Everyone Has "One of Those Hills"
Anyone who has ever taken any part in attempting to compleate the Munros will know there will be some of these >3000ft giants that stick with you for reasons that are over and above their breath taking scenery, horrendous weather or the hill where you forgot to pack your lunch.
What feels like many moons ago, but was actually only October 2015, myself and Andrew set of on one of my earlier multiday bagging expeditions in the cairngorms. At the time it was easily one of the most exhausting weekends. I remember getting back to the Glenshee Ski Centre and was too tired to even sit and wait for some soup – just wanted a shower and back to Aberdeen! Still a brilliant outing and the full report of the 7 Munros we bagged can be found - https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=57460&p=298726#p298726
At the end of the second day we approached the summit of Beinn lutharn Mhor with the plan to pitch tents just off the summit before quickly heading up Carn an Righ. It was later than expected and my whole body was struggling. In our defence we had spent the whole day trekking across some of the most remote parts of the cairngorms with no solid surface underneath for 90% of the day. I remember, vividly, almost as if it was a nightmare looking at what we “had” to descend before heading up Carn an Righ. The map looked easily attainable but what I was seeing with my eyes appeared more like descending down a cliff-face deeper than the Grand Canyon.
It might seem a bit melodramatic now, but I swear at the time it was devastating realising pitching the tents and getting a good night sleep was the only sensible option – I mean we still had a mammoth day ahead of us just to get back to the car. My “issue” was that Carn an Righ is so isolated and just to get back would take at least a whole day! We did spend a lot of time debating whether Carn an Righ could be added to the morning – in hindsight, thankfully we did not for three reasons; 1) I think I may have been closer to death when we reached Glenshee Ski Centre; 2) Going back was a superb, albeit a long outing for one Munro, and; 3) Mountains are notoriously patient – they are not going anywhere fast!
We set off slightly later than planned from Aberdeen and were not walking until nearly 1pm. This meant Glas Tulaichean was out of the window and plan B was activated. Plan B involed a direct line on the north side of the burn straight to Loch nan Eun before heading up Carn an Righ, retrace our steps, camp at Loch nan Eun before, heading back the same way to the car on Sunday morning.
The famous Scottish sunshine.
The weather Gods were cleary toying with the idea of unlessing a substantial drenching. Thankfully after a minor shower our waterproofs were away for the next poriton of the day.
One of the best things from leaving the city is the wildlife. Now I am still far from a bird of prey expert but I am realtively certain we were treated to a bit of a show from a group of 4/5 Buzzards.
After the first 20 minutes of getting the legs all warmed up the track begins to veer right and you get a glimpse of Glenlochsie Farm and Dalmnzie Hotel (and bizare golf course) - the last ounce of civilisation before your return.
Next up was the simple task of following the landrover track until it vanishes in the bog and the gentle path begins the ascent up to Loch nan Eun.
Thankfully the weather was holding out and this proved to be a beautiful and gentle stretch of the legs.
Some snaps from the walk along the track.
I am the first to admit that my recolection of time taken to complete sections is horrendous, so I have no idea what time we made it to the Loch but I did have the first bit of hesitation that we were slightly behind schedule. I did not want to have to pitch, what was a brand new tent, in the dark. Obviously we practicing setting up in the living room, which I've learnt means nothing without the wind!
Truthfully this outing was almost more about getting a practice pitch and night in the tent before 10 days of island hopping across the Outer Hebrides. It would have been far easier to complete this with an earlier start in a day - but hey, where is the fun in that!
Reached the Loch...
...well one of us had!
Hamish and the great Scottish outdoors.
From the loch it was a relatively flat section before reaching what is a very gentle slope up Carn an Righ (on fresh legs!). In all honesty I had hoped to witness some brutal looking mountain but it appeared my mind had played tricks from the last attempt!
Started off a bit of a bog fest...
...before turning into a gentle well defined path.
As per, the weather was approaching from the north at a frightening pace. Was this hill cursed , or would we actually make it to the top and have some form of visibility.
Looking back along our chosen route.
After stopping for a few quick breathers we made the final push to the top at a near "lightning pace"...
Before you knew it, and Just like that another one was in the bag. Now, clearly this is not the most impressive successful summit, but to finally get that red dot on a map turned blue felt significant! Oh the sweet curse of bagging, how you are a wonder!
No I in team...
Just as we hit the cairn at the top we could begin to feel a few speckles of rain, fortunately or unfortunately, depends on your point of view we could see what was about to hit... I think personally I prefer to be blindsided by the rain .
Almost as if the Lairig Ghru was a giant bathtub getting filled
Waterproofs quickly donned, camera packed away and we retraced our steps as if we were being chased by the giant monster cloud from Stranger Things. Unfortunately we were not quick enough and, as expected, the wind picked up and the rain hit pretty hard!
By now we had made it back to the Loch. What was relatively peaceful on an hour ago looked as if we could have gone surfing. There is a ruin just at the edge of the Loch which looked as if it might provide the perfect wind shelter to pitch the tent. As I went in for a closer look it quickly became apparent that the ground was far too boggy and we would have to begin to descend.
Before heading back to the path I accidentally corned a hare between myself and the Loch - without getting wet there was no way for it to get around me. They may be one of the most common animals seen out walking but to see one 2-3m away was interesting. Effectively just a giant ugly bunny rabbit . No hard feelings really I am just jealous of their elegance and manoeuvrability in the mountains!
I shifted to let the hare fly past and just like that we got a break in the rain.
What is the saying, "greater the storm the greater the rainbow"?
Unfortunately all the surrounding land around the Loch was soaking and unsurprisingly quite exposed. We had about an hour left of light so decided to head down until we found a suitable pitch.
Now this ended up a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears - that is too damp, that is too close to the noisy stream, that is on a bit of a slope. All these moans coming from myself right enough. As this was the first munro bagging overnight adventure with Hamish I was convinced we would find somewhere "good". I've had numerous nights out in the hills on substandard pitches but thankfully I have the ability to fall asleep instantaneously, others are not so fortune (I normally don't mind as I am in dreamland) .
My main concern was a bad night would spread fear for a whole holiday based in a tent, and at worst a pull-out.... . I mean in hindsight a little bit of eye-opening was intended... Effectively it was a... "Yes you do need that many layers!".
We managed to get the tent up with minimal issues and set about getting some pasta boiled before heading off for a sleep. Personally I slept okay. Trust me - I do NOT speak for both parties in that sense!
Regardless of sleep quality, this is a beautiful view to wake up to!
Just after getting the tent down the heavens opened up again. Now this one was fully expected and forecasted.
The Cairngorms in their natural state!
Poor quality phone photo, but that is a dorky smile!
The walk back felt long, but in this weather that is not hugely unusual. I began to reminisce about a cooked breakfast I had in Braemar on one of my earliest weekend out in the Cairngorms, whilst waiting for the 201 bus back to Aberdeen.
I could feel my belly being to rumble and the idea of a full Scottish immediately superseded the remaining taste of instant porridge with lukewarm stream water..
Before we knew it we were in Braemar heading towards Gordon's Tearoom.
Tell you what that a "U" could have been replaced with an "I".
As a backup we made our way to The Bothy at Breamar Mountain Sports.
So was dinner....
All in all a hugely successful outing. It took nearly two years to get back to Carn an Righ, but I am certain it was worth the wait! Who knows which one I will be going up in two years time, but at this rate I am sure I will still be going!
That was only 82, and left a nice round number of 200 to go...
Not sure how or why it has taken me so long to get around to writing this report but I wanted to do it justice! Ultimately they always take substantially longer to get through than I remember. Hope they are worth it .
Thanks for reading.... again!
The tent successfully survived the Outer Hebrides - and got some cracking views!
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