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Mayar and Dreish, and demonic wind

Mayar and Dreish, and demonic wind

Postby OpenC » Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:51 pm

Route description: Corrie Fee, Glen Clova

Munros included on this walk: Driesh, Mayar

Date walked: 05/09/2015

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 15 km

Ascent: 970m

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Pictures are not to my satisfaction; the conditions were very difficult anyway, and the sun was behind cloud the whole time early in the walk when I could get pictures, so it was much darker than it appears here.

Driving up Glen Clova I had noticed how unusually blowy it was, but the first part of the walk is protected by steep corrie walls and forestry so for the first hour or so, there was no problem. Getting out into the very lovely Corrie Fee the wind immediately picked up and given that the forecast had been for Northerly winds, which I should have been protected from where I was, at 15 - 20mph (which was evidently a massive underestimate given the speed of the clouds and the fact that the waterfall at the corrie end was being blown upwards), I began to have concerns about how conditions might be up on the plateau.

Corrie Fee, which you enter about 45 minutes after setting off. After the dull walk through the forestry, it comes as an amazing surprise.

The path heads up by the waterfall at the head of the corrie, and is a thing of wonder - a nice and easy way up what is a very steep headwall, with amazing views back down the corrie and the occasional feeling of exposure just to keep you interested.

The path up. The waterfall was blowing upwards.

View back down into Corrie Fee

Emerging onto the upper flanks of Mayar from Corrie Fee, the wind didn't pick up as I expected and I started to wonder if it had actually just dropped to the forecast level. This part of the walk was a real surprise - there hadn't been any really hard work yet, and the upper slopes of this mountain - from this direction - are just a constant and very gentle grassy slope. This is, I think, the easiest Munro I've ever climbed and I think I enjoyed every step of it - at least, once I was out of the forest and into Corrie Fee. Views opened up behind toward Lochnagar and to the higher Cairngorms and beyond, and it all looked very good indeed, but the wind had started to get up again.

The upper slopes of Mayar. This is fairly well as steep as it gets once you're out of the corrie.

Views to the West were outstanding but it was already getting too windy to comfortably take pictures

Mayar summit cairn

On the small plain that forms the summit of Mayar, the wind returned properly. I hadn't felt that the open slopes I'd been climbing would have served as much protection from the wind, but I was utterly and abominably wrong. We've all been in situations where it's so windy it's difficult to stand before, but I've never known anything like this. I couldn't get the camera out for fear of losing the lens cap, and I was getting chilled to the bone but I know that if I'd tried to get out my coat, it would have been in Fort William in around 15 seconds. I beat a hasty retreat from the summit and got completely disorientated, heading in entirely the wrong direction for 30 or 40 metres before I realised my mistake.

Dropping down to the broad ridge that runs between Mayar and Dreish, I expected the wind to drop off and so it did but only very slightly. I got one shot of Dreish from the low point of the ridge and then put the camera away in the pack and got out the coat.

Dreish from the ridge. It looked better from Mayar summit but I couldn't stand to get the picture. Last photo of the day.

The wind on Dreish was even stronger. What should have been a simple ascent was made positively spine-tingling - it suprised me how intimidating I found the wind even though I was in no obvious danger other than being blown over - and I ended up having to appoach the cairn almost on my knuckles, in the style of Cro-magnon Man. I didn't hang about and got straight down to the spur which leads back down into the valley, and found myself surrounded by unhappy looking walkers who couldn't decide which way to go down since every direction felt too exposed when they were worried about standing upright. In the end, the standard descent route down the Shank of Drumfollow quickly became sheltered by the spur and the corrie walls.

This would have been one of my favourite walks I've ever done, I suspect, had the weather been less demonic. It's a beautiful place and while the mountains aren't particularly thrilling, they're relatively easy to get at and the walk to, and between, them goes through some amazing scenery.

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