Lochnagar

Lochnagar is one of my favourite hills. I first climbed there in the 1970s in the days when I was into winter climbing (too old now) and I’ve been to the top countless times since then.

 

Climbing Black Spout Buttress, February, 1972. I'm one of the two tiny figures on the lower stance. Thanks to Greg Strange for the photo.

Mount Keen is the nearest Munro to where we live but it’s a bit of a lump. Lochnagar is the nearest ‘interesting’ hill and I usually try to get up there every year. This year, I was chatting to our (relatively) new neighbours and discovered that, although natives of Aberdeen, they had never been to the top of Lochnagar. So we planned a day trip there when the forecast was good.

I picked up Scott and his son James one warm and sunny July morning and we headed to the car park at Spittal of Glen Muick – thankfully, we arrived early enough to find a space. The walk from there is pretty straightforward in good weather – follow the path past Allt-na-Guibhsaich to the top of the pass, turn left uphill to the summit plateau then more or less follow the edge of the corrie to the summit. Depending on your fitness it takes between two and a half and three and a half hours.

 

There is a wee bouldery bit as you get close to the plateau. Scott and James are not experienced hill-goers so slowed up a bit there but they managed fine. After the boulders, there’s a great view of the north-east corrie of Lochnagar, the lochan and the cliffs. Black Spout is the obvious gully in front of the camera. James found himself a perch and we had fine views over the Cairngorms.
When you reach the plateau, Scott and James thought we were almost at the summit but it takes a surprisingly long time to go round the corrie to a top at Cac Can More then to the main summit at Can Can Beag. They were delighted to get to the top of their first Munro. ‘Beag’ in Gaelic, means ‘small’ and ‘Mor’ means ‘big’ so whoever named these tops on the map got a bit mixed up. We had a leisurely lunch on the summit with fine views looking over to The Stuic and Loch nan Eun. I once jumped straight into this wee loch for a dip on a hot summer’s day and then jumped straight out again. It was absolutely freezing and I suspect that it never really warms up. We took the alternative route down to Glas All Shiel then along Loch Muick - Scott’s knee was hurting and James was suffering from blisters (he believed the received wisdom that you need boots on the Scottish hills in summer). So they were hobbling a wee bit on the way down. We had a good view of the waterfalls on the Glas Allt before reaching the lochside at Glas Allt Shiel. The trudge along Loch Muick back to the car park always seems interminable but it was good to see the trees regenerating where they were protected from the browsing deer.

A good day out.

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