Glen Clunie Ridges - with Corbetts

Corbetts: Creag nan Gabhar, Morrone

Date walked: 15/04/2018

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 30.7km

Ascent: 2091m

This was one of the possible routes that I'd planned for the WH Easter meet.

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I didn't really fancy any of the Munros up around Glen Shee, which - at least viewed on the map - didn't look as if they had much character; whereas the east side of Glen Clunie really did look interesting, if not especially high. After checking the forecast for Sunday - fine early, clouding in later - I thought this route would suit the forecast conditions well: the west side of the glen looked less interesting, so I wouldn't miss too much if I had to do it in clag - more navigation practice!!!

On Saturday night the philosophical discussions at the WH meet ranged far and wide, so I didn't get to bed until the small hours, and didn't set the alarm. Predictable result, notwithstanding the efforts of the dawn chorus: didn't surface 'til gone 8. I'd decided to wild camp on Sunday night (the campsite in Braemar is well-appointed, but pretty expensive), so I needed to pack up, get my food for the day sorted, find a new site, park up, and then cycle to the walk start. Add the faff factor, and the outcome was that I didn't hit the trail until after 11.00.

But it was fine and sunny...

Image20180415_111946. ... and the dramatic Lion's Face just behind Braemar really got the blood pulsing, right from the start.

Image20180415_112449. Though I normally prefer yomping, I was very glad of the path that turns off left to Carn nan Sgliat from the main path: the whole of the hillside was covered in deep heather, and yomping that would have been quite a trial.

Image20180415_114647. There were no particular difficulties with the ascent to Carn nan Sgliat, though it was sad to see that the entire hillside has been planted with monoculture pine, and that, as can be seen from the size of the saplings, very recently :( . Clearly I was wrong in thinking that this visual despoliation of the countryside had stopped years ago...

Image20180415_115352. On the ascent, I kept stopping to look north to get views of the 2 Corbetts I'd done in clag on the Friday - Creag an Dail Bheag and Carn na Drochaide. This pic is looking more or less north, I think towards Creag an Dail Bheag and Culardoch, but the apparent height difference between the hills confuses me - if anyone knows better, I'd be grateful for clarification.

Image20180415_120746. Looking south east towards Lochnagar from the Carn nan Sgliat cairn....

Image20180415_121659. ...and north west towards Braemar and Carn na Drochaide, and behind it the Cairngorm plateau. Good to see CnD not shrouded in mist!!!

Image20180415_121718. Pano looking SSW showing practically all of the remaining route: Millstone Cairn; Creag nan Leachda; Meall an t-Slugain; Glen Callater; Creag nan Gabhar; Baddoch; Sgor Mor and finally Morrone/Morven.

Image20180415_121718 labelled

Image20180415_124647. The ridge walking was very straightforward, and soon I arrived at the summit of Millstone Cairn. This view is looking more or less north along the route I would be following. The ground conditions you can see in the foreground are quite representative of most of the route - pretty benign.

Image20180415_130322. Looking back west towards Morven on the other side of Glen Clunie on the ascent to Creag na Leachda, and where I hoped to be at the end of the day.

Image20180415_130625. And looking ESE towards Lochnagar from the summit cairn of Creag na Leachda.

One of the the real joys of this walk so far was the number of mountain hares running around. I'd already seen at least a dozen in varying states of moult, from pure white, to white-flecked brown, and this continued for the rest of the walk on this side of Glen Clunie. In recent decades numbers seem to have declined in their old haunts in England, so it was quite wonderful to see so many of them up in Scotland. Sadly they always hopped off too quickly for me to get a decent pic!

Image20180415_130642. Looking back the way I'd come towards Millstone Cairn, and illustrating again the very easy ground. On the left, background, Morven; and on the right, far background, the Cairngorm plateau.

Image20180415_131433. Ahead were 2 apparently unnamed hills (this second one may be called Creag Loisgte), with Meall an t-Slugain on the extreme left. Lovely ridge walking :D .

Image20180415_133815. The afternoon continued to pass in karmic sunny pleasure. This view is looking back from Creag Loisgte towards Creag nan Leachda (RHS) and Millstone Cairn (LHS).

Image20180415_135905. Looking from Craig Loistge towards Meall an t-Slugain, with Loch Phadruig in the bealach on the RHS.

Image20180415_140612. Looking SW across a frozen Loch Phadruig, on my way to Meall an t-Slugain.

Image20180415_143022. View west from Meall an t-Slugain summit cairn, showing the west side of Glen Callater.

Image20180415_143101. And to the SE, Creag an t-Sagairt Mor (RHS) and Creag an t-Sagairt Beag (LHS). I'd originally thought of including this Munro and its baby brother in the present route, but in the event I summited them yesterday on a Lochnagar round.

Image20180415_143857. Before heading down into Glen Callater, I took a long leisurely look back along the ridge I'd been traversing. Pretty damned fine!

Although the going had been generally good so far, there were extended patches of soft slushy snow, and every now and again I broke through...

Image[20180415_145700. ... this one up to my thigh, and it took quite a while to extricate my foot because it got jambed between rocks deep under the snow :roll: .

Image20180415_150300. Otherwise the descent to Glen Callater was without problem, and soon the loch came into view. I began to notice at this point the build up of cloud over the hills to the north west.

Image20180415_151617. Quite a breeze rattling across Loch Callater.

Image20180415_152232. A small pedestrian bridge before the start of the ascent to Creag nan Gabhar.

Image20180415_154027. About half way up the ascent, looking back towards Loch Callater.

Image20180415_160455. Although it's not shown on the map, there was quite a clear path up to the summit, as can be seen here in the pic, which is looking back ESE.

Image20180415_161408. On the summit, looking NW towards Morven, where I still hoped to be by the end of the day :eh:.

Image20180415_162857. The cloud was building more quickly now in the north west. I took a bearing from the summit, and headed down towards Glen Clunie, hoping to get to at least the summit of Sgor Mor (straight ahead on this pic) before it came right down. Once again, pretty easy going...

Image20180415_164138. ...not too rocky or steep, so I got down to the bottom pretty quickly.

Image20180415_171213. Sgor Mor ahead - 450m of climb, which at this distance looks quite steep and very heathery :( .

I was heading first towards a footbridge across the Baddoch Burn marked on the map. At this point the burn is a not inconsiderable watercourse - certainly too big to contemplate making use of the rubble bag method.

Image20180415_171603. But what I found was this! OK for Blondin, perhaps... As I'm pondering whether to try a tightrope act, a WH couple (forgotten their names :oops: ) passed by on their way back from An Socach. I asked them how they got across, and it seems that there's a bridge about 750m upstream. I didn't fancy the detour, and so used the hanging fence.

Image20180415_174414. In the event the ascent of Sgor Mor wasn't too bad at all. I initially headed straight up a patch that was clear of heather and extended more or less to the north east shoulder (clearly visible on this pic), and here I met a quite reasonable path, which can be seen on the pic - but which is not shown on the map. Looking on Google Earth later, it looks as if the path goes all the way down the shoulder to the unnamed burn that flows down from Choire Chrid, so I suspect that this would be the way to go if anyone wanted to repeat this part of the walk.

ImageAscent path to Sgor Mor.

Image20180415_181313. Towards the top of Sgor Mor, the cloud closes in, and by the time I get to the summit, all I have is yet another pic of a cairn in clag :( .

From then on, it really is an exercise in navigation. I use the compass and map in combination with topography and pacing, and it works quite well, notwithstanding the fairly flat ground.

Image20180415_184959. Summit of Creag a' Mhadaidh. Not sure why I bothered to take another pic of a diminutive "cairn" in clag - perhaps because it's not shown on the map...

Image20180415_190545. There's a drop of about 100m from Creag a' Mhadaidh into the bealach between it and Carn na Drochaide (yes, 2 Carn na Drochaides within a few km of each other!!!), which takes me out of the mist, and enables a location check. So far, so good.

Image20180415_192139. Carn na Dochaide is strangely adorned with multiple cairns plus a shelter, located at apparently quite random places... This is a pic of the shelter at 129863 looking back SSW towards the nearest cairn, which itself is some 10 metres below and about 400m east of the summit cairn :?:

Image20180415_193624. After the last cairn I lost confidence in my pacing a bit, and walked slightly further than the required 150m. Fortunately the cloud was still pretty high, and I came out from it before I hit the bealach I was aiming for, so I could easily correct my course. This is looking approximately SW from the bealach. The strange white-grey stuff is clag........ :wink:

Shortly after starting the ascent to Morven, the path that i picked up at the bealach joins the vehicular track that leads up to Summit of Morrone/Morven....

Image20180415_195944 ... and it was a relatively quick, if clag-enveloped walk up to the summit. The radio mast is a bit horrible of aspect, but it serves a seriously useful purpose: on one of the buildings is a plaque with the following inscription: “Brian M.Goring Radio Relay Hut, erected by Braemar Mountain Rescue Association with funds donated in memory of Brian M.Goring, who died of exposure in the Cairngorms April 1967.” I'm slightly confused as to whether the radio mast is part of the BMRA set up, or something different.

Image38547989412_548a06ff28_EmmaKTunskeen. I half-inched this pic from a recent report of EmmaKTunskeen to show what it would have looked like in decent weather. Please don't sue, Emma...

After Morrone/Morven, it was an easy trog down the vehicular track to the old military road, which joined just a couple of hundred metres from where I'd parked my car. I intended to pitch tent while it was still light in the area I'd cleared of cones and twigs in the morning, but no sooner had I begun when there were some strong gusts of wind, and I realised that the spot I'd chosen was pretty exposed - I'd have to find somewhere more sheltered if I was not going to be kept awake by flapping canvas. Fortunately it didn't take long to find such a spot, and after collecting my bike where I'd concealed it at the start of the walk, I got my tent pitched and sleeping arrangements in place. I couldn't be bothered visiting any building of cultural, historical and architectural interest - which would have meant a 3km drive into Braemar - so I just quietly sipped a pint of amber liquid sat in the entrance of my tent, listening to the inexhaustible piping of Oyster Catchers and the occasional hoot of a tawny owl from the woods, before collapsing into the downy luxury of my sleeping bag and the sweetest of mountain dreams.

Image3D view of route.

CONCLUSION: This is a pretty fine route. Quite a bit of it is off-piste, but the walking is reasonably easy, and the views superb - at least on the east ridge; and to judge from the map and the reports of others, they're pretty fine on the west ridge also, even though I didn't see them. And if one doesn't want to use a bike to link the start and finish, it would be easy enough to walk between the 2 points, as per the route marked by the orange dots on the map extract below.

ImageAlternative link route.

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Comments: 1

Wonderful Lochnagar

Attachment(s) Munros: Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch, Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Lochnagar
Corbetts: Conachcraig
Date walked: 14/04/2018
Distance: 30.2km
Ascent: 1795m
Comments: 5
Views: 387

2 North Braemar Corbetts (in clag, sadly)

Attachment(s) Corbetts: Carn na Drochaide, Creag an Dail Bheag
Date walked: 13/04/2018
Distance: 24.2km
Ascent: 1282m
Comments: 3
Views: 172

Walk in the Eastern Fells

This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Caudale Moor, Froswick, High Raise (Far Eastern Fells), High Street, Ill Bell, Rampsgill Head, Rest Dodd, Thornthwaite Crag, Yoke
Hewitts: Froswick, High Raise (Far Eastern Fells), High Street, Ill Bell, Rampsgill Head, Rest Dodd, Stony Cove Pike (Caudale Moor), Thornthwaite Crag, Yoke
Date walked: 14/03/2018
Distance: 23.5km
Ascent: 1787m
Views: 25

Western Fells round of 11 Hewitts in dramatic weather

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Causey Pike, Dale Head, Eel Crag, Grasmoor, High Spy, Hindscarth, Maiden Moor, Robinson, Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope, Whiteless Pike
Hewitts: Causey Pike, Crag Hill (Eel Crag), Dale Head, Grasmoor, High Spy, Hindscarth, Robinson, Sail, Scar Crags, Wandope, Whiteless Pike
Date walked: 08/03/2018
Distance: 36.1km
Ascent: 3097m
Comments: 10
Views: 445

1, 2

A real hoolie: fantastic views in world of spindrift

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Dove Crag, Great Rigg, Hart Crag, Little Hart Crag, Red Screes
Hewitts: Dove Crag, Great Rigg, Hart Crag, Little Hart Crag, Red Screes
Date walked: 09/02/2018
Distance: 23.1km
Ascent: 1555m
Comments: 15
Views: 744

2 underrated hills and a rather too hairy scramble

Attachment(s) Hewitts: Dduallt, Rhobell Fawr
Date walked: 02/02/2018
Distance: 34.6km
Ascent: 1367m
Comments: 9
Views: 504

An arctic Ben Vane in snow and sun

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Vane
Date walked: 16/12/2017
Distance: 11km
Ascent: 977m
Comments: 6
Views: 693

Sun and snow: a Loch Earn round + some timely reminders!

Attachment(s) Munros: Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn), Stuc a'Chroin
Corbetts: Beinn Each, Meall na Fearna
Date walked: 15/12/2017
Distance: 24.5km
Ascent: 2339m
Comments: 14
Views: 1300

Japanese Rock Garden? a perfect short winter Howgills day

Attachment(s) Hewitts: Calders, Fell Head, Randygill Top, The Calf, Yarlside
Date walked: 30/11/2017
Distance: 24km
Ascent: 1897m
Comments: 11
Views: 555


User avatar
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)
Activity: Scrambler
Pub: The Bell, Trysull
Mountain: Cuillin Ridge
Place: Glen Brittle
Gear: Compass
Member: None
Ideal day out: Heavy ridge walk with plenty of scrambling and height gain - eg Welsh 3000ers, Wastwater Circuit, Cuillin Ridge
Munro rounds: 50

Munros: 145
Corbetts: 23
Wainwrights: 71
Hewitts: 176

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