The quickest route up and down The Buck of Cabrach, from the road near Elrick, is far too easy and hardly does justice to the Graham, so despite having already climbed this hill, we always kept it in mind as a repeat. The best way to explore all tops in this area would be the traverse from Elrick to Glenbuchat, but that requires two cars. We had to work out something circular without having to walk along a tarmac road for many miles.
My idea was to include kebbuck Knowe and White Knowe with the tops in between, descending via Sand Hill. The route worked - more or less. We had to contour around The Buck to return to the starting point, but it wasn't too hard underfoot. We expected bog and peat hags and that's what we found up on the ridge. We ended up with something like this:
Started from B9002 near Erlick. There is space for a few cars in a narrow layby:
The nearby Tap o'Noth in grey-ish morning light:
The old gate looked like on the verge of falling apart. I charged towards the start of what seemed a reasonable track...
...only to realize soon, we were into some serious bog-hopping! To our excuse, the previous time we did The Buck, it was in the middle of frosty winter so all bog was frozen solid. Not so much today. The path might look easy in photos, but it was a quagmire
Higher up we encountered frozen ground and that helped with faster walking:
It was a cold and windy day. Hard to believe that only two weeks earlier, we rested on the summit of Beinn Dearg feeling like early summer! Now it was back to winter gear:
Ben Rinnes on the horizon:
Not the best light for pictures but at least we could see something. The Buck is indeed a nice viewpoint:
The summit was a windy hell, we could hardly stand up, Kevin managed a few photos, one of me hanging onto rocks:
...a second one of the nearby windfarm...
...and the last one, showing the route yet to come:
We wrapped ourselves in extra layers as tight as we could and braced on for a very windy traverse. We were walking into the wind which made things even more tricky. At least we were in no danger of being blown off the ridge. The worst that could happen, we'd end up A over T in a peat hag
Panther ready for the character building experience:
The traverse from the summit of The Buck to Kebbuck Knowe (672m) seems a piece of cake on the map, but in reality, it's quite peat-haggy:
Kevin said I should change my nickname to El Bandito
After what felt like neverending jumping over peat hags, we reached the top of Kebbuck Knowe. The highest point is not marked, but it's probably somewhere near the gate in the fence:
The gate should open easily, but the string has frozen solid and it was impossible to detangle, so we just clambered over without much problem. The fence is electrified but I don't think that touching it would make any damage to the human body. Not sure why put an electric fence across Kebbuck Knowe. I didn't see any sheep about, the fence is far too low for deer, and a smart walker would easily find a way over, even if the gate was not in place.
Looking back to The Buck from across the fence:
We descended from Kebbuck Knowe to the next col, scaled another fence (no gate this time) and climbed through some annoying peat hags to Hill of Snowy Slack. There was no snow here, and no dry place to laze about, just more peat hags...
...and Kildrummy Windfarm. Welcome to the world of fast rotating blades and whooshing sounds
We didn't bother looking for the exact top of Slack Hill (or whatever it was called), as it would be near impossible to find amongst the sea of hags. Instead, we continued past another wide, wet, peat-haggy col to the next top, called Mount Meddin.
Looking back at The Buck:
The distant top of Creag an Sgor to the west:
Ben Rinnes and Coryhabbie Hill plus a bonus windfarm
Because the ground was so peat-haggy, finding a way through took us much more time than we originally planned. At least the wind has dropped!
Black Panther back in her usual shape. The El Bandito character doesn't suit me.
Past another top, Dun Mount, we reached White Knowe. Creag an Eunan, another top, was only a short detour away, but we decided to leave it out for another day. We have an idea to return to this ridge from Glenbuchat side and do a circular walk including both Creag an Eunan and Creag an Sgorr. The latter looks interesting with its summit tors:
As it wasn't the best day weather-wise, we left out any stupid ideas of exploring remote glens to the west of White Knowe. Instead, we turned north and descended towards Sand Hill:
The Buck from Sand Hill:
Is that Bennachie? looks like it:
Not the summit of Sand Hill, but this small cairn marks the start of a faint path, which later joins an estate track:
I was worried that the track would be a boggy nightmare, but it was actually dry and very grassy, offered pleasant walking:
The track descended over Blairlick Hill to the glen of Kindy Burn. From here, we had two options: either to continue north on various estate tracks and then walk along A941 back to the car, or reascend The Buck. There is an obvious ATV track starting from the ford on Kindy Burn. It's marked on the map and we were nicely surprised that it sill exists (sometimes ATV tracks on heathery hillsides are long gone and overgrown). This one goes all the way to the summit:
We climbed up maybe half-way, when Kevin spotted a path branching away from the main track and he suggested we could contour around the mountain, that would save us the extra reascent. I had nothing against it. The ground underfoot was all right and as we started to contour, for the first km or so, we followed various paths (probably made by sheep and deer). Later, the paths all petered out, but the contouring wasn't too hard. Mostly grassy slopes, a few short stretches of scratchy heather. The two fences marked on the map are no problem. The first one doesn't exist any more, apart from a few rusty posts, the second one is only waist-high with the barbed wire missing in many places.
Looking back west from the track just before we left it for less friendly ground:
Contouring around on grassy ground:
Once past the second fence, we cut across the bumpy slopes then through the boggy meadow towards the starting point. Again, a lot of hopping and jumping involved. This is a wet place no matter how you tackle it It took us over six hours to do this circuit and maybe some will ask, what's the point if none of the tops are classified on any lists? Well, we always thought that The Buck deserves a more interesting route than the simple up and down. Did we enjoy it? Yes, we did. I used to hate peat hags, but they are a part of the natural environment, so these days I just cope with them and say: what would Scottish mountains be without their bog, mud and peat hags?
My next story will be from the same area. Another Graham, another windy day with plenty of extras, including... a crossing over a forbidden bridge. TR to come soon
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.