The web site, Caledonia Hilltreks details my ascents of the Munros, Corbetts, Grahams and New Donalds all of which are above 2000 feet. This blog will contain an account of my ascents of the hills below this height as and when they are climbed.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Steele's Knowe, Perthshire. - Region 26.

Steele's Knowe
Steele’s Knowe, Perthshire.
Height – 485 metres. OS Landranger 58.

Climbed - 28 March 2010. Time taken – 2 hours.
Distance – 7 kilometres. Height climbed – 280 metres.
Trip Report Details:

I decided to climb this Ochil, Sub 2000 foot, Scottish Marilyn from the north, accessing the hill from Glen Coull. This glen was reached along a single track road from the village of Auchterarder. On driving along this road the damage caused by the recent snowfalls was evident with lots of branches snapped off from the trees. The public road ended at Coulshill Farm where parking was at a premium.

Once I found a suitable place to leave my car, I headed south-east along a track on the south-west side of the Coul Burn, a Right of Way to Glen Devon. On reaching Hodyclach Burn the route followed its east bank, southwards, gradually climbing the grassy hillside where sheep were grazing. Higher up the path wasn’t as obvious and in poor conditions might be difficult to follow. The col between Green Law and the 474 Knoll was reached where there was a gate in the fence. However I had decided to leave the Right of Way at this point and follow the wall to the knoll. An All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) track running alongside the wall made for an easy ascent.

There was a wind turbine close to the knoll but this wasn’t a surprise as I had viewed a map on-line showing this wind farm and I had seen several of the turbines during my ascent. The rest of the turbines were visible as they stretched towards the summit of Steele’s Knowe, although, despite the strong wind, some weren’t working. Away from these ugly grey monsters I had a view south to the River Forth and across Glen Devon to Innerdownie, a New Donald, I had climbed earlier in the year.

The ATV track now headed west along the side of a fence so I followed it rather than the wide track linking the wind turbines. However at the col, south-east of Steele’s Knowe, I crossed the fence and followed the turbine track to a ‘T’ junction where to my surprise I found a notice that CCTV surveillance was in operation. Well I don’t mind them in town centres but near the summit of a hill was a bit over the top. It must be the first time I have been recorded climbing a hill. From the track I headed to a large mast before a faint path led to Steele’s Knowe’s trig point. Here there were views down to Auchterarder and across to the Perthshire Hills.

Despite the strong cold wind there was enough shelter behind the trig point for a snack and cup of coffee. Afterwards I made a direct descent towards Coulshill Farm, initially on another ATV track, then over grass with some reeds and wet ground, which I tried to avoid. Lower down there were a couple of fences to clamber over before reaching the public road beside the farm.

Photos taken on walk.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Meall Gainmheich, Trossachs. - Region 1C

Meall Gainmheich

Meall Gainmheich, Trossachs.
Height – 564 metres. Map – OS Landranger 57.
Climbed - 21 March 2010. Time taken – 3.25 hours.
Distance – 7.5 kilometres. Height climbed – 620 metres.
Trip Report Details:

The forecast was for some rain and low cloud during the afternoon so I decided to climb this Sub 2000 Scottish Marilyn and get off the hill by lunchtime.

I drove along the A821 Kilmahog to Aberfoyle Road as far as the west end of Loch Achray where there was a large car park marked Ben A’an. I left my vehicle here, crossed the main road, and headed uphill through the forest on a fairly steep well worn path which later followed the west bank of the Allt Inneir. The path later crossed this stream, via a footbridge, and higher up the gradient eased. It was here that I felt the first few spots of rain and on reaching a clearing in the forest I saw that the tops of the hills were covered in cloud.

The path later emerged from the trees and again the gradient increased as I climbed towards a large rock, which tourists consider to be the summit of Ben A’an. There were a few folks making there way up this path and a couple descending, having tried to catch the sunrise on camera. I climbed onto this rock where I had views down to Lochs Achray and Katrine although it was still cloudy higher up.

I left the tourists to their rocky perch and returned along the path for a short distance before following a trail, which I had noted earlier. However this path didn’t last and soon disappeared in the long heather as I approached an old deer fence. I was heading for the South-East Top of Ben A’an but on closing in on this knoll the cloud base was high enough to allow me to make a direct ascent to its true summit, which was marked by a few stones.

I spotted a few deer hinds as I descended from Ben A’an and headed for my next hill, Meall Reamhar. I could see my target hill, Meall Gainmheich, although it became briefly engulfed in cloud. On approaching a fence I saw a chap to my left who was also heading towards Meall Reamhar. The ascent was quite steep through some long heather and a few rocks but by the time I reached the summit cairn the other walker was en-route for Meall Gainmheich.

On Meall Reamhar I found some shelter from a cold wind for a coffee break and to put on my Cioch jacket as there was still the occasional spots of rain. After my break I descended to another fence which I crossed as the chap I had seen earlier was departing Meall Gainmheich. I climbed onto the north-west ridge of Meall Gainmheich where another fence led to the summit, which was just off the fence line and could be any of a few pointed rocks.

The return was direct to the east side of the summit of Ben A’an which I traversed round. The old deer fence was reached before I cut across to rejoin the Ben A’an tourist path which I followed back to the start passing several family groups on their way up and down the hill. The car park which only had a couple of cars in it when I left was now full.

Photos taken on walk.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Brimmond Hill, City of Aberdeen. - Region 21B

Brimmond Hill

Brimmond Hill, City of Aberdeen.
Height – 266 meters. Map - OS Landranger 38.
Climbed – 16 March 2010. Time taken – 45 minutes.
Distance – 2.75 kilometres. Height climbed – 110 metres.
Trip Report Details:

I have run over this hill on a few occasions but only recently became aware that Brimmond Hill was a Marilyn. My running route covered the south and west side of this hill so I wanted a different walking approach. I therefore drove to the fairly large car park on the Bankhead to Clinterty Road, which is within the boundaries of the City of Aberdeen. (Grid Ref. NJ8602810138) This was less than 4 miles from my home and took me around fifteen minutes to drive there so it has to be my nearest Sub 2000 Hill and Marilyn.

On leaving the car park I passed through a gate and followed a tarred road uphill. The start was rather disgusting as it is obviously used as a dog’s toilet. When I wasn’t looking where I was placing my feet I had views of Bennachie and Cairn William, fellow Marilyns, and Aberdeen Airport.

Higher up a stile, at the side of another gate, was crossed before I followed the path to the right which led through some gorse bushes to the summit of Brimmond Hill where there were a few radio masts and ancillary equipment. There was also a trig point and large cairn from where I could see Westhill, Kingswells, a large part of Aberdeen and beyond to the North Sea. Nearby there was also a direction indicator which was classed as a war memorial.

After spending a few minutes taking in the views I followed the road back to the car park.

Photos taken on walk.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Mount Eagle, Black Isle. - Region 15B

Mount Eagle

Mount Eagle, Black Isle.
Height – 256 metres. Map – OS Landranger 21.
Climbed - 14 March 2010. Time taken – 1.25 hours.
Distance – 4 kilometres. Height climbed – 60 metres.
Trip Report Details:

Once again the weather didn’t appear very promising and in any case I was looking for a short walk as I wanted to watch the Half Marathon in Inverness, which started at 1pm. The Sub 2000 foot hill, Mount Eagle, on the Black Isle, just north of Inverness, was very short but at least it wasn’t far to travel and I would be back in ample time for the road race.

The unclassified Munlochy to Culbokie Road passed the VHF transmitter mast which is visible from miles around making it relatively easy to find the start. Parking beside the mast was a slight problem due to on going forestry work but I managed to put my car up on the verge.

I set off east along a forest track which is also part of a cycle route and soon found the track to be covered in snow, which was a bit of a surprise as the previous day I encountered very little snow on nearby higher hills.

At a junction of tracks I took a left and passed through an avenue of tall trees. This track was also covered in snow but fortunately it was quite wet as I had left my microspikes in Inverness. At the next junction I followed some bootprints which took me to a clearing. Here some new saplings had been planted and surrounded the trig point although at the time of this ascent gaining access to the summit wasn’t a problem. Things may change once these trees grow.

The only view I had was of a cloudy Ben Wyvis so I returned to my final track junction where I walked west down another forest track. At a bend in this track, according to my map, there was supposed to be a path which would lead me back to the start. It no longer existed so I had to wander through the forest, avoiding lots of wet ground, some fallen trees and snow patches. Eventually I reached the track I had set off along and walked the short distance back to my car.

Photos taken on walk.

Sgurr Marcasaidh and Creag Loch nan Dearcag, Strathconon. - Region 12A.


Sgurr Marcasaidh and Creag Loch nan Dearcag.
Height - 580/537 metres. Map – OS Landranger 21.
Climbed - 13 March 2010. Time taken – 6.5 hours.
Distance – 16 kilometres. Height climbed 920 metres.

Trip Report Details:

My initial plan was to go across to Kintail and climb the Munro, A’Ghlas-bheinn. However the weather forecast wasn’t very favourable in respect of the west coast so I decided to stay closer to Inverness, where I was staying, and head for Strathconon. The Sub 2000 foot hill, Sgurr Marcasaidh looked a strong contender depending on the snow cover. I was aware that another Sub 2000 foot hill, Creag Loch nan Dearcag could have been included but dismissed this idea due to the recent snow fall.

I drove to Marybank on the A832 then up Strathconon and was immediately confronted by signs relative to a wind farm construction at Fairburn. I have always considered Strathconon to be a beautiful glen, comparable to Glen Affric, except for the electric pylons, but with fewer tourists. However in my opinion the approach route to this glen has been permanently ruined by the construction of these monstrosities. My own fear is that in time the whole of Scotland will be ruined by wind farms and massive pylons.

Well that’s the rant over with for now so back to the trip report. I passed the access road leading to the wind farm then arrived at the dam at the east end of Loch Meig. I drove across the dam and back along the north side of the River Meig to Lower Scatwell. Just beyond this hamlet a private road lead to Glenmarksie and I parked on a grass area beyond the private road sign.

I walked up this vehicle track, which was tarred beyond the bridge over the Allt a’Ghlinne, to Glenmarksie, which was occupied. I never saw anyone as I walked passed the house and through an open gate which led to the vehicle track along Gleann Marcasaidh. This track is not shown on my old OS Map nor on my version of Memory Map. Just beyond Glenmarksie I heard lots of croaking and saw numerous frogs rushing about and disappearing into the water filled ditch at the side of the track. On closer inspection I noted that the ditch was covered in spawn so at least the frogs think it is Spring.

The track passed through a small area of forest and at the first burn on the right I decided to leave this track and head uphill following deer tracks. These animal paths, although at times wet and boggy, were better than walking over the heather. Initially they led me to a small knoll before a more direct and steeper ascent. On this climb I was watched by a deer perched on a rock high up on the hillside. On reaching the east ridge of Sgurr Marcasaidh I crossed a couple of knolls to gain the summit trig point.

It was quite windy here and I encountered another short lived light shower but still managed to find a bit of shelter for a coffee and to contemplate my next move. It had taken me less than two hours to reach this top and I had encountered very little snow. The weather wasn’t bad so I decided to add Creag Loch nan Dearcag to this outing.
I had hoped that the cloud would clear a bit so that I could get some photos but that didn’t happen so I descended towards Loch a’Bhealaich and then to the west end of Loch a’Chairn Duibh, avoiding some rocks as I did so. I crossed an all terrain vehicle track before reaching a deer fence, which I had spotted on my descent. However there didn’t appear to be any reasonable way of avoiding this hazard so I followed this fence to the south-west end of the loch before clambering over it.

On the other side of this fence the vegetation was longer and harder to cross as the deer had been excluded but the snow had at least flattened some of it and there were several areas of small trees that I had to walk round or pass through. Eventually I reached the top end of this area and re-crossed the deer fence, there being no gates that I could see. I climbed onto the north-west ridge of Creag Loch nan Dearcag where I disturbed a few hinds. It was then an easy walk to the summit cairn where once again it was windy and I encountered another rain shower. I found a bit of shelter, this time for lunch, and on finishing my snack the cloud had cleared a bit so I had some views of the Fannaichs and Strathconon Corbetts.

The descent was down the contorted east ridge with a few knolls to clamber over. Just before Loch na Sgarbh the ridge split and I took the northerly one as it didn’t appear possible to head south to the River Meig. My route took me towards the edge of the forest where I saw more deer, some of them disappeared into the trees. This was a mature forest with no obvious fire break so I followed the deer fence to the Allt a’Ghlinne which was a bit high due to snow melt. A break in the fence allowed me to enter the forest and follow the south bank of the river, as had the deer, although this involved clambering over some fallen trees. I came to a dam where some of the water was being pumped away and continued along the south bank of this stream until the road bridge leading to Glenmarksie. I then followed the vehicle track back to my car.

Photos taken on walk.