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Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter reindeer and a Fall

Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter reindeer and a Fall


Postby scottishkennyg » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:51 pm

Munros included on this walk: Beinn Bhrotain, Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Monadh Mor, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point

Date walked: 11/09/2015

Time taken: 14 hours

Distance: 52 km

Ascent: 2766m

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The recent decent weather and the cracking images posted by other WH members encouraged me to seek a day off to get back up high. I chose Friday as the forecast on the MWIS looked promising aside from the late addition of high winds.
I set off early after a restless night anticipating the alarm to go off or the wind to get up. I got up before the invasion of the alarm and sneaked out before sunrise. The sky in the East looked great. I had loaded the mountain bike and taken three different maps with a view to deciding enroute. I had plenty of time to choose on the A9 due to the average speed cameras. Alder was preferred option but the prospect of cycling into a 40 mph south easterly demoted it to last choice. The other walk was the Glenshee 9 as it was a previous September when I crossed them with a surprise encounter with Prince Charles. Even won a webtogs award, but as there was not much chance of lightening striking twice I plumped for a six munro session around Brearaich. I chose to tackle them from the North to save on mileage. I left the A9 at Aviemore and turned right just before the Coylumbridge Hilton hotel. The single track road ended at Whitwell with a sound area to park.

As soon as I left the car the wind hit hard. The pine trees were bent over and the wind was blowing down the route I was due to cycle. I donned the flipflops and bare feet, tied the boots to the rucksack and set off. I optimistically wore shorts hoping that after a long day’s exposure to the sun the legs would turn to pink, before the genetic purple.
It was just after 7am as I went down the wee track to join the main path in the woods. It would be after 2100 when I returned following a few mishaps in the dark.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
There is a sound path that leads right up the glen to Loch Eanaich and would be a cracking wee day out in decent weather. I found it tough to get some speed and very rarely found top gear, although in fairness flip flop soles might not be the best for applying pressure to the metal pedals. On the lower bypass path section the stones appeared and then I thought about toes and boulders. Note to self to revise the risk assessment Zzzzz. The next section takes in some river crossings and the flip flops came into their own and must have saved at least a minute or two.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

After more than an hour of effort Loch Eanaich became visible and even from a distance the white horses were evident. As I got nearer I noticed a couple of tents at the head of the loch, nice spot.
I stopped at the pile of stones and began to dry and warm my frozen feet. I used the inside of the socks as a towel and donned the boots. I stabled the bike and deposited the helmet, flip flops and the sunglasses, (which I predicted would not be needed in the clouds above) safe in the knowledge that no one would be interested in a £5 pair of bins from Aldi.
The path up the hillside is great and leads in a direct diagonal line into the corrie. Height is gained quickly and the loch appears to get smaller.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
The path then veers into Choire Dhondail and the first view of the steep rocks. It was clear to see where the recent landslide had occurred and it was right on the steepest section which had to be negotiated to reach the plateau. In fairness there had been a sign on one of the gates informing people of the landslide so it was my own fault for not taking due notice of the notice. It was no real problem crossing this section but might prove troublesome for cyclists or heavy laden walkers.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
At the waterfall at the top the wind was howling and I had not even stepped onto the plateau. I decided to head on a bearing to the Braeraich plateau following the stream. I hoped that this would provide shelter and would be easier to orientate as I headed into the clouds.
The cloud was dense and the wind chill was noticeable. I decided to get the gear off and get the ronhills on. It was awkward trying to keep everything dry as I wiggled into the trusty tracksters. Another base layer on and I was off again.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
When the stream dried up and the terrain changed to reddish gravel I knew I had arrived on the plateau.
The wind was strong and blowing from the right and was easily moving me. I had to use the poles as outriggers to stabilise the 13 stone plus load, thankfully the diet was not working.
I knew it was a long hike over the plateau to reach the summit cliffs so I just kept plodding on to reach the Falls of Dee then onto the boulders surrounding the top. Although I could not see much I could hear and sense the ferocity of the wind battering against the cliffs confirming the summit was near.
I knew that there was a wee exposed section so I kept away from the unseen edges of the West Buttress and continued until I arrived at the big summit cairn at 1040.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I walked over to the narrow ledge in the vain hope of a view. No joy, but the atmosphere generated by the wind and the dense cloud amplified the sense of isolation and exposure. I sat for a wee while absorbing the environment before moving on. I re checked the compass and the map before setting off.
I followed a bearing to return to the Falls of Dee. The wind was having a real blow at getting me on my derriere. I could feel water on my face and thought that the rain was being driven in. The clouds lifted and I could see that it was spray from the waterfall blowing back up onto the plateau. The water in the wee downhill stream appeared as if it was being blown to a halt and the top surface was being lifted like a wispy white mist, very surreal.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I crossed the water and headed along the cliff edge keeping a safe distance conscious of the prospect that the wind could change direction. Every so often the wind became so strong that I had to just bend over and take it. The poles were excellent for bracing support. I followed the ridgeline alongside the grand Pinnacles Buttress, Sphynx Ridge, Great Gulley and Crown Buttress and noticed promising signs that the cloud height was rising.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
The climb up Sgor an Lochan Uaine (The Angels peak) was straightforward
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
and the summit was reached at 1200. The wind showed no signs of abating as I sheltered behind the cairn.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
Zoom over to the Falls of Dee and the wind blown water still visible..
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I descended to the Bealach at 1140m and took some welcome respite from the conditions in a makeshift stone shelter.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I loaded up on some fuel as I watched the clouds moving up the lairig ghru and over Braeraich and Ben MacDui.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I put the Montane prism jacket over the Berghaus polar fleece, which had been about as effective against the cold wind as a tea bag casing. Straight away I sensed instant heat, nice one.
I moved onto the boulder ridge and hopped upwards passing 4 boys as they descended.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I reached the summit cairn of Cairn Toul at 1300 with more wind and cloud as company.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I moved along to the other south cairn and got a glimpse down to the Devils Point and over Corrour bothy to Carn a Mhaim.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I continued along the stony ridge to reach Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir cairn at 1212m at 1330. The views back up to the south ridge of Cairn Toul looked impressive.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I walked down toward the Devils Point. I spied a herd of animals in the distance which I assumed them to be deer. There was one snow white one which I guessed was a pony. They were too far to get a decent photo so I left them for now. I dumped the rucksack and had a nice walk up to the summit of the Devil’s Point. (polite Sunday name) . I took off my boots and gave my plates of meat a wee breather and checked the watch.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
It was 1415 which was fine and I decided to recalculate when I had crossed west over the south flank of Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir.
As I walked along I came across the wee herd again.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

As I got closer I learned that they were reindeer. The colour of their coats varied dramatically. There was one black, some beige and white and even an all-white one with what seemed like a damaged horn.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

Not long before winter arrives and this white one might not be visible at all.

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I watched the herd for a wee while as they did not seem bothered by my presence. I took some photos but they were not great. I tried in vain to tag the reindeer with names from the Santa Claus movie then realised it must be time to get off.
I moved on and reached the point of descent above loch nan Stuarteag.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I descended to cross the wee streams flowing down the alt clais an t-sabhail. I crossed the widest one first and aimed to contour high to avoid donating height. I took on board some refreshing cold water and moved on.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I was contemplating turning right for home at this point and conserve energy for the golf competition on Saturday morning. I stepped onto ground that looked sound before my left leg disappeared into a wet sponge. I was stuck and used my right knee to lever my leg back out.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I was soaked right through. I removed the boot and the sock and rinsed it out. Maybe it was time to go home.
I squelched along until I was level with the loch and took shelter behind a large boulder. I ate a packet of crisps as I calculated timings for heading out to include Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain. I reckoned 3 hours would do it; it was 1545 so I thought in for a penny, I might as well head out for them.
The climb up was easy going and it was 1630 as I sat down on the summit of Monaidh Mor for a wee bit of caramel shortbread.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
I stashed the rucksack and placed a big boulder on top to anchor it from the wind. I pushed on into the wind and headed over to Beinn Bhrotain.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
Up and over the wind eroded boulders led to the double cairns and summit trig point at 1730.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
A quick photo stop and it was time to set off for the long return leg. At last the wind was behind me and it was a chance to up the pace. Unfortunately the stones made it difficult to get going.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

Soon I was off them and heading up the wee rise to reach the Leach Gorm. Then I got a stride on to pick up the rucksack at 1815. I did not hang about and headed off on a direct bearing for Am Bodach which looked a fair bit away over some featureless terrain.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

I crossed the Allt Luineag at 1900 then put my headphones in and pushed on. It was easy to appreciate how easy it would be to get lost in whiteout or other extreme conditions on this plateau. The light level was fading and I began to get anxious about the descent over the landslide section in darkness.
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr

After some time I reached the entrance to the fords and the waterfall above the corrie. (photo brightened..)
ImageBaeraich Munros September 2015 by scottishkennyg, on Flickr
The light was diminishing but thankfully adequate to see the route down. I passed the landslide section then relaxed as the going was easier from here to the bike.

It was now after 8 and I still had the outward bike ride. Ignoring the flip flops option it was time to keep full gear on and get on yer bike. I left the head torch in the rucksack and set off praying that the wind would stay at my back. I was soon speeding along in 21st gear under the ever blackening sky thankful for keeping the boots on to protect the feet from rocks and stones.
Without warning there was a bang as the front wheel hit something hard and sent a low blow reverberated up through the seat. Not pleasant!! I instinctively decided to ride without saddling the seat. I rode through all the wee streams and the bigger river crossing without stopping. I heard something hit or fall from the bike. I stopped but could not see anything. I tried to pick up speed again and lost the rear wheel traction and ended up ditched. I went into the rucksack and fetched out the Lenser H7 LED head torch with a 160m beam range. Let there be light.

Better but I could only see where my head was pointing. I came to the wee bypass section advising cyclist to follow the lower crossing. I knew this was a narrow and stony path. Bang! I went head first into the undergrowth. Lights out. Back up, I switched the head torch back on and sidled on. I tried to switch lanes, bang off again!! Up again and inched on.

I came to a wee narrow bridge and could hear the water below. Over the bridge I turned the handlebars left and my headlight illuminated ahead only. The next thing I knew I was falling over the edge. The bike went up and over me and my right leg became jammed between the handlebar and the crossbar. I grabbed the heather and caught my breath and waited for the pain. I was upside down on the ground lying on what felt like a wet stream with an unknown drop below. I felt acute pain in the right leg. Not good. The calf muscle was jammed between the handlebars and the frame with the brake lever digging in. I raised the back wheel up 90 degrees and freed the trapped limb.
I lay there for a wee while and checked that nothing was broken. Even wondered how I would manage to summon help!! My rucksack was acting like a good anchor so I decided to try and lift the whole bike up to get out from under it and keep one hand gripped on the heather. Nice one. It worked and we were free. I climbed back up to the path and howked the bike up backwards.
I checked it and it was clear that the handlebars had twisted 180 degrees and were stuck. I reversed the turn and freed the cables and we were good to go. How did Danny MacAskill manage to cycle along collies ledge without incident and I could not even negotiate a wee bridge?…mind you it was dark.
I limped onward pushing the bike until I re-joined the main path. Then it was an edgy cycle back to the car arriving just after 2100.
I packed up and set off for the drive back north with happy memories of a grand day on the plateau despite the shenanigans with the bike. Albert Einstein once quoted “a ship is always safe at the shore - but that is not what it is built for” very true. However I have had several near misses with this bike so it might be time for a gumtree advert.. One Felt Q220 bike for sale… limited use. :wink:
Last edited by scottishkennyg on Tue Jan 03, 2017 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:22 pm

Brilliant effort and great photos of your day.

Still to do the Braeriach 4 and was thinking it was maybe too late in the year now - might save them for next year.

Never realised there was such a variety of colours and shapes with reindeer.
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:45 pm

That was a fair trek :clap:

Lucky u never broke the neck ! :shock:
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby dogplodder » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:59 pm

Great reindeer shots but my heart was in my mouth reading about your cycle fall in the dark. You did well to get out of that one intact. :clap:
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby ancancha » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:57 pm

Not easy battling the wind, energy sapping, so well done for keeping going :clap:
I need to tick off these other than Angles Peak, and I would also like to have a good look around on the plateau, nice to know I can get in easily from Loch Eanaich, thanks for posting :clap:
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby Silverhill » Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:29 pm

Another epic round by you! 8) I’m hoping to do Braeriach from Whitewell next year. How much time do you think you saved by taking the bike?
Glad you didn’t sustain any permanent damage on that obstacle course in the dark!
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby Scotjamie » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:32 pm

exciting stuff as always - great report!
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby simon-b » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:50 pm

Tremendous pictures Kenny, and a lot of big hills there :clap:
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby SecretSquirrel » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:23 pm

Wow! Thats a fair old distance in a good time. I've still got these to do, but I don't think I'll be attempting them in one day :o

That said ... it looks like you had a cracker! :clap: Love the reindeer pictures :clap:
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby old danensian » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:23 pm

Empathise with struggling in those conditions - you did really well to cover all that ground and survive the cycle-tangles on the way back

I'm just about to post about my own trip up there the day before and I was totally taken aback by the wind

OD
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby scottishkennyg » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:33 pm

Cheers Geordie, I have never seen these reindeer before and did not realise that there were so many varied colours..In truth I thought the white one was a pony..Hope you enjoy your trip around these hills.. Cheers Kenny
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby scottishkennyg » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:36 pm

Lucky u never broke the neck ! :shock:[/quote]

Aye was fortunate that the heather was long enough to help out at that bit..Cheers Colla..good luck with the compleation.
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby scottishkennyg » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:37 pm

Thanks DP. Cheers Kenny
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby scottishkennyg » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:38 pm

Thanks Ancancha..hope you get some decent weather and views when you manage to get up and over these hills. Cheers Kenny
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Re: Braeraich 6 from Whitewell with Winter raindeer and a Fa

Postby scottishkennyg » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:44 pm

Silverhill wrote:Another epic round by you! 8) I’m hoping to do Braeriach from Whitewell next year. How much time do you think you saved by taking the bike?
Glad you didn’t sustain any permanent damage on that obstacle course in the dark!


Hi SH, thanks for reply and thankfully everything intact. Yes, defintely saved time, I would guess easliy 75 minutes or more overall and the benefit of the seat on the way back is very welcome. Easily quicker with better light and no falls.. :roll: Cheers Kenny
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