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Frabjous day in Gleann Laoigh

Frabjous day in Gleann Laoigh

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:11 pm

Munros included on this walk: Càrn a' Mhàim

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Gulabin, Creag an Dail Bheag, Creag nan Gabhar, Culardoch, Sgòr Mòr

Date walked: 06/01/2019

Time taken: 20.5 hours

Distance: 69 km

Ascent: 3477m

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After last week's disappointment not getting up to the Cairngorms, weather looked more promising this time around. A drive up to Linn of Dee on Thursday night followed by a walk in to Derry Lodge for starters. Traffic was lighter than usual going through Glasgow as the last vestiges of Xmas lingered on and we arrived at the car park at Linn of Dee about 7.30.Temperature was -3.5 as we sat in the car eating our tea. Promised to be a chilly night, especially as the stars were starting to come out. Another car parked beside us - a lassie going up to Bob Scott's, with her rucksack draped in fairy lights. Novel. We got the headtorches out, no additional lighting for us, and set off along to Derry Lodge. There was another tent near the bridge - we couldn't pitch in our usual spot under one of the large trees as a heap of fallen branches had been put there so we pitched near the bridge - not easy getting the pegs into frozen ground. A chilly night indeed - ice had formed on the inner tent layer when we got up in the morning.

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ImageP1040021 by Al, on Flickr

Various folk went by, including Fairy Lights, sadly no longer illuminated. we breathed in the clear crisp air - it was going to be a grand day - one of those perfect winter days with little breeze, blue sky, where everything is clean and chill. Our plan was to walk along Gleann Laoigh and climb Carn a'Mhaim - ok I know we're meant to be doing Corbetts, but nearby 3rd round Munros are fair game - then cross over the gleann and climb Sgor Mor, returning along the Dee to the car park. The normally boggy ground from Derry Lodge into the gleann was frozen solid and progress was swift. We decided not to take a chance at the river crossing, as the stepping stones were ice-clad, and instead made our way round to the bridge. Carn a'Mhaim was now in sight - not a speck of snow to be seen (leaving the ice axes in the car had been the right decision).

ImageP1040023 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1040024 by Al, on Flickr

Carn a'Mhaim up ahead
ImageP1040026 by Al, on Flickr

We hadn't realised that mermaids came as far up the Lui Water as this...
ImageP1040028 by Al, on Flickr

Last time we were here, back in February 18, the path had been obscured by snow - today it was clear and easy to follow right to the summit. The mountains on the far side of Glen Dee looked spectacular - just enough snow to give character and emphasis. To our north, Beinn MacDhui was clearer than I've ever seen it. It would have been a fine day for a traverse along to Braeriach. But our way lead elsewhere and we descended Carn a'Mhaim, making for the small lochans at the west end of Gleann Laoigh Bheag.

I think we'll use the bridge
ImageP1040029 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1040030 by Al, on Flickr

Cairn Toul
ImageP1040032 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Carn a'Mhaim
ImageP1040034 by Al, on Flickr

Devil's Point
ImageP1040039 by Al, on Flickr

Some boggy ground (mostly frozen) led us to the Simm of Creagan nan Gabhar - ahead lay the rounded mound of Sgor Mor. You have to wonder why this hill was named Sgor Mor when it is one of the smaller hills - surrounded by the likes of Beinn Bhrotain, Cairn Toul and MacDhui. Curious. We got to the summit, enjoyed the views and set off along the sprawling back of the mountain to Sgor Dubh. Thereafter I went a little adrift, following a deer fence rather than the route suggested, which led us through heather and tussocks before bringing us into some Caledonian Pine woods and ultimately to the track. It had been quite a long day and dusk was falling as we made it back to the car. We decided to find a spot to pitch in the car park, and had a fairly peaceful night, apart from hearing someone's large dog barking near midnight.

Towards Creagan nan Gabhar and Sgor Mor
ImageP1040041 by Al, on Flickr

Carn a'Mhaim
ImageP1040042 by Al, on Flickr

View to Sgor Mor
ImageP1040044 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1040048 by Al, on Flickr

View to MacDhui
ImageP1040050 by Al, on Flickr

Sunset over Lochnagar
ImageP1040052 by Al, on Flickr

Doesn't include the walk in to Derry Lodge
ImageP1040053 by Al, on Flickr

Saturday morning was also cold - the car told me it was -1 but it felt colder. Water takes a long time to boil when a) your water is nearly freezing and b) your gas is cold. Breakfast was leisurely by necessity as a result. Today would eb a trip to Culardoch and Creag an Dail Bheag, hopefully with a few Simms added in for good measure. We drove around to Invercauld (now a £2.50 charge to park there) and set off along the track for Culardoch. Our first attempt at these hills ended in snowy defeat, returning after an exhausting 6 hours in deep snow and blizzards to an almost buried tent. But today would be much easier - namely because there was no snow. The sky was overcast, with the mountain tops hidden under a white blanket of cloud. Underfoot was icy in places - we climbed to the summit of Culardoch in mist, dropped back down to the lower slopes before stopping for lunch. We watched 2 guys coming along but paying no attention to the track or path, just ambling through the heather. Maybe they were purists.

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ImageP1050054 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1050055 by Al, on Flickr

Frost hedgehog (or Frosthog)
ImageP1050057 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1050058 by Al, on Flickr

We returned to the track and set off for Creag an Dail Bheag. There's a path to follow most of the way, although it disappears in amongst rocks at times. As we neared the old summit (Carn Liath) we met a man with overnight gear coming towards us. Across from us lay the bulk of Beinn A'an - very near indeed, although separated by a significant drop/re-ascent. After attaining the top we returned to Carn Liath and set off down the southern shoulder, aiming for the first Simm, Creag a'Chait. We should have followed the wall, but I managed to lead us astray, and found we were heading for Meikle Elrick - some hasty route correction was required. We apused for some nutrition after getting to the top of Creag a'Chait, from where Lochnagar imposed itself upon the eye.

View to Creag an Dail Bheag
ImageP1050060 by Al, on Flickr

Frost flowers
ImageP1050061 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn A'an
ImageP1050063 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1050064 by Al, on Flickr

View to Lochnagar
ImageP1050067 by Al, on Flickr

Back down to the track - I still wanted to get the two Simms near the start done - Allison was looking a bit tired, but she gamely kept up. Some stumbling over felled forestry and a robust deer fence and it was romping through the heather and new pine plantation to reach the summit of Meall Gorm. The next Simm, Creag Leek looked both quite high and quite far away for this time in the afternoon. More stumbling through heather, then a clear path beside the wall led up this impressive hill - a subMarilyn no less. Descent through some trees in the gloaming and back to the car as darkness crept in.

ImageP1050068 by Al, on Flickr

Culardoch from Meall Gorm
ImageP1050069 by Al, on Flickr

Creag Leek
ImageP1050070 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1050071 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1050072 by Al, on Flickr

I had planned to camp somewhere near Callater, but it seemed less hassle to simply head to Braemar Campsite for the night. A hot shower and a quiet pitch made for a restful evening. Morning brought a lift in temperature - 4 degrees when we set off, but again overcast and threatening drizzle. Parked at Callater and did a straightforward loop up Creag nan Gabhar. I had planned to insert a Simm on the return leg, but the thought of almost 350m ascent through untracked heather in these conditions didn't appeal, so we just returned to the car. It was around 1pm - time for another hill.

ImageP1060073 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1060075 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1060077 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1060078 by Al, on Flickr

We drove south towards the Spittal for Ben Gulabin - or Ben Gulabjamin to use its proper title. Not a lot of people know this, but back in 1882, Col. Bogus returned to his ancestral home in Glenshee from the British Raj. He had been a keen aficionado of the deep fried sweet cheesy balls beloved of Indian restaurants when stationed in Delhi. Now, ravaged by the syphilis that had caused his medical discharge from the Army, he had developed the delusion that the mountain he looked out on from his Lodge was made from Gulab Jamin and each day would send his servant to the summit to bring him a piece of the mountain for his desert. Sadly, the combination of tertiary syphilis and eating parts of a mountain each day led to a rapid decline in his health and he died soon after. However, to this day, his surviving descendants participate in a ritual on the hill: the children aged 11 or less each mount a goat and attempt to manoeuver a giant fried gulab jamin up the hill using only polo sticks.

We parked by the gate and set off in the drizzle up the track. No views as the cloud was down - in fact, rather similar conditions to our last ascent of this hill. The track then turns at right angles steeply upwards - a mix of frozen mud and peat underfoot. Up to the summit and back the same way. Exciting :wink:

ImageP1060079 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1060080 by Al, on Flickr

Probably last year's giant gulab jamin - the local fauna don't much care for them
ImageP1060081 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1060082 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1060083 by Al, on Flickr
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Re: Frabjous day in Gleann Laoigh

Postby prog99 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:20 am

Ah, you missed out on the fabulous inversion on Saturday on carn a'mhaim (but friday didnt look too shabby). And missed out on bumping into me today (we were 1st in the car park today, another inversion on tolmount..just!)
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