Thursday 2 October 2014

TGOC 2014 - Day 8: Ruigh Aiteachain to Glen Dee

Friday 16th May 2014

An excellent high level day over four Munros between Glen Feshie and Glen Dee 

Distance: 30km; Ascent: 1470m; Sunny but quite windy on the tops; with Sue O

The hills were under a blanket of low cloud when I met Sue outside the bothy this morning for our day of Munro bagging; we hoped the forecasted lifting of the cloud in the morning would turn out to be correct!  At 8am we set off walking, initially retracing yesterday's steps for the best part of a kilometre, before picking up the vehicle track that climbs up towards the plateau.

Looking across Glen Feshie to Carn Dearg Mor
Coire Garbhlach
The track made for very quick progress and it wasn't long before we we looking into the misty Coire Garbhlach, and around here we passed another challenger heading into the high hills for the day. As we continued to ascend the cloud gradually began to clear, with most of it having cleared by around 9:30am.  We detoured south for around a kilometre to visit our first windy summit of the day: Mullach Clach a'Bhlair (Munro, HuMP).

On the summit of Mullach Clach a'Bhlair
Returning to the LRT we headed northeast across the plateau, before stopping for a break in the slight depression formed by the upper part of the Caochan Dubh burn.  I was keen to include Sgor Gaoith in today's walk, which would result in a detour of around 7km - luckily Sue was quite happy to have a long day in the hills as well!

Continuing onwards, we left the LRT after around a kilometre to head NW to the summit of Carn Ban Mor (Munro Top), before we continued NNE towards Sgor Gaoith in a strengthening westerly wind.  Approaching Sgor Gaoith from this direction, it just looked like a small lump in the moorland but as we got closer it revealed it's true nature and we were rewarded with excellent views of it's craggy eastern side above Loch Einich.

Heading up the southern slopes of Sgor Gaoith
The impressive craggy arete on the east side of Sgor Gaoith
Looking across the head of Loch Einich towards Carn na Criche and Monadh Mor
Shortly before midday, we reached the very windy summit of Sgor Gaoith (Munro, Marilyn), which I didn't dare stand up on as it is perched above the precipice of the east face and there was a pretty strong westerly wind today!  Therefore I briefly sat on the summit instead to avoid being blown over, whilst admiring the truely fantastic views out over the main Cairngorm hills to the east and over the Moine Mhor towards our next hills of the day: Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain.

On the summit of Sgor Gaoith
Carn na Criche and Loch Einich from Sgor Gaoith
Gleann Einich, Braeriach and Loch Einich
Looking NNW from Sgor Gaoith
We retraced our steps southwards towards Carn Ban Mor in strong winds, before heading SE after a kilometre and a half aiming for a faint track we could pick out traversing the northern slopes of Tom Dubh.  We could pick out a handful of people in the distance across the Moine Mhor, who looked to be heading in a variety of directions towards Braeriach, Cairn Toul and Monadh Mor.  In fact seeing these people in the distance helped demonstrate the huge scale of the Moine Mhor, or Great Moss.  It was a fantastic day to out on the hills :-)

Heading back down the south ridge of Sgor Gaoith
At around 13:20, we stopped for lunch in the small amount of shelter afforded by a cairn on the northern slopes of Tom Dubh.  I nipped off to the south to visit a couple of cairns on the summit of Tom Dubh (Munro Top), before returning to our slightly sheltered spot for lunch.  From here we could pick out what looked to be a sensible looking route onwards to our next objective: Monadh Mor.

One of the several cairns on Tom Dubh, with Carn na Criche, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Carn Toul beyond
We descended slightly to reach the partially snow covered Allt Luineag, which looked to be surprisingly full today - I presume due to the ongoing melting of the large number of snow patches still remaining high up in the hills.  To cross this without getting cold, wet feet necessitated a detour of a few hundred metres upstream to where the burn was braided into two separate channels.

The Allt Luineag
Once safely across the Allt Luineag, we picked a route in a more or less south-easterly direction up Monadh Mor, following a burn for some of the first kilometre.  As we ascended the ground became more bouldery, which necessitated a slow down in our pace due to the combination of the rocky ground and today's strong winds.  Nevertheless, we eventually reached the cairn on the summit of Monadh Mor (Munro, HuMP) at around 3pm, where we stopped for a short while to admire the truly fantastic views!

Monadh Mor summit cairn, with Beinn Bhrotain beyond
Carn na Criche, Braeriach, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Carn Toul from Monadh Mor summit
On the summit of Monadh Mor
Not wanting to linger too long on the exposed summit, we soon continued towards our final hill of the day: Beinn Bhrotain.  There were a fair number of snow patches still on the southern ridge of Monadh Mor, but we were able to easily avoid them all as we skirted the southern top to reach the top of the steep descent down to the 975m unnamed bealach.

Traversing the very windy southern slopes of Monadh Mor (hence the tilted camera angle!)
Beinn Bhrotain from the SSE slopes of Monadh Mor
Looking across the 975m bealach to the steep climb ahead up Beinn Bhrotain
Snow on the eastern slopes of Monadh Mor
From the bealach there was a good view across to Beinn Bhrotain, where we could pick out a path up the first half of the ascent before it looked to become bouldery again.  Picking our way carefully down the steep slope we reached the 975m bealach, where we stopped for a quick break in this marginally more sheltered spot!  Continuing on, we ascended up the steep slopes on the eastern side of the bealach to reach the trigpoint on the 
the summit of Beinn Bhrotain (Munro, Marilyn) at 4:15pm.

The summit of Beinn Bhrotain
On the summit of Beinn Bhrotain
Carn na Criche to Ben Macdui from Beinn Bhrotain summit
Again the views were excellent from this vantage point, which was actually my highest point on my route for this year's TGO Challenge.  I'm not sure I've ever had quite such expansive views when out walking in the Cairngorms before!  My original plan had been to follow the SSE shoulder of Beinn Bhrotain down towards the Munro Top of Carn Cloich-mhuilinn.  However as it appeared that the wind had noticeably strengthened throughout the afternoon, Sue and I were both keen to get out off the wind as soon as possible.  Therefore instead we opted to descend eastwards along the pleasant clear waters of the Allt Garbh.

The lovely clear waters of the Allt Garbh
Looking across Glen Dee to Sgor Mor
After much walking down through pathless heather we finally reached the floor of Glen Dee, and as it was now almost 6pm we started to look for somewhere to camp.  We didn't have to look far as we found a pleasant spot to camp in Glen Dee a short distance to the south of the Allt Garbh.  It had been a long day in the hills, but easily one of the best hill-walking days I've had this year :-).

During the early evening, the sky clouded over and there was light rain whilst I was cooked my dinner in the porch.  I must have been tired that evening, as after eating dinner I managed to fall asleep without zipping up the inner tent!  Not to worry, there'd be plenty of time for rest over the next couple of days as I only had half-day walks planned in and out of Braemar.

Our pitch for the evening in Glen Dee

Monday 29 September 2014

Autumn Colours at Dunham Massey

Sunday 28th September 2014 

Here's a couple of photos from this morning's trip to the wonderful gardens at Dunham Massey, showing that Autumn is now well and truly here!

Sunday 28 September 2014

An Afternoon Walk up Thack Moor

Friday 26th September 2014 

An afternoon walk in the North Pennines up England's shortest 2000ft peak 

Distance: 8km; Ascent: 390m; Dry, sunny and windy; Solo

After my lunchtime walk up Cold Fell earlier, I drove around the western side of the Pennines to reach the village of Renwick, where I parked on the road near the church.  I set off walking again at around twenty past three this afternoon, and headed up the steep little minor road towards Outhwaite.

Trees on way up from Renwick
A few hundred metres up the road, where the road takes a sharp right, I continued straight on along a reasonable stony vehicle track heading straight for Thack Moor, with good views SE towards Melmerby Fell.  The track allowed me to reach an altitude of around 500m pretty quickly, where the track ended.  From here a faint path led onwards up the steep grassy slopes to reach the moorland ridge above.

Track heading for Thack Moor
Melmerby Fell from southern slopes of Thack Moor
At twenty past four, around an hour after I set off walking, I reached the the trigpoint on summit of Thack Moor (Nuttall), where it was quite cold and exposed to the still bitter wind.  I nipped over the wall to visit the true summit of the hill, which is an unmarked area of grass on the north side of the wall.

Thack Moor trigpoint
Grassy summit of Thack Moor
On this side of the wall I was able to shelter from the wind and hence stopped for a short break to admire the excellent expansive views out over the North Pennines and the Lake District, although the sky was pretty hazy in the direction of the latter so it was hard to pick much out.  I also spotted what looked like a wooden nesting box in the base of the wall, which seemed like a strange spot for it - I wondered what it was for?

Nesting box? on Thack Moor
Returning to the southern side of the wall, I headed SE along the wall with excellent views towards Watch Hill and Black Fell.  The ridge onwards over these moorland hills looked quite enticing this afternoon, but it would have to wait for another day as it was now late in the afternoon and I doubted there would be enough daylight to complete the circuit!  Plus I'd already arranged to give Andrew a lift from Penrith down to Stockport.

Black Fell from Thack Moor
Watch Hill & Black Hill
I followed a fence SSE down the slopes of Renwick Fell to pick up a wet and muddy footpath, which gradually improved as it headed SW back towards Renwick.  Around two kilometres after joining this path, I rejoined my outward route and retraced my steps back towards Renwick.  I arrived back at the car at around half past five, a little over two hours after I left it and headed for Penrith station to pick Andrew up.  It had been a pleasant day's walking in the North Pennines, and I now had only 12 English 2000ft peaks left to climb!

Black Fell

Saturday 27 September 2014

A Lunchtime Ascent of Cold Fell

Friday 26th September 2014 

A short circular walk up the most northerly 2000ft peak in the Pennines 

Distance: 9km; Ascent: 430m; Dry, sunny and windy; Solo

I had booked the day off work today, with the intention of going out hill-walking so I was quite pleased to discover that the weather wasn't forecast to be too bad :-)  I therefore decided to return to the North Pennines for the day to climb another couple of my outstanding 2000ft peaks in that area.  This entailed a drive north up the M6, stopping at Tebay for coffee and a Cumberland sausage roll, to reach the RSPB's Geltsdale car park at Clesketts, from where I set off walking at around quarter to midday.

The track up through the bracken above Howgill Beck
It was warm and sunny as I headed along the vehicle track towards the hills, and I soon reached Howgill from where the ascent proper began.  A grassy track aided my progress up the bracken covered slopes of the NE side of the Howgill Beck valley, past the RSPB's Bruthwaite viewpoint and on towards the moorland above.

Ruined building above the Howgill Beck valley
The track became fainter and wetter as I ascended further, and soon I reached a broad col to the north of Cold Fell itself.  From here I headed up the slopes to the south, whilst trying to avoid the worst of the peat hags!  At 1pm I reached the the trigpoint on summit of Cold Fell (Nuttall, Marilyn), where it was lovely and sunny but quite cold in the biting wind.

Summit of Cold Fell
I stopped for lunch in the windshelter, whilst admiring the expansive views out over the northern Pennines, Northumberland and southern Scotland.  I could also make out the Lakeland Fells to the SW, but they were quite hazy in the September sunshine.

Currick on Tindale Fell
After ten or fifteen minutes on the summit, I decided that I'd better get a move on as I still had a second walk planned for today, up Thack Moor to the south of here.  To vary my route I decided to head to the prominent tall currick on Tindale Fell that's pretty much due north from Cold Fell.  From here I began to descend steeply northwards, with excellent views down to Tindale Tarn and on over Hadrian's Wall country.

Looking down to Tindale Tarn
Tindale Tarn from the northern slopes of Tindale Fell
After a steep descent, in places through tall grass and bracken, I reached the valley floor at a vehicle track junction near the SW corner of Tindale Tarn.  A short ascent NW along the track lead to Thorn and then back to the car at Clesketts, where I arrived shortly after half past two after a pleasant few hours walking.

Thursday 4 September 2014

A Week on Holiday in Northumberland

Saturday 23rd to Saturday 30th August 2014

Last week we had an excellent family holiday in northern Northumberland visiting beaches, coast, castles and hills.  Here are a few photos:

Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh Castle
Inside Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh Castle and some of the Farne Islands
Flodden Field
Some of the ramparts and walls in Berwick
More of the ramparts and walls in Berwick
Peacock butterfly in Cragside gardens
The Cheviot from Ros Castle
Seahouses harbour
Lindisfarne Priory
Lindisfarne Castle
Lindisfarne Causeway
Bamburgh beach
Bamburgh beach