Lochnagar circuit

Lochnagar and neighbours, 28 April 2019

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. A day hiking a circuit of the 5 Munros above Loch Muick, including Lochnagar. Steven Fallon was leading.

Lochnagar and neighbours

The Munros surrounding Loch Muick make for a fabulous circular day's hike. With the walking being predominantly on grassy terrain and little re-ascent between the summits, this route also makes for a fine introduction to multi-Munro bagging.

Today's group met at the car-park by Spittal of Glen Muick and sorted gear. I noticed that the car-park charge has gone up to £4, but it's worth it when you consider the facilities and the constant path maintenance around here. We gathered at the Ranger Centre for discussion of the route - I guess I tend to hike this circuit in an anti-clockwise direction, aiming for Lochnagar first - however, at the day's start cloud lurked on the higher peaks and as it was forecast to lift later on and the main highlight of the route is the spectacle of Lochnagar, we opted to do the route in reserve, leaving Lochnagar for the last peak of the day.

Off we went, heading westwards along the fine estate track. 3km in and we reached the bridge over Black Burn - decision time - would we hike along the shore of Loch Muick, or start gaining height ? We opted for the latter as cloud was beginning to lift and there was little wind. It's a steep slog beyond the bridge, but it's short and quickly everyone was up onto the high flat ground taking in the views as we headed onwards. We reached the stable above Coire Chash, time for a wee break !

Broad Cairn next, taking a direct route over the boulders rather than searching for the by-pass path, we were on the summit in no-time. It wasn't even midday yet, so a short pause for some views and photo-posing before continuing. We had a little navigation practice with the map and compass, setting up a bearing for Cairn Bannoch and checking timings (there seems to be a bit of chat about Naismith's rule in the press just now).

Cairn Bannoch's summit reached ("Wow, that was quick" came one comment !) and I thought we'd push on, aiming to get a proper stop for lunch-stop on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor.

On the way up Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, we met a chap who'd lost his little Border Terrier called Ledi - I hope he's now been found ! Higher up, there was a bit of debate about which of the two cairns indicated the true summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, we of course touched both and settled around the northern cairn for lunch after a brief visit to some plane wreckage a few paces away.

After leaving Carn an t-Sagairt Mor it was down to the col below Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach, meeting hares, ptarmigan and more wreckage on the way. We crossed the burn at the col, refilling water-bottles, then began our penultimate uphill hike of the day. With only 150m of ascent on delightful grassy covered slopes, we were again quickly on the summit of another Munro, Carn a'Choire Bhoidheach. Although the sun was still out, skies had clouded over a bit and weather to the west looked a tad threatening. We therefore didn't hang around for long - Lochnagar next !

So far today, we'd only met the occasional other person or two, but as we approached the crests of Lochnagar, we were beginning to meet quite a few more folk. I'm guessing Lochnagar on it's own is quite popular. The cliffs came into view, making for some more photo-posing against magnificent and dramatic backdrops. A little easy scramble saw us on the summit tor of Carn Cac Beag and time for a well-earned stop.

We stayed on the summit for half an hour or so, then began to head off, following the tops of the cliffs. A pair of snow-bunting caught our attention, calling out as they perched on some slabs just below us. Descending, the two Davids detoured up Meikle Pap, while the rest of us visited the small memorial stone. Back onto estate tracks, we returned through a delightful scots-pine forest, the ground covered in sprouting blaeberry leaves.

A great day out with a great group !

More photos by Steven Fallon are here on Flickr.

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