I'm gradually collecting all my blue pins in this part of Scotland, but I'd rather neglected An Socach—until this weekend and a reasonably good forecast gave me an opportunity. I decided to try to run as much of it as possible, but I have a lot of training to do before I can improve my climbing speed
I decided to follow the WH route, starting at the Baddoch track end, where several cars were parked already. After negotiating crossing the A93 speedway circuit (a summer Saturday morning, and two wheels were more popular than four!), I set off up the track.
After not making enough noise as I overtook two separate groups of walkers and surprising them (sorry!), I reached the ford and the turn off W to start the ascent of An Socach's east top.
I missed the path up towards the cairn, so ended up following a faint path on the south side of the burn flowing down from Coire Fhearneasg. I realised at some point I was going to have to strike out across rising slopes alternating bog and heather, which was very tough going. Eventually as the slopes steepened the going got firmer, and after a steep climb I rejoined the path I'd missed earlier down.
I almost bypassed An Socach's E top, but decided to double back and touch the cairn, before continuing W along the remarkably wide, stony ridge. The main top looked a long way away initially, but the going was generally good, even if the westerly wind in my face was also very strong. Eventually I reached the summit, about an hour and 40 minutes after starting. It's a grand viewpoint, with Ben Avon especially unmistakeable (and still on my unclimbed list).
Heading back along the ridge, I spotted a walker joining the ridge from the S, at the low point about halfway along. It was only after reading my SMC Munros book that I realised he may well have been following their recommended route that starts at the ski car park and head up over SW of Carn Aosda. That approach had never occurred to me!
My descent was fairly straightforward, sticking to the path that I'd intended to follow up the hill. After the cairn at about 690m, the path is very hard to follow as it disappears into bog or heather only to reappear a bit further on.
But I soon was back down and on the track down the glen. By this time, I was pretty knackered, so my pace dropped, and then, about 1km from the car I tripped on an invisible stone and fell my length, missing a faceplant into a ford by inches… Hopefully no-one saw me
Slightly bruised and bloody, I made it back to the car, but at least I could be satisfied with one more Eastern Grampian hill successfully ticked off the list
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