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.

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, 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, 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.