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, 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.