I finally have some time again to catch up on some of my Moray adventures that I was on earlier in the year.
I found myself living for the weekends when I could get out on the hills and not be stuck in an office looking out the window, thinking I would much rather be outside than in here!
So even when the weather forecast wasn't that great I would manage to find a hill to walk up and bimble about on. Enter the Cromdale hills, two Grahams, two trig points and set in the heart of whisky country. Not hills that I would ever travel very far to bother climbing, but relatively close to my base at this time. Bingo, let's go!
The forecast was for warm but over cast day with some light drizzle, nothing to put me off. What I had failed to really look at was the wind at height.... That would come back to scupper my plans.
The original plan was to do a rough T shaped walk going up the path of least resistance from the East on the track that follows the Knock burn, and then ticking off each top from the belach at Reidh Lean, and back down again.
Having parked the car at the parking area as marked on the OS map just over the bridge at Strath Avon, I set off, passing Knock cottage on the way. A bit of a fixer upper if you fancy it, comes with an AGA, very desirable these days don't you know
As I gained height I was noticing that the wind was quite strong and was making progress up the hill even slower than normal, I was having to take several breaks to catch my breath, and not entirely just because I am unfit!
As I reached the belach I was in for a bit of a surprise.
At this point I was pretty glad that I didn't have the dogs with me! I am not sure what they would have made of these huge beasts.
I decided once I was up that I might as well go for the far away top to the left, first as I figured I would get that ticked off while I still had reasonably fresh legs, even though it was going to be into the wind the whole way. So off I trotted keeping to the watershed on the top of the hill, this was a total bog fest, with no discernable path for the first 2-3km along the top, and walking into the wind. I was getting quite disillusioned with the whole thing by this point. But I pressed on eventually coming across a faint path just before reaching the first of the large cairns on the plateau.
It seemed to take an absolute age to reach the first cairn. I was very close to giving up at several points along the way, the wind, the bog the never seeming to get any nearer to any landmark! But I am a stubborn one.... and also I didnt fancy having to come back to do that climb onto the ridge again, so also lazy I guess.
After passing the first cairn the going gets MUCH easier, there is a path! Hurrah! Also the wind seemed to have eased off and the last few km to the main cairn flew by in relative ease and comfort
At last the trig!
At this point I was pretty knackered, walking into the wind really takes its toll. I looked back at the other top, spent a bit of time reminiscing fondly about the bog that lay between myself and it, and then decided that I would just get off the hill as soon as I could in the most bog free way that I could. I inspected the 1:25k map and noticed that there was a series of grouse butts off on the eastern flank of the hill, I figured that if they were there, there was damn sure well going to be a path of some sort and surely a landrover track. I picked up a path heading in roughly the correct direction off the hill and trotted along it, this time with the wind at my back and gravity helping me out I was down onto the shoulder of the hill in no time and mercifully out of the blasted wind!
I followed the grouse butts down to the landrover track and then just followed that down off the hill and onto the road, the las few km of the day were sadly walking along the road, never nice on the feet at the end of a day, but certainly the lesser of the two evils for this outing.
The mole catcher had clearly been doing some good business in the area and had left his advertising card on one of the fences.
After a bit of a route march along the road I was back at the car, boots off, dry shoes on, on the way home for a nice cuppa.
So a slightly disappointing day, as the all the objectives were not completed, but overall another good day on the hills. Even with the wind, and the bog and the wind! Did I mention the wind! I will have to come back to tick off the other top and trig but that may not be for some time.
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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.