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, 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.