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Bon Fest and Bulges

Bon Fest and Bulges

Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 02, 2016 10:49 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Blath Bhalg, Cat Law, Creag Bhalg, Hill of Wirren

Date walked: 02/05/2016

Time taken: 19.75 hours

Distance: 60.8 km

Ascent: 2737m

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A holiday weekend - Yay! Constraints of Allison's ongoing limited mobility and a disappointing weather forecast saw us heading Angus way for some more Grahams with tracks. I had a work conference near Cumbernauld on Thursday which meant that we could head off earlier than usual on Thursday afternoon. I'd planned to stay at Drumshademuir campsite just outside Kirriemuir. I'd been surprised when I'd emailed the site earlier in the week to check availability and they had told me yes, they'd had a cancellation, I could come. I knew it was a bank holiday weekend, but was a bit surprised it was that busy...When we arrived on Thursday night all was made clear...Bon Fest! Allison misheard it initially as "Bun Fest" which doesn't bear thinking about but no, Bon Fest - an annual AC/DC event celebrating the birthplace of Bon Scott in Kirrie - this year there was to be the unveiling of a statue of him too. How bad can it be, we wondered, and decided we'd stay anyway.

No sooner had we pitched the tent than the snow and hail began. 3 intoxicated men in a touring caravan across from us were as surprised as we were and I could hear them making a video clip of "summer festivals in Scotland, complete with snow". It was very cold and the snow continued through the night - every so often there was the noise of accumulations sliding off the tent. This would play havoc with my plan for tracks and easy-going under foot.

Spring bank holiday...
ImageDSC00235 by Al, on Flickr

Day 1 - Hill of Wirren

wirr.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

All was white with wet snow when we got up. I thought this might be the best choice for today's conditions and had decided on a route from Glen Esk that would allow a horseshoe circuit covering 2 Simms - Craigangower and Bulg. I was interigued by the name "Wirren" as I was sure I remembered an old Dr Who about the Wirren - actually no "e" - Wirrn and really dodgy looking special effects. But I think it comes from the Gaelic "Fhurain" for "spring" -the watery kind. We drove through Edzell and up the west of the Esk, parking on farming land by the Stones of Solitude (whatever they may be). A friendly farmer on a quad bike came over and talked to us, hoping we were going to be safe enough up in the hills in challenging conditions. Snow seemed to be lying above 450m, with the lee aspect of the hills looking very white. We went up over The Crannell and Hill of Corathro, bitterly cold wind whipping at our faces. Snow started to fall and sharp needles of hail. We turned round the southern side of East Wirren and met white out conditions - spindrift reducing visibility and snow knee deep, worse in drifts. We parked our behinds for a cold lunch, blustered by spindrift which found its way into all nooks and crannies. Onwards to the summit of East Wirren - then the fun began.

ImageP1120963 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120965 by Al, on Flickr

Getting wintery
ImageP1120967 by Al, on Flickr

East Wirren
ImageP1120968 by Al, on Flickr

There's a path at the trig point but soon the way was lost in peat hags, which loomed out of the white and required continual alterations to course. I had no gaiters, having broken a strap, and snow filled my boots, leaving my feet perishing. I was not in the best of humours and to make matters worse, Allison was struggling - we were now as far from a way out as we could be and I feared the lifting her feet high to tramp through the snow would exacerbate her back pain... I chose to follow the fence line towards the summit of Wirren and was amazed to find the conditions momentarily clear as I got near the trig point. Blue skies and snowscapes stretching north west to Mount Keen. Wind was still ferocious. This marked my 500th Marilyn - woo :clap: :lol: We could see another very black cloud coming our way and hastened over deep drifts, following the fence line. More hail, Allison slowing. I decided to cut the walk short and head down Shank of Stramile - the Simms would need to wait for another day. The last section of the walk took us alongside the river, where we met the farmer again with 3 collies balancing on his quad bike.

Hill of Wirren summit
ImageP1120970 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120972 by Al, on Flickr

More weather coming our way...
ImageP1120974 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120975 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120976 by Al, on Flickr

Back at the campsite many tents and touring vans/campers had arrived and we reckoned we'd be in for some noise. After tea we could hear the music from the festival field a mile away - not bad actually, although there was at one point a female singer covering Bon songs...just not right. Although the music ended by 11 the next 2-3 hours involved waves of folk returning to the campsite, putting up tents, shining lights, arguing, snoring - it was a night of very little sleep, let's say. Neither of us could stomach the thought of another two nights like that, so early on Saturday morning we went to see the owner and explained our position - full refund issued - impressed. We would decide where to head to after today's hills...

Day 2 - Cat Law and the demoted Corwharn

cat.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Saturday was a far brighter day. It had been the best forecast, and I'd originally pencilled in a big circuit of Hunt Hill which - at over 30km - was never going to be easy in snowy conditions. Better save that for another time and head to cat Law instead - only a few miles north of Kirriemuir up into Glen Prosen. There are so many wee roads up here that I had switched the GPS on whilst still driving to see where we were going. I'd decided to do this route from Easter Lednathie - rather than the WH circuit and planned to visit Corwharn, recently demoted from Graham status for being too diminutive. Allison could cut short and return along Glen Uig. Seemed a plan. We parked on a verge just north of a stone bridge and headed back to pick up a clear track onto Cat Law, not visible from here. Snow was right down to the road, thick in places. Fox and hare prints proliferated. The track peters out after 450m but the heather was fairly short and the going easy enough. It's a beautiful day - blue skies and white hills over to Glen Clova and Mayar & Driesh. A final steepish pull to the top of Cat Law and we could enjoy a tremendous vista - out over the sea on one hand, white hills stretching from the Trossachs to the Cairngorms. Stopped for lunch to enjoy the views.

Start of the walk
ImageDSC00236 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00238 by Al, on Flickr

Hare prints
ImageDSC00240 by Al, on Flickr

Cat Law
ImageDSC00242 by Al, on Flickr

Over to Clova
ImageDSC00243 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00244 by Al, on Flickr

A bit warmer today
ImageDSC00245 by Al, on Flickr

From the summit we headed NW, passing another couple coming up the way. Mostly tracks underfoot, grouse butts being the reason. Over a succession of small tops including the interestingly named Tarapetmile before we descended and parted ways - me to head up Corwharn and Allison to follow the track to the right and enter Glen Uig. Unfortunately I forgot to give her the car key... A bit of a pull up 240m to the impressive cairn of the once-was Graham. Good to get the blood pumping again. From here my plan was to head NW over to Eskielawn, at 607m another Simm. Heathery slopes, deer racing off, good views to Mayar / Driesh - ah yes a fine day. I had a few options for return. I could drop down into Glen Uig, but that meant re-summiting Corwharn as did the more attractive prospect of continuing over the eastern hills - Hill of Adenaich and Finlet but I chose the longer but possibly faster option of dropping down into Glen Prosen and trotting along the road. Sad to say my partner had been sitting on the wall by the car for nearly 90 minutes by the time I returned and was a little chilly. At least it had stayed dry :wink:

Looking back on Cat Law
ImageDSC00248 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00249 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Corwharn
ImageDSC00250 by Al, on Flickr

Eskielawn (on left)
ImageDSC00251 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00254 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00255 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSC00256 by Al, on Flickr

We drove out of the mazy roads around here and decided to head north towards Braemar. We could go to the campsite there - or alternatively return to the Ecocamp at Glenshee where we'd been last weekend. This seemed a good option and although there were a number of families staying in the hobbit huts, we pitched near the yurt and had an undisturbed night - in fact a really quiet night (perhaps just in comparison with the 'DC crew).

Day 3 - Creag Bhalg and Cairngorm Views

bhalg.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I'd been poring over my Grahams book trying to find something suitable and nearby. Creag Bhalg (variously "Bag Rock" or "Bulge Rock") looked short and sweet - hopefully not buried under too much snow. We set off after breakfast - conditions claggy from about 500m including the summit of the road at Glenshee. I wasn't too optimistic about things improving but was fortunately proved wrong. We parked at a busy Linn of Dee and decided to walk up a forest track to the south of the hill, turning upwards at its eastern end and joining the route you'd take if coming from Linn of Quoich. I love the land around here - the beautiful old pines, the clear air, birdcall, plashing river sounds. As we reached the eastern summit the views to Lochnagar and north, to Ben Avon and Beinn a'Bhuird were immense. We spent time arguing about which were the various Cairngorm peaks we could see west of these two and eventually sat over lunch with the map, identifying them all.

The Dee
ImageP1120977 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120980 by Al, on Flickr

Eastern Top
ImageP1120983 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Summit
ImageP1120984 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120985 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120988 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120990 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120991 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1120993 by Al, on Flickr

Cairn Toul
ImageP1120996 by Al, on Flickr

We'd decided to walk off the northern side of the hill through the trees, briefly into Glen Quoich then returning through Clais Fhearnaig - a glacial meltwater feature named "hollow of alder". This proved a fine walk - the path through the trees was boggy but smelled sweetly of pine sap. We found the narrow footpath into the hollow and saw the remains of tree stumps/root systems in the loch - this was apparently a man-made feature, with rocks and rubble at the Glen Quoich end being used to create a pool. I resisted the temptation to head up the heathery wall to the west in quest of another Simm (Meall an Lundain) and instead we headed down into Glen Lui, with lots of walkers enjoying the fine weather. On the way back to the campsite we called in at Braemar for some provisions. I'd hoped for another night dining out in the sunshine but the rain returned as soon as we got back to the tent. Oh well. Later in the evening we went along to the "bothy" on the site, lit the log burner and enjoyed a few whiskies and chat with a couple of social workers up for the weekend.

ImageP1130001 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1130002 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn a'Bhuird
ImageP1130003 by Al, on Flickr

Clais Fhearnaig
ImageP1130005 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1130009 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1130011 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1130012 by Al, on Flickr

Day 4 - The Pleasant Bulge

blath.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

A late start today due to lst night's indulgencies. Another cold one, wind still sending a chill to the bones. I'd planned a short stand alone hill north of Pitlochry, Blath Bhalg - "Pleasant Bulge"according to the SMC book, "warm bag" an alternative. We parked up by the ariel mast to the west of Dalnacarn Crag and set off into sun and showers. No "warm bag" today - brrrrr. An easy amble up a track towards the first cairn at Dalnacarn Crag, then on over heather slopes to the domed summit. There are several lumps at the top needing scaling - the true summit being the third of these but we made use of the first dip to act as a wind screen while we ate lunch. We returned by the same route - I'd recommend this as the views to Ben Vrackie and Beinn a'Ghlo are special, particularly when encrusted in snow.

ImageP1130013 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1130014 by Al, on Flickr

Toward the summit
ImageP1130017 by Al, on Flickr

Ben Vrackie
ImageP1130018 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1130021 by Al, on Flickr

Hailstones at the top
ImageP1130022 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn a'Ghlo
ImageP1130026 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1130027 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1130028 by Al, on Flickr
User avatar
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Re: Bon Fest and Bulges

Postby Collaciotach » Wed May 04, 2016 10:54 pm

Fuarán .... aye your right there :D

Well done ón 500 Marliyns ...how many are there ? :wink:
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Re: Bon Fest and Bulges

Postby weaselmaster » Thu May 05, 2016 11:53 am

Collaciotach wrote:Fuarán .... aye your right there :D

Well done ón 500 Marliyns ...how many are there ? :wink:

Ah Colla - I'm not doing the Marilyns...sea stacks are not my cup of tea :lol:
There's 1218 Scottish, 175 English, 158 Welsh and 454 Irish Marilyns - oh and 5 Manx ones.
Far too many.
I'm sticking with Simms :D
User avatar
Hill Bagger
Posts: 1986
Munros:252   Corbetts:89
Grahams:82   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:383   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   Islands:28
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

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