Eighteen Southern Cairngorms

Munros: An Socach (Braemar), Beinn Iutharn Mhor, Broad Cairn, Cairn Bannoch, Cairn of Claise, Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, Carn a'Gheoidh, Carn an Righ, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Carn an Tuirc, Carn Aosda, Carn Bhac, Glas Maol, Glas Tulaichean, Lochnagar, The Cairnwell, Tolmount, Tom Buidhe

Date walked: 12/08/2018

Distance: 127.7km

Ascent: 7091m

With Allison away visiting family in Belgium this weekend I had carte blanche to do whatever hills I liked. I'd taken a fancy to seeing if I could walk the Ramsay Round - I'm never going to make a hill runner but I thought it a worthwhile challenge to try walking the 92km over 3 days with a big pack. However, it was the ascent of 8500m that was fazing me a little - 30km a day I could manage but almost 3000m a day too? I was by no means sure. I reckoned I could always bale out at Tulloch or Corrour and get the train back to Ft William...but I wasn't sure about parking in Glen Nevis for 3 days...maybe I could start the round from Kinlochleven, where parking wouldn't be an issue... It all turned out to be academic as the weather forecast was far from suitable - another time perhaps.

OK - better weather forecast for the east, maybe I could complete the round of 8 west Cairnwell hills we'd failed to complete in a one-er back in 2013 when the weather and a lack of navigational skills led us to get only 6 of the 8. And then tag on the hills east of the road and the Lochnagar hills, with some Sims tagged on to each. Sounds a goer.

cairnwel13.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I was able to get away late morning as I didn't have to wait for Allison to finish work, arrived at Glenshee Ski Centre by 2pm. I hoped to get about 20k done, aiming to camp somewhere between Carn Bhac and Beinn Iutharn Mhor. We'd been up Carn Aosda in February of this year when it was heaving with skiers and we had a job dodging the ski tows. Today it was another matter, I saw no-one after I'd left the cafe area. Quite a few brown hares. Summit reached easily, now I had to lose all the height I'd just gained and more dropping down north to 450m. I had 3 Sims lined up before tackling An Socach - starting with Sgor Mor then an out and back to the 792m top, then along to the next "finger" for a similar out and back job.

Carn Aosda
ImageP1200277 by Al, on Flickr

Descent to Sgor Mor
ImageP1200279 by Al, on Flickr

Crickets cannoned out of the grasses as I climbed up the heathery slopes of Sgor Mor, the first I've seen this year. Big cairn at the summit where I left my pack and trotted the 2k out to the second Sim. The air was warm, clouds heavy but white. Gathering up my pack again I repeated the process at the next summit before setting off for An Socach. Again we'd been up here in February in hard snow - much easier today, just an amble along the stony back of the hill to the cairn. Rays of early evening sun lit up the slopes of Glen Ey. I prepared to head down the steep northern shoulder of An Socach, disturbing a resting golden eagle as I did so. Not as close as last week's encounter on Ben Vane, a graceful sweep of the huge wings took the majestic bird off into the still air and swiftly towards Beinn Iutharn Mhor.

Sgor Mor out and back
ImageP1200282 by Al, on Flickr

Sunlight fingers, Glen Ey
ImageP1200285 by Al, on Flickr

Summit An Socach
ImageP1200286 by Al, on Flickr

It was now around 7.30 and time to look for a camp-spot. Whilst I would have liked to go up to the ruin at Altanour lodge, but that added an extra km - I also remembered that the ground between Carn Bhac and Beinn Iutharn Mhor was boggy/tussocky, so decided to pitch up near the track at the head of Glen Ey and found a nice flat spot. Why not go and get Carn Bhac done tonight? There was still light enough and I reckoned doing an out-and-back without a pack tonight would beat starting off fully laden tomorrow, even if it did add a couple of km and hundred metres ascent. So I went for that, taking the track part of the way then heading off into grassy/boggy terrain. Summit reached, the sun making a welcome appearance, a brilliant ball starting its nightly sink towards oblivion. Retraced my path towards the tent and a welcome bed.

Campspot, Iutharn Mhor in distance
ImageP1200288 by Al, on Flickr

Carn Bhac
ImageP1200290 by Al, on Flickr

Not a bad evening
ImageP1200292 by Al, on Flickr

Heavy condensation overnight soaked the tent, midges made an unwelcome appearance as I packed up and set off for Beinn Iutharn Mhor. This was the first time in three visits I've had visibility on this hill. I dropped down to Mam nan Carn then along the western shoulder towards Carn an Righ, leaving my pack at the bealach I set off upwards reaching the summit before 10.20. Then it was back down and along the track towards Loch nan Eun, dipping down to cross the Allt a'Ghlinne Mhoir and start up again onto Glas Tulaichean. Had me a bit puffed by the time I got to the top. A bag of crisps provided welcome sustenance and I set off down the northeast shoulder towards Loch nan Eun, over the two bumps - both Sims - to the water's south. From Carn a'Chlarsaich I headed south to Creag Easgaidh, disturbing a large herd of deer on the lower slopes, which split into two, one set heading east, the other west. Round the deep groove cut by the Allt Elrig and onto the jaunty Munro Top of Carn Bhinnien, one of three I have left in the Cairngorms.

Iutharn Mhor
ImageP1200293 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200297 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200298 by Al, on Flickr

Mam nan Carn
ImageP1200299 by Al, on Flickr

Carn an Righ
ImageP1200300 by Al, on Flickr

Glas Tulaichean
ImageP1200302 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200304 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200305 by Al, on Flickr

Loch nan Eun
ImageP1200306 by Al, on Flickr

Creag Easgaidh, Carn Bhinnien in distance
ImageP1200308 by Al, on Flickr

Big clump of deer
ImageP1200310 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200311 by Al, on Flickr

Tulaichean from Bhinnien
ImageP1200314 by Al, on Flickr

From here I walked round to Carn a'Gheoidh, good views along the flank of Glas Tulaichean. Another Sim diversion - I cut off to the south from the summit to reach Carn Mor, which had a helpful track for much of the way, then contoured around the side of Gheoidh towards Carn nan Sac. It had begun to rain by this point, increasingly heavily and visibility was reduced considerably. I soldiered on along the rim of Choire Dhirich heading for the Cairnwell - I met a few walkers coming down from the summit of that dreich hill; the first folk I'd seen all day. I came down following the line of the ski tow and found myself back at the car around 5.30.

Carn Mor
ImageP1200316 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200319 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200320 by Al, on Flickr

Restocking my rucksack (more chocolate, more whisky) I set off for the track up to Glas Maol, via Meall Odhar. I met a few folks coming down from the hill. The rain had ceased and I was able to remove my waterproofs - a good job as I was heating up with the renewed ascent. Sheep studded the top of Glas Maol - I touched the trig then set off along the track hoping to get somewhere towards Tolmont by the end of the day. Cairn of Claise was a bit of a slog - I met a Polish dad and his young son at the summit. Dad had an enormous rucksack whilst the lad had none. They were looking to wild camp too - both of us a bit dismayed by the stony ground so far. I headed off towards Tolmont, they followed at a respectful distance - nothing worse than wild camping if you find someone else in the same space as you have chosen :lol: I found a flat and dry spot near the lowest point before Tolmont - the others were a good deal higher up. My Fitbit told me I'd walked more steps today than ever before - 66400 - yay! I did think about heading up Tolmont tonight, but decided I was too tired to put in that small effort - I'd get up early tomorrow. Disappointingly I didn't sleep very well - the tent was still sopping wet from the morning and was not going to dry much in the cool humid evening air. The inner was wet as well, and in the little tent that's not very pleasant.

Glas Maol
ImageP1200322 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200323 by Al, on Flickr

The Polish pair atop Cairn of Claise
ImageP1200324 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200327 by Al, on Flickr

Up before 7 - I left the tent in situ and set off with a much lightened pack. At the summit of Tolmont by 7.10 down and up Tom Buidhe half an hour later. Now came the big "will I or won't I?" Finalty Hill is a Sim 4km to the south of Tom Buidhe, a solitary Sim. A five mile return trip, over pathless bog and moor for a single Sim? That must be nibbling at the margins of insanity. If it had been raining or claggy I'd probably have decided against it, but it was a fine morning, still early - what's there not to like about it. I amused myself by calibrating my paces - I usually take 350 double strides to do half a kilometre, and I counted out 4 x 700 double strides almost exactly to the top of Finalty Hill. Well that's good to know next time I'm in clag and my GPS dies.

The excitement that is Tolmont
ImageP1200328 by Al, on Flickr

Tom Buidhe
ImageP1200330 by Al, on Flickr

Hill of Finalty is somewhere out there
ImageP1200331 by Al, on Flickr

There are good views to The Dreish and Mayar from here - with a bit more planning I could probably have included them in this round too :lol: (having just checked on the planner, both could be added for a measly 13km/500m ascent from Finalty Hill). But anyway, it was back to Tom Buidhe for me. Spotted a couple of folk coming down Tolmont as I returned to my tent, which had dried out nicely in the warm sun and light breeze. The Poles had packed up too - they seemed to be standing around in the distance - wonder where they were off to. I contoured round Carn of Claise towards the track leading to Carn a Tuirc, summited that hill then faced my final Sim of the round, Carn Dubh off to the NW. Grouse butts on both sides of the hillside here - just as well I wasn't a day later - the inglorious 12th - or I could have been caught in the cross-fire of animal murdering b'stards. But all quiet on that front today. I headed up the track onto Carn Dubh, found an impressive cairn then cut down west towards the road. It's a mile or so up to the Ski Centre from the (busy) car park beside the footbridge, but less ascent (120m) than it looks. I reached the car just before 1pm. I was now a bit ambivalent about what to do - the forecast I'd seen before I left suggested rain from later this afternoon, heavy overnight and all day Sunday. I was less than keen about another night in a wet little tent and wondered if I should just head home, but on checking the forecast I found it had improved - dry until midday Sunday, although misty in the morning. Off to Glen Muick it is then!

ImageP1200333 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200335 by Al, on Flickr

Cairn a'Tuirc
ImageP1200336 by Al, on Flickr

Carn Dubh
ImageP1200337 by Al, on Flickr

Cairn, Carn Dubh
ImageP1200339 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200340 by Al, on Flickr

I hadn't been to Glen Muick for a while - last two forays round the Lochnagar hills on Tops business had both been from Glen Callater. I remembered that the car park charged £4 and wasn't sure what the position with overnight parking was. As I approached the car park - around 1.30 I found it absolutely choc-a-bloc, with numerous cars parked along the roadside as well. I didn't try too hard to find a space within the car park when I saw on the notice that overnight parking wasn't allowed - drove back along the road for half a km or so and found a suitable place to verge park that wasn't obstructing traffic. Had a late lunch, replenished the rucksack and set off again.

lochnagSim.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

My plan for today was to take in a handful of Sims on the south of Loch Muick. I had drawn up an audacious route that came in from Balmoral, over another group of Sims there, but seeing that Mrs Queen had just taken up residence I thought that approach might prove problematic. I followed the south Loch Muick path for a wee bit, rammed full of walkers, then headed up the Glen Clova footpath which skirts up the side of my first objective, Black Hill. This was reached with a short heather tramp, then it was the familiar down down down to the neighbouring Black Hill of the Mark and on to Ferrowie. There were several tracks, but sadly none going in my direction :( From Ferrowie another dip down then up to Dog Hillock, skirting around a cleft called - curiously - "the Gourock" and onwards to Sandy Hillock, which had some kind of old transmitter debris at the top. Now I had to make a decision. It was 6.30pm - I could either camp between Sandy Hillock and Broad Cairn, or continue on and camp on the flat area between Cairn Bannoch and Carn an t-Sagairt Mor. I did worry a little about it being cold overnight - the more distant camp was more than 200m higher up. Plus my feet were a bit sore. I plumped for a spot by the wee lochan coming down from Snady Hillock and had an early night, curled up with Virginia Woolf (Jacob's Room this time, where she starts to get a bit experimental with timelines).

ImageP1200342 by Al, on Flickr

Loch Muick
ImageP1200344 by Al, on Flickr

Black Hill of the Mark
ImageP1200347 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200348 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200350 by Al, on Flickr

My path leads over the three bumps towards Broad Cairn
ImageP1200352 by Al, on Flickr

Glen Clova
ImageP1200354 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200357 by Al, on Flickr

Sandy Hillock
ImageP1200358 by Al, on Flickr

Broad Cairn awaits the morning
ImageP1200362 by Al, on Flickr

I got up early at 5.30 after a good sleep to find the sky still tinted pink from the dawn. Hilltops were clear although I felt an odd spatter or rain as I packed up the tent and set off up the good path to Broad Cairn. By the time I'd reached the summit at 6.50 the clag had come down and the rain was becoming more persistent. Unfortunately it did not let up for the remainder of the morning. I slumped my way to Cairn Bannoch (a sad excuse for a Munro) then in dreich conditions to the cairn on Sagairt Mor (no looking for bits of aircraft today). Onwards to perhaps the least impressive Munro of them all, Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach by which time I was starting to feel cold and lastly to the summit of Lochnagar, via a badly eroded path that could do with being mended. Five Munros by 9am - that's a first!

Looks like a bit of "Shepherd's Warning"
ImageP1200363 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200365 by Al, on Flickr

Broad Cairn
ImageP1200366 by Al, on Flickr

Sagairt Mor
ImageP1200368 by Al, on Flickr

Lochnagar (but could be anywhere)
ImageP1200370 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200371 by Al, on Flickr

An t-Sron cairn
ImageP1200372 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1200373 by Al, on Flickr

There was one last part to the mission - a final Sim, An t-Sron lying to the north of Loch Muick. I took the SE track from Carn Cac Mor cairn and followed this for 3km til I reached a small bridge, then took the rougher track leading NE, skirting Little Pap before striking off east over boggy ground making for An t-Sron. I found an impressive cairn there and an ATV track leading NE which I followed until it disappeared in the heather. I descended the northeast slopes, making for the Caledonian pinewoods and from there back across the bridge towards the visitor centre. I could see my car, all alone on the road. The car park was far from full today, given the rain and clag, but a few dog walkers had made the effort. Back at the car by half past 11, I predicted being home by 3ish...

Having driven back towards Glenshee I found that the road was blocked around The Spittal - a long line of traffic lay before me and nothing was coming up the way. Some drivers were turning round...what to do...reluctantly I did the same and drove back the 30 miles I'd just come from Balmoral, taking the Aberdeen route home and adding what - a hundred miles? to the journey. When I caught the 3pm traffic news on Radio 2 it said the road was still closed in both directions, so I guess I made the right choice.

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Comments: 3

Aches in the Arrochar Alps

Attachment(s) Munros: An Caisteal, Beinn a'Chroin, Beinn Ime, Beinn Narnain, Ben Vane
Date walked: 05/08/2018
Distance: 45.6km
Ascent: 4016m
Comments: 4
Views: 412

Weasel completes a Second Round on Mull

Munros: Ben More (Mull), Gulvain, Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glenfinnan), Sgurr Thuilm
Sub 2000s: Coirc Bheinn
Date walked: 29/07/2018
Distance: 61.5km
Ascent: 4300m
Comments: 6
Views: 384

And then there was one...Wet in the Fannaichs

Attachment(s) Munros: A' Chailleach, Am Faochagach, An Coileachan, Beinn Liath Mhor Fannaich, Meall a'Chrasgaidh, Meall Gorm, Sgurr Breac, Sgurr Mor, Sgurr nan Clach Geala, Sgurr nan Each
Date walked: 22/07/2018
Distance: 81km
Ascent: 4774m
Comments: 4
Views: 343

Skye and Torridon

Munros: Ruadh-stac Mor (Beinn Eighe), Sgurr Dubh Mor, Sgurr Mor (Beinn Alligin), Sgurr nan Eag, Spidean Coire nan Clach (Beinn Eighe), Tom na Gruagaich (Beinn Alligin)
Date walked: 15/07/2018
Distance: 44.8km
Ascent: 3983m
Comments: 3
Views: 283

Ring of Steall and Glenfinnan hills

Attachment(s) Munros: Am Bodach, An Gearanach, Gulvain, Sgurr a'Mhaim, Sgurr nan Coireachan (Glenfinnan), Stob Coire a'Chairn, Stob Coire Raineach (Buachaille Etive Beag), Stob Dubh (Buachaille Etive Beag)
Date walked: 08/07/2018
Distance: 73.5km
Ascent: 5882m
Comments: 1
Views: 283

Three Sunny Ridges, Fifteen Munros

Munros: Aonach Air Chrith, Aonach Meadhoin, Creag a'Mhaim, Creag nan Damh, Druim Shionnach, Maol chinn-dearg, Meall Dearg (Aonach Eagach), Saileag, Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (Aonach Eagach), Sgurr a'Bhealaich Dheirg, Sgurr an Doire Leathain, Sgurr an Lochain, Sgurr Fhuaran, Sgurr na Carnach, Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe
Date walked: 01/07/2018
Distance: 72.1km
Ascent: 5810m
Comments: 4
Views: 506

Sguilard, Ulaidh and Braeriach

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Sgulaird, Braeriach, Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, Sgor na h-Ulaidh, The Devil's Point
Date walked: 24/06/2018
Distance: 66.3km
Ascent: 4791m
Views: 238

Sensational High Camps in Sutherland

Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Dearg (Ullapool), Ben Hope, Cona' Mheall, Eididh nan Clach Geala, Meall nan Ceapraichean, Seana Bhraigh
Corbetts: Ben Loyal, Foinaven, Quinag - Sail Gharbh, Quinag - Sail Gorm, Quinag - Spidean Coinich
Grahams: Suilven
Sub 2000s: Beinn Stumanadh, Ben Hiel, Cnoc nan Cuilean, Meall nan Clach Ruadha
Date walked: 18/06/2018
Distance: 120km
Ascent: 7795m
Comments: 7
Views: 765

1, 2

Complete! - Sick Kid bags her Full House on Skye

Attachment(s) Munros: Am Basteir, Bla Bheinn, Inaccessible Pinnacle, Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh, Sgurr a'Mhadaidh, Sgurr Alasdair, Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, Sgurr na Banachdich, Sgurr nan Gillean
Date walked: 18/06/2018
Distance: 27km
Ascent: 4005m
Comments: 15
Views: 1442


User avatar
Location: Greenock
Occupation: Janitor of Lunacy
Interests: Solvitur Ambulando
Activity: Wanderer
Pub: A whisky at sunset
Mountain: Foinaven
Place: Around Knoydart
Gear: Satmap Active 12
Member: MCofS
Camera: Lumix FT5 / Fuji Finepix
Ideal day out: A long walk that thrills, chills and makes me feel alive
Munro rounds: 2
Corbett rounds: 1
Graham rounds: 1

Munros: 109
Corbetts: 56
Grahams: 35
Donalds: 89
Wainwrights: 15
Hewitts: 31
Sub 2000: 149
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

Filter reports



Trips: 36
Distance: 1965.17 km
Ascent: 131544m
Munros: 172
Corbetts: 6
Grahams: 6
Donalds: 8
Sub2000s: 25


Trips: 76
Distance: 2994.86 km
Ascent: 175243m
Munros: 67
Corbetts: 12
Grahams: 72
Donalds: 81
Sub2000s: 96
Hewitts: 13
Wainwrights 12


Trips: 78
Distance: 2035.42 km
Ascent: 124390m
Munros: 17
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 142
Donalds: 71
Sub2000s: 24
Hewitts: 15


Trips: 68
Distance: 2453.94 km
Ascent: 164961m
Munros: 77
Corbetts: 126
Grahams: 17
Donalds: 8
Sub2000s: 2


Trips: 64
Distance: 2406.7 km
Ascent: 166291m
Munros: 109
Corbetts: 112
Grahams: 16
Donalds: 10


Trips: 64
Distance: 1894.46 km
Ascent: 127277m
Munros: 219
Corbetts: 17
Grahams: 4
Donalds: 3
Sub2000s: 1


Trips: 24
Distance: 254.33 km
Ascent: 16304m
Munros: 26
Corbetts: 5


Trips: 1
Corbetts: 1
Donalds: 1

Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Last visited: Aug 16, 2018
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