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Climbing up the ladder Panther style

Climbing up the ladder Panther style

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:04 am

Route description: Lecht Mine from the Well of Lecht

Corbetts included on this walk: Càrn Mòr (Ladder Hills)

Date walked: 19/11/2017

Time taken: 4.5 hours

Distance: 13 km

Ascent: 529m

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For me, Christmas rush begins in November. With my family so far away, I have to make sure gifts are bought, packed and sent well before the festive days. So on Saturday, despite nice, sunny weather, we headed for the shopping center instead of mountains. Forecast for Sunday was cloudy but relatively low winds and a chance for clear skies in the afternoon, so we decided to visit an easy hill (probably a repeat) and enjoy snow while it lasted.

Kevin climbed to the loft, looking for a suitable large box for a gift parcel. Watching him standing on the ladder, I suddenly remembered a certain route I had planned ages ago an then completely forgot about it.
"I have an idea, darling, why not go up the ladder tomorrow?"
He gave me an odd look and passed me a large cardboard box.
"I've got the impression, I'm already there!"
"I mean, Ladder Hills!"
"Ladder Hills? But we have already done them...?"
"Yes, but not from the well."
He laughed.
"You never cease to amaze me. Well, why not?" :lol: :lol:

Our previous visit to Ladder Hills was from the north, from Chapeltown, but the hill can also be climbed from the south-east (Glen Nochty) and from the west, starting on A939. The easiest option would be to start on the top of the Lecht pass (the ski center is 650m above sea level - means beginning the climb of a Corbett from Graham height :lol: ) but I had something different in mind. Something including a disused mine building.
So our circuit starts from the bottom of the pass, where there is a suitable car park, visits the Lecht Mine then climbs up to Carn Liath and follows the ridge to Carn Mor. To complete a circular, we returned over Carn Dulack:

Track_WELL OF LECHT 19-11-17.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

One word of warning: the Ladder plateau in cloudy conditions is pretty featureless - easy to get lost. Some fences not marked on the map. And it's boggy. Peat hags included :D More about it later...
It wasn't going to be a long day, so no need for an early start, but when we arrived at the car park at 9am-ish, the clag was still low and no chance for any views from higher up the ladder - at least for the time being. My first move was a detailed study of the info board:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 001.JPG

In heavy snow, this car park could be difficult to access:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 004.JPG

The stone building looks attractive from the initial path. We crossed the footbridge and followed the grassy approach to the mine:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 007.JPG

Lecht Mine from the west. The building is open for the public to lurk inside:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 008.JPG

From CANMORE database:
Ironstone Mine, Lecht. 18th to 19th century. The principal remain here is a tall 2-storey rubble building with segmental-arched openings; this may have housed crushing machinery. There is a high-level lade, and there appears to have been a waterwheel about 42ins (1.06m) wide by 24ft (7.32m) diameter on one gable; the kingpost roof is well preserved.
Inside the building:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 016.JPG

Mining first took place at Lecht in the late eighteenth century, when the York Mining Company established workings here on land forfeited to the government following the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. Both ironstone and manganese ore were mined at the site and were transported to Culnakyle, near Nethybridge, for smelting.
2017-11-19 well of lecht 022.JPG

The most prominent feature of the mining landscape at Lecht is a two-storey, rubble-built building with a large arched doorway, which was restored and re-roofed with local slate in the 1980s. It dates from a second, post-1841 phase of activity at the mine, and probably served as a crushing mill, powered by a water wheel measuring almost 8m in diameter which was set at one of its gable walls.
2017-11-19 well of lecht 025.JPG

The mine from the east. The waterwheel was attached to the wall to the right:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 029.JPG

This drawing shows how the building looked when it was still in use. Apologies for the bad quality, light was poor inside:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 013.JPG

When production reached its peak during the 1840s, 63 people were employed at the mine. By 1847, however, cheap imports of manganese from Russia made it unprofitable and the mine closed. :(
There was some talk of re-opening the mine fro iron in the 1920s, but sadly, it never happened, due to the high cost of transporting the iron to Tomintoul. So now, the building is just a tourist attraction (listed as category B).
An interesting wee detour and a good dollop of local history :D but we still had a hill to climb! 1/25k map shows a path starting near the mine, going up the shoulder of Tom na Broighleig, alongside a line of grouse butts. On closer inspection, the path turned out to be an eroded vt track, easy way up.
Sadly, weather wasn't cooperative at the moment:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 030.JPG

Above the line of grouse butts, the track deteriorates to a path and soon we entered the cloud. I was actually glad we came here on a frosty day, 'cause soon we came across peat hags and they would be a nightmare to cross in wet conditions. At least now they were all frozen!
Panther flying over peat hags:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 040.JPG

2017-11-19 well of lecht 037.JPG

The path disappeared under the snow but once past the peat hag area it was easy marching up to the top of Carn Liath, which is only "marked" by a fence right across. It was still misty but the sun was beginning to shine through so I was hoping, maybe for some views later on:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 042.JPG

It was cold up here, time for windproofs:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 044.JPG

We jumped over the fence and continued NE along the wide ridge, over a col full of peat hags (thankfully, frozen solid!) to the next top (800m, not named on 1/25k map). This top is marked with a small cairn:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 045.JPG

There was a moment of hope as we caught a glimpse of blue sky...
2017-11-19 well of lecht 049.JPG

...but it was short living. From the middle top the wide ridge continues, almost flat, to the summit trig point of Carn Mor (there is a path to follow). We had already been here and seen the views from this Corbett, but despite the cold we decided to wait and see if the clag goes.
Trig point in the mist:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 052.JPG

We waited for maybe 15 minutes, sipping tea from the flask, but the stubborn cloud just wouldn't move, so we admitted defeat and began the walk back. My hands were freezing off despite winter gloves and the wind was really bitter :? At least marching over peat hags kept us warm :D We retraced our steps over the 800m top to the peat-haggy col and turned right to follow the shoulder of Carn Dolack. As we reached the fence on the ridge, suddenly...
2017-11-19 well of lecht 054.JPG

...the clag started to burn off. A bit later than we hoped for, but we were still high on the hill and we could see the main attraction of the Ladder - the view to the mighty Cairngorms!
2017-11-19 well of lecht 058.JPG

Mad cat! :roll:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 062.JPG

We stopped for a few panoramas:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 065.JPG

Patches of cloud drifting over Carn Dulack ridge:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 067.JPG

Zoom to the Cairngorms:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 080.JPG

The summit ridge was now almost clear. From here, it looks flat (the summit of Carn Mor is to the left):
2017-11-19 well of lecht 085.JPG

A glimpse down into Glenlivet. Ben Rinnes on the horizon (still topped in cloud):
2017-11-19 well of lecht 096.JPG

Rinnes zoomed:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 113.JPG

We took another short break by a large cairn (at 668m), here we found a nice viewpoint and a good spot to pose with views in the background:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 110.JPG

2017-11-19 well of lecht 101.JPG

The best view though, was to the Cairngorms and the weird pink-ish light made it even more unusual:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 105.JPG

2017-11-19 well of lecht 104.JPG

Cloud drifting over Ben Avon:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 103.JPG

The rest of the walk was a formality, following the ridge for another km, before picking up a wet path, descending back to the glen. We were accompanied by a fantastic light and cloud spectacle over the Cairngorms:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 114.JPG

The return path:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 124.JPG

Looking back to Ladder Hills from Carn Dualck ridge:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 127.JPG

The descent path was a boggy nightmare, so we soon left it in favour of descending straight down the heathery slopes. A few sheep grazed nearby:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 130.JPG

Dropping back to the mine, our ascent route to Carn Liath visible across the glen:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 131.JPG

The last look at the mine building, before returning to the car park:
2017-11-19 well of lecht 136.JPG

I know it was a repeat but a nice day nevertheless. Yes, it was cold and peat-haggy but who cares :lol: I must say, this is an interesting way to climb Carn Mor, only 530m of ascent altogether and a visit to the mine makes for a nice addition. On a bright day views would be even more spectacular but I'm glad we got our share of the mighty Cairngorms in pink light :D And Panther had another opportunity to meow about!
Last edited by BlackPanther on Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Climbing up the ladder Panther style

Postby ancancha » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:55 pm

Cheers panther, noticed the building from the road and was curious :?:
Nice photaes :clap:
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