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A wee dauner on Lochnagar

Since getting back from the TGO Challenge in May, I’ve had a couple of weeks of family holiday, sorted out my allotment and spent stupid amounts of time (between showers) painting the exterior of my house. I haven’t been any higher than the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and have been feeling the need to get out for more than a walk along the Deeside Way. Today, the forecast was,  for once, for a completely dry day so I ditched the paintbrushes and headed for Glen Muick.

There is an old saying that any day can be a winter’s day in the Cairngorms. I’m well aware of this but when packing  for the day, I looked at the sunshine and decided there was no need for gloves and a hat. There was a bit of a breeze when I left home but no inkling of what was to come.

After a brief stop in Ballater for pork pies from the butcher, I arrived at the car park at the Spittal of Glen Muick. The wind had got up a bit and it was cool enough for a fleece on top of my base layer.  After a quick loo stop (where there is a curious sign saying the water is unsuitable for ‘drinking purposes’) I headed up the path to Lochnagar.

Lochnagar from Glen Muick

Lochnagar from Glen Muick

The wind continued to increase in strength and when I reached the top of the pass, I swapped my fleece for a windproof and took the well-made path up the corrie. It was a bit more sheltered there with a few other people on the path. There was a great view of Lochnagar’s ridges and gullies.

Lochnagar's cliffs, gullies and ridges

Lochnagar’s cliffs, gullies and ridges

The path to the top of Lochnagar goes round the edge of the cliffs and it was then that the wind really hit me. There was no shelter and the wind so strong that I couldn’t take off my jacket to put my fleece on again. But the sun was shining with great views.
NE corrie of Lochnagar

NE corrie of Lochnagar

It’s easy to overestimate wind speeds and I wouldn’t like to guess how strong it was. It wasn’t a ‘blow you over’ wind’ but it was certainly strong enough to ‘make you stagger when a gust hits you’. Some people decided to give up at this stage but I carried on. This photo isn’t the summit cairn but is the cairn on Cac Carn Mor (which it is sometimes said translates as ‘large heap of shit’). Oddly, Cac Carn Beag (small heap of shit) is the true summit and is a few metres higher. So, I wonder if some Victorian mapmaker mixed up the names.  I understand that there are alternative interpretations of the name. Anyway, I love the folded rocks on which the cairn sits.
Cairn on Cac Carn Mor

Cairn on Cac Carn Mor

When I reached the summit, my hands were completely numb and I was very cold. Thankfully, there was a sheltered spot so I managed to get my fleece on and soon warmed up in the sun. Great views in all directions.

Looking north from the summit of Lochnagar

Looking north from the summit of Lochnagar

I had contemplated going on to Carn an Sagairt Mor but this would have meant another 4km straight into the wind. I decided this wouldn’t be fun and headed down to summer again in Glen Muick, where the bell heather was in bloom.

Bell heather

Bell heather

Overall, a very exhilarating day out – definitely beats painting from a ladder.

PS I can recommend Aldi’s Fruit and Nut mix as a hill snack – lots of juicy dried fruit and not just cheap peanuts. It’s in a resealable packet where you have to snip the top. Do this BEFORE leaving home – it is impossible to open without a knife or scissors. After fighting with it for several minutes, I ended up spearing the packet with a walking pole. Definitely not resealable.

5 Responses to “A wee dauner on Lochnagar”

  1. Great pictures. I would love to get up there in sunshine!

  2. AlanR says:

    So, thats what Lochnagar looks like. Always cloudy when i have been there.

  3. John D says:

    Great post. I particularly enjoyed the food tip. It reminded me of having to open sardines with an ice axe in Switzerland back in the Eighties because I had forgotten the tin opener. The sardines were a bit mashed by the time I got to them.

  4. Louise says:

    Your method of accessing your snack had me chuckling. Nice day out!

  5. alan.sloman says:

    I enjoyed that, Ian.
    I came down (with Phil & Andy) the way you went up, but of course with a ruddy great backpack, on the TGO Challenge. It had been wonderfully sunny (and freezing cold) on the top but then the clouds came in and we didn’t see that wonderful view – your third picture. I’m not even sure we picked the correct line down as we had to lower and slide down large boulders for what seemed like far too long in the cloud – not being able to see what was below us.
    Fortunately there was Willem Fox below us and he was very helpful!
    So thank you for that. It’s nice to see what we missed!

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