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Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit


Postby SecretSquirrel » Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:28 pm

Route description: White Mounth Munros, Glen Muick

Munros included on this walk: Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch, Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Lochnagar

Date walked: 05/07/2015

Time taken: 8.5 hours

Distance: 28.84 km

Ascent: 1228m

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Another walk I've had on the todo list for some time. At last all the elements came together, good & improving weather forecast plus a bonus overnight hill pass from home :lol: I set of on Saturday evening and was parked at the Spittal of Glenmuick car park by 10pm. With plenty of daylight left I had a wonder down to the Loch, checking out the start of tomorrows route on the way. As a bonus I discovered the toilet facilities were still open and for a double-bonus - the Visitor Centre (which appears unmanned and operated on an honesty basis) was still open so I scored a hot chocolate from the vending machine :D After watching deer herds in the twilight, ambling across the hills and others crossing the River Muick, I settled down for the night in anticipation of the next days round of the White Mounth.

River Muick flowing from the Loch
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I woke early at 04:30 from the noise of a group of black & white sea fairing type birds having a squabble nearby! Noisy little blighters :lol: I decided it was time to get organised with breakfast and get started on the hills. By 5am I was heading for Lochnagar.

Lochnagar Buttresses & Meikle Pap
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The morning was very atmospheric. The sun was still dawning, mist was hanging over the loch and glens and wispy cloud was shrouding the hills. The walk to Lochnagar is mostly on a good track and then a good stalkers path/trail. The paths are well maintained, lots of stone steps and drainage channels.

The morning mist in the Glens below
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A stone staircase goes up to the bealach between Lochnagar and Meikle Pap, passing a memorial to the left. Reaching the Bealach, the view to Lochnagar's cliffs and buttresses open up.

Cliffs of Lochnagar
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I briefly considered a diversion up onto Meikle Pap for the views down into Lochnagar's corrie and loch, but let my feet do the thinking and instead turned left to head up the rocky 'Ladder' of boulders to gain the top of the corrie.

The diversion up the Meikle Pap
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The Ladder easily negotiated, having kept to the left away from the drop to the corrie on the right. Reaching the top there is a series of cairns guiding you around the corries edge, keeping away from the eroded slips, leading back onto a well defined path heading up towards Cac Carn Mor.

Lochnagar Buttresses
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I've been quite lucky on my last couple of trips with wildlife sights and even luckier to snap photographs of some. Today was mostly the usual affair of startled grouse getting revenge by startling the #*$! out of me, also the occasional mountain hare and bunny wabbit.

Ptarmigan
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The path to Cac Carn Mor merges with a more solid looking path which comes up from Loch Muick via Glas-Alt-Shiel. Shortly after the impressive cairn of CCM, there is a smaller waymarker cairn showing the split in paths for Lochnagar and Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach. The summit of Lochnagar is just a short distance ahead - although in the mist it looked quite far and menacing!

Summit of Lochnagar, looking deceivingly distant in the cloud
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The walk along the top of Lochnagar, with its cliffs, buttresses and pinnacle dropping down into the corrie and its loch is very impressive. Although you can't actually see down into the corrie from this vantage point, the surrounding views are stunning.

Cornice filling a notch in the cliffs
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The summit of Lochnagar is topped off with a trig point and view finder. There is a boulder which sits higher than the trig point and just cried out for me to clamber up and reach the highest point.

The summit of Lochnagar
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Thankfully the cloud which had earlier obscured the summit had moved briskly on and left clear views all around.

Summit view
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More views from Lochnagar summit
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Throughout the morning, the cloud continued to lift and the mist burn off, leaving behind mostly blue skies. From the summit of Lochnagar, the next summit of Carn a Choire Bhoidheach didn't look far away.

View across to Loch nan Eun & The Stuic and (just out of shot on the left) target #2 for the day
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From Lochnagar, a quick jaunt back to the waymarker cairn and a right turn heading SW saw me on the good obvious path heading around Coire Lochan nan Eun. The mound of Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach is clearly visible all the way.

Following the path to Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach
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I followed the path around between CBC and The Stuic, where there is a small cairn marking the ascent to the summit of CBC. The main path loops around bypassing the summit, and to be honest, if it wasn't a listed Munro to be bagged, there aren't many reasons why you would go to the top. The summit is only a short diversion to the south, off the path and up the baggers footsteps.

Summit cairn on Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach
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Looking back to Lochnagar summit on the left and on the right, cairn of Cac Carn Mor
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Visibility was excellent and the skies still blue, so rather than double back down the baggers path, I headed west off the summit and could soon see the path skirting around below. Getting back down onto the path, the next summit target of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor was clearly visible, as was its easterly top of Carn an t-Sagairt Beag.

Target #3 of the day, the grassy lump of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor
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I decided again to go off-piste, leaving the path early to take a line for the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor. Althouth a grassy lump of a hill, it has great views across to the Glenshee hills. I could also vaguely make out the Ski Centre as glint of sunshine reflecting off something. This is also one of the rare places in the area where I had a phone signal, presumably because of the direct line of sight to the gubbins on top of the Cairnwell?

Summit cairn on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor
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The views west were pretty good. I'm not the best at scanning views and naming hills, but I did have a go at spotting hills I'd been on, presumably the likes of Cairn of Claise, Tolmount, Carn an Tuiric, etc

I think ... Carn an Tuirc? Which would mean Loch Kander is down below
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Leaving the summit of CSM, there is a good clear trail, heading SSE, back down to join the main path. At the bottom, there is a junction of paths. The main path which I have rejoined, continues contouring around CSM and eventually down to Loch Callater. However, for the White Mounth circuit, I carried on straight through the crossroads, continuing in a SSE direction heading for Cairn Bannoch

Onwards ... next Cairn Bannoch (right) and Broad Cairn (left)
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After the junction, the path to Cairn Boddoch gets a bit boggy and indistinct. But, after a bit of uphill , height is gained and it becomes much easier underfoot.

Approach to the summit of Cairn Bannoch
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It doesn't take long before reaching the rocky top of Cairn Bannoch. The views to Broad Cairn are pretty good but the view of Eagles Rock really stands out. The rock of the cliff is glistening wet and waterfalls pour down into Loch Dubh below.

Summit cairn on Bannoch
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White Mounth Eagles Rock
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Sitting on the summit of Cairn Bannoch, Broad Cairn looked quite a distance. Fortunately, as is often the case, the distance involved was much shorter than it first appeared!

Final target of the day, Broad Cairn
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It doesn't take long before the rocky top and Tor of Broad Cairn are within reach. Its a little bit of a boulder hop to reach the summit cairn - but the boulder field on this side of the hill is nothing compared to the descent on the eastern side.

Broad Cairn summit
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The top of Broad Cairn has pretty decent views. I spent some time here giving the feet a rest while soaking up the views down to Loch Muick. It was only here that it dawned on me how long the walk out was going to be! I could make out the line of the path snaking its way around the loch before going out of sight behind the hill of An t-Sron.

View down to Loch Muick and the distance back to the car!
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View past Craig of Gowall to Loch Esk
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After negotiating the descent from Broad Cairn and its potentially ankle twisting/breaking boulder field, a broad highway of a track is reached which leads down over LIttle Craig to the top of Corrie Chash.

The highway leading back up to Broad Cairn which stops short of the boulder field
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I had choice of routes; down Corrie Cash to the lochside path, or the high path above the loch. I opted to stay high. Partly because the contour lines down the corrie looked steep! But I'll say it was mostly to get views from up high down to the loch :lol: .

Looking back to Broad Cairn
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Taking the high path paid dividends with views to the loch, also along Allt an dubh-loch and Broad Cairn.

Rivers and Burns filling Loch Muick
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The high path eventually drops down to join the lochside path by the Black Burn gully. Being a Sunday afternoon, there were quite a few people out walking along the lochside path. Despite tired legs and feet, it was a pleasant 3km walk back to the car from here.

The path back to the Spittal of Glenmuick
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The early morning rousing by the birds meant I was back at the car by 13:30. A much earlier return time that I had been anticipating given the length of walk. I was quite pleased with my time and really enjoyed the walk. It was good to tick off some hills that were high on my todo list for this year. :D

Lochnagar - White Mounth Circuit Album

I think this is the first Trip Report I have written up 'properly'. My reports are normally just for my own records and memories, with a nod to giving back to WH and the forums. They are usually a list of tagged photos and maybe a quick sentence or two as an introduction. This report just sort of grew as I added to it. Hopefully it does the White Mounth Circuit justice.

Writing this I have gained even more respect for all the regular contributors and the effort you guys put in. I want to give a shout of thanks to you all. Its great to read the reports on wild weekends indoors and gain loads of info for future walks. Thanks all!! :clap: :clap:
Last edited by SecretSquirrel on Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Postby KatTai » Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:59 pm

Great trip report and lovely photos :D I'm hoping to get up to Lochnagar at some point (hopefully within the next few weeks!) but the whole circuit is beyond my ability at the moment (maybe give it a few years time).
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Re: Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Postby Silverhill » Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:36 pm

A great round of which I have good memories. I look forward to reading your future ‘proper’ write-ups! :D
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Re: Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Postby SecretSquirrel » Tue Jul 07, 2015 4:45 pm

KatTai wrote:Great trip report and lovely photos :D I'm hoping to get up to Lochnagar at some point (hopefully within the next few weeks!) but the whole circuit is beyond my ability at the moment (maybe give it a few years time).


Thanks Kat. The ascent up Lochnagar is really the main climb for the circuit. After that its just distance, you barely notice the up and down of the other hills. But Lochnagar would make a great single hill on its own, its the most dramatic looking of all the White Mounth hills. Broad Cairn, at the other end of the circuit, would make a good single out and back too.

Silverhill wrote:A great round of which I have good memories. I look forward to reading your future ‘proper’ write-ups! :D


Thanks Silverhill :D Hopefully I'll do more actual write-ups but I suspect lazy habbits might creep back in :lol:
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Re: Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Postby ancancha » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:01 pm

Likewise high on my list, hopefully in the next week or so.
Thanks for posting, lets me see what I'm in for :clap:
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Re: Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Postby KatTai » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:35 pm

SecretSquirrel wrote:
KatTai wrote:Great trip report and lovely photos :D I'm hoping to get up to Lochnagar at some point (hopefully within the next few weeks!) but the whole circuit is beyond my ability at the moment (maybe give it a few years time).


Thanks Kat. The ascent up Lochnagar is really the main climb for the circuit. After that its just distance, you barely notice the up and down of the other hills. But Lochnagar would make a great single hill on its own, its the most dramatic looking of all the White Mounth hills. Broad Cairn, at the other end of the circuit, would make a good single out and back too.


Broad Cairn is certainly a possibility, I walk with one of my dogs (other is retired from hill walking) but as she is 11 years old this year I think the distance for the full circuit would be pushing it even though she is probably the fittest she has ever been this year!
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Re: Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Postby The Rodmiester » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:41 pm

Hi SecretSquirrel, a classic high level traverse, and you picked a good day for it, some cracking phototographs as well. Bet you enjoyed your day, the long days stay in your memory for longer :) Look forward to your next report. :D
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Re: Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Postby Gordie12 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:04 pm

Great round of hills and it looks like you had a brilliant day for it.

I love the early morning starts but sometimes (like last week) you get clag bound summits then once back down on lower ground, a quick look round and there are your hills totally clear of cloud - luckily, not a problem on this day.
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Re: Lochnagar - The White Mounth Circuit

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jul 08, 2015 10:24 am

Great story and it does the justice to this area. It brings back memories for me: exploring the slopes of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor looking for parts of the crashed plane, blue sky reflected in the loch, Eagle's Rock... It's a special place, The White Mounth.
I'm hoping to climb Lochnagar in full winter conditions. Maybe the coming winter will give me the chance!

We have already finished Munros in this area, so now we moved on to Corbetts. On Sunday we were waving to you from Creag nan Gabhar :D :D If you heard any wild meowing from that direction, well, that was me :lol:
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