Dark - imposing! - Lochnagar

Munros: Lochnagar

Date walked: 19/11/2017

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 20km

Ascent: 1090m

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.

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

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.

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.

Red deer on the banks of Loch Muick

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?

Quiz item - Mystery box

The sounds of geese and burn had by now been replaced by grouse noises.

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

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

Best I could get of the rocks in the gorge

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!
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.

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

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

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.



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

From the slope of Meikle Pap

It's not only geese who fly over Lochnagar

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.


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.

The view north from Meikle Pap

Meikle Pap tor close-up

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.

sniff :wave:

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

Up to the final ascent

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

Rocks on the east cliff

View south - lovely

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

Minutes later and close up it looks like this!

ImageView down to the lochan

Lochnagar east buttress, Meikle Pap and view north

Lochan na Gaire from cliff edge

Lochan na Gaire droplet pools from the other camera!

Image Snow on buttress

Beautiful noon light looking south

Up on the next section, I found Cac Carn Beag, the summit, in cloud
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

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.

River Dee - well I think so anyway!

Loch nan Eun from summit

Lochnagar summit trig point

ImageDue west towards Dalwhinnie and Lochy

Beinn Bhrotain to Carn Toul

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.

Mountain hare in winter plumage

It's running, not pronking, honest!

The hipster of Lochnagar?

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User avatar
Location: West Sussex
Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Ben Mor Coigach
Place: Assynt
Gear: Knee-strapping
Ideal day out: Epic ridge-walk with humbling history and a falcon, osprey or an eagle

Munros: 16
Corbetts: 8
Grahams: 5
Donalds: 4
Wainwrights: 23
Hewitts: 21
Sub 2000: 1

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Trips: 8
Distance: 118.45 km
Ascent: 6818m
Munros: 9
Corbetts: 2
Grahams: 2
Donalds: 1

Joined: Aug 19, 2016
Last visited: Jan 09, 2018
Total posts: 59 | Search posts


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