Creag Mhor - 895m
Monday 9th February 2015

Weather/Conditions: A beautiful day. Snow thawed and consolidated, but still hard going on tracks. Massive blue skies and generally calm with some stronger wind on top.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 24.4km / 900m / 6h 50m
Accompanying: Alone

Creag Mhor is a somewhat secluded Corbett in the outback of the Cairngorms. I once walked straight past it, in 2012, at the end of a very long day on the Munros. At the time I almost climbed it, but tiredness won out and I went to spend my evening at the Fords of Avon instead.

On this trip I was up for a couple days staying in Boat of Garten and headed off to park at Glen More for this Corbett, one of the last principle Cairngorm summits I had yet to climb.

The morning was absolutely stunning. And Glen More was busy as well. I got parked in the snow and headed out toward Ryvoan on snow-covered tracks. It was hard work, ploughing through all the snow and I kept my map in hand, ticking off landmarks, and realising that this really was going to be a long day. My progress did seem hopelessly incremental compared to the vast Cairngorm distances - especially when every step sunk in the powder.

The morning was beautiful with the sun out and the wooded slopes of Meall a' Bhuachaille lighting up. I was to take the track off to Lairig an Laoigh then, at some point, cut off toward Creag Mhor. This takes you into some really remote country and although Glen More isn't so close to hand, the dogleg at Ryvoan means you emerge into a new land and the remote nature becomes apparent.

A well trodden track carried me up onto the great flank below Bynack More, then onto the wind-scoured plateau where the tracks simply disappeared. Well - there was nothing for it but to cut my own way now and walk in the general direction of Creag Mhor. It's diminutive summit tors appeared around a corner - still a long way off - but now progress was being made for sure.

I love the 'high' you experience on days like this, with the sun beating down and ploughing a singular track through powder. It leaves a weaving imprint for miles behind and you look back and realise you've gone a long way. There is no sound, just the flanks of these wonderful mountains, the blue skies, and the scoured rolling summits ranging off in monochrome tones to the horizon. I dipped down to the Corrie of the Barns and headed up final slopes to the summit tor of Creag Mhor.

I made a phone call to mum and dad - they were heading up the A9 and would be in Boat of Garten that night. Having spent a good deal of time on the summit, I made my return. The return to civilisation was pleasant, retracing my steps in the snow, heading back over An Lurg as the sun descended in the sky. The day was beautiful and it was easy to forget it was midwinter.

Back down on the track to Ryvoan, I had an interesting encounter. Two folks on holiday were headed in the opposite direction to me, it was about 3pm, and I knew instantly they didn't really have the kit or know-how to be doing what they were doing. But you don't want to be the first to say and sound like a jackass!

Luckily, they broke the ice, asking for "Binck More?" in a thick accent. They were looking for advice and a little help. I pointed to the summit cone of Bynack More, a few miles distant, and commented on the fact it would be dark in a handful of hours. Further subtle questioning revealed they had no map nor torches, I politely suggested they may like to reconsider their plans, I could see it was an epic in the making. They were responsive to my thoughts however and I left them to it with the parting words of "just, be careful, yeah?". I never heard of them again, so no doubt they made the good choice and headed back in their tracks before night overtook them.

My last miles were a grind of exhaustion - it had been a wee while since I felt really tired and could feel the lack of energy eating away inside. It's interesting that often the leg muscles are absolutely fine and completely suited to cope, it's the overall system that falls first if fitness levels aren't maintained through a constant diet of cardiovascular mountain-going.

A strong afternoon made the last miles to Glen More pure joy and I arrived back at the car completely refreshed and happy. A large part of me knew though that I wanted to stay here, make it my home in the wider sense of life.

That night I went to see Sandy Allan talk about the Mazeno Ridge in the Boat of Garten town hall - my second time. The following morning I was heading down the road to Glasgow, and surprisingly emotional about the fact that I must make the Highlands home, at some point sooner or later. I internally thrive in this part of the world, everything clicks together in some inexplicable way. I did not look so fondly on the long haul back to Glasgow.

360° Panorama

Creag Mhor
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 9.05am Parking, Glenmore
(3.30) 12.35am Creag Mhor
(6.50) 3.55pm Parking, Glenmore

Written: 2015-04