First wild camp by Lochnagar

Route: White Mounth Munros, Glen Muick

Munros: Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch, Càrn a' Choire Bhòidheach, Càrn an t-Sagairt Mòr, Lochnagar

Date walked: 18/06/2010

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 29km

Ascent: 1289m

Quick scene setter... A good friend from uni was getting married at Mar Lodge (amazing venue, can't believe it's available to rent out!) and as I'd so far neglected the hills down that neck of the woods, thought I'd take a day off work the day before the wedding to nip up some hills... the plot thickened when I realised I'd be a bit tight for time unless I left Inverness at silly o'clock in the morning, unless... If I could finally stop talking about it and head to the hills the night before and camp out...

So I left Inverness at 6pm on the Thursday and headed South for the Spittal of Glen Muick car park. First time driving the Cockbridge-Tomintoul road, I can see why it would shut at the first drop of snow... By 8.20pm I was away from the car park with a much heavier pack than I'm used to but surprisingly (for me) comfy at this stage. It had been a stunning day, clear blue skies and calm, however on the drive down black clouds had been gathering and as I walked on the cloud was descending and threatening to swallow up the col just by Meikle Pap where I was planning on camping.

Cloud base getting ever lower...

The rain stayed off throughout the walk in, Meikle Pap disappearing intermittently in the low cloud, but the temperature was holding up, didn't need a jacket for all of the walk in. Finally at just after 10pm I made it to where I planned to camp. A quick scout about and I found a rock free spot, with a thin covering of heather and flat too! The light was starting to go no that I was up in the cloud, just the odd sneaky glance of dark Lochnagar

Low cloud shrouding the cliffs above Lochnagar

Very glad I'd had a quick practice at pitching the tent before I left and in a few minutes it was up! Home for the night!


Although the light had faded it didn't really get properly dark apart from for a few hours. I know this because the wind picked up and as I'm not used to the sound of flapping tents (coupled with what I think must have been an insomniac grouse) was regularly woken throughout the night. Morning came quickly and I was up for a quick hot chocolate before packing up the tent. It had got quite chilly through the night, I reckon low-mid single figures, so a hot drink was much needed. The cloud base had stayed low through the night so the view hadn't changed too much!

Morning hot chocolate

Nice view to wake up to

Cloud still hanging on to the cliffs

The tent went away as quickly as it had gone up and I was ready to head off just before 8am. The ladder is not the most gentle way to ease yourself into a walk but it helped to warm up as it was still quite cool. The views quickly vanished as I climbed up into the cloud and before long the cairn on Cac Carn Mor came into sight. Dropped off teh rucksack here and wandered on to the summit. I'd heard good things about the views and the viewfinder... not much use today though...

Cloudy cairn

Time for a quick summit photo and then on with the walk!


Walked on to the next summit and was aware of a gradual brightening... by the time I was almost at Munro number two the cloud had lifted off the first summit... didn't feel like an hour round trip to go back for the views though... decided if I went back the cloud would just return to thwart me...

A now cloud free summit....

The rest of the walk round the summits went by pretty quickly, I liked how each summit seemed to have a different character, and each gave quite different views. I was starting to get peckish and decided that Broad Cairn was the target for lunch. I tried to make sure I wasn't too focused on putting one foot in front of the other and actually to enjoy the views, think I'm going to have to go back and walk down by the Dubh Loch...


Like I said, I was aiming for lunch on Broad Cairn and I was getting hungry... I like my food so I was pretty focused... footstep after footstep taking me closer to some lunch when all of a sudden I nearly faceplant trying to avoid the fluffy thing chirping away on the path right under where my right boot wants to be...

Just as I'm reagining my balance and trying to figure out what on earth this wee yellow feathery thing is I get my answer as mummy Ptarmigan comes flying fast and low straight at me making a hell of a racket. I'll admit this wasn't my finest moment on the hill.... I quickly backed off in a dignified run, dodging the swoops from the protective mother, dashing from side to side off the path... we quickly got to a bit of a Mexican stand off... no matter how wide a berth I try to give the chick she seems to want to cut me off... eventually sneak past and get to rush off for some lunch!

The protective mother...

baby Ptarmigan

With all the excitement over and a full belly I carry on down to the stable/hut. The sun is out and I still haven't seen anyone all day...


I decided to take the path down to Loch Muick rather than the high road. I was very impressed with the standard of the paths on this walk, it makes the £3 car park charge feel worthwile, it's obvious that a lot of work has gone into the paths. The car park does however appear to be very far away as I start the descent down to the Loch so it's just as well the paths are good!


I made good time on the walk along by the side of the Loch and there are some cracking views looking back to Broad Cairn. Would have been nice if it could have been so clear and sunny first thing but can't complain, it's been an awesome walk!



Back at the car park for 2pm, passed quite a few folk by the side of the loch, stopped for a chat every so often, including a guy who was telling me he'd just seen an Oystercatcher fending off an Osprey who was looking for some lunch... Headed into Ballater and ended up at Braemar Mountain Sports, loved the cafe, The Bothy, right next door, had a huge pot of tea all to myself and a big chunk of very tasty gingerbread! Yum!

On to Mar Lodge that night for a BBQ and the next day everyone said "yes" at the appropriate times. Much partying and good times had by all!

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Comments: 14

Sun and Snow on the South Glen Shiel Ridge

Attachment(s) Munros: Aonach Air Chrith, Creag a'Mhàim, Creag nan Dàmh, Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg, Sgùrr an Doire Leathain, Sgùrr an Lochain
Date walked: 09/05/2010
Distance: 27km
Ascent: 1980m
Comments: 4
Views: 5196

Sgurr a'Mhaim & Stob Ban

Attachment(s) Munros: Sgùrr a' Mhàim, Stob Bàn (Mamores)
Date walked: 04/03/2010
Distance: 9km
Comments: 10
Views: 8071


User avatar
Location: Inverness
Pub: Hoots - Inverness
Gear: Raichle MtnTrailGTX Boots
Ideal day out: Scrambly ridge walk with dinner in the pub

Munros: 90
Corbetts: 15
Grahams: 3

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Trips: 3
Distance: 65 km
Ascent: 3269m
Munros: 14

Joined: Jul 07, 2009
Last visited: Jul 09, 2022
Total posts: 21 | Search posts