Saturday, 28 May 2016

Glen Shee - Ne'er cast a clout til the month of May be oot

We were minded of that old saying when in the hills by Glen Shee at the end of April. Just when we thought winter had passed, we were out again in snow and duvet jackets, packing ice axes and crampons and crossing drifts up to our thighs. Well my thighs at least, which isn't so high.

The late evening walk-in up Glen Taitneach was a dream as golden sunlight drenched the snow-streaked lower slopes and illuminated the higher snow-capped peaks. The tent was pitched by the river with time for a brew before bed and a slab of Rob's homemade banana loaf.

The Saturday forecast was sublime. The Sunday one less than prime. So we set off to do our three peaks in one day. We picked our way up the river gully at the head of the glen in snow that was soft and deep in places. The sky was azure and the atmosphere Alpine with the air as crystal dear as the mountain stream. Loch nan Eun was idyllic as a giant amoeba of sapphire blue in the white. The hills all around were a spectacular medley of snow and light.

Beinn lutharn Mhor provided an unusual and breathtaking panorama north to the Cairngorms, sliced in two by the u-shaped cut of the Laing Ghru. Across the Beinn's plateau raised, frozen footprints were surreal evidence of another's passage. Carn an Righ provided another odd encounter with a stranger who knew us ... he asked us how our new tent was working out. Turned out he'd passed us in the Drumochter hills a few weeks back and, like Rob, was from the Borders where everybody seems to know everybody. Funny old world.

Glas Tulaichean was the last and grandest of our trio. We crossed steeper snow slopes and followed its sweeping corniced rim to a top that gave us wide reaching views of winter hills. Another grand day to be out and to be alive. We followed a gentle ridge back down into the glen for another slab of Rob's cake at the not-so-new tent.

Fact File
All the photos on Flickr - click here.
Start/finish: Spittal of Glenshee
Route: Follow the track from the old bridge at Spittal of Glenshee up the east side of Glen Taitneach. Where the track peters out continue on the footpath climbing up to Loch nan Eun. Ascend the bealach between Beinn Iutharn Beag and Mam nan Carn, turning west to Mam nan Carn and contouring round to the bealach between it and Beinn Iutharn Mhor. Climb north up the south flank of the hill. Retrace steps to the bealach and countour round the lower slopes of Mam nan Carn to the bealach between it and Carn an Righ. Pick up a path to the top its southeasterly flank. We decsended to the bealach then crossed the river at the head of Gleann Mor to ascend Glas Tulaichean, heading east  and then ascending its north ridge, approx from the spot height at 930m. We descended to the glen via its southeasterly ridge and crossed easily the river to pick up the outward track.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Stuc a'Chroin - The long approach

Stuc a'Chroin is a shapely Munro to the north of Callander. Despite the rolling hills around and the genteel atmosphere of town, the long approach to the hill and it's surprisingly rugged profile, give it a wilder feel than you might expect. I headed there on a spring morning.

The back road out of Callander climbed the hills to Braeleny Farm then became a track across the moor, opening up the views to Stuc a'Chroin.

The old buildings at Arivurichardich were a place to rest against stone walls warmed by the morning sun.

The broad ridge of Meall Odhar was an airy, pleasant place to be as the view opened up to the rugged crags of the Stuc ahead.

A short, steep pull took me to the top for views across to its near neighbour, Ben Vorlich.

Further north the view stretched to the Crianlarich hills and the Ben Lawers range, while a line of snow-capped peaks filled the more distant horizon.

When I finished munching my picnic lunch and prepared to head back, I remembered something ... that a long approach means ... it's a long walk back to the bus.

Fact File
All the photos on Flickr - click here.
Start/Finish: Callander
Public transport: Hourly bus from Stirling Bus Station (next door to the train station) to Callander.
Route: From the main street head out on Bracklinn Road signed for Bracklinn Falls. A the farm at Braeleny continue straight ahead on a dirt track and cross the bridge at its end over the Keltie Water. Follow the track left and up to the buildings at Arivurichardich. A small path continues round the left of the second building and climbs up to the broad ridge between Meall Odhar and Stuc a'Chroin. It's lovely walking up here. Follow the path to the Stuc. I returned the same way.