From Glas Maol to Lochnagar (and back)

Date walked: 19/06/2013

Time taken: 26.5 hours

Ascent: 1988m

It was so many reasons to get up them hills I don't even know where to start. I was promised for years to be taken up the 'easy hills of Glenshee' :) but I knew I will have to do the organizing. We were off for three days just before midsummer, weather was promised good and sunny and I 'bumped into' some inspiring walks up to Lochnagar. There was an other reason - I always been told that sun does not set in midsummer - I never have experienced only told and I did not like the fact I have to take somebody's word for it :) I was eyeing up the walk to Lochnagar from Loch Muick, but my experienced other half said - nahhh, we'll go and bag some Munros while we are out there.
So that was it- we got bivvy bags (£2 each) :) our old sleeping bags and mats, filled rucksacks with oatcakes, oat bars and everything else oaty :D - if they do for horses- they will keep me going! some other 'high-energy' stuff and off we went.
We finished our shift, got a wee nap, got to the Spittal of Glenshee hotel the evening before. Next morning all refreshed and full of excitement parked in the Glenshee Ski parking (further away one - right under the Glas Maol).
We didn't really time ourselves - we had two days ahead of us!!! :) So the timeline I follow is according to the pictures (exif) taken along the road.


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Picture taken at 9:47 am. Little village for the skiers below Meall Odhar. It's quite steep going up to Glas Maol but once it's done, there are no more tuff climbs. And a Munro in the bag! :) once you get up the steep part, then you walk 'across the field' until you bump into a summit cairn. :)
On Glas Moal we saw first bunch of hares scattering to all directions like arrows. I hoped they would be less skittish :)
Weather was holding on for us with 'sunny spells', I will skip the less interesting bits or 'everybody knows anyways' bits.. There are many paths all over the place so it is easy to 'take a wrong turn' It was quite confusing for me with all the paths and cairns all along the way- you don't really understand what is what :) Just as well I had my 'Experience' with me with maps and things :) to keep us on the right way. But in general if you go from Glas Maol to Lochnagar - you can see (I guess weather permitted) your way all along with Lochnagar peaking on horizon now and again just to keep you 'straight' :) , but if you go opposite direction ... its more like shoot in the dark and hope - everything looks more or less the same. Horseshoe snow patch on the Glas Maol was quite good marker though. After Glas Maol is Cairn of Claise - like pile of loose rock. Most annoying one on the route. Got to be very careful there. Apart from that the terrain is rocky, grassy, boggy, rocky grassy, boggy....
blossoming cloudberries.. it was quite a surprise for me to see them. the boggy areas was 'covered' with these little blossoming plants. My granny used to live near forest and pick them for us kids and then they gradually disappeared. Proof of climate change - they can withstand quite low temperatures and long winters but are very sensitive plants, and the attempts to cultivate them are pretty unsuccessful. Sorry! I didn't mean to boar you - as an nature observer I find this 'find' very exciting. :)
Golden Plover. I never expected to see them on the walk. When they catch the sunlight, they truly look 'golden'. Beautiful birds - come to Highland plateaus for the breeding season. They are very territorial and they will 'guide' you through their territory. Made us a bit conscious and we really tried to keep on paths so we don't disturb ground breeding birds.
an other interesting and rare bird- Dotterel. We spotted them on the summit of Carn an T-Sagairt Beag. Absolutely stunning birds!
An other thing we found unusual - the boggy areas are not like 'in bog up to your knees (or not even ankles!) I don't know if it was just because we were there in dry season. The bog is solid and pretty much dry. We just walked across any bog what came along. There is a funny thing about the paths out there - when you come across the bog, the path disappears. You can see it 'starting' up again at the other end of the bog :) but across the bog you got to make your own way. It's like Glenshee fairies playing a trick on you :) Well it definitely wasn't what I would expect from the bog.
summit of Carn an T-Sagairt Mor
Just before Cairn of Claise we met a guy, had a wee blether, when we told our plan to 'bivvy' on the Lochnagar, he looked at us in disbelieve (are they joking or are they just nuts?) :) Lochnagar summit (in occasions when it was visible) stayed on the far horizon all day. Even if it is more or less straight forward walking across the plateaus, when we got to the Carn an T-Sagairt Mor we did feel a bit tired. So.. so far we done Glas Maol - Cairn of Claise - Tolmount - Fafernie - Carn an T-Sagairt Mor .. It was a treat to 'find' the shiny wing of Canberra - it made us forget the tiredness for a while :) We gave the Broad Cairn a miss. Something for the next time :wink:
I think this is Coire Loch Kander below Carn an Tuirc. Correct me please if im wrong! I thought it looks sort of heart shaped... rather sweet.. In the far background is Glas Maol with the horseshoe show patch. 'As crow flys' it seems much closer- shame we don't have wings :)
The wing with Lochnagar summit on the horizon
Last ascent to reach the Lochnagar plateau felt steeper than it actually is and the gusty winds were making it a bit of a struggle but when the cairns appeared on the horizon - tiredness disappeared once again. It does look funny though!
Just after 19:00
We dumped our rucksacks to continue to the true summit of Lochnagar or Cac Carn Beag.
The haze was starting to colour in sunset colours, it actually was very beautiful. And the views around just stunning!
Looking over the Deeside beautiful layers and layers of hills as far as you can see. My favourite picture of this walk
True Lochnagar summit and the interesting rock on the right, it actually looked like one of the Chinese dragons from Fringe parade :D Mission for the day was accomplished - we did get to Lochnagar and it wasn't late enough to tuck ourselves into sleeping bags just yet. Next mission was to find actually sheltered spot for 'parking' over night and preferably with the view over sunset... In hopes the wind finally will die down we started backtracking...
When we got back to Carn an t-Sagairt Beag rocky summit tiredness really kicked in and our feet said- enough is enough! Now when the sun was setting the ptarmigans suddenly appeared too. Amazing birds!
We backtracked up to Carn an T-Sagairt Mor slope, it was sheltered from the wind, dry and without rocks so we set our 'quarters' there :) There was a good advantage point for watching sunset... or as It was just about midsummer- sun not setting... Eventually wind calmed down but it clouded over as a result.. So the sun-watching was more like coloured patch watching. :) It's the 'curse' of midsummer- it always rains! Next year will have to try again. But in general I believe the sunset didn't happen: the red patch above the horizon moved from the left to the right. First picture is taken just after 21:00 and the other at about 03:15 am
04:22 am Next day we started very early. We surprised even hares! To be honest it was quite miserable. For first couple of hours it was overcast but was holding on , but we could see weather 'coming towards us'. Our feet was still tired so we decided to take 'the shortest possible' way back. With the visibility on end off it was very confusing : crossed one plateau an other one ... up and down... we found ourselves 'bagging an other Munro' :) :) absolutely exhausted we bagged Tom Buidhe.
It started a bit raining and the loose rocks on Cairn of Claise got really slippery and I fell. Fortunately it was only bruises and blue marks :)
I had to add this picture. we tried to be very careful and watch where we put our steps and then suddenly my 'Experience' stopped: Look! First thing he thought- it was a dead bird! Literally few inches from the path! It was siting there without the noise and without moving an eyelid! Stunning, brave.. and just so worrying ... We figured she had chicks and we walked away so we don't cause more unnecessary stress. We looked back from few yards away and she hasn't moved. Amazing birds! They really believe they are invisible.
Mist really got thick just to make sure we are miserable enough :) and it seemed we been walking for ever. We knew we were somewhere at Glas Maol, but we did not see nor horseshoe snow patch nor ski lifts. When we finally joined the steep path going down the Glas Maol knees were getting wobblier and wobblier :) but it was a moral relief - we are somewhere 'just above the carpark' :) Sods law - when we got to the car - the cloud broke up! :) We changed and went to Glenshee Ski place for coffee and breakfast .. it was just around 12:00 and it felt soooo good! After a cup of coffee and nice soup we headed back home ... and the sun shone upon us.... Before we started falling asleep at the wheel we decided to do it again :)
It is fantastic walk if you can do it once ( don't have to come back) and it is best in my opinion to do it from Glas Maol to Lochnagar. So we hope to find out how we can leave car at the Glen Muick car park, 'get' ourselves over to Glenshee Ski centre and do the same walk... maybe this time including Broad Cairn.
There is other thing- on our walk we actually didn't come across any burn to get drinking water. It is weird we managed to miss all burns. We were totally shattered and the embarrassing thought to call rescue crossed our minds but it shows though - will and determination will get you home :) or maybe that's them oats?! :D
7 Munros, 5 rare species are worth getting exhausted for :D and you can not measure the enjoyment and good feeling of achievement.

P.S. i'm not entirely sure how to work this site yet... i noticed some spelling mistakes, but i can not get back to the wee window to correct (i don't know what I've done) I managed to loose couple of previous versions, but i finally got it done. I'm sorry about picture quality - i didn't realise the affect of resizing and i didn't figure out yet how to ad link to photo. But i hope the information will be useful to some novices like myself.

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Location: Edinburgh
Gear: rucksack & camera
Member: me & my partner ltd
Ambition: walk Slioch

Munros: 17
Corbetts: 3
Grahams: 3
Donalds: 1
Sub 2000: 6

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Trips: 1
Ascent: 1988m

Joined: Jul 04, 2013
Last visited: Oct 19, 2019
Total posts: 8 | Search posts