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First wild camp by Lochnagar

First wild camp by Lochnagar


Postby AndyHall » Tue Jun 29, 2010 10:55 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: 18/06/2010

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 29 km

Ascent: 1289m

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Quick scene setter... A good friend from uni was getting married at Mar Lodge (amazing venue, can't believe it's available to rent out!) and as I'd so far neglected the hills down that neck of the woods, thought I'd take a day off work the day before the wedding to nip up some hills... the plot thickened when I realised I'd be a bit tight for time unless I left Inverness at silly o'clock in the morning, unless... If I could finally stop talking about it and head to the hills the night before and camp out...

So I left Inverness at 6pm on the Thursday and headed South for the Spittal of Glen Muick car park. First time driving the Cockbridge-Tomintoul road, I can see why it would shut at the first drop of snow... By 8.20pm I was away from the car park with a much heavier pack than I'm used to but surprisingly (for me) comfy at this stage. It had been a stunning day, clear blue skies and calm, however on the drive down black clouds had been gathering and as I walked on the cloud was descending and threatening to swallow up the col just by Meikle Pap where I was planning on camping.

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Cloud base getting ever lower...


The rain stayed off throughout the walk in, Meikle Pap disappearing intermittently in the low cloud, but the temperature was holding up, didn't need a jacket for all of the walk in. Finally at just after 10pm I made it to where I planned to camp. A quick scout about and I found a rock free spot, with a thin covering of heather and flat too! The light was starting to go no that I was up in the cloud, just the odd sneaky glance of dark Lochnagar

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Low cloud shrouding the cliffs above Lochnagar


Very glad I'd had a quick practice at pitching the tent before I left and in a few minutes it was up! Home for the night!

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Although the light had faded it didn't really get properly dark apart from for a few hours. I know this because the wind picked up and as I'm not used to the sound of flapping tents (coupled with what I think must have been an insomniac grouse) was regularly woken throughout the night. Morning came quickly and I was up for a quick hot chocolate before packing up the tent. It had got quite chilly through the night, I reckon low-mid single figures, so a hot drink was much needed. The cloud base had stayed low through the night so the view hadn't changed too much!

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Morning hot chocolate


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Nice view to wake up to


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Cloud still hanging on to the cliffs


The tent went away as quickly as it had gone up and I was ready to head off just before 8am. The ladder is not the most gentle way to ease yourself into a walk but it helped to warm up as it was still quite cool. The views quickly vanished as I climbed up into the cloud and before long the cairn on Cac Carn Mor came into sight. Dropped off teh rucksack here and wandered on to the summit. I'd heard good things about the views and the viewfinder... not much use today though...

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Cloudy cairn


Time for a quick summit photo and then on with the walk!

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Walked on to the next summit and was aware of a gradual brightening... by the time I was almost at Munro number two the cloud had lifted off the first summit... didn't feel like an hour round trip to go back for the views though... decided if I went back the cloud would just return to thwart me...

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A now cloud free summit....


The rest of the walk round the summits went by pretty quickly, I liked how each summit seemed to have a different character, and each gave quite different views. I was starting to get peckish and decided that Broad Cairn was the target for lunch. I tried to make sure I wasn't too focused on putting one foot in front of the other and actually to enjoy the views, think I'm going to have to go back and walk down by the Dubh Loch...

P6182354.JPG


Like I said, I was aiming for lunch on Broad Cairn and I was getting hungry... I like my food so I was pretty focused... footstep after footstep taking me closer to some lunch when all of a sudden I nearly faceplant trying to avoid the fluffy thing chirping away on the path right under where my right boot wants to be...

Just as I'm reagining my balance and trying to figure out what on earth this wee yellow feathery thing is I get my answer as mummy Ptarmigan comes flying fast and low straight at me making a hell of a racket. I'll admit this wasn't my finest moment on the hill.... I quickly backed off in a dignified run, dodging the swoops from the protective mother, dashing from side to side off the path... we quickly got to a bit of a Mexican stand off... no matter how wide a berth I try to give the chick she seems to want to cut me off... eventually sneak past and get to rush off for some lunch!

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The protective mother...


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baby Ptarmigan


With all the excitement over and a full belly I carry on down to the stable/hut. The sun is out and I still haven't seen anyone all day...

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I decided to take the path down to Loch Muick rather than the high road. I was very impressed with the standard of the paths on this walk, it makes the £3 car park charge feel worthwile, it's obvious that a lot of work has gone into the paths. The car park does however appear to be very far away as I start the descent down to the Loch so it's just as well the paths are good!

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I made good time on the walk along by the side of the Loch and there are some cracking views looking back to Broad Cairn. Would have been nice if it could have been so clear and sunny first thing but can't complain, it's been an awesome walk!

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Back at the car park for 2pm, passed quite a few folk by the side of the loch, stopped for a chat every so often, including a guy who was telling me he'd just seen an Oystercatcher fending off an Osprey who was looking for some lunch... Headed into Ballater and ended up at Braemar Mountain Sports, loved the cafe, The Bothy, right next door, had a huge pot of tea all to myself and a big chunk of very tasty gingerbread! Yum!

On to Mar Lodge that night for a BBQ and the next day everyone said "yes" at the appropriate times. Much partying and good times had by all!
Last edited by AndyHall on Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby Scotjamie » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:26 pm

Great report and invitation to copy a good overnight and day's walk - Hope I get to go from mist to sunshine. What is the tent may I ask? (looking to buy a new one)
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby AndyHall » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:33 pm

Thanks Scotjamie! It's a Wild Country Duolite... it's about 2.4 kg I think, so not the lightest but not bad for a 2 man tent. I'm about 5'9" and I can sit up ok at the top end tho it's a bit of a squeeze for 2. As it was just me plenty of room for me and my stuff, if I was with anyone else I think the rucksack would sleep outside in a drybag
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby Scotjamie » Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:38 pm

Many thanks for the reply Andy. Increasingly elderly and infirm so may look to go lighter - regards
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby monty » Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:42 am

Nice report Andy.
An enjoyable read. Interesting choice for a wild camp. I think the walk out is a long bugger, although very scenic, no matter which way you went, high or low. :D
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby weemistermac » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:04 pm

:D Great report! I know Lochnagar, Glen Muick and the Mar Lodge very well. Stunning places. Shame you had misty views from top of Lochnagar though.
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby AndyHall » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:38 pm

monty wrote:Nice report Andy.
An enjoyable read. Interesting choice for a wild camp. I think the walk out is a long bugger, although very scenic, no matter which way you went, high or low. :D



Agreed Monty, the walk out is a bugger... I didn't mind it too much as the walk in from the night before was long forgotten! I liked the low path by the edge of the loch just to change it up a bit between the narrow track and the land rover track after the Black Burn... but it's a long trek whichever route you pick! The camp choice was driven by looking for a reason to use the gear I've accumulated and the timings of my friend's wedding... would have been pushed to get it done if I'd left Inverness on friday morning and didn't want to knacker myself out for the weekend!
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby weemistermac » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:42 pm

I really enjoyed doing Lochnagar. It was a stunning day and I was feeling super-fit for some reason and practically ran up it! But it was quite a hike back. You did really well getting the 5 Munros in. Good work.
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby malky_c » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:50 pm

Inspired choice of camping spot with a view like that - shame it wasn't clear but at least you saw something from the tent. Looks like it got much nicer later on, too.

Reminds me of a similar trip I did about 5 years ago. Cycled up Glen Clova from Dundee one Friday evening, then walked over to the bothy at Glas Allt Shiel (by Loch Muick). Did this circuit the next day, but dropped back off Broad Cairn to Glen Clova (rather than Loch Muick), then cycled back to Dundee.

I definitely need to get the tent onto the hilltops sometime though!
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby walk aboot » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:12 pm

Top report and photos :D


I'm reading Tom Patey's book at the moment (thanks magicdin for pointing me in its direction :thumbup: ) and Lochnagar was his early stomping ground - your report helps me picture it a bit better :) .
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby Paul Webster » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:36 pm

I'm reading Tom Patey's book at the moment


Some good tales in there - have you got to the bit where Chris Bonnington gets stuck up the Cathedral next to the Old Man of Storr? 8)
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby walk aboot » Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:41 pm

Not yet, just started reading it last night but thoroughly enjoying it already...descriptions of Hamish McInnes' character, etc.
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby AndyHall » Thu Jul 01, 2010 8:37 am

You've got me curious now... what's the book?
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby walk aboot » Thu Jul 01, 2010 4:39 pm

Tom Patey's 'One Man's Mountains'.

Scottish climber and writer who died in 1970 - very witty, wee gems about the the Scottish climbing scene and the characters in it.

You can pick up a second-hand copy on Amazon, but I got a new copy at the Book Depository.

Used to write funny poems and songs too (included in the book) - that's how I heard about it (magicdin posted a reference to one of his poems on here).
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Re: First wild camp by Lochnagar

Postby AndyHall » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:40 pm

Thanks walk aboot and well done on the report of the month!
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