Lochnagar from Invercauld. July 2007.

Date: Saturday 8th July 2007
Distance: 32km
Ascent: 1300m

Geoff Monk pointed E for the weekend so E we went. Kicked off at the Invercauld Estate Car park at 0800 (£2 fee but machine broken today). Plan to loop around Lochnagar from the north. Did this walk in March of our first year of hillwalking, with the approach alluded to by Cameron McNeish in his hundred best walks book. On that occasion and the subsequent 3 visits to Lochnagar we’ve enjoyed panoramic views all the way to our feet when at the summit so I was hoping to get a view this time.

The walk crosses the Old Bridge and sets off through mature Caledonian Pine woods for about 4km, past the Garbh Allt Falls.

A good track runs across the heather moors above the forest. Spotted an immature Golden Eagle tracking across from the Glen Shee direction. These little fellas are natures original Midgeaters!

The track remains good quality all the way up the arm of Cairn an t-Sagairt Mor to the bealach with Cairn an t-Sagairt Beag. On this occasion the plane wreckage on the munro top was visible.

We cut east over Cairn an t-Sagairt Beag and over to the cliff line of The Stuic.

Didn’t go out to the summit of Carn a Coire Bhaidheach this time – my contender for least deserving munro summit. If I owned Harrods I’d say it was a Windsor conspiracy promoting minor bumps in the Balmoral Estate to Munros but I’m sure the SMC are above all that.

Rewarded with magnificent views of a peregrine adult flipping over the edge to check us out, then disturbed a family of ptarmigan, the chicks already about 75% adult size.

Continued up to Cac Carn Mor and then out along to the Cac Carn Beag summit. Views south to the Lothians, W to Lawers group and Ben Alder and N across the Cairngorms.

Cac Carn Beag:

West to The Stuic:

The summit was a bit Nevis-like in terms of crowds when we arrived but found a sheltered spot and lunched, then made for the cliff line again and followed it round. On previous occasions we’ve used the path about 50m down off the cliff (in limited visibility) so it was great to get the sense of scale of these cliffs.

Tracked down The Ladder to the Meikle Pap bealach. The views of the Loch and Cliffs from this point are stunning.

There seems to be an extremely well built path of rocks running up The Ladder now – I’m sure this is new although it’s been built from rocks in the rock field and blends in very well. Does anyone know when this was built?

Headed down the track to the Estate road and then north, away from the more popular sections. This develops views of the Lochnagar horseshoe with Meikle Pap blended in.

Rejoin the Caledonian pine woods and back to Invercauld. Spotted one agitated Red Squirrel with a very blond tail on the way back.

This walk is certainly longer than needed for Lochnagar at 32km but does give a full 360 of the mountain with views along the Stuic and from the N walkout, a fair amount of Caledonian pine and a lot of peace and quiet. Dedicated baggers could of course add in Cairn an t-Sagairt Beag and Carn a Coire Bhaidheach for only 1.4km and 100m ascent, and Conachraig (Corbett) is only 1.4km and 160m of the track.

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