July Weekend to Braemar
The trip to Braemar was our first weekend outing since the bothy weekend in March 2020 (Ruigh Aiteachain in Glen Feshie)! Ten people joined for the weekend and due to Covid restrictions and a general accommodation shortage, we ended up spread across three different locations. Tom, Jean, Steven, Hilary and Hamish stayed at the Cranford Guest House. The rest of us (Bob, Justin, Gordon, Andrew and I) were going to stay at the Base Camp bunkhouse on the Mar Lodge Estate. Unfortunately, I had to move out to a B&B near Ballater when it became clear that The Rules would not be relaxed in time for our weekend. Annoyingly, the restrictions were lifted on the day after our stay! It must said that the bunkhouse is very spacious and comfortable (and well worth keeping in mind for future club trips to the area).
Friday: Hamish climbed Morven (Corbett) above Braemar, while Justin and Bob climbed Carn na Drochaide (also a Corbett). I cycled to Derry Lodge and from there made my way up to the Devil’s Point and then up to the south top of Cairn Toul, Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir. The day was warm and windy, but Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir and Cairn Toul were the only hills in the area that were shrouded in cloud and quite chilly, so I did not continue on to Cairn Toul for another visit. The guest house group, and also Gordon and Andrew met at the Cairn Grill in Braemar for dinner while I met up with Bob and Justin for “home-cooked” food.
Saturday: Justin headed for the Invercauld Corbetts of Carn Liath (making sure that all of its multiple high-points were visited) and Culardoch. Tom, Jean, Bob, Steven, Hamish and I met up at the Linn of Dee and climbed the Corbett Sgor Mor. Hilary joined us for the first part of the walk out to White Bridge, against a very strong westerly wind. It really buffeted us as we reached the summit of Sgor Mor. Fortunately the wind was behind us for the long ridge walk east to Sgor Dubh, from where we followed a deer fence down (on the side with the most heather to wade through!). The views to the surrounding Cairngorm mountains were fantastic.
Meanwhile, Gordon and Andrew explored the Mar Lodge Estate. Although the bunkhouse would have been ideal for the customary communal dinner (large, well-appointed kitchen and dining area), Covid restrictions prevented it. Instead we all met up at the Cairn Grill for dinner. The village was extremely busy – just as well that we had booked tables well in advance.
Sunday: Bob and Justin climbed Creag nan Gabhar (Corbett) via a “short” route from the A93 near Baddoch. Hamish, Tom, Jean, Steven and Hilary visited the Falls of Garbh Allt in the Ballochbuie Forest.
Despite being spread about a bit, it was great to be out for a club weekend again, enjoy some good hillwalking and catch up with everybody.
July Weekday Walk to Whitelee
Two Tumps .. and a thump round Lochgoin Reservoir
Nine walkers met up at the midge-infested car park at the Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre at 10am .. the lovely overcast but warm conditions are just right for them! Our numbers were reduced by one as Hilary had declined because of the predicted threat of thunder, lightning and heavy rain, which fortunately, as it turned out, passed us by. After a spray or two of insect repellent, and to generate a bit of apparent wind, we set off at a cracking pace but were still overtaken by the tour bus just as we joined the main drag. We were generally following the "Lochgoin Circuit" but making a short diversion to visit the summit of Dunwan .. and some of the group opted to visit the commercial viewpoint of Blackwood Hill. These two wee hills are known as "Tumps" .. that's British hills with more than 30m of prominence. There are over 17,000 of them and you can read about them here.
The group came together again just before the circuit turns south, taking a short break at one of the benches to view the sheer size of the Windfarm. Quite against the doomy forecast, the skies began to clear and the temperature began to rise, and with the pace still cracking along, we soon arrived at the turnoff for the dam across Lochgoin Reservoir .. which seemed a good place for a sandwich break.
Moving off across the dam brought us to the ScottishPower control buildings and the main road in to the windfarm. After a short distance we turned northeastwards on the home stretch and had a brief stop at "Bench 11" .. a location known to regular walkers on this route.
We joined our outward track soon after, and arrived at the car park without experiencing any thunder or lightning! Some opted for a refreshment in the Visitor Centre cafe, some opted to head home, and some opted to visit the Wishing Well in Eaglesham for a late lunch ..... GPS data showed that we walked a total of 13.37 km at an average speed of 4.1 kph, with about 181m of ascent, and taking 3 hours and 44 minutes.