My first walk report. Inspired by some other reports on here (namely one by user: terminalsump) I decided to try this long walk yesterday which adds Tolmount and Tom Buidhe to the popular White Mount Circuit. To give myself a fighting chance (I'm not exactly "hill fit" ) I cycled the parts between the spittal of glen muick car park and Glas-allt-Shiel bothy; my knees & feet are thanking me for it today.
I set off on bike from the car park at spittal of glen muick at 0630 after having stayed in the excellent Ballater Bothy the night before. Blue skies, about 4 degrees and warming, with no breeze at this stage. I cycled past the visitor centre, initially going straight on at the first junction before swinging right to cycle along the small beach / footbridge at the east end of Loch Muick. Joining the landrover track at the boathouse I quickly covered ground and arrived at the bothy in no time. Locked the bike up behind the bothy which was clearly in use (mental note: must come and stay here some time) and took off toward Lochnagar.
This ascent of Lochnagar is the main climb of the day: for all other munros little descent is needed between them. The steep climb from the bothy follows the Glas Allt burn which at times looked very inviting for a dook, and at other times had some lovely waterfalls. The gradient then eases and theres a long tramp through a valley between Cuidhe Crom and Creag a Ghlas-Uillt, before Lochnagar is mounted from the back, with little sign of the dramatic crags until you reach the cairn of Cac Corn Mon. A quick nip to the north along the top of the cliffs takes you to Lochnagar's summit at Cac Carn Beag.
I took a compass bearning at this point to be sure which of the many nearby summits was Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach (I had the route preloaded into my GPS, but reading the walk report from user: Scoob999 "Basil Faulty goes walkabout at Lochnagar", made me paranoid about getting lost up here - fortunately conditions were much better for me ). Before setting off again.
The next few summits (Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and Cairn Bannoch) were all easy and quick to get between along the plateau. It's easy to see why this is a poular circuit. Spent some time on top of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor admiring the aircraft wreckage which I had been looking forward to seeing though I couldn't find the big white wing piece that I've seen photos of.
I arrived at Cairn Bannoch at 1145 and it was here where I had to decided whether to head South to Tolmount and Tom Buidhe, or to instead head straight to Broad Cairn before descending for my bike. My time was good, conditions were great, and the legs felt well enough so I decided to head South. I first headed back on myself to head South over Fafernie to avoid losing much altitude. Thereafter the path quickly dissappeared and the going got quite soggy, presumably due to the continued snow melt, so I head to pick my route carefully to avoid ending up with wet feet. The route I chose headed for Crow Craigies before turning right to head for Tolmount. Tolmount was a quick climb and I didn't stop at the top, instead continuing straight on for the route to Tom Buidhe. The route heads South West to the West of Tom Buidhe before crossing a wee burn and turning left and ascending from the West.
I descended Tom Buidhe along the same route as far as the burn where I filled up my bottle, then decided to go around Tolmount rather than over the top as my legs were starting to tire. In hindsight the awkwardness of traversing and the soft underfoot conditions meant it was quite tough going and I might have been better off just going back over Tolmount (also, this would have allowed to claim 8 munros for the day! ).
I rejoined my previous path from Fafernie and decided that as there was little path from Fafernie I may as well try a bit of a short cut (famous last words) to cut some distance to Broad Cairn. I headed instead for the valley between Cairn of Gowal and Craig of Gowal and rejoined the path to Broad Cairn not long thereafter. Again, I'm not sure that shortcut actually saved me any energy as the heather / grassy hummocks were quite tough going.
Broad Cairn was an easy climb by comparison with the improved underfoot conditions, and I reached the summit at 15:45. I enjoyed standing atop Broad Cairn and surveying the day's route: it looks (and is!) quite a long distance from Lochnagar to Tom Buidhe! It took me much longer to descend from Broad Cairn that expected. My knees were now quite tired and the boulder field and ensuing drop into Glen Muick seemed lethal and precarious so I really took my time.
Finally back town in the glen I nipped round the west edge of the Loch to retrieve my bike from the bothy and cycled out, this time going straight on at the boathouse to take advantage of the landrover track as an easier cycling surface. I arrived back at the car at 18:00, fully satisfied with my day's effort.
I might add: This more than doubled my tally of Munros in a single day! I had previously climbed Lochnagar a few times, but my total still went from 4 to 10!
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