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16 October 2014

mountainman - February 2008

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Winter Wonderland

Been away for a while - actually there hasnt been a lot going on "out and about" .Been pretty busy behind the scenes trying to get the new geology course up and running and the old one finished, but more of that later.

I am like a big kid in the snow. Actually, I think Mrs Mountainman thinks I am a big kid anyway but we wont go there! Saturday was one of those days that gave the sort of weather that usually adorns Christmas Cards. Of course the normal Christmas weather is rain rain and more rain (a bit like today in fact - Monday)

Anyway, it was time to make the most of it so the kids and I made a couple of snowmen (Young Iain wanted to make a "snow lady" but I decided against that....) Anyway, all that remains today are two sorry stumps. After the snowmen it was up to the Mishnish Lochs for a look around. I have always liked it up there in the snow - the views are great and there is a "serenity" about the place. Heres how it looked:

Just a general view from the west end looking east

Looking across the loch to Coire an t-Soluis

Beinn Hiant seen from near the boatshed

Me and Sarah (pic taken by Iain)

The snowy wastes of the Mishnish Lochs

Anyway, that was Saturdays trip. Great fun but short lived

Onto geology matters now. The new course has started in Bunessan - second class is tonight so I will be heading there later. We have got several field trips planned but we need good weather for these. At this rate "good weather" will be defined as "rain that isnt cold" Hopefully we will get at least one or two decent trips. Keep watching!


Posted on mountainman at 11:07

Needing a winter fix...

Since the forecast was good and since I hadnt been in any of my old stomping grounds for a while, I decided to take a couple of days off and head off to my favourite hills – the Cairngorms. I have been a regular visitor to these hills since 1971 -a place I never tire of and a place that has a special magic for me (as well as countless others). Anyway, the thought of blazing sun and huge snowfields was too much to resist.

I stayed at the Youth Hostel in Braemar - I have known the couple who run the place for many years and I always look forward to meeting up with them again.

Tuesday was a beautiful cold clear day – the sun shone from a cloudless sky all day and the hills were at their best. From the Linn of Dee car park, I headed up to Derry Lodge then up onto the ridge called Sron Riach – one of the shoulders of Ben Macdui. From there I cut over to the Lairig Ghru and Glen Dee and cut back round to where I started from. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

(Speaking of pictures, some of the best photos of the Cairngorms were taken by the late Walter Poucher. His black and white pictures in particular have a special quality about them and they are well worth looking for. Many are in his book “The Scottish Peaks” which is still in print, although they were originally published in “ A Camera in the Cairngorms”, published about 1947 I think. Poucher was renowned for his use of flowery language: "from this lofty coign of vantage one may espy Cyclopean buttresses" sort of thing...)

Anyway, the pics:

Native pine trees at the Black Bridge, near Linn of Dee

The River Lui, with the snow covered hills in the distance

This hill is Carn a' Mhaim - looks well from here - that's the River Lui again. Carn a'Mhaim means the hill of the pass - the pass in this case is presumably the Lairig Ghru which runs nearby.

A rather fine Scots Pine near Derry Lodge

More native pine trees on the way to the Lairig Ghru

This is an area of pines called Preas nam Meirleach - the Robbers' Copse. It was fenced off several years ago and it is great how the trees have grown back again. The hill in the distance is called Beinn Bhrodain. Brodan was the name of Fingal's dog apparently...

Right, we are heading uphill at last - this is the path up towards Ben Macdhui.

The snowy point in the picture is Stob Coire Sputan Dearg - a very fine place with tremendous cliffs.

Note carefully, although this is February, the snow distribution is more like what you would find in May in a typical year. Although there have been good snowfalls, and the skiers have been very happy, there have been some savage thaws as well.

this hill is Cairn Toul - one of the 4000 footers. Cracker of a view and a cracker of a hill. I love this view of it. Heres a close up:

The big snow filled corrie is Coire an t-Saighdeir - the Corrie of the Soldier - who knows why it was called that?

Lots of this stuff growing about here - Staghorn Moss I believe its called.

From this, the shoulder of Ben Macdhui, I headed across the hill towards the Lairig Ghru, the famous hill pass. The views down into the Lairig Ghru are great:

The River Dee glistens in the afternoon sun

This is Braeriach, another of the 4000ers. There is a huge corrie to be seen in the picture - Coire Bhrochain, the Corrie of the Porridge!

Here is another view back to Braeriach - taken from down in the Lairig Ghru, looking back the way

And this is a view much further on, near the Devils Point, looking back towards Braeriach

And that dark looking peak in the picture above is the Devils Point - Bod an Deamhain in Gaelic (and if you are curious, do a google search for the meaning of the name - I dare you.....)

And that was that - just a stroll back to the car park (well, a long stroll - its about 10 miles) Cracker of a day, and very few people about either - I only met one other person when I was out - a bloke on a mountain bike was headed up the Devils Point (not on the bike - that was just to make the long walk-in a bit easier.... I think....)

Anyway, there's more of this stuff. that was Tuesday's stroll in the hills. Wednesday's walk is coming up soon!



Posted on mountainman at 21:41

Needing a winter fix part II

Tuesdays walk was great, but being a bit out of condition, I was suffering a bit. However, the weather on Wednesday was just as good, so I decided to make the most of it. One of the lower peaks at the southern end of the Cairngorms, beside the River Dee is called Carn Cloiche-mhuillin - the Millstone Hill. I remember reading somewhere that Sir Hugh Munro (he of the Munros fame) wanted to save this for his last "Munro". However he died before this happened.

It isnt a very difficult walk and is relativel easy to get to, just being a slog along the track from Linn of Dee west of Braemar. It is a great viewpoint however - there are really neat views up the River Dee and into the heart of the Cairngorms. Here are a few pictures:

A fairly typical view up the River Dee. Carn Cloiche-mhuillin is the hill furthest on the left.

Here's another:

Another view from further on.

Once you get onto the side of CCM itself, the view up the River Dee becomes much more impressive:

That's the Devils Point again - remember from the other blog?

this was taken from much further uphill - the Lairig Ghru path runs all the way through the middle of the picture.

This sort of country is classic glaciation territory with U shaped valleys, hanging corries, moraines, all the good stuff you get in geography textbooks. There is also a lot of native original pine forest - it really adds to the "feeling" of the area - the Cairngorms arent what Muriel Gray referred to as "pointy" but they make up for a lack of pointiness with a massive grandeur and a great sense of space.

Later in the afternoon I took a trip up Glen Quoich, again near Braemar. There is a lot of native pine forest here as well. Just a couple of pics as the light wasnt so good:

That hill is called Beinn a'Chaorainn - the peak of the rowan - I first went up there in Nov 1975 - as a spotty faced undergraduate!

And this hill is called Beinn a' Bhuird - the "mountain of the table" Its actually well named as it is extremely flat on top. However on the east side of the hill there are massive corries with huge cliffs. I remember reading a story about an old woman known as "Cailleach nan Clach" She used to gather semi precious stones from the hills here. Apparently she had a vision of a huge beryl (or was it a cairngorm?) in one of the corries of Beinn a' Bhuird. She went up the next day and found a massive crystal apparently.

Again, notice the native pine trees in the foreground and also the lack of snow on the hills! I know there is a bit, but this IS February and this is suposed to be "sub-arctic" territory.

Never mind - that was an enjoyable couple of days in the hills

Catch up with you soon


Posted on mountainman at 22:12

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