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.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Torlum, Crieff.

Torlum

Torlum, Crieff. Section 1B
Height – 393 metres. Map – OS Landranger 57.
Climbed - 18 December 2011. Time taken – 1.75 hours.
Distance – 5 kilometres. Ascent – 305 metres.
Trip Report Details:


Earlier in the day I climbed Ben Clach so it was only a short drive east, along some frosty and icy side roads, to the start of the Sub 2000 Marilyn, Torlum. I left my car in the bellmouth of the forest track directly opposite a cottage located north of the road leading to The Balloch. It may have been possible to commence the ascent from opposite the road to The Balloch but I never checked to ascertain if there were any suitable parking facilities here.

I entered Torlum Wood and almost immediately took a left turn along another forest track passing an unusually styled picnic table. Its location at the side of the track, which seemed infrequently used, appeared rather odd to me. Further on I joined the track from the alternative starting point and here there were signs for forest operations, although none mentioned no access. I followed this track as it gradually climbed through the forest with piles of cut timber at the side. It looked like they were thinning the trees rather than clearing areas of the forest.

A large metal deer gate was reached but the track beyond wasn’t shown on my map so I continued along the mapped track which made a slight descent and led to another junction where I took the left fork. The tracks here were a bit churned up but I could now see the hillside ahead so I followed an old track along the edge of the forest. When this came to an end I was confronted by a steep climb through dead bracken, which was rather hard work. I was aware from reading a report on Scottish Hills that there was a path leading to the top but I was close to the summit before I located and followed it to the summit trig point.

I had my lunch sheltering behind the trig point from a cool breeze. Afterwards I followed the path back down the hill and into the forest. Here I was confronted by several fallen trees which blocked the route. I heard the barking of roe deer but couldn’t see them for the low sun. A large metal gate in the deer fence was reached and passed through before I continued along the track, which took me to the metal gate mentioned on the ascent. I then returned to my car by the upward route.

Photos taken on walk.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Ben Clach, Comrie.

Ben Clach

Ben Clach, Comrie. Section 1B.
Height - 533 metres. Map – OS Landranger 57.
Climbed - 18 December 2011. Time taken – 2.25 hours.
Distance – 6 kilometres. Ascent – 310 metres.
Trip Report Details:


Several times I’ve thought about climbing Ben Clach but was put off because it was used by the military. However I read recently they were only there infrequently and as it was a Sunday I thought it might be okay.

 The B827 Braco to Comrie Road was white with frost as I headed to my planned starting point, Tig-na-Blair Farm. There were no red flags flying which was a good start but on reaching the road leading to the farm I couldn’t locate a suitable parking place. I had thought about asking the farmer but read that a walker had upset him so I suspected he might not be pro-walker. I eventually parked my vehicle on the verge about 500 metres to the south of the farm, although I wouldn’t really recommend this location.

Once geared up for a frosty start I walked along the main road before heading up the icy farm road to Tigh-na-Blair, through between the farm buildings and to beyond a cottage. Here the track headed through a gate but I opted to follow an old vehicle track that ran along the north side of an unnamed stream. At a junction of streams I easily forded the burn, crossed a field of rough pasture and headed for a gate I had spotted.

Beyond this gate the ground would normally be boggy but fortunately it was frozen with some snow cover. This made for steady progress but higher up the snow covering the heather was softer and this slowed me down as it wouldn’t hold my weight. The summit area was reached but there was no cairn unless it was concealed under the snow. I wandered around the summit before selecting a clump of heather which I decided was the highest point.

There were good views of the snow covered Ben Vorlich, Stuc a’Chroin and adjoining hills. A cold breeze was blowing here but I found a small dip, where I had a quick cuppa while looking towards the Ochils, the Forth Valley, and what I thought was Arthur’s Seat and the Pentland Hills. My return was by the upward route.

Photos taken on walk.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Meall an Tarsaid, Invernessshire.

Meall an Tarsaid

Meall an Tarsaid, Stratherrick, Inverness-shire. Section 9B.
Height – 492 metres. Map – OS Landranger 34.
Climbed - 11 December 2011. Time taken – 1.25 hours.
Distance – 2.25 kilometres. Ascent – 210 metres.
Trip Report Details:


The Sub 2000 Marilyn, Meall an Tarsaid is located to the south of the hamlet of Whitebridge and east of the B862, the main route to the east of Loch Ness. Examining the map I couldn’t see an obvious ascent route so I drove along the unclassified road to the west of Meall an Tarsaid and as far as the road end at Ardochy. However I failed to locate a suitable route, mainly due to a new deer fence which had been constructed along the east side of this road.

My next option was the road to Garragie, to the north of Meall an Tarsaid. Here again a new deer fence had been constructed but just before the end of the woods and the Allt Glaic Breabaig I spotted a gate in the deer fence and decided to use it to access the hill.

I parked at the edge of a nearby passing place and on returning to the gate found the surrounding ground to be wet and marshy. There was a wicket gate at the side which I used before following traces of a marshy vehicle track through the birch woods. These tracks soon led to open ground and to a small transmission line which probably fed electricity the houses in the glen. The tracks and marshy ground ended here to be replaced by long heather and a few boulders.

There were a few crags ahead so I aimed for the obvious gully to the south of the summit. This ascent was quite steep with a few snow patches but once up the gully I headed over to the summit cairn with views of the snow covered Monadhliath Mountains. Although this was supposedly Meall an Tarsaid’s highest point the knoll to the north looked higher so I strolled over there. However I still couldn’t decide. I found shelter from a cold breeze behind the cairn for lunch while looking down on Whitebridge and towards Glen Albyn. The return was by the ascent route.

I later ascertained that until a few years ago the north top was the highest point but the south top is now decreed to be the summit.

Photos taken on walk.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Beinn a'Bhacaidh, Glen Albyn.

Beinn a'Bhacaidh

Beinn a’Bhacaidh, Glen Albyn. Section 9B.
Height - 555 metres. Map  – OS Landranger 34.
Climbed - 11 December 2011. Time taken - 3 hours.
Distance – 5.5 kilometres. Ascent – 390 metres.
Trip Report Details:


I travelled south on the B862 which is located on the east side of Loch Ness. Once beyond the hamlet of Whitebridge I drove along the tarred road that led to Knockie Lodge. At the south end of Loch Knockie I located the forest track which would take me to the foot of Beinn a’Bhacaidh. There was even space to park a couple of cars.

At the start of the track there was a locked gate with a stile at the side, but it was just as easy to walk round the small section of wooden fencing. The track, which had recently been improved, was followed passed a small hut, to the south end of Loch nan Lann. Here a new deer gate had been installed with a wicket gate at the side. Not far from this point I spotted another deer gate, which was unlocked, with a grassy track beyond. This track was not shown on my map but it headed in my intended direction so I decided to use it to reach Beinn a’Bhacaidh.

The grass was soon replaced by rock and stone as the track headed, steeply in places, up the side of the forest, an old stone dyke and the Allt na Ceardaich. A couple of short sharp barks were heard and I spotted roe deer disappearing into the forest. I was undecided at what point to leave the track as it made for reasonable walking. Red deer spotted me and were off up the hill but I stuck to the track. It passed an old gate in the deer fence and at this point degenerated into bog and became rather intermittent. However I continued the short distance to the bealach before commencing the ascent of Beinn a’Bhacaidh through long heather and some snow patches. There were a few crags to avoid as well as rocks, some of which had a covering of ice.

I had encountered some light rain on the ascent but as I approached the summit the cloud lowered and engulfed me. The summit cairn was located and I found some shelter from a cold wind to await the cloud lifting. Despite spending some time there the cloud did not clear which was disappointing as I think it would have been a good location for views up and down Loch Ness. I took a bearing east and descended over rough ground to rejoin the track then followed the upward route back to the car. On the descent I spotted a couple of feral goats but they ran off as I closed in on them.

Photos taken on walk.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Beinn Lunndaidh, Golspie.

Beinn Lunndaidh

Beinn Lunndaidh, Golspie. Section 16D.
Height  – 446 metres. Map  - OS Landranger 17.
Climbed  - 10 December 2011. Time taken – 5.25 hours.
Distance – 13 kilometres. Ascent - 550 metres.
Trip Report Details:


There was an odd snow flurry as I headed north from Inverness on the A9, which had a slight covering of snow in places. Fortunately I wasn’t using any of the minor roads today as my starting point was the small town of Golspie, where I parked in the free car park in Fountain Road, just off Main Street. I discovered walkers were discriminated against as they were expected to pay. I decided to ignore this request and headed along Fountain Road, passed an ornate fountain, over Back Road and to the unnamed road leading to Rhives Farm, signposted Ben Bharggie. This took me under the railway line and to a pay and display car park, which was empty and rather icy. There were signs for Ben Bhraggie and mountain bike trails so I opted to use these routes rather than pass through the farm.

The mountain bike trails were on a very easy gradient with long zigzags so I regretted not using the route through the farm. I did cut out a few corners but it was a bit awkward due old tree stumps and soft snow.

 My plan was to ascend Beinn Lunndaidh from Loch nan Caorach so once beyond the electric transmission lines I located the forest track and followed it to a junction of tracks. A sign indicated the track round the east side of Ben Bhraggie was closed for timber operations so I remained on the existing track which headed north-west well above the Golspie Burn and Dunrobin Glen. On hindsight I should have just ignored the sign.

I emerged from the forest via a deer gate and entered a small clearing where I crossed a deer fence, using some wooden slats. The forest edge was initially followed before I left it and made my way across snow covered long heather towards the path shown on the map as leading to Loch nan Caorach. I could see the snow covered track running round Ben Bhraggie but I never located the loch path which either no longer existed or was concealed by snow.

Underfoot conditions became a bit more awkward as I headed towards the loch and it appeared easier to be slightly higher. This took me above the east side of Loch nan Caorach and onto the North Top before making the short walk to the trig point on Beinn Lunndaidh. Here there were views of the snow covered surrounding terrain and mountains.

Having read that the direct route between Beinn Lunndaidh and Ben Bhraggie was one of the worst bogs to cross I was a bit apprehensive especially as most of the time the snow and ice wasn’t holding my weight. Although progress was slow and awkward I only sunk into bog on a couple of occasions. On the ascent of Ben Bhraggie a fence was followed before a snow covered, and in places icy, vehicle track was reached and led to the statue of the Duke of Sutherland. I did take a slight diversion to locate what I thought was the hill’s highest point.

There was a telescope beside the statue but due to ice it was of little use on this occasion. I had views of Golspie and across the Moray Firth to Aberdeenshire and Moray. Earlier I saw the Cairngorms which appeared to be in brighter conditions than the high cloud I was experiencing. There was a cold breeze so I obtained shelter behind the statue for lunch before descending steeply through deep snow to locate the path. I followed it to a wooden construction that contained a gate and what appeared to be a mountain bike jump. From there I continued down the path meeting four young local teenagers ascending the hill. The route was followed this time through Rhives Farm and back to the car park in Golspie.

Photos taken on walk.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Hill of the Wangie, Dallas, Moray.

Hill of the Wangie

Hill of the Wangie, Dallas, Moray. Section 9A.
Height  - 319 metres. Map – OS Landranger 28.
Climbed - 2 December 2011. Time taken – 1 hour.
Distance – 3 kilometres. Ascent – 155 metres.
Trip Report Details:


The Sub 2000 Marilyn, Hill of the Wangie, is located south-west of Elgin in Morayshire. I had read that locating the summit was difficult and that some folks spent a considerable time looking for the trig point, as the hill was covered in trees. I had also read on the Scottish Hills forums that ‘foggieclimber’ had ascended the hill last winter, in the snow, and had recorded significant grid references. Prior to setting out for Moray I entered these points into my GPS.

The start of the walk was the B9010, east of the road leading to Tombreck Farm, where I parked on the wide verge on the south side. I crossed the road where a locked gate prevented vehicular access to the forest track. I followed this track the short distance to the clearance where the forum author had climbed through snow covered vegetation to reach the track above. However, due to the dead bracken this route didn’t appeal to me, so I continued along the track. I soon came to a forestry sign indicating that an unofficial mountain bike trail had been closed. I was tempted to explore it but decided to continue to the junction of tracks where I took a right, re-crossed the mountain bike trail, and arrived at the third grid reference.

Here I had no option but climb through the rough ground, which included some old tree stumps, and led to another vehicle track. This point could have been reached by taking a much longer route following forest tracks to the west.

 I was aware of the limitations of my GPS, especially in forests, but knowing the exact distance between the grid references was useful as I paced each section. The firebreak mentioned in the forum was easily located and I made a gradual ascent through this gap loosing the GPS signal as expected.  At the end of the measured distance I turned left and found the second firebreak which was partially obscured by trees.

It wasn’t obvious that I was gaining any height and I could now understand why folks had difficulty locating the trig point. However I continued along the firebreak keeping an eye out for it. I briefly received a GPS signal and I was therefore able to pace the remainder of the distance along the firebreak before I spotted the trig point set amongst the trees.

On reaching the trig point I about turned and re-traced the route back to my car without the need for pacing.

Photos taken on walk.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Brown Muir, Moray.

Brown Muir

Brown Muir, Teindland, Moray. Section 9A.
Height - 339 metres. Map – OS Landranger 28.
Climbed - 2 December 2011. Time taken 1.75 hours.
Distance – 6 kilometres. Ascent – 175 metres.


I was keen to get back out onto the hills as I had nearly three weeks away due to a head cold and some poor weather conditions. Unfortunately the weekend forecast was for more stormy weather. With Friday morning looking promising, at least in the North-East of Scotland, I decided to climb a couple of Sub 2000 Marilyns south of Elgin.

The start for the ascent of Brown Muir was the end of the public, single track, unclassified road at Teindland, reached from the B9123. I parked on the verge at this crossroads, with tracks leading to Teindland Mains, Burnside and Moniemouies Farms.

My ascent of Brown Muir was via the latter farm so I crossed the gate and walked along the track, which was icy in places, to its ruined farm buildings. The information on my Ordnance Survey map was incorrect as the vehicle track continued along the edge of a field and across the moorland. There were at least three gates to cross. The map showed a vehicle track coming up from Humbreck Farm but there was no evidence of it. The only vehicular access to the telecommunication tower, located on the summit of Brown Muir, was by the route I walked.

It was an easy stroll along this track but it was cloudier and windier than I expected. On looking north beyond Lhanbryde and Elgin was the Moray Firth and briefly I saw the snow capped mountains of Sutherland.

The summit area was reached where the trig point had an unusual cover. However apparently the highest point was further south-east so I sought out an area of heather which I thought might be the summit although there was nothing there to confirm this.

 I returned to the telecommunications tower where I managed to get a bit of shelter from the cold wind for a cup of coffee before returning to my car by the upward route.

Photos taken on walk.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Carn na Loine, Grantown.

Carn na Loine

Carn na Loine, Grantown. Section 9A.
Height – 549 metres. Map – OS Landramger 27.
Climbed - 7 November 2011. Time taken – 2 hours.
Distance 7 kilometres. Ascent – 310 metres.
Trip Report Details:


Once again the forecast was for a fine day but unfortunately I had developed a head cold and decided to head home. However I wanted to make use of the sunny weather so en-route back to Aberdeen I planned to climb the Sub 2000 Marilyn, Carn na Loine.

From the B9102 Grantown on Spey to Knockando road I drove along the unclassified single track road to Auchnahannet where I parked on the grass outside the house there. Maybe not the best of locations but the house appeared unoccupied that morning. I then walked up the track, signposted Knock of Auchnahannet, to a junction where I followed the grassy left fork.

I soon reached a gate where there was a sign requesting dogs be kept on leads. Beyond, the grassy track I headed across the hillside on a gentle gradient where sheep were grazing. The gate at the top fence was missing and not long after passing through this gap the track swung round and headed for Tom Mor, where a telecommunication tower was located.

On leaving the track the ground was rather marshy with tussocky vegetation making walking slow and awkward.  Once across this section the ground was drier with long heather and grasses to cross with the odd section of bog. I wandered up the hill trying to find the easiest route, passing several white poles which I presumed were related to the shooting of grouse.

The summit trig point was eventually reached where I had views of the distant Cairngorms, the Knock of Braemoray, which I had climbed earlier this year, and Ben Rinnes. After sitting at the summit for a while I made a more direct descent to the missing gate but underfoot conditions weren’t any easier. I then followed the track, used on the approach, back to my car.

Photos taken on walk.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Breac-Bheinn and Meall Dheirgidh, Strathcarron.

Meall Dheirgidh

Breac-Bheinn, Meall Dheirgidh and An Cabagach (HuMP), Strathcarron. Section 15A.
Height – 462 metres:  506 metres:  421 metres.
Map – OS Landranger 20.
Climbed - 6 November 2011. Time taken – 5.5 hours.
Distance – 14 kilometres. Ascent – 750 metres.
Trip Report Details:

Fine weather was forecasted for the North of Scotland so I decided to head for Starthcarron, reached from the village of Ardgay on the A836, with the intention of climbing the Sub 2000 Marilyns, Breac-Bheinn and Meall Dheirgidh.  I also had in mind the HuMP, An Cabagach, which would give me a circuit of Meall nan Eun and Loch Meall Dheirgidh.
It was a frosty morning as I drove west along the glen on the north side of the River Carron. Just beyond Braelangwell Wood I parked at the side of the road, directly opposite a gate in the deer fence. Once geared up I set off through this unlocked gate and along a wet and overgrown track. The track was slightly drier once away from the road and it later crossed a small stream before reaching the derelict Whale Cottage, where the roof had collapsed although the stairs were still standing.
I was expecting the track to end here but it continued north to a gate in a stock fence and then towards the Allt nan Eun. I followed the track, which was wet in places, as it headed up the glen avoiding some marshy ground close to the stream. When the track began to swing away from Breac-Bheinn and towards the north side of Meall nan Eun, I left it and dropped to the Allt nan Eun, which was easily crossed.

 I made an angled ascent of the south-west side of Breac-Bheinn trying to avoid the worst of the long vegetation. Higher up the gradient eased and I headed over some peat hags to the trig point, which I was aware wasn’t the highest point. Here I had views down Strathcarron to the Dornoch Firth. I then walked over some rough ground to the highest point where I took a break with views of the hills and glens to the north.
After my break I descended west over heathery ground aiming for the col beside the edge of the Birchfield Wood which was surrounded by a deer fence. Initially I followed this fence before making a more direct approach, over some wet ground, to the foot of Meall Dheirgidh’s East Ridge, where     I rejoined the fence which continued up the ridge. It was a steady climb and on arrival at the summit area I saw the cairn on the other side of the fence. I therefore clambered over the fence, visited the cairn and the area which was supposedly the highest point.

I returned to the other side of the fence and descended west then south as I made my way towards the head of the Allt Coire Ruchain gully. A few deer spotted me and quickly disappeared. An easy climb of the north ridge led to the summit area of An Cabagach. Here peat hags had to be worked round before I reached the highest point which appeared to be a clump of heather mixed with mosses. Despite a cool breeze I had lunch here with views of the hills around the Alladale Estate and the distant mountains of Assynt.
After lunch I crossed to the south-east knoll then followed All Terrain vehicle tracks to the house at Sgodachail and a pleasant stroll down the glen back to my car.

Photos taken on walk.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tom Bailgeann, Inverness.

Tom Bailgeann

Tom Bailgeann, Inverness-shire. Section 9B.
Height – 464 metres. Map – OS Landranger 26.
Climbed - 5 November 2011. Time taken – 1.25 hours.
Distance – 2.75 kilometres. Ascent – 220 metres.
Trip Report Details:


Tom Bailgeann was the last of the four hills I intended climbing that day as it would be the easiest with a vehicle track leading to the telecommunications tower on the summit.

The start of this walk was the B862 just south of Loch Duntelchaig where parking was a bit tight on a bend. A locked gate prevents vehicles from proceeding but the ‘Police Sign’ hung on the gate and stating access is restricted is misleading in terms of the Land Reform Scotland Act 2003.

Once beyond the gate I followed the track as it passed below electric transmission lines and wound its way uphill, steeply in places. The track was also quite rough and there were a few daisies in bloom, well that’s what they appeared to be, which I thought unusual for November. As height was gained the track deteriorated and became very wet and boggy. Pieces of wood had been laid to assist progress through these sections as well as another track off to the north making the area a bit of a mess.

I managed to avoid most of the bog and on approaching the telecommunications tower the rain commenced. I reached the summit trig point and sought shelter behind one of the nearby buildings while I ate my lunch. Once the rain had ceased and I had finished eating I strolled over to the west top where I had views of Inverness, Loch Ness and the hills to the west.

The return was by the upward route although I avoided sections of the track by descending through the vegetation.

Photos taken on walk.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Creag nan Clag, Inverness.

Creag nan Clag

Creag nan Clag, Inverness-shire. Section 9B.
Height – 430 metres. Map – OS Landranger 26.
Climbed - 5 November 2011. Time taken – 1 hour.
Distance – 2.5 kilometres. Ascent – 165 metres.
Trip Report Details:


Earlier in the day I was at the east end of Loch Ruthven to climb the Sub 2000 Marilyn, Stac Gorm.  All I required to do to reach the starting point for my next Sub 2000 Marilyn, Creag nan Clag, was to drive to the opposite end of the loch where I parked on some rough ground, below the crags. Here there was a sign for ‘The Trail of the Seven Lochs’.

There was a gully in the rock face directly above me but I opted to follow the marked trail north to a small gate which I passed through.  However I discovered that the path wasn’t going in my intended direction so I left it, walked up through the trees, and crossed a fence. A second fence, which ended on the cliff face, was followed until I approached the rock. It was then a steep climb through knee deep heather and was hard work.

I came to the top of the gully and on inspecting it an ascent by this route would have been difficult, if not impossible. The gradient began to ease and I passed a cairn which obviously wasn’t the summit. A slight dip across marshy ground led to the summit area where I visited several points which I considered to be the top, although in the end I wasn’t sure which one was the highest.

The return was by the ascent route although on reaching the fence I descended directly back to my car.

Photos taken on walk.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Stac Gorm, Inverness.

Stac Gorm

Stac Gorm, Inverness. Section 9B.
Height – 446 metres. Map – OS Landranger 26.
Climbed - 5 November 2011. Time taken – 1.25 hours.
Distance – 2.5 kilometres. Ascent – 210 metres.
Trip Report Details:


After an earlier ascent of the nearby Sub 2000 Marilyn, Stac na Cathaig, it was only a short drive to the Loch Ruthven Nature Reserve at the east end of the loch. Here I planned to leave my vehicle but on arrival discovered the gate had been hung to prevent it opening. I was therefore forced to park on the verge opposite.

I crossed the road and a single strand of barbed wire fencing to reach an area of long grass. A few marks in the grass led to a path which headed towards the large boulder below Stac Gorm. The path was wet and muddy in places but the vegetation soon changed to long heather which partially obscured the path as it wound its way uphill.

The boulder was passed and I continued on my ascent through the heather and onto the north-east ridge of Stac Gorm where I had views down Strath Nairn. A heather and rocky ridge was climbed to reach the cairn on Stac Gorm. A nearby rock appeared slightly higher than the base of the cairn.

After a coffee break taking in the views of Loch Ruthven and the surrounding hills I returned by the ascent route.

Photos taken on walk.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Stac na Cathaig, Inverness.

Stac na Cathaig

Stac na Cathaig, Inverness. Section 9B.
Height – 446 metres. Map – OS Landranger 26.
Climbed - 5 November 2011. Time taken – 1.5 hours.
Distance – 5.5 kilometres. Ascent – 255 metres.
Trip Report Details:


I initially thought of climbing this Sub 2000 Marilyn, located south of Inverness and east of Loch Ness, from the north as it was surrounded by woods on the other sides. However on searching the Scottish Hills web site I discovered a southerly approach which suited my other hill plans. I drove along the narrow single track road on the north side of Loch Ruthven and parked at the entrance to the forest track east of Balvoulin. The gate leading into the forest was locked, apparently due to illegal vehicle use, but there was space at the side for those on foot.

The forest track was followed north with a slight diversion to the idyllic Loch a’Choire and its reflections of the nearby trees and vegetation. It was a beautiful scene and I took several photographs, which can be viewed from the link at the end of this trip report. I dragged myself away from the loch to rejoin the track which came to a junction where I took the right fork.

Here there was another locked gate but as before there was a gap at the side. The track gradually climbed through the forest as I searched for a firebreak to gain access to the open hillside. I eventually located a suitable firebreak which was covered in various grasses, heather and moss but it was relatively easy to walk over, unlike the next section.

Once clear of the forest the ground was rough with a few dips and some sections of wet and tussocky ground.  I spotted a stag and even he found it hard going running off in the awkward terrain.  However as I neared the summit the ground steepened and the walking was easier. The summit cairn was reached with views of the City of Inverness and the surrounding hills.

I visited the South-West Top before returning to my car by the ascent route. There was now a slight breeze so the reflections in the loch had disappeared.

Photos taken on walk.

The Bochel, Glenlivet.

The Bochel

The Bochel, Glenlivet. Section 21A.
Height – 491 metres. Map – OS Landranger 36.
Climbed - 4 November 2011. Time taken – 50 minutes.
Distance – 3 kilometres. Ascent – 200 metres.
Trip Report Details:


The Bochel was the only Sub 2000 Marilyn that I hadn’t climbed in Section 21 of the Relative Hills of Britain list and as I was heading to Inverness I decided to leave early and make a slight diversion to climb this hill.

At Tomintoul I headed for Knockandhu then along the road to Chapeltown of Glenlivet. Just east of the passing place beside the access road to Bochel Farm I managed to get my car off the carriageway.

It was a mild afternoon as I set off on a decline along the tarred road towards Bochel Farm. Once over the Crombie Water the road was quite rough as it climbed out of the dip and towards the farm.  Just before the buildings I followed a right fork and almost immediately turned left up another track, passing a storage shed. This led to a set of gates which were open. Beyond them I passed through a wide gap in the trees and onto the open hillside.

I stayed well east of the trees as the ground was a bit marshy with a several small holes which made for awkward walking.  Higher up the hill was heather clad and the lanky heather slowed me down slightly. However with a bit of effort I was soon at the summit cairn where I had good views of the surrounding countryside, including the Braes of Glenlivet and the Ladder Hills.

After a few minutes at the summit I returned to my car by the ascent route.

Photos taken on walk.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Beinn Domhnaill, Bonar Bridge.

Beinn Domhnaill

Beinn Domhnaill, Achormlarie. Section 16D.
Height - 347 metres. Map – OS Landranger 21.
Climbed - 23 October 2011. Time taken – 2.5 hours.
Distance – 8.5 kilometres. Ascent – 230 metres.
Trip Report Details:


The Sub 2000 Marilyn, Beinn Domhnaill, was located around 3 miles, as the crow flies, from Creag a’Ghobhair, which I had climbed earlier that day. I could have combined them together if the path through the forest surrounding Beinn Domhnaill existed but this would have involved a long walk back to the start. I therefore opted for a northerly approach where I knew a vehicle track ran through the forest.

I parked at the south side of Loch Buidhe, accessed from Bonar Bridge along a single track road, the latter stages of which get no winter maintenance. There was insufficient space to leave my vehicle beside the gate leading to the forest track so I parked around 300 metres further east and walked back along the road.

The large metal gate was locked but a small wicket gate gave access to the vehicle track which was followed below electric transmission lines and into the forest. The track was initially a bit muddy in places as some forestry operations had been taking place. However it was an easy stroll on a gradual gradient as the track led me onto the west ridge of Beinn Domhnaill.

Once I reached a clearance on the east side I left the track and commenced the ascent of Beinn Domhnaill crossing some rough ground and a mixture of vegetation. The summit cairn was reached and once again I had views from the Dornoch Firth up to the hills of Caithness and round towards the mountains of Assynt. I continued further east for better views of the Dornoch Firth and also to find a suitable location for lunch.

After my snack I returned to the south shore of Loch Buidhe by the ascent route.

Photos taken on walk.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Creag a'Ghobhair, Bonar Bridge.

Creag a'Ghobhair

Creag a’Ghobhair, Bonar Bridge. Section 16D.
Height – 346 metres. Map – OS Landranger 21.
Climbed - 23 October 2011. Time taken – 1.75 hours.
Distance – 5.5 kilometres. Ascent – 280 metres.
Trip Report Details:


On this day trip I was planning to climb some of the Marilyns north of Bonar Bridge. The first one on my agenda was Creag a’Ghobhar which I considered ascending from Clashcoig to the west as the only tracks or paths my map showed involved long approach routes from the east. A check on the Scottish Hills web site revealed that a poster had successfully used a vehicle track (not shown on my map) to the south-east of the hamlet of Ardens.

I drove to the start of this vehicle track at NH636927 and parked beside the sheep pens before setting off up the track, which initially ran along the side of the Allt na h-Atha through a field of sheep. A second gate was passed through as the vehicle track headed away from the stream. Improvements had been made to the track and various rodent traps had been set above the drainage channels.

On approaching Loch a’Ghobhair I left the track and crossed Blar Lon Lochan a’Ghobhair, an area of swampy ground. From here I commenced the ascent of Creag a’Ghobhair, over heather clad slopes initially on an easy gradient. The hill-side was a bit steeper as I gained the west ridge but then it was an easy walk to the summit cairn where I had some good views from the mountains in the North-West round to the Dornoch Firth in the east.

The return was by the ascent route.

Photos taken on walk.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Beinn Mhor, Glen Beg.

Beinn Mhor

Beinn Mhor, Glen Beg. Section 9A.
Height – 471 metres. Map – OS Landranger 36.
Climbed - 22 October 2011. Time taken 1.25 hours.
Distance – 5 kilometres. Ascent – 265 metres.
Trip Report Details:


The start of this walk was the end of the public road in Glen Beg, west of Grantown on Spey, where an area of ground was capable of taking several cars. On setting off across the bridge over the Glenbeg Burn, I spoke to a runner who was out for a two hour circular route from his home.

The vehicle track was followed as it gained height before passing Glenbeg Farm. A junction of tracks was reached and I took the left fork, which entered the woods. I quickly came to second junction where on this occasion I went right. This route took me through the forest and to a locked gate in a deer fence. I climbed over this gate and was now on the open hillside.

I continued to follow the track as it swung round and over the east ridge of Beinn Mhor before re-entering the forest. At its high point I left the track and followed a muddy trail towards Beinn Mhor. The trail soon disappeared in the heather as I continued across the grouse moor, disturbing the odd bird. On reaching the summit trig point I had views of Strathspey and Grantown.

I returned across the moorland and on reaching the vehicle track took the south route back into the woods. This took me passed numerous bird feeders before I re-joined the upward route just north of Glenbeg Farm and followed the track back to my car.

Photos taken on walk.

Ord Ban, Aviemore.

Ord Ban
Ord Ban, Aviemore. Section 8.
Height – 428 metres. Map – OS Landranger 36.
Climbed - 22 October 2011. Time taken – 1.25 hours.
Distance – 3.5 kilometres. Ascent – 210 metres.
Trip Report Deatils:


I parked near the monument at the junction of the B970 with the access road leading to Loch an Eilein, just south of Aviemore, before walking the short distance along the access road to a field on its south side. I clambered over a tied down gate, crossed the field, a couple other gates and onto an old vehicle track.

This track wound its way up through some trees and to a fenced enclosure. The edge of this enclosure was followed, as the gradient increased, to some more trees with their magnificent autumnal colours. Beyond the trees, long heather was waded through and here it was rather windy. The gradient eased as I headed to the summit boulder and trig point.

Due to the cloudy conditions the views from the summit were rather disappointing so once I had taken a few photographs I descended towards Loch an Eilein. It was quite steep in places but lower down I located another old vehicle track which zigzagged downhill to just north of the car park, where the attendant was doing good business collecting parking fees. It was then a short walk along the tarred road back to my car.

That completed the Marilyns in Section 8, The Cairngorms.

Photos taken on walk.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Conic Hill, Balmaha.

Conic Hill

Conic Hill, Balmaha. Section 1C.
Height – 361 metres. Map – OS Landranger 56.
Climbed - 16 October 2011. Time taken – 1.75 hours.
Distance – 4.5 kilometres. Ascent – 390 metres.

Trip Report Details:

In 1995 I walked the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William and according to my records the route took me over Conic Hill. With some uncertainty in my mind about whether I actually went to the highest point on this Sub 2000 Marilyn, I decided that I needed make a second visit.

I parked in the car park at Balmaha, on the east side of Loch Lomond, and was surprised that this facility was actually free.  At the rear of the car park I located the path and took the right fork, the route of the West Highland Way. This path took me through the Queen Elizabeth Forest on a gentle gradient but soon steepened as it left the forest where the path’s condition deteriorated.

The path led to the Bealach Ard then along the north-west side of Conic Hill just below the ridge. I was surprised at the number of folks climbing this hill as I didn’t realise it was so popular. No wonder the path was well worn and in places muddy. Some grazing Highland cows and their calves were passed before the path climbed onto the ridge at the 358 metre knoll, which the majority of walkers seemed to think was the summit. However I was aware that the highest point was some four hundred metres to the north-east over a small knoll.

On reaching the true summit I found some shelter from the wind for a late lunch. My return route was along the ridge before descending steeply to the south side of the Bealach Ard and returning to the car park by the approach route.

I’m still not sure if I climbed this hill in 1995 as the summit was just off the route of the West Highland Way and would have involved a short climb.

Photos taken on walk.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Binnean nan Gobhar, Loch Lomond.

Binnean nan Gobhar

Binnean nan Gobhar, Loch Lomond. Section 1C.
Height – 586 metres. Map – OS Landranger 56.
Climbed – 16 October 2011. Time taken – 3.5 hours.
Distance – 11 kilometres. Ascent – 595 metres.
Trip Report Details:

The Sub 2000 Marilyn, Binnean nan Gobhar is located to the north of Balmaha on the east side of Loch Lomond. I parked in the car park at the Native Forest Centre, Cashel, where there was an honesty box for the £2 parking fee.

I set off along a grassy path which soon joined a vehicle track that zigzagged uphill through the woodland. As height was gained there were ever improving views back to Loch Lomond. The ‘Queen’s View’, named after the Queen of the Netherlands who visited the area in the 1970’s, was eventually reached and just beyond that a large metal padlocked gate. At this time cloud covered Binnean nan Gobhar, Beinn Bhreac and Stob a’Choin Duibh.

The gate was crossed and the track followed as it descended slightly to a ‘T’ junction where I took the right fork. This led to, and along the top of the forest to a gap in the deer fence where a gate once existed. Beyond, underfoot conditions quickly deteriorated. Initially I followed All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) tracks but the ground was very soft and wet. I therefore opted to climb the rough hillside through long heather and reeds where hidden holes full of water and young trees added to my problems. One consolation was the cloud was lifting from the tops so at least I could see where I was headed.

Conditions were slightly better higher up although the gully I followed was still wet and had been used by an ATV. Once through this gully I headed for higher ground and the cairn marking the summit of Binnean nan Gobhar. From this summit I had views of Beinn Uird, another  Sub 2000 Marilyn, the Munro, Ben Lomond and Beinn Dubh, a Sub 2000 Marilyn which I climbed in September.

I found some shelter from the wind for a coffee break before heading for the trig point on Beinn Bhreac. However the ground between these two tops was a massive peat bog so I had to work my way round this area before climbing to the summit of Beinn Bhreac. From here I headed for the gap in the deer fence searching out the driest and easiest route initially with some success but lower down I encountered the awkward vegetation and terrain experienced on the ascent route. In fact at times I thought it was even worse.

Near the gap I met a chap obviously out taking photographs and we discussed the wet and boggy terrain before parting company. I followed my ascent route back through the forest to the car park, passing several couples and family groups who were out for a stroll in the woods.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Dumglow, Cleish Hills.

Dumglow

Dumglow, Cleish Hills. Section 26.
Height – 379 metres. Map – OS Landranger 58.
Climbed - 15 October 2011. Time taken – 2 hours.
Distance – 7.5 kilometres. Ascent – 175 metres.
Trip Report Details:

Earlier in the day I climbed the Sub 2000 Marilyn, Benarty Hill from near Ballingry, in Fife. My next hill was Dumglow, a few miles to the west, and just north of the county boundary between Fife and Kinross-shire. Again I had decided on a northerly approach but at my planned starting point the area was awash with mud due to ongoing building work. There was also a large crane working in the area.
I therefore drove round to the east side of the hill where I discovered there wasn’t a parking space left at the vehicle track leading to Loch Glow. However I managed to park on the verge at a passing place further north before walking back to the track. I then followed it through the trees and descended to Loch Glow where there were a few folks fishing.

A path, which was wet and muddy in places, was followed round the north side of the loch to the end of the forest where a less distinct path, or animal track, ran along the west edge of the forest towards Black Loch. On approaching this loch the ground was marshy but once through this area it was a steep climb, following a fence, to a small knoll. An easy walk then led to the summit trig point and cairn where I had hazy views of Loch Leven and the Firth of Forth. There were limited views to the west as the forecasted rain was approaching.
After some lunch, sheltering from the wind, I returned towards the forest where I had observed a more obvious path. This led to a narrow firebreak, not initially obvious. I entered the forest and followed this firebreak, which was wet and boggy in sections, east. Nearly a kilometre later I emerged from the trees, just west of the 336 metre knoll, descended to the east side of Loch Glow and followed the forest track back to the start.

Photos taken on walk.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Benarty Hill, Fife.

Benarty Hill

Benarty Hill, Fife. Section 26.
Height – 356 metres. Map – OS Landranger 58.
Climbed - 15 October 2011. Time taken – 1.25 hours.
Distance – 3.5 kilometres. Ascent – 185 metres.
Trip Report Details: 

The plan was to check out a northerly approach to this hill but ongoing excavation work on the south side of the B9097 put paid to that idea. I therefore drove round to the unclassified single track road to the west of the village of Ballingry, but here the limited number of parking spaces were already occupied. With difficulty I managed to locate a bit of verge parking, although I wasn’t particular happy with the position.
I walked back to the start and noticed signs stating that the path was closed. However a number of runners were doing hill reps up the steps and as it was a Saturday I presumed work was on hold for the weekend.

The stepped path zigzagged uphill and the reason for the closure was obvious as some of the steps were being replaced and a new top surface laid. Fortunately, as I predicted, the workmen had the day off.  Higher up the path joined a forestry vehicle track which I followed to its end. This was replaced by another path, or two, which wound its way through Benarty Wood to the open hillside.
A peaty path through heather led to the large boulder marking the top of the knoll, Seamark. Here there were views back to Loch Ore, Firth of Forth and in the distance, Edinburgh. It was then an easy stroll to the trig point which marked the summit of Benarty Hill. To the north I could see the Lomond Hills, which I had climbed the previous month, and Loch Leven.

I took a short coffee break in a hollow sheltering from the strong wind before returning by the ascent route.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Knockan, Moray.

Knockan

Knockan, Moray. Section 21A.
Height – 372 metres. Map – OS Landranger 28.
Climbed - 9 October 2011. Time taken – 1.5 hours.
Distance – 5 kilometres. Ascent 180 metres.
Trip Report Details:


The sub 2000 Marilyn, Knockan, was located to the south-east of Ben Aigan, which I had climbed earlier that day. My plan was also to ascend Knockan from the A95 but I wasn’t sure of the exact route. While on the summit of Ben Aigan I studied possible routes to Knockan and decided to climb it along the field edges just south of the Braes of Auchlunkart forest.

I drove south on the A95 and noted that the ground to the east appeared rather wet and marshy so I dismissed my original plan and parked on the grass verge just south of the access road to Knockan Farm. I walked up the farm road and passed the south side of this property with the intention of continuing along the track shown on my map. However I noticed cattle were obstructing the route so I decided to use the adjoining field.

At that point the local farmer approached so I stopped and spoke to him. He had no problem with me accessing the hill and when I mentioned the cattle he also suggested using the adjoining field. We spoke about the windfarm which he was in favour of although they weren’t being constructed on his land. He headed off along the track on his quad bike with his border collie perched on the rear.

The suggested route along the edge of the field was followed as the cows, their calves and the bull went a bit wild. I wasn’t sure if this was due to my presence or the farm dog so I was pleased to be on the other side of the fence, although I didn’t think it would stop a stampede. As the farmer rounded up his sheep I continued along the edge of a second field, still bounding the field of cattle.

I walked across a third field where a crop had been harvested and beyond there was a set of fences to cross, both topped with barbed wire. Once on the other side I was in long heather with a brief respite when I crossed a vehicle track. However the awkwardness of the long heather was short lived as I soon came to areas where the heather appeared to have been cut which made for easier walking as I meandered towards the top, avoiding the wind turbines. Two had already been constructed while a third was in the process of being put together. Sections of others were lying across the hillside. Apparently 21 turbines are to be erected here.

A small cairn was reached but apparently the highest point was 30 metres to the north so I paced out this distance and came to a tuft of heather that could possibly be described as being slightly higher than the surrounding ground. I then headed back to the cairn where I sat and ate my lunch with views of the turbines. The return was by the ascent route with the cattle still showing an interest, probably protecting their calves.

Photos taken on walk.

Ben Aigan, Moray.

Ben Aigan

Ben Aigan, Moary. Section 21A.
Height – 471 metres. Map -  OS Landranger 28.
Climbed - 9 October 2011. Time taken – 2.25 hours.
Distance – 7.5 kilometres. Ascent – 280 metres.
Trip Report Details:


I still had a couple of hills to climb in the Keith area so with the forecast of improving weather I set off up the A96. However as I passed through the Glens of Foudland the cloud lowered and it started to drizzle so I briefly wondered if I should continue. At Keith I left the A96 and headed along the A95 through Mulben as the cloud lifted off Ben Aigan and I soon reached the Forestry Commission sign for its car park.

The parking area was actually further into the forest than I expected and here there were notices and pamphlets about the various mountain bike trails within Forestry Commission property in Moray. On leaving my car I followed the vehicle track and mountain bike trail as it headed south-west. The track later swung round to the north as it gradual gained height.

I had read on Scottish Hills that there was a firebreak, which could be used to cut a couple of kilometres off the approach route, and located it beside a vehicle passing place. I followed the short cut, which was a bit wet and boggy with a couple of fallen trees obstructing the route. I came to a firebreak crossroads where I possibly could have gone left but decided to continue straight ahead. There was evidence of a shod horse having been along this route.

The vehicle track and cycle route was soon rejoined and I followed it until clear of the forest. A sign erected by Arndilly Estate asked for respect of rare wildlife and no noise. I wondered if they abided by their request when shooting grouse. Paths were followed to the summit trig point where it was quite windy. I had views to the nearby village of Rothes and in the distance the Moray Firth. I also observed my next hill, Knockan, with its wind turbines under construction.

After a cup of coffee sheltering behind the trig point I returned to the car park by the ascent route.

Photos taken on walk.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Birnam Hill, Dunkeld.

King's Seat, Birnam Hill

Birnam Hill, Dunkeld. Section 1A.
Height – 404 metres. Map – OS Landranger 52.
Climbed - 19 September 2011. Time taken – 2 hours.
Distance – 4 kilometres. Ascent – 335 metres.
Trip Report Details:


My final Sub 2000 Marilyn before heading home was Birnam Hill with its highest point shown as King’s Seat. There were several routes to choose from but I decided to take what appeared to be the shortest although possibly not the easiest route.

I parked in the car park at Birnam Railway Station just off the A9, walked to the end of the car park, and joined the road that ran under the railway line. This led to a signposted route for Birnam Hill with the initial ascent being quite steep and warm work. Higher up the walking was easier as the path zigzagged. It then entered an area of bracken which had been flattened by walkers and was wet and slippery. There was an alternative route but I missed it.

It was surprisingly busy for a Monday but one group I passed mentioned that it was a holiday, probably a local one. The gradient eased and a short section of the path had been drained and resurfaced before the final climb led to the large summit cairn. Here a female was operating a radio tracker.

I sheltered behind the cairn while I ate my lunch before crossing to the south knoll to see if the views were any clearer as the trees restricted my photography. Afterwards I returned to the station car park by the ascent route.

Photos taken on walk.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Creag na Criche, Perthshire.

Creag na Criche

Creag na Criche, Perthshire. Section 1A.
Height – 457 metres. Map – OS Landranger 52.
Climbed - 19 September 2011. Time taken – 1.5 hours.
Distance – 4 kilometres. Ascent – 245 metres.
Trip Report Details:


My second hill of the day was Creag na Criche, above Little Glen Shee. I had hoped to access its starting point from the B8063 in Glen Almond but the road was closed for repairs. I followed the diversionary signs until near Tullybelton House where the signs indicated that the road was closed 5.5 miles ahead. I drove along this single track road, crossed the Shochie Burn via a ford, and parked in the small car park on the south side of the stream. Fortunately the road was only closed from this point to the junction with the B8063.

I re-crossed the burn by a wooden footbridge followed by the section of road I had just driven along before passing through a new deer gate, which had an adjacent stile. A vehicle track headed north then east and I followed it until a junction of tracks where I took the left fork. This track climbed north-west to reach a new deer fence and at this point the track changed direction and headed north-east.

Unfortunately Creag na Criche was on the opposite side of this fence and there was no sign of a crossing point. I therefore had no option but clamber over the fence before climbing through long heather onto the summit area. I crossed a few knolls before reaching the summit cairn where I took a coffee break with views of surrounding heather clad hills and in the distance a large windfarm which was still under construction.

Rather than re-crossing the deer fence I headed along Creag na Criche’s undulating south-west ridge before changing direction and descending steeply towards the car park. Low down, and after crossing some marshy ground, I located another gate in the deer fence which I used to enter the enclosure. I then followed my original route the short distance back to the car.

Photos taken on walk.

Knock of Crieff, Perthshire.

Knock of Crieff

Knock of Crieff, Perthshire. Section 1A.
Height – 279 metres. Map – OS Landranger 52.
Climbed - 19 September 2011. Time taken – 45 minutes.
Distance 3 kilometres. Ascent – 175 metres.
Trip Report Details:


There were three Sub 2000 Marilyns located between Crieff and Dunkeld and my idea was to climb them before heading home. The weather forecast indicated that it would be dry until later in the day.

I parked at the top of Knock Road in Crieff, followed a signposted route along the side of a field, and passed houses which appeared part of the Crieff Hydro complex. It was then I discovered I could have parked beyond the hotel, but it was only a short walk to the summit so made little difference.

The path through mixed woodland, which had a few very old trees, was followed as spots of rain fell. I didn’t carry my pack, containing my waterproofs, as I thought it was a bit over the top for this short climb.

There were a few dog walkers around and on approaching the viewpoint a female runner overtook me. From the top of this knoll the views were slightly restricted due to the height of the surrounding trees. The toposcope wasn’t of great benefit especially as it was cloudy towards the west.

This wasn’t the summit as it was further north-east so I followed the path, which descended slightly until it reached a small fenced off area, where the trees had been cleared. Unusual stiles were crossed at either end although I think there was an alternative route round the north side of the enclosure.

Beyond I entered the forest and soon reached a small cairn below a large fir tree, this marking the highest point on the Knock of Crieff. With no views I returned to my car by the ascent route. Again I was passed by the runner who told me that she was now off for a swim. Well she wouldn’t have been bothered by the rain which was now a bit heavier.

Photos taken on walk.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Beinn Dubh, Trossachs.

Beinn Dubh

Beinn Dubh, Trossachs. Section 1C.
Height – 511 metres. Map – OS Landranger 56.
Climbed - 18 September 2011. Time taken – 5 hours.
Distance – 14 kilometres. Ascent – 740 metres.
Trip Report Details:


I had considered combining this Sub 2000 Marilyn with an ascent of Beinn Uamha but when I climbed the latter hill back in the summer I found the underfoot conditions difficult so decided on separate excursions.

The single track B829 road north of Aberfoyle was followed until I came to the private road leading to Loch Dhu House and Comer. Just beyond this junction I managed to get my car onto the grass verge at the edge of a passing place. It was a lovely sunny, although chilly, morning as I left the car, returned to the private road, and followed it passed Loch Dhu to the house and cottage of the same name. Here I took the left fork then soon afterwards a right fork, both signposted Comer.  The track climbed through the forest and over the col between Mulan an t-Sagairt and Tom Dubh nan Caorach. Areas of the woodland had been cut down which allowed for some views, including the pylons running through Gleann Dubh.

On reaching the Gleann Dubh forest track there was another sign for Comer, which was at the head of the glen still around four kilometres away. I wasn’t going that far as after walking up the glen for around a kilometre and a half the track passed below the pylons. I read on the Scottish Hills forum that there was a track here which headed part way through the forest towards Beinn Dubh.

The track was easily spotted and rose steeply through an area where the trees had been removed but with lots of debris left lying around. In fact higher up some of the debris had been used to reinforce the track which later levelled out with several gaps for water channels. I headed up a narrower debris covered track which became quite difficult to walk on so I left it and headed directly uphill. Despite the area being cleared of trees and lots of dead branches covering the ground this part of the ascent wasn’t as bad as expected.

I eventually reached and crossed a fence at the point where a small area of the forest remained intact, as it was above the fence line. Around a hundred metres or so beyond, the gradient eased and I then crossed some wet and tussocky ground to reach an old deer fence, which in sections had collapsed. Thereafter an easy ascent took me to the cairn marking the summit of Beinn Dubh.

The views were worthwhile, including Ben Lomond, the Arrochar Alps and Ben Venue. After a coffee break I returned by the ascent route.

Photos taken on walk.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Lomond Hills.

East Lomond

East Lomond, West Lomond and Bishop Hill. Section 26.
Height – 448metres: 522 metres: 461 metres:
Map – OS Landranger 58 and 59.
Climbed - 17 September 2011. Time taken – 5.5 hours.
Distance – 17.5 kilometres. Ascent – 710 metres.
Trip Report Details:


Falkland in Fife was my destination as it would give me access to the hill road which crosses between East and West Lomond. I don’t recall being in Falkland before but a few years ago I sent a letter to a resident of the village and didn’t receive a reply for several weeks as it went via the Falkland Islands.

From the village I drove to the large car park at Craigmead, where several vehicles were parked. I decided to tackle East Lomond first as the summit of West Lomond was in cloud. I crossed the road and followed the path which initially rose steadily, but soon levelled out and was quite wet in sections as it ran between fields of sheep. I was passed by mountain bikers and hill runners.

Beyond a gate the ground was marshy before it steepened considerably. The path was rather slippery caused by earlier rain and I reached the viewpoint at the same time as the hill runners who had approached from a different direction. They were planning on returning to West Lomond as they had another hour to run. I visited the viewpoint and the summit, which was five metres south of the viewpoint, then took a break sheltering from the wind with views of the villages of Falkland and Auchtermuchty. After my coffee I returned to the car park by the upward route and despite West Lomond being clear of cloud I encountered a short rain shower.

I left the car park by the rear exit which led to an easy angled grassy track before it joined a hardcore surface. Further west the track became rather muddy but I left it and climbed steeply to the summit of West Lomond, marked by a trig point and cairn. The cloud base was now a lot higher and I had views across the Fife and Kinross-shire countryside.

My plan was to return to the car park and drive round to Scotlandwell or Easter Balgedie and climb Bishop Hill. However on the ascent of West Lomond I thought I might as well include it in this walk so I headed south following some trails but once across a fence they seemed to disappear. The going was quite rough and around Glen Vale wet and marshy. I crossed a path, passed through a gate, and followed a wet muddy vehicle track, still heading in a southerly direction.

This led to an opening in the dyke and a track going west which I used but it began to turn away from my destination so I left it and headed directly towards Bishop Hill. Initially this involved some grassy undulations before a fence was reached and crossed. Beyond the ground was wet, boggy and churned up by cattle but eventually I made the final ascent to the summit cairn of Bishop Hill.

Here I found some shelter from the wind for a late lunch but was wary that at any moment the cattle I had spotted near the summit would head my way. Fortunately they didn’t. After lunch I crossed a nearby stone dyke and fence then followed a vehicle track east but it soon disappeared and I encountered more marshy ground. At a junction of fences I headed north and picked up the route I used earlier on my ascent of Bishop Hill and followed it back to Glen Vale.

The decision I now had to make was how to return to the car park. I decided, rather than going over the shoulder of West Lomond, to follow the path east along Glen Vale to Harperleas Reservoir. The path was used by mountain bikers and was muddy in places. At the Reservoir the path went round the south side of the water and thereafter, according to my map, headed off in a south-easterly direction. I therefore continued along the north edge of the Reservoir but the going was very difficult through rushes and round fallen timber. I had to get away from the water’s edge so headed north-west across fields before continuing east to the track beside the ruin above the Reservoir dam. Here I observed the route through the forest also crossed the dam and came out near the ruin, which would have been a lot easier.

It was here that I read the sign about livestock which stated “don’t stare at bulls, they don’t like it and might become aggressive”. Although it may be true it’s the first time I’ve heard that and I thought it rather funny.

I followed the track east where according to another sign thousands of trees had been planted. The track passed above Little Ballo Farm before joining the public road and a short walk to the car park.

Photos taken on walk.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Normans Law, Fife.

Norman's Law

Norman’s Law, Fife. Section 26.
Height – 285 metres. Map – OS Landranger 59.
Climbed - 10 September 2011. Time taken – 2 hours.
Distance – 6.5 kilometres. Ascent – 320 metres.
Trip Report Details:


My third Sub 2000 Marilyn, before heading home, was Norman’s Law. There appeared to be several approach routes but I decided to start from near the village of Luthrie as it was close to the A92, the road north. However on entering Luthrie a sign indicated there was no suitable parking beyond Lower Luthrie Farm, so I left my car in the village near the school.

I could hear the constant bellowing of cattle and on passing the farm I saw some agitated cows in an adjoining field and their calves in a nearby steading, obviously being weaned. I continued along the farm road to a crossroads junction and took a right turn as indicated by a sign. This route took me below Emily Hill and onto Carphin Farm, which appeared vacant. Here another sign directed me through a gate and along another vehicle track.

A junction of tracks was soon reached but without any signage I opted to take the left fork and crossed a tied down gate. I followed a muddy track to the col below Black Craig where I got my first view of Norman’s Law. There were various paths, some were animal trails, heading towards this hill and I opted for one that led to a forested area, not knowing that further north there was a gap and path through the trees. I crossed a fence, worked my way through the trees, and crossed a second fence before dropping from a stone dyke onto a vehicle track.

I followed this track north and spotted the route I should have used to avoid the trees. The vehicle track headed into a field but I followed a path that climbed steadily beside its fence then to the summit viewpoint, trig point and large cairn. Highland Cattle were feeding nearby. I took a break here with views of the hills I had climbed earlier that day, the River Tay, its bridges and Dundee.

The descent was by the south ridge to the gap in the trees that I had missed earlier. This took me to the col beside Black Craig and I followed the ascent route back to the village of Luthrie.

Photos taken on walk.

Mount Hill, Fife.

Mount Hill

Mount Hill, Fife. Section 26.
Height – 221 metres. Map – OS Landranger 59.
Climbed - 10 August 2011. Time taken – 1 hour.
Distance – 3.5 kilometres. Ascent – 140 metres.
Trip Report Details:

The start of this walk was the unclassified road to the east of Mount Hill, accessed from the A913 Newburgh to Cupar Road. Parking was at a premium here but I managed to get my vehicle onto the verge. A ‘Right of Way’ sign indicated the route to the hill, which initially ran between two fields before heading along the top of the westerly field, passing through a couple of gates en-route.

There were several signs, I counted at least five, but with the summit topped by a large monument the direction of travel was obvious. The route followed the edge of the forest with game birds in the adjoining field. It then entered the woodland and the track ran below the east side of the monument before swinging round to the north. I left the track here and followed a path through long, wet grass to the Hopetoun Monument, which marks the summit. There was also a trig point a few metres to the south but it was lower.

The trees obstructed any decent views so after a few minutes at the top I commenced the descent following the upward route, encountering a light shower as I headed for my car.

A Google search revealed that the Hopetoun Monument was a single giant Roman Doric column, with internal stair and balcony above, erected in 1826, by the inhabitants of Fife in memory of John 4th, Earl of Hopetoun. Pity the door was locked as at least there would have been views from the balcony.

Photos taken on walk.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cairnie Hill, Fife.

Cairnie Hill

Cairnie Hill, Lindores, Fife. Section 26.
Height – 228 metres. Map – OS Landranger 59.
Climbed - 10 September 2011. Time taken – 1.5 hours.
Distance – 4 kilometres. Ascent – 175 metres.
Trip Report Details:


The earlier rain had ceased as I drove along the B937 on the east side of Lindores Loch where a couple of fishermen were setting up their rods beside a small pier. The width of verge parking here was restricted due to a chain link fence but several vehicles could be left there. A couple of the swans frequenting the loch were having a go at each other.

I walked back along the road for several metres before crossing it and heading up a vehicle track keeping to the right at a junction as the other track led to a nearby house. I passed a few game bird enclosures as the track ran below the north side of Cairnie Hill before swinging round to its east side on a gradual gradient. At the point where the track descended slightly I passed through an open gate and climbed steadily across a field.

This route led to the crossing of two barbed wire fences and into some long vegetation where vehicle wheels had flattened the grass which made progress a little easier. Near the highest point I crossed an old fence and walked the short distance to a large beech tree and rock which was the actual summit. I found a Geocache box concealed at the foot of the tree where I sat and had my lunch.

The descent was to the west but initially through some gorse bushes before another track was reached and followed. Unfortunately it led to a game bird enclosure so I had to retrace my steps for a few metres, before working my way between a line of trees and over another barbed wire fence. I then crossed a field to a grassy walkway that led to the track near the cottage not far from the start.

Photos taken on walk.

Craigowl Hill, Angus.

Craigowl Hill

Craigowl Hill, Angus. Section 26.
Height 455 metres. Map – OS Landranger 54.
Climbed - 9 September 2011. Time taken – 2 hours.
Distance – 4 kilometres. Ascent – 215 metres.
Trip Report Details
:

I reached the start of this Sub 2000 Marilyn by leaving the A90, north of Dundee, passing through the village of Tealing, and driving to the road end at Hillside of Prieston. I parked my vehicle here as the road was wide enough without obstructing the nearby private roads.

My map showed a path heading north and I planned to use it rather than the vehicle track which was the direct route to Craigowl Hill. I stuck to this plan as there were lots of cows and calves surrounding the direct route, which was actually a tarred road.

The earlier rain had ceased as I crossed a cattle grid and walked round the east side of the derelict buildings expecting to find the path. However there was no trace of its existence, just wet and muddy ground churned up by cattle. There were also a few cows in the area so I headed towards the stock fence to try and locate the path, as well as having an escape route if required.
 
As I walked parallel to the fence I could see evidence of old tracks so I continued heading north until I came to a junction of fences. Here there were marks in the vegetation, on the south side of the fence heading towards Prieston Hill, so I followed this fence until there was a slight dip. I crossed the fence and followed a third fence as it descended to the road leading to Craigowl Hill.

I continued to avoid the road and climbed steeply towards the masts on Craigowl Hill which occasionally appeared out of the low cloud. There were more cattle in this area but they were far enough away not to cause a problem. I headed to and then walked below the perimeter fence of one the communication towers before crossing a rusty fence and walking the short distance to the summit trig point.

There were a few breaks in the cloud but insufficient to allow me a 360 degree view, so I returned to the tarred road and followed it back to the start. This did entail a few minor diversions to avoid cattle feeding close to the road.

Photos taken on walk.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Meikle Balloch Hill, Keith.

Meikle Balloch Hill

Meikle Balloch Hill, Keith. Section 21A.
Height – 366 metres. Map – OS Landranger 29.
Climbed - 4 September 2011. Time taken – 1.25 hours.
Height climbed – 3.5 kilometres. Ascent – 165 metres.
Trip Report Details:


My final Sub 2000 Marilyn on Sunday 4 September 2011 was Meikle Balloch Hill, which was accessed from Keith town centre along a minor road to just beyond the Water Works near Wester Herricks. Here there was a small car parking area with a map showing routes around Balloch Wood.

I followed the blue route, a new path which climbed through the woods, crossed a forest track, and continued uphill. It deteriorated as it passed through an area of felled timber, but improved again when I re-entered the mature forest. The path steepened considerably, but the hard work constructing the path had in places been undone as some of the edges had been washed away and formed a deep ditch.

The gradient eased and I cleared the forest where the improvement to the path ended. It was then a wet and boggy stroll to Meikle Balloch Hill’s summit cairn which was a metre higher than the nearby trig point. I had a late lunch beside the trig point, with views of the hills I had climbed earlier that day, before returning to the car park by the ascent route.  The end of a fairly successful day in the North-East, with four Sub 2000 Marilyns climbed.

Photos taken on walk.