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Pup's long awaited first big hill

Pup's long awaited first big hill


Postby dogplodder » Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:32 pm

Route description: Carn na Saobhaidhe, via Dunmaglass

Corbetts included on this walk: Carn na Saobhaidhe

Date walked: 03/07/2020

Distance: 29.5 km

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Those who've known me a while will know that when I climb a hill I like to take my dog. For me there's something special about reaching the summit and sharing that moment with them. My dogs quickly learn it's a time for photos and food..... and they'll put up with the former in return for the latter. :lol:

Jack and Tess on Stob Coire Easain
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Callie on Beinn Tarsuinn
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Over their lives Jack and Tess climbed many hills with me but Callie's life was tragically cut short a few weeks after that photo was taken. We were heart-broken and so were our grandchildren. So we didn't go down our usual route of adopting from Lab Rescue (which might have meant a long wait) but instead bought a puppy from a keeper in Glen Esk. It was an impulsive, knee jerk thing to do, probably causing some of our friends to seriously doubt our sanity. To be honest there were times we doubted it ourselves. She was an enthusiastic, destructive and adorable little hooligan. :angel:

Keira at 8 weeks
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She chewed furniture, uprooted plants and took longer than I thought she would to toilet train, but she learned to sit and recall to the whistle from day one (food being the key). During the adolescent stage I did seem to be apologising to other walkers rather a lot, for bonkers pup's over enthusiastic greeting... but gradually she learned some manners and by 18 months she was ready for a day in the hills. Only problem was by then a pandemic was looming and along with everyone else we were restricted to an hour a day from the house only. Having a young dog ready for her first big hill added to the frustration we all felt during perfect hill weather in April and May!

In February ready for her first big hill
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When the five mile restriction was lifted we talked about doing Mount Keen from Glen Tanar, but we couldn't car share and it's a long drive for double the fuel. So we looked for something nearer to home and came up with the highest point in the northern Monadhliath, Carn na Saobhaidhe, a Corbett we'd previously overlooked because it sounded a tedious tramp on ugly windfarm roads. :think:

Not being the Cobbler we didn't think there would be a post lockdown rush on this hill, but knowing there was only room for two cars by the phone box we were thankful to find the space empty. It was as we left the cars I realised I'd made a mistake. I had the map but I hadn't printed out the WH directions, something I always do, which on this occasion was important due to the confusion of new windfarm roads that don't appear on the map. Duh. :roll:

Parked by phone box
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Moira said not to worry, she had the route plotted in her GPS and that should keep us right. I had Keira on the lead as we walked up the road and through the osprey gate posts. There were several cattlegrids to cross, two of which had side gates that appeared to be chained shut. I should have checked more closely because although they were stiff it was possible to unhook the catch, as Moira managed to do on the return.

I was trying to work out how to get Keira over the first of them when she took a run at it and got across. At the next one with wider spaced rounded bars that looked impossible for a dog I spotted a stile over the fence and thought I might persuade her to follow me over it. I let her off the lead, but she took one look at the stile, said no thanks and took a run at the grid. But this time her hind leg got stuck between bars, which happening at speed must have been sore. Being a dog she didn't complain but a four inch red weal appeared on her inside leg and the mark is still there. She could have broken her leg so I'm putting this in as a heads up to others with dogs. The chain that appears to secure the side gates can be opened with difficulty and running across the grid is not a good idea :shock:

Crossed bridge over River Farigaig - or is it the Allt Glac an Tuir?
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Once over the bridge I kept Keira on lead as there were sheep about. Few dogs can resist chasing if a sheep bolts in front of them and it's not a risk I'm prepared to take.

Windfarm access road which, to quote Black Panther, is wide enough to land a jet
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Moira
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Dunmaglass Lodge
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Both new and old lodges visible in this one
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I'd already made my mistake, now it was Moira's turn. When we reached a right fork she said we should go straight on, which we did for 1.5 km. It was uphill so we took a break on one of the boulders at the side of the road and when Moira checked her GPS she found we should have taken the right fork. We could see the track we should have been on across the valley and wondered about going straight across to reach it. It was quite a steep descent over rough grass and with sheep about I'd need to keep the dog on lead so couldn't use poles (helpful when it's steep) so Moira felt we'd be better retracing steps to the fork in the road. This meant our overall route distance had increased from 26.5 km to 29.5 km, a detail that didn't bother us too much until it started raining at exactly the 26.5km point on our return leg! :(

The mistake was down to both of us as the WH directions (that we didn't have) would have told us to take this fork. Worth remembering this in preparing for a route as WH is a great source of sensible information when the map alone is not always enough.

Should have taken right fork here
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We returned to the fork just as an estate vehicle appeared and on hearing what we'd done the guy said we were gluttons for punishment walking up the hill towards the windfarm! :-P I mentioned to him I had the dog on lead because of the sheep but presumed it would be okay to let her off higher up... He said he was going to commend me for having the dog on lead but actually it was even more important higher up because of the danger to grouse chicks. I should have known. This is now a familiar story on all heather moors, grouse shooting being lucrative business. I said okay I'd abide by that except occasionally when we came to water, so she could at least cool off without me going in too. He was happy with that. :D

On right track now and looking back
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Long road ahead
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Cooling off in the Allt Uisg an t-Sidhean
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We passed a footbridge over the burn and came to a right turn in the track to cross by a ford, which looked like we'd have to wade across until we saw the bridge a bit off to the left.

First of five fords and only one with bridge
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Looking back at ford
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If we'd had the WH directions we would have known the next two fords could be avoided by keeping left of the burn, but not knowing that, we crossed on boulders. The next two fords were also crossed without problem. The GPS was helpful in keeping us on the right track and without it there were a couple of junctions we'd have puzzled over. The difficulty with this hill is not having a clear view of it to know where we were meant to be going and new tracks not showing on the map. Quite high up we passed a stationary vehicle with dogs inside and saw a guy walking up one of the tracks diverging off our track with a row of grouse butts to the side. It struck me that if he'd left his dogs in the car, dogs running loose is definitely out at this time of year. Soon we reached the shooters bothy which I remembered reading about and knew we were not far from the summit. 8)

Diamond Jubilee Hut
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The door was unlocked so we went in for a look and decided to stop for lunch, giving us a massive table to unpack all our stuff (wiped down with antiseptic wipes, as per current advice). We were also careful to leave things exactly as we found them, in case only grouse shooters are meant to be in there. :wink:

Lunch time
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View from window
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On the last lap
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The track continued along a channel cut in the peat, with walls high enough to stop us seeing anything of our wider surroundings until we came out on to wide flat moorland with a transmitter mast to the left and a cairn straight ahead. Whether or not this was the cairn that marks the true summit I don't know for sure but after walking all that way we weren't going to start hunting around for another one! :shh:

Carn na Saobhaidhe summit (810m)
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Well done Keira! :clap:
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I saw no sign of grouse around the summit so let Keira off briefly and we walked over towards the mast to get a better view of the hills to the south. It was boggy but there was a faint path presumably trodden out by folk doing the same thing as me. Suddenly I was face to face with massive turbines perched just below the summit. There are so many wind farms on the Monadhliath, it must be close to saturation point. :o

Summit windfarm and hills to the south
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Can't remember which direction this was
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Start of the long descent
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Approaching one of the five fords (I think we counted six)
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We were a lot more gung ho about crossing on the return!

Remnants of ancient trees under the peat
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Doggy paddle
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Private beach
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View over Meall Fuar-mhonaidh to hills in the west
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Zoomed west
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When we reached 26.5 km (the distance the route should have been) it started raining and at that point we felt weary. Whether that was psychological, knowing we should be done, I don't know. But we both agreed it had been a far more enjoyable walk than we had expected and once off the windfarm construction track gave a real sense of remotenesss. It was also of interest for me to walk in an area so close to where my granny was brought up on a croft at Oldtown, Stratherrick, walking each day from age five to school in Errogie. Life was tough back then but the interesting thing is all her childhood memories seemed to be good ones. :D

After the rain looking back to blue sky through gateposts with ospreys
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Despite her slight mishap crossing the cattlegrid, Keira had done well and wasn't even stiff the next day. Moira and I on the other hand were stiff and my hip joints so sore I thought my days of long routes might be over. But that only lasted for two days so now we're planning Mount Keen, another long route and another test of the geriatric joints. :lol:
Last edited by dogplodder on Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby KatTai » Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:23 pm

:clap: Great report and so lovely to see Kiera out for her first big hill :D
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby Graeme D » Sun Jul 19, 2020 10:30 pm

Wonderful to see Keira loving her introduction to the big hills. I can't wait for Luna to be ready for that but she is a bit behind Keira in the readiness stakes. It will realistically be next spring before I can let her loose on the Munros, Corbetts e.t.c.
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:53 am

KatTai wrote::clap: Great report and so lovely to see Kiera out for her first big hill :D


Thanks KT :D
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:56 am

Graeme D wrote:Wonderful to see Keira loving her introduction to the big hills. I can't wait for Luna to be ready for that but she is a bit behind Keira in the readiness stakes. It will realistically be next spring before I can let her loose on the Munros, Corbetts e.t.c.


How old is Luna? You can't beat a lab pup for craziness. Enjoy it while it lasts and hold on to fact they do calm down at some point! :lol:
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby Graeme D » Mon Jul 20, 2020 12:30 pm

dogplodder wrote:
Graeme D wrote:Wonderful to see Keira loving her introduction to the big hills. I can't wait for Luna to be ready for that but she is a bit behind Keira in the readiness stakes. It will realistically be next spring before I can let her loose on the Munros, Corbetts e.t.c.


How old is Luna? You can't beat a lab pup for craziness. Enjoy it while it lasts and hold on to fact they do calm down at some point! :lol:


She has just turned 8 months. In terms of her energy levels, I have no doubt she could cope with some fairly big hill days but it would not be doing her joints any long term favours at this stage. All the issues you mentioned with Keira, we've been there over the last 6 months or so! :lol: Wouldn't change it for the world though! :D
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby dllow » Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:58 pm

Great photos. Noted that when you reached the Shooters Bothy it was only lunchtime - must have been a pretty energetic morning!!
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:08 pm

dllow wrote:Great photos. Noted that when you reached the Shooters Bothy it was only lunchtime - must have been a pretty energetic morning!!


To be honest the ascent is so gradual it didn't feel all that energetic, even with the extra 3km thrown in! 8)
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Jul 23, 2020 1:45 pm

I remember this one. It was Lucy's first outing :lol: Glad to see your young canine friend enjoyed it too! Hopefully a good start to her long hillwalking career :D

The windfarm seems to have grown bigger since our visit. I'm not a fan of turbines, but if they have to be placed somewhere, this area is probably the best spot to stash them.
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby dogplodder » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:35 pm

BlackPanther wrote:I remember this one. It was Lucy's first outing :lol: Glad to see your young canine friend enjoyed it too! Hopefully a good start to her long hillwalking career :D

The windfarm seems to have grown bigger since our visit. I'm not a fan of turbines, but if they have to be placed somewhere, this area is probably the best spot to stash them.


Your report was helpful in planning this walk BP but it would have been even more helpful if I'd remembered to print out the WH instructions, which I normally always do! :lol:
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Jul 25, 2020 5:40 pm

Congrats to Keira on making her debut!!

Good timing with this report DP, I'm looking to do this one soon.
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:08 pm

Gordie12 wrote:Congrats to Keira on making her debut!!

Good timing with this report DP, I'm looking to do this one soon.


Keira says thanks!

It's funny you're planning this one as I thought of you when we were doing it, having bumped into you on another of our localish Corbetts involving many miles of track. We enjoyed it more than we thought we would, even with the missed right fork. 8)
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby Sgurr » Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:33 pm

This was a long slog for us minus the windfarms. We arrived when they were still assessing the suitability so it had one of those poles we now know is a precursor of turbines to come. At least it's done and served its purpose as an intro to Keira even if it is one of the least charismatic Corbetts.
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby Gordie12 » Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:19 pm

dogplodder wrote:
Gordie12 wrote:Congrats to Keira on making her debut!!

Good timing with this report DP, I'm looking to do this one soon.


Keira says thanks!

It's funny you're planning this one as I thought of you when we were doing it, having bumped into you on another of our localish Corbetts involving many miles of track. We enjoyed it more than we thought we would, even with the missed right fork. 8)


HI DP - that was a beautiful day in May 2015, the years are passing too quickly now :shock: :lol: :shock:
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Re: Pup's long awaited first big hill

Postby dllow » Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:53 am

Very helpful report - gave me good overview of walk - all the wind farm construction puts me off a bit. Keira's experience on the grid still makes me shudder. I can understand why you took the left fork - uphill instead of right fork - downhill! :D
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