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North Braemar - Another brilliant weekend

North Braemar - Another brilliant weekend


Postby andygunn23 » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:30 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn a'Bhuird, Beinn a'Chaorainn (Cairngorms), Beinn Bhreac, Ben Avon

Date walked: 21/08/2015

Time taken: 20 hours

Distance: 65 km

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North Braemar - 65km walked, (only) 4 munros bagged, (another) 2 nights camped, 1 fully devoured set of legs - bloody midges!

The weekend prior to this I had completed my greatest challenge and bagged 10 munros south of Braemar (http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=55906). For those that know me / read any of my previous reports, I remained carless (not to be confused with careless), so this weekend was a similar adventure just this time North of Braemar!

Unfortunately I am bagging these munros quicker than I am able to write these reports so I can't remember if the 201 Stagecoach bus was on time - based on the likelihood... for this factual report we will say it was an hour late.

I do remember the bus was a double decker so that made a nice change and I got speaking to a few older people heading out of Aberdeen (combination of locals & tourists). A few things they said stuck with me for one reason or another:
"I am eternally jealous of your youth"
"I hope you have a great time and the weather stays good for you, all the best young man"
"You don't get the bus out here every weekend do you?! You must be mad!"

Either way I made it to Braemar, the weather was beautiful and I began my walk to Linn of Dee via Mar Lodge, crossing over at Victoria Bridge.

Here is proof that I don't make up all this "nice weather talk"!
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I spent every lunch time / evening / free minute of my time planning my route so I knew I was going to go past Mar Lodge. I had no inclination to Google it, to be quite frank I just assumed it would be another standard building.

I was genuinely amazed when I came around the corner to find this! I wish they still made buildings like this. I would also love to stay there one weekend!
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Feeling quite delighted with finding Mar Lodge (which I assumed was a hidden treasure... turns out every man and their dog (except me - clearly) already knew about it) I walked for a wee while longer before pitching up tent just short of Glen Lui (see the little "off path movement" on my route).

I must have entered the "Annual Midge Gathering" (AMG for short) - safe to say they were not best please with me crashing their party! It was light enough to set up my tent without a torch but dark enough I couldn't see the midges, I could feel them - EVERYWHERE! I threw up my tent in record time, sprayed everything with the strongest midge repellent Boots has (other chemists are available...), just about poisoned myself, and fell asleep!

Saturday the 22nd of August 2015

I began Saturday early thinking I would be the first one on the path, within minutes bike after bike went flying past me - good to see so many other people out enjoying the weekend!

I wish I could wake up to starts like this every day - will keep you all informed when I win the EuroMillions £££!
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Before long and after a far from enjoyable walk (it was very boggy) I reached the summit of the first munro of the weekend, Beinn Bhreac.

The weather was incredibly interchangeable and it was almost just high enough - I really wanted a clear day to see Beinn a'Bhuird... chances look 50/50 at the moment!
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Without a sign of anyone else in the mountains I began my walk from Beinn Bhreac to Beinn a'Chaorainn. No obvious path meant just taking to most direct route attempting to avoid any boggy parts.

After a short descent from Beinn Bhreac this is Beinn a'Chaorainn on the left with its little sister, Beinn a'Chaorainn Bheag on the right (I wish I knew what Gaelic meant).
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Seen this little bird, anyone any idea what it is? Only additional description is that it sounded like a car alarm, a loud car alarm to be precise.
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After taking one of the more direct routes up I had reached the summit of Beinn a'Chaorainn - I could see someone else making their way up, but by the time I got to the top they had vanished!

View from the top - never fail to be flabbergasted at Scotland's beauty!
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Beautiful it may be, but it was also very windy so I made my way down and decided I would stop for lunch in between Beinn a'Chaorainn, and (what I have probably wrongly decided) its little sister Beinn a'Chaorainn Bheag. I know it may not be the most incredible, most scenic or the most well known, but for some reason I found this one of the most enjoyable parts of Scotland I have ever seen.

One of the calmest places in the mountains - I can't wait to go back! I love this hillwalking, every Saturday I am eating my lunch to the best views around!
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Either way I had to drag myself away from my lunch stop, throw the backpack back on and begin the ascent up Beinn a'Bhurid (avoiding the somewhat steep drop, which I have just learnt is called Allt Cumh na Coinnich... Gaelic for "dinnea fall"...)

Made it up the west side of Beinn a' Bhuird and arrive near the summit, but first for a minor detour to see the full scale of the cliff face.

My first view down was well worth it!
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I went further around to see if I could find Loch Dubhan - where I had planned to camp.
IMG_1023.jpg


Anyway I had enough pottering around so I made way to the official top. Bumped into a couple at the cairn, they appeared to be having somewhat of a strop and ruined the peacefulness. I chose not to judge and moved swiftly on.. but that better have been an importance argument e.g. someone had slept with someone else's sister!

Summit of Beinn a'Bhuird (not featuring arguing couple).
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By now it was 4:30pm I knew it was meant to begin raining soon so I opted to make a swift descent down into Loch Dubhan. After some advice from an older gentleman I chose to take the route down the grassy north side - Coire nan Clach..

I put on my waterproofs trousers, sat on my arse and quite literally slid down the side and into the dividing buttress - I felt like a five year old in the first snow of winter!

This whole self timer business is far more difficult than it looks - I have endless pitches of a) the sky or b) the ground...
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After my slide it began to slightly drizzle so I rushed to get the tent up. Slightly slower than my record time of the night previous, but no midges at this altitude - brilliant!
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It had been an eventful day and when I am on my own I often can't stay awake for long! Next thing I knew I woke up... my watch said 8:30. It was light, was it night, was it morning? I genuinely had no idea, I turned my phone on and realised it was still Saturday. Bonus I still had another 10 hours of sleeping time!

Sunday the 23rd of August 2015

Waking up in the middle of the hills is one of, if not the best part about this new hobby of mine. You wake up open your tent door to beautiful views, embrace the fresh air and then set off on your day...

What was it I said about beautiful view? Happy Sunday morning.
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Not sure how long the cloud was going to last but knowing I still had a fair amount of miles to cover I packed away the tent and began to descend.

Turns out the cloud was just camping with me and within a few minutes it was glorious sunshine.
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Before long I joined on with the main Ben Avon path, come to think of it, this was my first recognised well maintained path since first thing Saturday.

Nice change of walking terrain - my feet appreciated this greatly!
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The walk up the Ben Avon path was relatively nice and easy going and there was strong wind pushing me up! Before I knew it I was at The Sneck looking down into Slochd Mor.

The clouds were moving quickly so I thought I better get at least one photo before it disappeared.
IMG_1054.jpg


A short but very steep path led me east from The Sneck towards Ben Avon's summit. This was the strongest wind I had felt, being on my own and not the heaviest of chaps I opted to take a minor detour some additional meters away from the cliffs edge as I really was struggling to walk in a straight line and breathe!

It quickly flattened out and I could see the top of Ben Avon - the wind didn't decrease!
IMG_1061.jpg


Not sure if I would make it to the top of the rock at Ben Avon because of the wind and there was no one else around.. "but I had come all this way..." kept going through my head. I weighed up the pros and the cons and decided it was safe enough.

Sightly edgy scramble up, but I was at the top! It wasn't a place to stay for long!
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I came down and began my descent back to Braemar (at least that was the plan).

By the time I got back to The Sneck the cloud had shifted again and I got another great view down Slochd Mor. Most definitely wasn't going to hang around the edge for long.
IMG_1088.jpg


I made my way back down the same path I came up, where I met the first people of the day. It was already 10am and they seemed slightly annoyed that I was the first person to the summit, they said they had camped and started hours ago. I carried on walking a bit before it made me realise how long a walk back this was going to be!

From the Ben Avon path looking back towards Dubh Lochan where I had camped the night before.
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Here is my shameful seflie of the day - they will continue until I find a walking partner!
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The mystery of The Secret Howff
I had read a lot about the Secret Howff online and was pretty determined before setting off to find it. I must admit I am thoroughly impressed at how people have kept the secret online, everything I read said you only find out through word of mouth.

Truthfully, I don't know anyone my age who is overly interested in hill walks or finding secret huts so I realised I had more chances of escaping Azkaban than I did of finding The Secret Howff through word of mouth.

I had a few suspicions of where to look for it, but by the time I got near where I thought to look my legs had turned to mush and I was beginning to get concerned about how far I still had to go.

For this time - I accepted defeat, the Howff remains secret. Maybe one day someone will show me where it is!

Anyway, I continued down and reached the ruins near Gleann an t-Slugain.

Little pond and old ruins.
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After what felt like walking for eternity, my feet were in pieces I bumped into a group of three older people. The weather was incredible and they stopped to speak. They seemed genuinely interested to know all about my weekend and told me about their adventures in the hills when they were more "able".

I hope when my generation reach that age we aren't still so engrossed in our phones / technology that we are incapable of asking someone how they are and instead take out our phone to avoid any form of human interaction (rant over).

The 10 minute stop and chat allowed my feet to rest briefly, and gave me a welcomed burst of energy! I made it back to Invercauld Bridge where I had planned to walk along the main road back to Braemar.

It was Sunday, it was Sunny and I was in Royal Deeside - motorbikes were everywhere. I opted against the walk into Braemar and waited here for the bus.

Before long I was back in the Ferryhill House Hotel, enjoying my pint of McEwans and fish and chips - again another perfect way to end a Sunday!

If anyone is ever interested in this route - overall I would highly recommend it!

Thanks for reading.

Over & out,
Andy.
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Last edited by andygunn23 on Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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andygunn23
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Re: North Braemar - Another brilliant weekend

Postby larry groo » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:50 pm

Fine effort there Andy.

Good miles too... really enjoyed the report!

:clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: North Braemar - Another brilliant weekend

Postby dooterbang » Tue Sep 08, 2015 3:58 pm

Brilliant read young Andy, very informative and witty. Reminds me of the Weaselmasters reports..perhaps you are his protege, seeing that you enjoy the long distance hikes :wink:

Was thinking how many young folk your age use the site and log reports, I don't think there's that many. Real shame, I do wonder at times about phones / technology and the impact it has on younger people. Great to see you have insight :) Very glad phones and social media wern't around when I was a teen though, 88 -92 and acid house :shock: :lol:

Have read all your other reports and see that you're flying through the munros. I wish I'd linked more up when I started out. I was at 60 munros before I upped it more than a double, I did the 10 Mamores in one swoop! Everything was easier after that.

Keep up the good work, look forward to more reports :clap:

ps get a car, or a bike!!!
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Re: North Braemar - Another brilliant weekend

Postby andygunn23 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 12:52 pm

dooterbang wrote:Brilliant read young Andy, very informative and witty. Reminds me of the Weaselmasters reports..perhaps you are his protege, seeing that you enjoy the long distance hikes :wink:

Was thinking how many young folk your age use the site and log reports, I don't think there's that many. Real shame, I do wonder at times about phones / technology and the impact it has on younger people. Great to see you have insight :) Very glad phones and social media wern't around when I was a teen though, 88 -92 and acid house :shock: :lol:

Have read all your other reports and see that you're flying through the munros. I wish I'd linked more up when I started out. I was at 60 munros before I upped it more than a double, I did the 10 Mamores in one swoop! Everything was easier after that.

Keep up the good work, look forward to more reports :clap:

ps get a car, or a bike!!!


Thanks, I feel far more pressured now I know people actually read these reports! They started off more as proof to my parents that I am off into the mountains & as a way to convince friends from across the globe that Scotland is worthwhile visiting - it strangely never seems that high on most peoples agendas?! I blame Trainspotting!

Flying through the ones on the east / 'easily' accessible from Aberdeen! Can't wait to get more bagged on the west side but I will definitely need to get a car. On the downside winter is definitely fast approaching so I will need to find someone with a bit more experience to tag along!

Again thanks for your comment! I will need to go read a few of Weaselmasters reports and see what they're all about!
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Re: North Braemar - Another brilliant weekend

Postby The Rodmiester » Fri Oct 02, 2015 5:12 pm

Brilliant stuff :clap: :clap: two long days in a brilliant area of Scotland. Glad to see your enjoying the wild camping, there is something very special camping in such places, just a pity it means the backpack is so much heavier than usual, but well worth it if your fit enough. The memories last so much longer as well :D Look forward to reading your next visit to the hills, Rod
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Re: North Braemar - Another brilliant weekend

Postby dav2930 » Sat Oct 03, 2015 11:39 am

A really entertaining report of a very substantial trip. That's proper wild country - and what a great place to camp. 8) Shame about the arguing couple - there's a lot to be said for staying single! :lol: Brilliant stuff. :clap:
Ps your first photo of sun setting is superb.
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