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Mount Keen by moonlight

Mount Keen by moonlight


Postby Alastair S » Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:43 pm

Route description: Mount Keen by Glen Tanar

Munros included on this walk: Mount Keen

Date walked: 30/10/2010

Time taken: 4.5 hours

Distance: 28.4 km

Ascent: 952m

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Cycling: 2hr, 21km
Walking: 2.5 hr, 7.4km


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Mount Keen (actual).gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Mount Keen profile.jpg


Frankly I’d had enough of the wild campers showing off their amazing sunset & sunrise photos so came up with a cunning plan. Well, not that cunning really – more like the bleeding obvious: get up at a ridiculous early hour and get up a hill before sunrise. For me it would only be worth the effort if there was a good chance of a decent atmospheric display and as I haven’t done any night walking before I wanted some decent moonlight. I was hoping to do this nearer the winter solstice but using the excellent The Photographer's Ephemeris I saw that around this time the moon was only out during the day. So when a cloud free gap appeared in the forecast last weekend I went for it. Going now also had the advantage that it wouldn’t be too cold. The only potential fly in the ointment was the predicted high winds (they weren’t wrong).

Mount Keen was the obvious hill for this venture as it is my closest Munro & I hadn’t bagged it yet. As it turned out the day split up in nice hour sized chunks: up at 4am, on my MTB at Glen Tanar at 5am, back on my feet at Shiel of Glentanar at 6am and at the top by 7am.

I’d recced the MTB approach a few week ago and knew it was a decent track to the Shiel of Glentanar. I was also my first bit of night-time off-road MTB’ing and thanks to an excellent (but not cheap) Cateye front light (a HL-EL530) this was no problem. This time I hadn’t forgotten by bike lock and used the nice new(ish) footbridge at the sheil as a bike rack.

Off up the track and I soon dispensed with my head torch and was rubbing my hands in glee – a brilliant (half) moon and star lit sky with a few high fluffy clouds. But half an hour latter things weren’t looking so bright. The strong SW wind had brought in low cloud and there were even a few spots of rain :( . But the cloud was fairly thin (the moon was still visible) and it still looked clear to the East (I could still see the lights of Aberdeen).

So got to the summit and it was blowing a hoolie up there (I did think of all those WH’ers over in Glen Coe) but there is a lot of shelter (& shelters) to be had up there. Put on all my kit and hunkered down for some breakfast. As it turned out the twilight & sunrise was obscured by cloud but about 20 minutes after sunrise the cloud broke up somewhat and I got some good shots of the sun shinning though.

Was up around the summit for 2 hours in all (the times at the report header have been adjusted for a 15 minute stop) and so was on by way back my 9am. Had a more leisurely walk/cycle back in lovely sunshine. Came across some walkers & a cyclist going the other way around 10:30. Thoughtfully refrained from bragging that I’d already done the hill.

I should really have taken some time to attempt some moonshine pictures on the way out - now I’ve done this I’ll know for next time. Could have been home for elevenses but for some errands on the way back. And yes, I did have a wee snooze on the sofa in the afternoon :D


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View SE towards Glen Esk


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View N towards Morven


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Mount Keen Sunrise #2


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Mount Keen Sunrise #3


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View S to Glen Mark


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Glen Mark again


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Water of Tanar with Mount Keen in background


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Water of Tanar at Glen Tanar house
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Alastair S
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby malky_c » Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:58 pm

Looks like that paid off for you anyway :D

Some really good shots there. Well worth the early start!
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby kinley » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:06 pm

8) Cracking - can't beat that light 8)
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby Merry-walker » Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:36 pm

FANTASTIC and diverse angle and approach to doing a hill. The pictures show how lovely this place is... :D
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby kevsbald » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:43 pm

Cracking Al.
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby potace » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:47 am

Nice one.
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby monty » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:51 am

some spectacular photos there Alistair. :D
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby Gable Gable End » Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:41 am

a cracking hill that always gets stick for being "boring", I enjoy Keen and the views on a good day are outstanding.

Alistair, love these photos; stunning!
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby Alastair S » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:43 pm

Thanks all :D

Now that I know I can get out of bed and be at the top 3 hrs latter (so long as I've got organised the night before) I know I'll be doing this again when a suitable opportunity arises. There's a full moon the day before the winter solstice this year so I'll be keeping my weather eye out then (even though the moon will be setting just after dawn).
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Alastair S
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby gypsy jazzer » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:35 pm

looks to be what its all about cracking photos
nice one
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby skuk007 » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:41 pm

Really nice light in all those photos, well worth the effort of the early start.
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby CurlyWurly » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:45 am

Awesome stuff. Love the first picture - looks like the sky is on fire
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby Merry-walker » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:50 pm

This has given me food for thought, are there many people who walk in the moonlight? It looks quite an experience :think:
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby Alastair S » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:06 pm

This was my first moonlight trip but it won't be my last. I've been out at twilight at both ends of the day before and this excellent report Sgulaird Solstice Sunrise shows that I'm not the only one to tackle full night conditions. I guess it just takes a bit a preparation and keeping a eye out for the right weather & lunar conditions.
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Alastair S
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Re: Mount Keen by moonlight

Postby lomondwalkers » Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:59 pm

Stunning pictures Alastair, well worth the early rise :D
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