Glen Clova hills and camp. March 2013.

Date: Saturday – Sunday 2nd-3rd March 2013
Distance: 10.7 + 12.5km
Ascent: 620 + 530m

A rather irritating and best glossed over series of poor choices had led to the previous week’s planned wild camp coming to nought so we were rather keen to make amends. Friday commitments in Embra saw us up not too early to leave home at 0830.

Rather better than forecast weather on the 2.5hr drive up to the head of Glen Clova. This had been one of our favourite places prior to and just after starting hill-walking with Corrie Fee and the Munros Mayar and Dreish having been visited several times.

A staggering 9.75 years had flown by since our last visit.

Parked up at the Glen Doll car park – the signage threatened MR/police call-outs for cars left in the car park >24hrs. The requested route card asked for more detail than your average mortage application – filled out car reg and expected return time and left it at that.

Headed N towards Moulzie towards the Capel Mounth track. A lovely morning with warm sunshine. The view back soon caught our eyes.

Corrie of Farchal:

The Capel Mounth track zig-zagged steeply uphill gaining better views S to Dreish in particular.

Dreish from Capel Mounth ascent:

A few layers were removed as we slouched uphill under heavy winter packs.

Up glen towards Moulzie:

Got to the summit of the Capel Mounth track to don our layers again in a rather chilly breeze. The sun hid behind a few local clouds for a while.

Identified the hills on the other side of Loch Muick – a bit greyer that way.

Across to Lochnagar:

Up and around the 700m mark the terrain was either lovely hard-pack snow or rather ankle-turning iron-frozen peat bog. The snow-patches were big enough to allow an easy amble.

Disturbed a few residents along the way.


Tucked in Hare:

Saw one Golden eagle on the cruise over the high ground and another doing lazy circles out towards Cairn Broadlands.

We wandered slowly west towards Broom Hill and Sandy Hillock – busy doing nothing.

Dreish from Broom Hill:

Crossed Sandy Hillock disturbing a 30 strong group of stags along the way. Dropped to the wee corrugated iron structure at NO 257 808 intersecting with our 2004 loop of Loch Muick route briefly.

At this point we had a confab – initial thoughts had been of a high camp but with terrain and water frozen even Loch Esk seemed a less attractive option. We sat and had lunch and mulled things over, came to no conclusions, and headed S down the track to Bachnagairn.

Clouds to the south:

Having dropped to the wee larch and pine wood we thought about walking back towards the car and pitching in the glen for a Sunday ascent of Dreish but opted instead for an early finish at Bachnagairn, finding a nice pitch a bit off track.

Pitched the Allak and sat around as the sun eventually set. At least 2 deer herds kept us under review from afar as we sat and appreciated the space.

Retired to the tent and a severe excess of insulation carried against a cold snow camp. Watched warm as unseen clouds obscured and revealed amazing patches of stars before wiping them away again.

A good night’s sleep.

Up at 0700 – with no Alpenglow but sun quickly seen on the upslopes. Our pitch was in sun by 0730 and the morning was warm and pleasant to allow a leisurely breakfast and pitch strike.

Morning tent:

A couple of song thrushes sang en passant, a flock of bullfinches passed us by and a solitary male chaffinch mooched some ginger cake off us.

Again a confab as to the plan – decided to head up the slope above us over West Corrie and see where we went thereafter.

West Corrie:

Warm in the sun on ascent – soft snow made for hard work.

H on West corrie ascent:

After a couple of hundred metres it was back to hard-pack snow – perfect walking conditions.

The lip of West Corrie:

Watched a peregrine falcon zip by at high speed – a few seconds and then gone.

Headed from the top of West Corrie SE towards Craig Mellon – the flat area in the middle of this upland plateau is normally flat mud but today was white crust. Dozens of hares were giving us the run –around, white dots moving this way and that before curling back round to find their favourite spots behind us.

The cairn at Craig Mellon appeared with its promise of a view.

K and Craig Mellon:

A superlative little viewpoint – across to Corrie Fee, Mayar and Dreish and down the length of Glen Clova. Well worth a sit down in the sun for an hour.

Mayar and Corrie Fee:

Across to the Scorrie:

Down Glen Clova:

Eventually decided the day should continue and headed NW over the cliffs of Glen Doll towards the upper reaches of Jock’s Road.

Up Glen Doll to Craig Maud:

Looking across Glen Doll the top of Craig Rennet caught the eye – it had been catching our eye for a while.

Craig Rennet and Mayar:

Reaching Cairn Damff we appropriately disturbed about 20 stags. Passing round its N side for an easier gradient we came across a plague of hares in a boulder field – at least 18 counted. They ignored us for a while before scattering at high speed across the snow.

Static Hare field:

Very mobile Hare field:

Curled round the W of Cairn Damff before dropping down annoyingly soft snow to Jock’s Road.

Craig Maud:

One plunge through snow near the track had a bit of icy water in my boot.

Joined up with Jock’s Road – surprisingly our first time on this route..

Jock’s Road:

Headed down into Glen Doll – our previous visits have always favoured Corrie Fee. The latter is still probably the more breath-taking .

Passed under Craig Rennet – next time:

Back to the car by mid-afternoon. The most welcome electric sound of lapwings on the air. A lovely day spent doing little or nothing.

Nice just to spend some time “being there” rather than “getting there” – a motif to be pursued.

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