Cac Carn Beag, Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Cairn Bannoch & Broad Cairn
Saturday 8th September 2012
Weather/Conditions: Absolutely, utterly stunning weather! Wall to wall sunshine and an air clarity like that of winter. Not a heatwave by any means, so really quite perfect conditions for walking in.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 30.2km / 1400m / 7h 50m
Accompanying: Uncle Steve
I did this walk with my Uncle Steve and we did it in a day trip from Glasgow. We had an early start which also equated to very little sleep the night before. As we passed through Ballater the skies were blue, the light of an astounding purity. You certainly notice the difference compared to the city air... We parked up in a busy Glen Muick and got on our way.
The walk to Lochnagar felt long, but I suppose I was still getting in the way of it. Lochnagar gives only tantalising glimpses of it's cliffs from the glen. You have to make the long walk in to really see it. The walking seemed to grate after a while - I couldn't imagine going all this way every time you did a winter route. But perhaps I just felt it more than normal, tiredness does not help matters.
It was a fantastic moment when we finally got over the top and got the view of Lochnagar. Without question, I headed off to Meikle Pap. I couldn't come here and not get the best. So I left Uncle Steve and diverted off to the Pap for photos. For a moment I'd turned top-bagger and also did the kilometre diversion out to Cuidhe Crom.
As I headed around the top of Lochnagar, folk were out climbing. I made a vague guess that they were on Eagle Ridge, which turned out to be right. The following day a rockfall actually occurred on this route, resulting in an airlift. It was fresh in my memory when it ended up in the news!
The summit of Lochnagar was made and we continued onto the next Munros in time. Lochnagar gets the glory in this area, but I really like the plateau behind. I suppose it has that element of isolation, quietude... Over Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach, we went to Carn an t-Sagairt Mor where you'll find the remains of an aircraft wreckage. This apparently is strewn down the length of Allt an Dubh-loch, though I only found one bit just below the summit.
We headed off in the direction of Cairn Bannoch, which lies in close proximity to a sheet of cliff named Creag an Dubh-loch. From the plateau this cliff just plunges into the glen below. Several months later I came and did these hills in winter. I walked under the Creag when it was white with rime and with icefalls pouring off. It is built like few cliffs are, butch in formation and precipitous. It is utterly magnificent from the top of the loch, where the slanting gully lines are picked out in profile. But from the plateau itself you don't quite gain that appreciation of it's scale. Eagles Rock on the opposite side of the glen is impressive, a stunning white thread of water tumbling down the granite slabs.
We finished the day on Broad Cairn. It was one of those beautiful sunny afternoons with a warm light. The walk to the car would be long, thankfully all downhill or flat. But it was on this long walk out by Loch Muick that I crashed. At some point, my body just said no further, and I of course wasn't going to stop moving. The last miles to the car park were somewhat uncomfortable, to say the least.
Oddly, despite being so wasted I drove almost all the way home. An excellent day, and it wouldn't be long before I was back, first in winter, and then in the summer of 2013 when I did the same round of five Munros in reverse.
Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach & Carn an t-Sagairt Mor
Cac Carn Beag (Lochnagar)
Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach
Carn an t-Sagairt Mor
(0.00) 10.05am Glen Muick parking
(2.30) 12.35pm Lochnagar
(3.20) 1.25pm Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach
(4.05) 2.10pm Carn an t-Sagairt Mor
(5.00) 3.05pm Cairn Bannoch
(5.35) 3.40pm Broad Cairn
(7.50) 5.55pm Glen Muick parking