting but the open field was full of cows with calves! Three barbed wire fences later I was safely in the forest, and took the smaller track up through the trees - a real heat trap on this brilliant windless day, a roe deer moved lazily into thicker cover rather than bounding away as they usually do.
WH P forest track.jpg
The smaller overgrown track leads up through the forest

WH P deer fence.jpg
Signposted path just inside the ever present deer fence

At the edge of the forest a gate lets you through a new deer fence into a bare plantation area; the path now tracks along beside the deer fence until passing through another smaller gate, the more open moorland is reached - but with a smaller old fence still running alongside.
WH P cairn.jpg
A tin box inside the shelter cairn holds a visitor book, pens and a cereal bar (I ate my chocolate)

Mona Gowan
6.8 km, 295m ascent, 2.5 hr
WH map 2.jpg

No adders today and no sign warning of them either - maybe the sign only goes up in summer? The steps were easily spotted beside the layby on the A939 (NJ 303052), and I followed a well-walked path up the hillside only to be confronted by a fence. I climbed the fence and followed the footpath past the cairns - only to find the path snaking backwards and forwards under the fence again. (Some naughty words here)..
WH MG footpath.jpg
I'm the wrong side of the fence - again

It made more sense to ignore the path and scrunch across the short dry heather; needless to say the deepest heather is found on the short drop to the col between Cairnagour Hill and the last pull up to the summit.
WH MG cairn.jpg
Victoria woz here - impressive Jubilee cairn and view to Morven

For the return route I ignored the path completely, stayed on the north side of the fence from Mona Gowan to Cairnagour Hill, then through the gate and stayed on the south side of the fence for the remainder of the way back.

21st April
Creag Bhalg
9.3 km, 372m ascent, 2.75 hrs
WH map 3.jpg

Plenty of parking space just beyond the bridge over the Lui (NO 070899). Passing through the gate in a new bit of deer fence (more fence!!!) just to the east of the river, I followed a small path up the left bank of the river. After the openness of yesterday's walks, parts of this walk are Deeside at its best - gloriously clear water on sparkly rocks, small rapids and pools, a gorge, the remains of an old fish ladder and dam, some great granny pines, and then, as the valley widens out, a broad meander in the river course with a beautiful sandy beach. Very tempting to take the boots off and paddle - but I knew it would be ice-cold.
WH CB bridge.jpg
Bridge where the riverside path meets the main track

The sunshine, the birdsong, the delight of being in the hills - I relaxed too much after joining the main track and forgot to look for the track bearing off on the left! Instead, after working up through open woodland, I found myself faced with a trek over old deep heather towards the hill. Thankfully I came across a track heading in the right direction (in the SMC guide, I should have been on a lower track which meets this one!) The deer fence and the stile mentioned in the book have been largely removed; the lone dead pine is still there, but much more obvious is a single solar panel on a mast. As I walked on, I found myself deliberating the transience of some 'waymarkers' - which will be there longer?
WH CB pine tree.jpg
Which is more permanent - a dead pine or a solar panel on a mast?

A good track continues to the summit and the views were fabulous.
WH CB cairns.jpg
Looking west towards the Cairngorm plateau

WH CB view north.jpg
Looking north over the Quoich to Beinn Bhreac

To return, I retraced my steps back to the main track, then followed forestry tracks down the hillside, reaching the road and a short walk on the tarmac back to the car.

So - would I walk these routes again? Certainly no for the first two walks, too many fences (ok if you are bagging hills but not pleasurable) but yes, I would go back to Creag Bhalg for the varied landscapes and fabulous views.
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Jaywizz
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 226
Munros:237   Corbetts:32
Grahams:70   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:123   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:4   
Joined: Sep 16, 2012

Re: A tale of fences and three Deeside Grahams

Postby KatTai » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:18 pm

The last walk looks great, though I may have to do it in reverse otherwise I'm never likely to get away from the water with my two water-loving dogs!
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KatTai
Wanderer
 
Posts: 777
Munros:48   Corbetts:15
Grahams:8   Donalds:2
Sub 2000:25   
Islands:25
Joined: Feb 12, 2015

Re: A tale of fences and three Deeside Grahams

Postby Jaywizz » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:06 pm

It would be fun to go back late summer (warmer water hopefully) with a wetsuit and float through the gorge!
User avatar
Jaywizz
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 226
Munros:237   Corbetts:32
Grahams:70   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:123   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:4   
Joined: Sep 16, 2012

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