I was a bit wary of doing this walk as only a couple of reports had been posted on WH, one in winter. I wanted to have a look at the crags as they did look spectacular and if the weather was right, the photos would be good. So I decided to brave another long walk in and out along Loch Muick just for this, the munro was a bonus, considered Cairn Bannock too but would see how the time and weather was going.
Left the car park at 11:30am to a very windy but occasionally sunny start. Soon had to put my wind proof top on to keep warm though. It is a long trudge up Loch Muick on the track with little of interest to view. Walked past HRM's wee bothy by the loch and through the trees for a first look at the real walking ahead.
Glas-Allt-Shiel path to Dubh Loch by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
It is very easy to miss the branch in the path, I wasn't sure at first it would lead somewhere other than the loch but it does slowly head up the side of the glen and away from it. Just a worn path now with occasional drainage ditches and stones as it climbs up the right side of the glen. The river was visible cascading down the middle, testament to some rain earlier. Stulan Waterfall further up looked OK too and a closer look at Broad Cairn now with its horizontal slabs on its side.
Stulan Waterfall and Broad Cairn by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Looking back to Loch Muick from Stulan by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Loch Muick eventually disappears and Dubh Loch and its crags become the main draw for the eyes. The path was good under foot till now, it becomes boggy and peaty and wet areas have to be avoided all the time. Heavy going.
First view of Dubh Loch and crags by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
I walked to the far end and followed a faint path to what must be a camp site for climbers. I sat by the waters edge at the beach and ate my lunch. A good way to make the rucksack lighter. The weather was perfect for taking photos of the crags. I can understand why climbers come up here, the rock face is large and high. Impressive scree slope coming out of a gully too.
On the beach, Dubh Loch by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
After lunch I retraced the path back to the boulders where it split and walked though the boulder field and out onto wet grass. The path was fairly easy to follow here but still avoiding large wet areas a constant task. Glad to start climbing up beside the big cascade above the loch as the footing is much better.
Allt an Dubh Loch view of crags by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Quickly gained height. As I got near the top I looked for a way across. The path sort of leads to a place and I made my way over the first part. I saw a waterfall set in the rocks further up and wanted a look so headed over to it. At least a 2 metre drop. I finished crossing the water here and picked a route up the slope aiming to get round the side of the crags. No sign of a path now so just avoiding big boulders and wet bits. Three people came up behind me and we traversed the slope staying off the steep stuff and walking up the little burn where it was mostly grass. I pointed them in the right direction to meet the circuit path while I headed up to the top of the crags for views back down to the loch. It was getting dark now as big clouds were being blown over.
Broad Cairn from top Creag an Dubh Loch by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Reached the top of Creag an Dubh Loch after negotiating the Central Gully and after having a look at Broad Cairn from here, I considered Cairn Bannock a step too far for little reward given the weather and time, walked over to the top of the crags for a look down over the loch. A sheer drop from the edge, it looked a long way down to my lunch stop by the loch.
Dubh Loch and Allt an Dubh Loch by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Great views though and took lots of photos. I then contoured round to join the path up the final climb to Broad Cairn. I could feel it was blowing through rain now and so didn't hang around at the top. More photos and then off again, pretty dark all round, dark Lochnagar indeed.
Lochnagar and Loch Muick from Broad Cairn by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Loch Muick beckoned in the distance. Once over the boulder field and the first shoulder of the hill the made path is reached. This is covered in soil with drainage stones as steps and I picked up the pace as it wound down hill. The rain was holding off but it was only a matter of time. I didn't cut down the path by Corrie Chash but followed the track uphill and along the top. A bit rougher on the feet and the view disappeared until the edge was gained once more. More photos and then the big drop down the zig zag and the final walk along Loch Muick.
Broad Cairn and Loch Muick by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Loch Muick by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Loch Muick from Black Burn descent by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
Looking back to Glas-Allt-Shiel and the rain by Joe Kincaid, on Flickr
I could see the rain coming now, so walking as fast as I could. It caught me about half and hour out and it was light at first. 10 minutes out and it was heavy, I could see the waves of rain being blown across the path. Just took the rucksack off and put it in the boot, picked up my shoes and dived in the car. Hung up my jacket and wind top on the back of the seats, changed my boots to shoes (steering wheel a nuisance) then finished my banana and Stoats bar. It was 5pm when I left the car park. The weather certainly made me move, just a little discomfort, but my new boots are fantastic, light but firm, snug fit. New trousers were not waterproof though, but jacket up to the task. I think this will be my last visit here. The other munros offer no incentive now.
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