Lochnagar Raid

A blog of our mountain adventures in Scotland, hiking, biking, rock-scrambling and more !

Lochnagar Raid

22 September 2018
A day hiking to Lochngar and around Loch Muick. Steven was leading....

Around Loch Muick in the eastern Cairngorms, there are 5 Munros including mighty Lochnagar. Most people bag these Munros across 2 or 3 days, approaching from Spittal of Glen Muick, Glen Callater or even the Angus Glens to the south. However, if you're fit and determined, it's perfectly possible to bag all 5 in one day !

And such a fit and determined group I had the pleasure of leading today !

We were going to begin and end our day at Spittal of Glen Muick and with around 30km to hike, an early start was needed. 8am and only 2 of the group had turned up. There's no phone reception in Glen Muick, but we knew from the Whatsapp chat that the others were car-sharing and must be on there way. 8:30am and a car promptly zoomed into the car-park - the rest of the group arrived. Setting of early in plenty of time to get here, the host of their accommodation had pointed them in the direction of Spittal of Glenshee - that must have been some driving to get here :0)

Gear sorted and now relaxed, we had a quick brief of the day at the Ranger Centre, then started our hike, aiming for a anti-clockwise route above Loch Muick. Cloud shrouded the higher peaks, but weather looked promising. We got into our stride, and quite quickly we were up to the high point on the Glen Muick-Glen Gelder track - no takers for the short detour to bag the Corbett Conachcraig ! Leaving the track behind, we carried on uphill on the recently improved path heading to the col between Meikle Pap and Cuidhe Crom, a short break by the memorial cairn was had to take in some views and refreshment before heading into the wind. As we gained height, the magnificent sight of Lochnagar's cliffs and coire gradually came into sight. We kept to the faint path hugging the edge of the cliffs allowing us to get close (but not too close) to the drama. There was a hint of snow lining some of the spurs. Up to the large cairn on Cac Carn Mor (picking up some litter on the way), then onto Lochnagar's main summit, Cac Carn Beag - it was around 11am, so time for an early lunch. The views were clear and distant - to the north-west, Ben Avon and Beinn a'Bhuiridh's summit crests had a thick covering of snow.

Lochnagar was beginning to get busy (ok, maybe another 10 people were arriving in drips and drabs), so time to head off and bag some more Munros. Over to the grassy lump of Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach today was a relatively straightforward hike (it can be troublesome if mist is down as there is no path to follow to the summit), followed by a descent to the burns and rusty fence-posts below Carn an t-Saigairt Mor. We took a bearing and aimed directly for the summit of this Munro, whereas we could see people to the north of us taking the dog-leg following the fenceline. Quickly we were by the cairn on the top, with some of us making the short detour north-west to a smaller cairn and the remains of the plane wreckage. Carn an t-Saigairt Mor is a rounded hill, exposed to the wind in all directions, making finding a sheltered spot for a break quite tricky. But we did find such a spot on the descent south-east, just off the faint path and stopped for our second lunch.

The hike over to Cairn Bannoch was quite relaxed, the breeze now on our backs and the terrain grassy up a gentle incline. To Broad Cairn was much the same, with the last 100 metres or so up some boulderfield. The descent east from this summit on more boulderfield with large blocks can be quite testing on the joints, and from a recent visit to Tolmount and Tom Buidhe to the south, I could see there was a heathery line which cuts through this - so while the rest of the group chatted and took in the views from the summit, I went in search. Really chuffed, I found it, it's nothing like what the OS suggests on their maps. This is the route we would be taking. I headed back to the summit and rejoined the group, taking a few photos, all 5 Munros now in the bag !

We took the new by-pass avoiding most of the boulderfield and we were soon on the much improved path down to the stable above Coire Chash. We had a choice - directly down and along the lochside, or stay high for more views in the sun - the group went for the former and downhill on the path we spread out. Back at Spittal of Glenmuick, it had taken bang on 9 hours - a good effort !

A great day with good company !

More photos by Steven are here on Flickr.

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