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O! For the crags that are wild and majestic!

O! For the crags that are wild and majestic!

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Jul 31, 2016 8:37 pm

Route description: White Mounth Munros, Glen Muick

Munros included on this walk: Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch, Càrn a' Choire Bhòidheach, Càrn an t-Sagairt Mòr, Lochnagar

Date walked: 27/07/2016

Time taken: 9.25 hours

Distance: 27.8 km

Ascent: 1490m

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I'd taken three days off work as a late Fiftieth birthday present to myself, and had the Wednesday 27th July earmarked for a walk ... Amazingly enough, the forecast turned out not too bad :D , particularly in the east, so I thought this would be a good chance to tick off that group of five Munros around Lochnagar. After all, now that I was an Old Man, Lochnagar was clearly the place for me :lol: !
I've had my eye on this group for a while, but it's a long day trip from Glasgow, which has put me off for a year or two ... However, after plans to stay over the night before with various Friends Up North had fallen through for various reasons (mostly clashing holiday plans), I decided just to grit my teeth, get up early and day-trip this lot. The alarm was duly set for 5:30 a.m., and I was parked and ready to walk by 9:30, having paid the fairly exorbitant £4 parking fee levied by the Balmoral Estate at the Spittal of Glenmuick Car Park. What exactly was one thinking of, maam :? ? Three quid is the going rate anywhere else... Plus, who carries £4 in pound coins around with them anyway :-x ? Admittedly it gets spent on footpath maintenance, but if the Forestry Commission and the National Trust can manage to maintain footpathos on three quid a head for parking, what's the justification for the higher rate here :shock: ?

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From the car park, I set off up the (admittedly well-maintained) path to the (admittedly well-signed) track bifurcation, where I turned right for Lochnagar.
WR1 - track bifurcation near the start.jpg
The approach track rose gently through some green rolling fields at the east end of Loch Muick, with a tantalising wee glimpse of the cliffs at the far side of the Lochnagar corrie to get me feeling all Byronic :) ...
WR2 - approach track with a tantalising wee glimpse of the far corrie rim.jpg
Further up, a side path leaves the track near its high point, to ascend to the bealach between Meikle Pap and the western end of Lochnagar's corrie rim.
WR3 - approaching Meikle Pap and western shoulder of Lochnagar corrie.jpg
I took the website's advice to make the short diversion up Meikle Pap for the view. Very glad I did, too: as well as giving the classic view of Lochnagar's corrie crags with the lochan far below, Meikle Pap is a shapely wee hill in its own right, with a nice rocky summit tor giving some mild scrambling opportunities :) .
WR4 - classic Lochnagar view from Meikle Pap.jpg
A subtly different view of the corrie and lochan on the way back down to the bealach:
WR5 - subtly different view of corrie on Meikle Pap descent.jpg
The steep ascent from the bealach to the corrie rim proper has become known as 'The Ladder'. In summer conditions it is straightforward enough, with a well-engineered path all the way except for a short section of unavoidable boulderfield.
WR6 - The Ladder viewed from the bealach.jpg
Higher up, there were some pleasingly precipitous views back down over the cliffs to the eponymous lochan, Lochan na Gaire, far below.
WR7 - nice precipitous view down to Lochan na Gaire.jpg
Although this Munro is almost universally known as 'Lochnagar', the official name on the OS map is, somewhat surreally, 'Cac Carn Beag' - the Small Crappy Cairn. First, however, you pass the Big Crappy Cairn, 'Cac Carn Mhor', before making the short ascent to the rocky tor that constitutes the true summit. It doesn't really feature a cairn as such, not even a small crappy one: just a barrel-shaped view indicator thingamajig and a stone Trig Point. There was a grand view from said Trig Point towards the rocky prow of The Stuic, with Loch nan Eun below it, and my next target - the rounded Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach - rising to the left of the Stuic. It wasn't really looking much like a Munro from here, but who's complaining - it would hopefully be an easy tick :lol: !
WR8 - The Stuic & Loch nan Eun from Lochnagar trig point.jpg
There was an interesting view on north from Lochnagar's summit, although the route turns back 180 degrees from here to re-trace one's steps south to Cac Carn Mor before turning right towards the Stuic.
WR9 - view N from Cac Carn Beag.jpg
The Big Crappy Cairn coming back into sight, with good views over the cliffs to the left:
WR10 - going back across to the Big Crappy Cairn with cliff edge to left.jpg
On the way across to the next Munro, there were grand views of Loch nan Eun and the Stuic, although the dreaded Clag was threatening to descend :? ...
WR11 - nice view of the Stuic and Loch nan Eun on the way across from Lochnagar.jpg
The good path on the way across made for rapid progress. Rather than going all the way to the Stuic, I cut the corner and took a more direct off-piste route to Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach's summit cairn. There is a baggers' path up from the Stuic at right angles to the main White Mounth path, however. This was the view SW (I think) from the summit cairn:
WR12 - looking E from Choire Boidheach cairn.jpg
And looking back towards Lochnagar's Small Crappy Cairn:
WR13 - Lochnagar from Choire Boidheach cairn.jpg
Back down at the main White Mounth path in the vicinity of the Stuic, there was a clear view across to the next Munro, Carn an t-Saigart Mor. If anything, this one was looking even less like a mountain than the last one :lol: ! It's the further away of the two rounded grassy mounds here, the nearer one being its eastern top, Carn an t-Saigart Beag.
WR14 - Saigart Mor looking unimpressive but with some height loss.jpg
The path loses a fair amount of height here :roll: , crossing a couple of tumbling streams. I stopped for lunch at the first stream (inadvertently dropping my rucksack into it when I took it off, but thankfully just avoiding soggy sandwiches :lol: !), and at the second stream I left the path again to make a more direct off-piste ascent to Carn an t-Saigart Mor's summit environs. There are two cairns - I wasn't sure which one was the true summit so I made sure to visit both! This was the view back towards Lochnagar, now concealing its Small Crappy Cairn in the clag, from Carn an t-Saigart Mor's NE cairn:
WR15 - Lochnagar in Clag from Saigart Mor NE cairn.jpg
From Carn an t-Saigart Mor's SW cairn, there was a clear view onwards to the last two Munros, which thankfully looked pointier and more like the standard mental image of a Mountain. Cairn Bannoch is the pointy wee chap to the centre-right here, while Broad Cairn is the more rounded hill in the middle distance.
WR16 - view from Saigart Mor SW cairn to Bannoch & Broad Cairn.jpg
It didn't feel like that far over to Cairn Bannoch, although it started to rain off and on. There was a pleasing wee glimpse down to Dubh Loch on the way across too :) .
WR17 - a wee glimpse of Dubh Loch on the way over to Cairn Bannoch.jpg
Cairn Bannoch's summit cairn sits on another wee rocky tor, surrounded by boulderfield. The cairn itself is currently sporting Bunny Ears :D - a nice touch! The Clag was continually threatening to descend, but on the plus side this produced a nice wee rainbow just in front of the Eagles Rock crags on the far side of Glen Muick.
WR18 - Eagles Rock crags from Cairn Bannoch's bunny-ears cairn.jpg
This was the hazy onward view towards Broad Cairn:
WR19 - hazy view onwards from Cairn Bannoch to Broad Cairn.jpg
Again, it didn't feel like too long a trek on to Broad Cairn, although it was a bit up-and-down, and the last section involved ascent through a bit of boulderfield. Although it doesn't have Bunny Ears, Broad Cairn has an impressively geometrical summit cairn: all a bit Tate Modern! Someone has clearly had too much time on their hands :lol: ...
WR20 - Broad Cairn's impressive summit cairn.jpg
There was a grand hazy view down towards Loch Muick:
WR21 - hazy view of Loch Muick from Broad Cairn summit.jpg
The descent east from Broad Cairn goes through some rather nasty boulderfield, with definite ankle-twisting potential, especially at the end of a long round like this when I was a bit tired. However, I did have another nice rainbow over Loch Muick for distraction :D .
WR22 - Loch Muick with rainbow.jpg
After what felt like a long time but probably wasn't actually that long, I finally picked up the end of the well-constructed track that runs all the way from the eastern flanks of Broad Cairn, continues high above the southern edge of Loch Muick, and eventually ends back at the Spittal of Glenmuick Car Park. The Clag lifted as I descended, and the sun came out, giving a grand vista over Loch Muick, this time sans rainbow.
WR23 - Loch Muick sans rainbow on descent.jpg
The track made for rapid progress back to the car park, although I didn't particularly enjoy the point where it makes a precipitous zigzagging descent (apparently known as the 'Lightning Bolt') approximately 300 metres down from the high shoulder above Loch Muick to cross the Black Burn at a scenic wee bridge. The track's rubbly surface would make it very easy to slip at this point. It seems highly improbable that anyone manages to get wheeled vehicles up and down this bit, but obviously they do :shock: ! Anyway, once down and over the Black Burn, the last bit of track was entirely straightforward and I was back at the car park soon enough. The very last section proved to be surprisingly scenic, with good views back westwards along Loch Muick to the hills:
WR24 - view back up Loch Muick near end of route.jpg

Possibly the easiest round of five Munros in the book, but who's complaining, particularly amidst such Byronically stirring scenery :D ?
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Re: O! For the crags that are wild and majestic!

Postby dogplodder » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:10 pm

Enjoyed that - bringing back fond memories of hills often climbed when living in Dundee. First time we parked in Spittal of Glenmuick I don't recollect any charge at all! :D
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Re: O! For the crags that are wild and majestic!

Postby Driftwood » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:39 am

Some beautiful rainbows there, especially descending towards Loch Muick.
They're a fine round of hills, even if most of them (walked anti-clockwise) don't really feel "enough" to be Munros in their
own right.
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Re: O! For the crags that are wild and majestic!

Postby jamesb63 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:15 am

Very nice report Kenny :clap: :clap: I done it last autumn and the colours then were fantastic
you really captured the day with some great pics :clap:
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