Friday, 10 July 2009

Glen Ey, part two

I awoke gently and naturally to very soft light diffused both by the hill mist and by the midge netting above my face. It was very nice not to have an alarm clock blaring in my left ear. As there was no spectacular sunrise to rouse me I snoozed on, drifting in and out until the cloud had lifted a bit. Eventually around 08:30 I put the stove on from the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag and when I heard the pot bubbling away I got up and ate a Stoats Porridge bar with my coffee. Those Stoats bars really are very tasty and filling, I don't reckon I could manage more than one for breakfast. I'll definitely be getting some more of them. It must've been around 9:30-10:00ish when I finally buckled the waist strap of my pack and wandered back off towards An Socach's summit while adjusting my trekking poles back to a sensible length

The clouds were still low and the wind now a lot stronger up here on the tops. Every minute though the sun was getting higher and you could see the clouds being burnt off. I was just about to drop straight down the very steep west face to refill water at the Allt Beinn lutharn when my phone beeped at me and a rake of mssg's arrived. I sheltered from the wind behind some large rocks and made a quick phone call to check in. I watched a solitary walker coming up from the north shoulder at the head of the glen heading for the summit behind me. He saw the phone glued to my head and so only gave me a wave. It's nice to escape from technology but it is vital to stay in comms with loved ones occasionally.

I slowly made my way west down the steep slope picking my way through the heather and nearly crapping myself occasionally when up to 5 and 6 grouse at a time (I think grouse anyway?) would explode from the heather in front of me. The first time it happened I actually sat down as I jumped back slashing my trekking poles ineffectually at my invisible and non existent attacker. Eventually I got to the bottom and was glad to reach the river as I was running low on water having used it to cook and drink endless cuppa's with. I sometimes feel daft using my water filter up here when you can see the tributaries coming down off the hills around you but I always carry it and so I use it anyway.

I crossed over and started up the east shoulder of Beinn lutharn Mhor trying not to step on any of the frogs coming out of the heather. With every step I took the views back down the glen opened up and my perspective of An Socach's bulk changed. It was getting hotter now that the sun was also gaining height but the clouds were still moving quickly above the tops. I pulled my windproof from my pack and stuck it under the MSC (such a handy addition to these packs) so I could grab it quickly when I started to top out. I could feel myself tiring when I was nearing the first summit with a cairn but I carried on without stopping.

I caught a glimpse of another walker coming towards me from the true summit (1045m) with a large dog. We exchanged a few words. I never caught his name but the chocolate lab was called Lucy and she looked very tired, not the usual bounding bundle of fun labs usually are. They had camped out somewhere nearby as well so I hadn't been completely alone last night out on the hills. I wished him well and continued on to the summit. I only stayed long enough at the top to grab a few photies, eat a honey stinger gel washed down with a quick drink and take a bearing. The weather was starting to look changeable now but it was still dry.

I made my way back to the false summit more quickly now that the wind was behind me and from here I just dropped down on a direct compass bearing to the summit of Carn Bhac. As I was losing height the cloud above me burst and the rain came on suddenly, getting heavier all the time. I got to the floor of the glen where I gave up and pulled on my water proofs. As my head popped out of the neck of my jacket I stopped suddenly, there was a herd of deer complete with antlers not to far off to my right watching me intently. They must have been coming this way and stopped when they saw I was going to cut them off. I've seen deer in the hills loads of times but this time I was excited as they were close enough to not just look like brown rocks in the distance when I took a few pics. They remained still, eyeing me with caution as I made my way up the more gentle slopes of Carn Bhac. I lost them from view among the peat hags so I don't know where they went but I never saw them again.

As I was just aiming straight up the hill I found myself following deer tracks through the heather all the way. The ran started to slow about half way up so I went back to baselayer and windproof. The climb to Carn Bhac was a long and sustained one without any steep slopes or much of interest. If I'm to be honest I was only doing this one for the tick now that I was here. The view from the top out to the rest of the cairngorms up Glen Dee was worth the boring ascent though. All the bigger stars such as Cairn Toul, Ben Macdui and Derry Cairngorm were there putting on a show of looking mean in the clouds.

After a while I set off contouring around the lower slopes of Carn Creagach towards the ruins of Altanour Lodge. I was tiring now and my pace was slowing again, I stopped at the ruin to take a few photies and have a wee rest. While poking about looking for things to point my camera/iconograph at I came across someone's old Raichle??? I wonder if the owner had to hop their way out of the glen? Or how far they hiked out before noticing they only had one boot on?

The walk up the track was now a mixture of pleasure and pain, I was tired and my feet were aching on the hard packed trail. I've not felt them ache like that since the WHW last year. It wasn't all bad though the birds were singing and the weather had started to brighten up properly now. I was even spotting fish darting about in the river. Ever since being on Skye with Iain from KMS I now have a wee peek into every bit of water I pass to see if I can see fish in there, you'd be surprised where you find them thriving!

Eventually I reached the car and took my shoes off with relief. It was nice sitting letting my feet breathe and air them in the grass before driving to the wee shop in Braemar for a cold can of Irn Bru. Next stop was home via the chippie for a well earned sausage supper and an ice cold lager. There should be more weekends like this!


  1. "There should be more weekends like this!"

    There should indeed. Nice one. Enojoyed the write up. Glad to see you got on with the tarp. Pitch looked fine!

  2. I'll need to get out in it a few more times before I'm confident using it when I know the weather's gonna be bad.

  3. "It's nice to escape from technology but it is vital to stay in comms with loved ones occasionally." Very true and good point. The hills there look good and thanks.

  4. good write up indeed.

    Had me in stitches re. the grouse. How true that is. I have on one occaision ended up shouting out in half horror/ half indignation at some wildlife bursting from cover whilst walking in a remote spot........


  5. I'm a big girls blouse sometimes when I'm out on my own...I'll no' go into the time on the WHW with the sheeps eyes lighting up in the darkness off my headtorch and me wondering what the hell they are before they go crashing through the undergrowth to get away from me.

    The feral goats on the hills around Moffat have a creepy sounding call too, sounds a bit like a baby crying. It's not very nice when you're standing on your own in the mist listening to it!


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