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An Socach Tae the Skin

An Socach Tae the Skin


Postby naepace » Mon May 08, 2017 11:52 am

Route description: An Socach from Glen Clunie

Munros included on this walk: An Socach (Braemar)

Date walked: 21/04/2017

Time taken: 3.75 hours

Distance: 15.75 km

Ascent: 655m

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I'm rapidly running out of 'quickie' hills for when time is short, although I had the day off on Friday the weather forecast was so rank rotten in the morning that I decided to wait for the predicted 'better' weather to arrive mid-afternoon before venturing out. This of course meant less daylight hours to get up and down, which saw me frantically scouring my 'Munro map' looking for a wee single. After disregarding a few longer routes I settled on An Socach with it's start point just over an hour up the A93 from Perth. I arrived at the small layby around 12.45 but parked over in the larger layby opposite the gated start of the walk. What followed was not my best start to a day out in the hills, as I pulled on the handbrake I heard the disconcerting TWANG of the cable snapping as the handle rose about a foot higher out the well than it had ever done previously. Here I now was, half way up the country's highest mountain range with no handbrake, what could possibly go wrong ? Perhaps the most surprising thing was my current predicament did not generate anywhere near the same level of concern as the last time I heard a similar sound. Picture the scene. A crowded poolside in July in the South of France, Hector here begins to stand up to adjust the old sunbed when TWANG, snap goes the elastic in my impossibly tight Speedos !! I feel it important to point out that Speedos were mandatory for use in the swimming pools in that area of France....seriously !....that alone should give reasonable grounds for a Brexit stage left as soon as bloody possible !
I digress ! Leaving the car in gear I was soon on my way through the gate and up the landrover track towards the wee cottage and into the Baddoch Glen.
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It didn't used to do that ?!?!

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I wonder where they roll their eggs on an Easter Sunday ???

The going is good on the track and I was quickly marching by the cottage towards the wooden bridge over the Baddoch burn. The burn runs alongside you for the early stages of the walk up through the glen. From previous reports I'd read I knew I was to stay on the landrover track until it reached the Allt Coire Fhearneasg which required fording before I could begin heading up the hill proper. As I rattled along in my own little world I was completely and utterly oblivious to the young fella and his dog who were running up the glen behind me, until of course the hound the appeared in front of me on the left as he sped by on the right. What a bloody fright I got. As if me jumping out my skin wasn't embarrassing enough, he was bound to have heard me belting out the latest 'STEPS' tune as I merrily cantered along......Don't judge me, it was the last song on the radio as I got out the motor, you have all been there !!
As the scarlet tinge finally receded from my face, I found myself at the 6 foot wide burn to cross. As regular readers will know I'm a little bit feart for myself, so after taking a second or two to compose myself I managed to muster enough courage to tackle the 3 inch deep, raging torrent before me ! With the due care and concentration levels of a tightrope walker over Niagra falls I safely negotiated my way over without wetting the tops of my boots ! A small cairn marks the point immediately after the crossing where I left the landrover track and started to head up the faint path through the heathery slopes.
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It must be hard to run whilst you are still p*ssing yourself laughing !!

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Now you can see why I was so concerned about crossing lol

The going was again good up the relatively gentle slope. Much of the hillside was blackened by the burning of the heather (lets hope a tick or two met a fiery end) which unfortunately left a rather unpleasant acrid oudoor. As I climbed I realised I didn't have my cap with me and that my bald spot was perilously exposed to the strong Spring sunshine, with the anticipated strong winds still to make an appearance it was a pleasantly warm day and more than capable of burning my pasty skin. After raking in my rucksack I found the remnants of last years sun cream which I liberally rubbed into my scalp, factor 50 hair gel could be the future...or could it ? As I gained height towards the large cairn which stands at the foot of the SE ridge of An Socach the wind strengthened considerably. My improvised, sun defying hair styling combined with the 30-40mph gusts soon had me sporting a magnificent quiff that would 'trump' anything the newly elected leader of the free world could muster...hence there are none of the obligatory summit selfies that litter my previous entries lol After an hour I reached the cairn where I was greeted with fantastic views back down the glen.
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Looking NE back along the glen

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The route ahead up onto the broad ridge

From the cairn there is a reasonably decent path, it was fairly dry with only the odd slightly boggy section, certainly nothing wet or deep enough that you would worry about losing a small child in ! Above me the skies were still predominately blue with only whispy white clouds, however, I was being hit with rain drops on the wind that must have been falling some considerable distance away, it was then I realised that it was going to be rather 'blowy' up on the plateau ! After negotiating a final steep, stony section I was atop the ridge and heading the short distance to the large windshelter cairn marking the Eastern summit. The views North into the main body of the Cairngorms were fantastic, although it was hard to get a decent photo given the buffeting I was taking from the seriously strong wind. Unfortunately I was heading West into what looked like a particularly menacing mini hurricane charged, Ninja shower !
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Looking North from the summit plateau

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The East/West ridge to the true summit in the centre of the pic

In hindsight I’d have been better stopping for a bite to eat on the Eastern summit as the wind shelter cairn was much more robust and would’ve offered far more protection than it’s wee brother ultimately did in the West. However, I’d already decided that I wouldn’t stop until I’d reached the true summit. The wind was still howling but it didn’t appear to be moving the foreboding dark clouds ahead to the South as quickly as I’d hoped. Time to don the old hard shell and waterproof breeks….well I would’ve done but somehow I’d managed to pack the wife’s instead of mine. I’m a reasonably skinny fella but I ain’t no size 10 ! On the bright side the wind would soon dry out the trousers, assuming the wind-chill didn’t get me first ! As it was the first problem was just being able to walk. The Northerly wind was incessantly battering me from the side which meant every time I put my right walking pole forward it would be blown in front of me creating a wee trip hazard, this coupled with the stony/bouldery underfoot conditions meant a comedy trip was looking increasing likely. The likelihood increased further as the first drops of rain started to fall, I say fall they had obviously fallen at some point but were generally now skelping along on the horizontal at about 50mph. With my hood drawn right in around my face and my buff pulled up over my nose I could barely see a thing adding to my impromptu homage to Monty Python’s ministry of funny walks ! The good news was that the rain didn’t last for long…..it suddenly turned to hail ! I was now experiencing Mother Nature’s ‘non-fatal’ version of a certain North Korean tyrant’s favourite method of execution. If there had been an anti-aircraft gun firing at me I doubt I’d have heard it such was the noise created by thousands of tiny, frozen raindrops battering off Gore-Tex. I could only liken it to someone continually throwing handfuls of rice at a corrugated tin roof. Of course the inevitable thoughts of ‘what the bloody hell am I doing ?’ began whirling in my mind. However, before I had reached a definitive conclusion that I was apparently a tad bonkers, the hail returned to rain, and as quick again the rain lessened to a misty drizzle. Seconds later the ludicrously of Scotland’s weather was again revealed, the sun had returned and I was now staring down from the ridge onto the most magical rainbow, I think the wind might’ve even dropped below warp speed for a few moments as I enjoyed the view, always a more pleasurable experience when your soaked nether regions have not yet begun to develop the initial symptoms of frostbite.
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Seems you have better chance of finding gold at the bottom of a piano according to this week's news !

I was now only a few metres from the summit cairn, it had taken around 35 minutes to walk between the two summits, which I’m sure would take a lot less in more welcoming conditions. Although I was now bathed in the sun the weather had closed in around the Northern summits obscuring the views into the Cairngorms higher peaks, I cursed myself for not having taken more pics on my way up, but on the flip side I was greeted with amazing views over Loch Nan Eun to the Munro of Glas Tulaichean. After taking in the view for a while it was time to hunker down out the wind, hope the strides dried off quickly and have a somewhat late lunch, unfortunately I was far too tall to hunker down far enough behind the shallow walls of the shelter to completely eradicate the wind. A fact I cursed as I tried to take my first drink of coffee and a gust blew the first couple of cm’s straight out the top of the mug ! Comical enough you’d think but no more was to come ! As I turned my back to the wind and raised the mug to my lips a second time a fighter jet came roaring over from somewhere out behind me, resulting in me jumping out my skin for the second time today and causing another 2 or 3cm of my well-earned cuppa to end up on the dirt ! Looking over my shoulder I witnessed the amazing spectacle of a further two fighters skirting out from behind the summit of Tulaichean at high speed, sun glinting off their tilted wings (very Top Gun esq.) as they thundered by me. Facing one of those things in anger must be a truly terrifying prospect.
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Loch Nan Eun and Glas Tulaichean

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The Western summit cairn

As much as I wasn’t particularly enamoured at the prospect of being blown back along the ridge, I didn’t particularly like the look of the darkening skies heading my way from the North either so it was time to batten down the hatches and begin making my way back. The wind direction was helping slightly as I started retracing my steps and I made excellent time on my wind assisted return, I realised as I did so I was involuntarily humming the tune of Westlife’s ‘Flying Without Wings’....I’m at a loss to think what may have influenced that particular ditty to spring to mind !! Once I dropped off the ridge, back down the heathery slopes towards the large cairn I was immediately sheltered again and could feel a bit of warmth from the early evening sun making the wander back along the glen quite enjoyable. In around 3 hours and 45 minutes I was relieved to find the car was still where I’d left it and that it had not trundled it’s way another couple of miles down the A93 whilst the ever present motorcyclists and campervans frantically swerved out its way like me on a Saturday afternoon veering around the ‘charity muggers’ on a walk down the high street. Whilst An Socach is unlikely to ever figure on anyone’s list of favourite hills it turned out be an eventful enough day out which in the end I actually thoroughly enjoyed. The classic 4 seasons in one day, nee hour ! and just goes to prove Billy Connolly right once again, ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing !!”
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naepace
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 155
Munros:113   Corbetts:5
Grahams:2   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:10   
Joined: Oct 8, 2012
Location: Perth

Re: An Socach Tae the Skin

Postby naepace » Tue May 09, 2017 3:37 pm

Cheers again RTC. At that particular moment I'd have been quite happy in anybody's Speedos as long as they were intact :crazy: :lol:
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naepace
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 155
Munros:113   Corbetts:5
Grahams:2   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:10   
Joined: Oct 8, 2012
Location: Perth

Re: An Socach Tae the Skin

Postby oslaallen » Wed May 10, 2017 1:13 pm

Trying not to laugh too loudly as I'm reading this at work :lol: :lol: :lol:
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oslaallen
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Posts: 10
Munros:219   Corbetts:16
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Joined: Jun 22, 2011

Re: An Socach Tae the Skin

Postby naepace » Thu May 11, 2017 3:39 pm

oslaallen wrote:Trying not to laugh too loudly as I'm reading this at work :lol: :lol: :lol:

Shame on you oslaallen :wink:
Glad you enjoyed it :D
User avatar
naepace
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 155
Munros:113   Corbetts:5
Grahams:2   Donalds:4
Sub 2000:10   
Joined: Oct 8, 2012
Location: Perth

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