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Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar


Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:34 pm

Munros included on this walk: Lochnagar

Date walked: 19/11/2017

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 1090m

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After smashing views from Morrone the day before (viewtopic.php?f=9&t=76985), I was thrilled to find Sunday promising to be much less windy, so I could comfortably scale greater heights.

It's funny, I'm not bagging (because I just live in the wrong place for that), but still, the numbers do niggle! Shall I knock off an easy three at Glenshee, I wondered? But, as I got dressed I realised I just really wanted to make the most of the reasonably clear views, being this far east already, and the chance to see Lochnagar in at least a dusting of white.

So, off I drove to the Glen Muick car-park, careful of deer on the way, and really looking forward to this beauty of a mountain!

Ahead of me, Driesh was just peeping above the distant hills in the morning light.

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Promising early skies and in the distance, the white pate of Driesh

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Cuidhe Crom and Little Pap, low on the Lochnagar granite massif come into view

When I got to the carpark, the four pound coins I was sure I had in my purse turned out to be three and I had no spare stash :roll: . Then I remembered, I'd tipped the guys at Taste in Braemar extra because they were great, so I'd have to try and pay online when I got reception "beyond the cattlegrid". (In the event, it's very unstraightforward, so actually I only ended up able to sort it when I had more than a mobile phone to play with. I have let them know and they've said they'll check it out.)

It was just before 9am, and there were about half a dozen cars already parked. Normally I like those days when you don't meet another human soul, but this was actually my first solo winter Munro, so I found it quite reassuring that other folk were about. As well as my map, compass, spare compass etc, I had crampons and ice axe. Was that overkill? I wasn't expecting to need them, and perhaps I was carrying unnecessary gear, but my reasoning was you never know weather-wise. (I also thought I might just have a practice with the ice-axe if the chance arose, not least because it's fun!)

So, ready for the Matterhorn, off I went.

My problem with getting going is that there are all these birds and beasts I just want to stop, watch and listen to first. A couple of robins were on the scrounge and occasionally fighting each other before remembering they'd better act cute again.

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Here's one of the robins. I wish I could have photographed them fighting - it's really impressive!

There were deer, coal tits feeding on insects along the fence, a couple sorting out their things after a wild camp in the woods, and above me the urgent honking of a couple of flocks of geese flying inland after their night on the coast.

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Red deer on the banks of Loch Muick

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Geese flying high over Lochnagar as its cliffs come into view

The little patch of woodland up to the Allt na Guibhsaich crossing is gorgeous. None of that thrashing your way through the undergrowth Alteknacker-style :wink: . And in no time you're at the crossing. The stepping stones were icy and slippery, so that was more of an obstacle than I'd even thought about. Still, I didn't come a cropper even I didn't exactly look like Darcy Bussell. Walking up the track beside the gorge, I saw this box. Any idea what it's for, anyone?

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Quiz item - Mystery box

The sounds of geese and burn had by now been replaced by grouse noises.

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If photos could do sound... hear it? Whrrrrrrrr "Goback goback goback goback" :)

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Shame the gorge is in the dark. The rocks in there look like fun for climbers.

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Best I could get of the rocks in the gorge

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Looking back I can see Mount Keen poking up over my right shoulder, or rather Conachcraig's shoulder.

And beside me, a superb example of glaze!
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This is why I'm not fast on the hills... :roll:

After curving round to the right, I was at the obvious left turn, marked by a generous cairn, to take me over to Meikle Pap.

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I'm not sure what that snow-topped hill is - maybe Beinn Bhreac?

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Lady grouse - she's not as famous

ImageMeikle Pap and Meall Coire na Saobhaidhe to right. Look carefully and you can see a lady in pink to the right, for scale

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Long slippery path up to the Meikle Pap bealach. The pink lady is towards the right of the picture, at the beginning of the path

ImageActually, the path up wasn't so slippery in the morning

For anyone out there organised enough to bring your four pound coins to the carpark, this is what it gets spent on. I'm not that fussed about paths, but I do appreciate how back-breaking their maintenance is, in all weather, and this looked - and felt - like nice work.

It was after 10am, and my head suddenly started chanting "coffee, coffee", so I stopped for a cuppa, probably not far from Bill Stuart's memorial, though I didn't see it. Freshly charged and coffee-warmed, up to the bealach I went.

Suddenly that magnificent, imposing headwall of dark Lochnagar's corrie appeared.

Image

Image

My pictures don't do it justice, but it was such an impressive, imposing sight. I loved that that it's so dark, being north-facing, and I felt overawed by the sheer bulk of granite and those gullies in front of me. A huge grin broke out and carried me up to Meikle Pap for more. :D

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From the slope of Meikle Pap

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It's not only geese who fly over Lochnagar

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From Meikle Pap's summit. Black Spout gully is to the right, forming a V with its left-hand partner. The trick, I had already clocked, is not to fall down them walking along the ridge to the summit in a white-out.

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I enjoyed the run up Meikle Pap, for itself as well as for the corrie view, in fact. There were no other footprints on it, so it seemed everyone else had beelined to the cliffs, but I was glad to be on it hanging out for a while. It was charming.

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The view north from Meikle Pap

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Meikle Pap tor close-up

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So different from the Lochnagar cliffs, it's like a free extra and takes no extra effort to speak of

Anyway, eventually I did get off and headed over to the corrie headwall! I'm not sure what I went up - some path and then the boulders - and I'm not sure what the ladder is. The boulders next to the path? Anyway, nearly at the top, I had a little farewell look back to my NBF, Meikle.

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sniff :wave:

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And while I was at it, a look back to the east and the way up from Glen Muick

Then I faced forwards ...
Lots of pics coming up. Hold on!

Image View northwest, over Lochan na Gaire's teardrops to Cairngorms plateau from Lochnagar's east cliff

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Up to the final ascent

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The headwall's magnificent gullies

ImageBlack spout running diagonally top right to bottom left, just to the left of centre of the picture. Summit on the right

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Rocks on the east cliff

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View south - lovely

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Quick, while the cloud's off! View round the edge to the summit

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Minutes later and close up it looks like this!

ImageView down to the lochan

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Lochnagar east buttress, Meikle Pap and view north

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Lochan na Gaire from cliff edge

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Lochan na Gaire droplet pools from the other camera!

Image Snow on buttress

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Beautiful noon light looking south

Up on the next section, I found Cac Carn Beag, the summit, in cloud
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That going to clear?

Cac Carn Mor wasn't doing much better. I stopped for a bit and had some more coffee in the hope the clag would clear a bit. Then I stepped down again "safely" on to a patch of sheet ice and fell over on to my right knee. (Precisely what kind of idiot I am I'm not sure.) Still that's what kneecaps are for.

Image Cac Carn Mor cairn in cloud

Image
Summit still in cloud

But after a little dawdling, by the time I got to the summit, the clag had cleared a bit. I could get a view down to the River Dee heading towards us from the Cairngorm massif.

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River Dee - well I think so anyway!

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Loch nan Eun from summit

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Lochnagar summit trig point

ImageDue west towards Dalwhinnie and Lochy

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Beinn Bhrotain to Carn Toul

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Carn Toul and Braeriach from Lochnagar summit (correction, thanks to Rob: Beinn a Bhuird and Ben Avon :thumbup:)

But it was time to go, and after a load of indecision too boring to go into, I sort of ended up going down the way I'd come up. Essentially I wanted to stay up, not drop down into the glen, though I was mostly looking at my feet all the way down, so it was immaterial really! But, here are some last views on the way out.

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Mountain hare in winter plumage

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It's running, not pronking, honest!

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The hipster of Lochnagar?
Last edited by EmmaKTunskeen on Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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EmmaKTunskeen
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby Alteknacker » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:31 pm

"Dark - imposing! - " and so much more.

I just loved this report - read/looked through it 3 times. I kept having to go back to the map to really believe some of the pics - for example, the shot of Carn Toul + Braeriach from Lochnagar I could just not credit - that's 30+ km distance! And what a sensational pic, that for me really captures the scale of the Cairngorm corries (though I have to admit I haven't been there in winter yet - a pleasure yet to come!) - it just looks some imposing, ebven at that distance.

Also fantastic wild life shots (you must have had your camera permanently at the ready..??!!). I've missed pretty well all my best wild life moments because of not having camera ready.

It was interesting to me that you mention that everyone seems to have headed directly for the corrie ridge, and there were no footprints up to Meikle Pap. I absolutely recognise this phenomenon: I see a faboulous set of cliffs and - wholly illogically - am immediately massively motivated to get up there; but the reality is that the best views of the cliffs are most of the time to be had from a well-situated viewpoint. Sgurr na Stri makes the point to the most extreme degree (though it's also pretty damned fine being amid the Cuillin hills themselves :D ).

All the last sequence of pics are just superb, and cause instant itchy feet for one who lives south of the border... Hard to pick out any in particular, but one of the earlier ones is imho a real pic of the month candidate: "noon light looking south".

And all the shots of the Lochnagar cliffs - seductive or what!? It looks like one could spend days climbing/scrambling these! (need to look up routes here, in time for the spring WH meet in Braemar...).

You had some seriously fine weather on this day, did you not????

Superb. Thanks for posting :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: .
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby andreww18 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:37 pm

what a brilliant, lovely report with stunning very dramatic photos of one of the most iconic mountains. Looking forward to adding this to the climbed list.
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby Jaxter » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:38 pm

This looks like a fantastic day out :D Some really atmospheric shots. I've not been here, it's one of those trips that I've just not quite got around to, but that will have to change 8)
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby Scottk » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:45 pm

Nice report. Also a great circular route of about 30k.

I always thought the ladder was after the boulder field where the stones have been used to form steps.

Alteknacker,
It has great routes summer and winter but spring is often a bad time due to rock fall. There were a couple of accidents this year. One guy got hit by a 'fridge sized rock' and hurt his arm.
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:06 pm

Alteknacker wrote:"Dark - imposing! - " and so much more.


Thank you AK, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I know what you mean about reading people's reports over and over on here. I also know that "itchy feet" feeling!

Alteknacker wrote: the shot of Carn Toul + Braeriach from Lochnagar I could just not credit - that's 30+ km distance!


It was fantastically clear. That one's a zoom 'n' crop from this (which has Ben Macdui in it too, albeit under cloud) Image

Alteknacker wrote:Also fantastic wild life shots (you must have had your camera permanently at the ready..??!!). I've missed pretty well all my best wild life moments because of not having camera ready.


I've generally walked with binoculars at the ready, but recently bought a camera harness just in case... You do have to hold your compass at arm's length, so the camera doesn't interfere though :lol:

Alteknacker wrote:It was interesting to me that you mention that everyone seems to have headed directly for the corrie ridge, and there were no footprints up to Meikle Pap. I absolutely recognise this phenomenon: I see a faboulous set of cliffs and - wholly illogically - am immediately massively motivated to get up there; but the reality is that the best views of the cliffs are most of the time to be had from a well-situated viewpoint. Sgurr na Stri makes the point to the most extreme degree (though it's also pretty damned fine being amid the Cuillin hills themselves :D ).

To be fair, you are also bombing around, trying out unchartered routes and covering a heck of a lot of ground! All while still managing to take it all in and write great reports!

Alteknacker wrote: And all the shots of the Lochnagar cliffs - seductive or what!? It looks like one could spend days climbing/scrambling these! (need to look up routes here, in time for the spring WH meet in Braemar...).

Yikes! But yep, great fun for climbers I'm sure (if you avoid avalanches and don't mind shade or very early mornings). Plus as Scott says, bits do have a tendency to fall off.

Alteknacker wrote: You had some seriously fine weather on this day, did you not????

:D I was a very lucky gal


andreww18 wrote: what a brilliant, lovely report with stunning very dramatic photos of one of the most iconic mountains. Looking forward to adding this to the climbed list.

Thank you Andrew. I hope you have a really cracking time when you go.

Jaxter wrote: This looks like a fantastic day out :D Some really atmospheric shots. I've not been here, it's one of those trips that I've just not quite got around to, but that will have to change 8)

Bearing in mind AK's comment about looking at the corrie from a (north/northeast) viewpoint, you'd really enjoy combining Lochnagar with some of its south/west neighbours, I reckon, J. :D

Scottk wrote:I always thought the ladder was after the boulder field where the stones have been used to form steps.

Ah! That would make sense. Thanks Scott! Then I came down the ladder, and it's very impressive, but didn't go up it.
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby gaffr » Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:29 am

The wee box. A bit odd to find these 'four legged raptor snatching boxes' close to a path if that is what it is there for. Usually these wee boxes are found of the grouse moors....log with the box attached over stream crossings.
Probably a bit high up for the grouse shoots? although from your images grouse are present in the area.
Maybe more likely that the ptarmigan are 'done' up there?
Apart from reaching Lochnagar once from the Loch Callater side we have always reached the big Coire from the Meikle Pap col that is one of the grand sights in Scotland.....some very pleasant classic routes in there. :)
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby katyhills » Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:18 pm

Lovely report and photos Emma. I can't really add to what's already been said about them - they're absolutely terrific. The frosty/snowy conditions always make really atmospheric shots :D
I don't remember an awful lot about doing Lochnagar/Cac Carn Beag, except that the corrie is stunning. I came back down by the waterfall after doing C. C. Bhoidheach, to rejoin the loch path. That's a nice route too.

I can never get those ruddy hares to stay still long enough for a good pic either.... :wink:
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:49 pm

katyhills wrote:
I can never get those ruddy hares to stay still long enough for a good pic either.... :wink:

It was the ruddy ptarmigans that wouldn't stay still this time, Katy :lol: . Mind you, if there are ruddy people up there shooting at them with their ruddy guns, I don't blame them. :shock:

Gaffr, that box was indeed on the first path, where the male grouse were extremely busily defending their territory. Higher up, on the cliffs, there were a few ptarmigan calling and darting around. I'm sure you're right - it looks like stoat-trap, doesn't it? Thank you!
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby bengarry » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:27 pm

Hi Emma, great report. I think that the hills you describe as Carn Toul and Braeriach are actually Beinn a Bhuird and Ben Avon, beyond the River Dee. The first two are a bit more hidden to the west.
The snow-topped hill is probably Carn Liath, an almost Munro.
Glad you enjoyed one of the best all-round hills in Scotland.
Cheers, Rob
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby Jay Haich » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:47 pm

Superb report simply put. Stunning photos....love the robin... :clap:

I thoroughly enjoyed this
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Re: Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Postby EmmaKTunskeen » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:34 pm

bengarry wrote:Hi Emma, great report. I think that the hills you describe as Carn Toul and Braeriach are actually Beinn a Bhuird and Ben Avon, beyond the River Dee. The first two are a bit more hidden to the west.
The snow-topped hill is probably Carn Liath, an almost Munro.
Glad you enjoyed one of the best all-round hills in Scotland.
Cheers, Rob


Hi Rob - ooh yikes, I think you're right. Thank you!! Maybe I should take Viewranger panorama gifs up with me and get my compass out in future! :roll: Carn Liath - that makes loads of sense. :thumbup:
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