Having said goodbye to winter on Ben Stack, we were looking forward to spring hillwalking: snow free slopes, the sun shining, blue sky and singing birds. We almost got it all during this particular outing. Well, we could not hear bird songs due to howling wind, but that was just a little inconvenience
We had bagged Brown Cow Hill (or Brownie as I call it) in the past, but as it was in winter conditions, deep snow and low cloud, we didn't bother with the full circuit of all tops, just walked to the summit and back, starting from Corgarff Castle car park. This time, as weather looked promising (apart from wind, gusts forecast 50mph), we hoped to complete the circular route. It is said that the lower tops of BCH are better viewpoints than the very summit of the Corbett, and I must confirm it is true. A longer route for Brownie is well worth taking and also better saved for a cloud-free day, when the view to the Cairngorms, especially to Ben Avon, are unobstructed.
We walked the circuit anticlockwise as forecast was for the wind to drop later on. Plus there was another small inconvenience which made us reverse the WH route, more about it in a minute.
So our route starts from the car park for Corgarff Castle and follows the tarmac road along River Don, past some farm buildings to the wee reservoir and dam on Allt Veannaich, then climbs up Cairn Culchavie and follows the line of lower tops to the summit of Brownie, later descending to the col between BCH and Carn Oighreag, where an estate track can be picked and followed back to Cock Bridge. A few peat hags to negotiate on the cols between tops and on the final descent, but mostly easy going. A perfect route for a windy day, you won't get blown off any narrow ridges
Early in the morning, I woke up with upset stomach. After suffering badly on the long drive to Cock Bridge, I hoped it would pass when we start the actual walking, but for the first hour, I still felt like a sickly cat that swallowed a poisoned mouse I was glad we started the route anticlockwise, at least it was easy walking on flat ground...
The other problem was the wind. As we left the car park, we walked right into it, so we had to wrap ourselves appropriately to the task at hand
The walk along the river was very pleasant, it's a picturesque corner, though not visited by many. A quiet place surrounded by rolling, heathery hills:
Looking back along the road, Carn Ealasaid framing the glen:
Past Delnadamph, the tarmac road is replaced by a dirt track but it was still fast going. My stomach was slowly beginning to settle, too. At least I stopped burping and belching every five steps
To nice a view to miss:
We crossed Allt Veannaich on a bridge, continuing on the track to a small dam:
We turned left at the junction and reached the reservoir. A short break here, for rehydration and removing the extra layers. The wind was dropping now and we no longer felt like swimming in it.
From the resevoir, a pleasant 200m climb on a reasonable track/path leads to the first top on the ridge. It was still windy but not as bad as earlier on, indeed, the fresh, cold breeze made miracles for me and I slowly got over the belching sensations
View south-west from Carn Culchavie:
An interesting pattern on Craig Veann:
The first glimpse towards the Cairngorms:
There is no summit cairn or any other indicator on the top of Carn Culchavie, so we assumed that the top was by an old fence post and here I posed for a quick snap. Ben Avon behind me.
There is no ATV track between Carn Culchavie and the next three tops, but a brand new electric fence is the best navigational aid. I'd advise walking a few meters away from the fence itself, to avoid getting your feet tangled in old, rusty wire, scattered all over the place.
On the second top, the 709m unnamed one, also no cairn:
The ridge to Little Geal Charn:
View into upper Glen Avon:
On Little Geal Carn, once more no cairn. This is getting a bit annoying
The traverse to Meikle Geal Charn involves some peat hag hopping:
We both agreed that views from the lower tops of this circuit were amazing. Definitely the more interesting way of climbing Brownie than the simple up-and-down from Corgarff Castle. The secretive Loch Builg came into view:
Peat hags, peat hags everywhere
Meikle Geal Charn is the only top of this whole round with a rocky summit:
View south-west towards the lower tops from Meikle Geal Charn:
Panoramic view of Ben Avon and Loch Builg:
Distant Ben Rinnes:
Culardoch (right) and Lochnagar:
After a short break for a hot cuppa and home-made brown muffins, Black Panther, now fully recovered from her tummy struggle, aims for the next top, Cairn Sawvie:
Again, a few peat hags but mostly easy going on soft ground, covered with moss and low heather:
The mighty Ben Avon from Cairn Sawvie:
From here, the true summit (and extra Brownie points for bagging a Corbett ) is only a stroll away:
I remembered our previous visit to BCH. We struggled to find the summit cairn under tonnes of snow and saw zilch due to cloud. Today, we were in luck. Not only was the summit cairn easy to find...
...but we enjoyed nice vistas in all directions, though I must admit that the landscape seems a bit "flat" from this point, views from the lower tops are more interesting. Maybe except from the Lochnagar profile:
Kevin and Lucy on the summit. Her 84th Corbett. She's catching up!
Carn Ealasaid from Brown Cow Hill:
From the summit, we traversed to the eastern top (823m), where we discovered, that the cairn marking the highest point is marked on the 1-25k map in the wrong place, by roughly 100m. Not that it matters much Morven on the horizon:
The descent from the summit leads north to the nearest estate track, over some annoying peat hags (more Panther-style hopping and jumping, we frightened a pair of mountain hares) and some boggy ground. Eventually, we reached the track on the col:
Now it was an easy Sunday stroll back to Cock Bridge:
Corgarff Castle from the south:
The whole circuit took just short of 6 hours, but we didn't rush it. I wasn't in the right shape to run it too fast anyway. Besides, it would be pointless to do this circuit too quickly and fail to enjoy the superb panoramas. For the first time this year, it felt like real spring (despite the gusty wind) and I was getting excited about the weeks to come. If weather stays right, we will eventually tick off some new higher hills. So far this year, all our Munros and Corbetts were repeats. Time for fresh meat!
My prayers were answered the following weekend. We drove down to Loch Tay area and bagged two shiny new Corbetts on a superb if again a bit windy day. TR in progress. Now I'm off to bake more brownies
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