28 October 2011
10.1 km/567 m/03:30 hrs
Munro: Creag Leacach (No. 204)
This weekend I planned to do two Munros south of Braemar, and I would have liked to stay at the Braemar YH. As it was fully booked already, I used Habitat in Ballater instead, which is a very nice hostel and benefits from being just across the road from a good Italian restaurant, but this added quite a few kilometres to my trip.
Driving down to Braemar, the weather had been really nice, the only problem was being constantly blinded by the low-lying sun. It was a bit of a shock to find the Glenshee Ski Centre completely in clouds with the visibility down to just a few metres. I sat in my car, indecisive about what to do, and thought about waiting in the restaurant for a while to see if the clouds would lift. But the restaurant was closed for refurbishment, and so all I could do was start my walk and hope for the best.
I drove a few hundred metres south, parked in the large car park at the start of the track to Meall Odhar and set off into the clouds, which thankfully started to lift after a few minutes.
On the path to Meall Odhar.
Instead of walking over Glas Maol which I had already climbed in September, I used a bypass path that traverses from the bealach below Glas Maol along the hillside and arrives on the broad ridge just before a large cairn at Bàthach Beag.
From there, navigation was straightforward – I could follow a dry stone wall all the way to the summit.
Looking back along the ridge, Glas Maol still in clouds.
A group of Ptarmigans, running away too fast to get a decent picture…
Near the summit.
The summit cairn of Creag Leacach, which is integrated in the dry stone wall.
On the way back, I could see a little bit more of the lower slopes of Glas Maol, but the summit remained hidden.
Looking back towards the summit.
I passed a small stone shelter, that I hadn’t even noticed on the way up.
When I turned to have a last look at the ridge, I saw that the summit was now perfectly clear – typical!
On the bypass path, heading towards Meall Odhar.
Unfortunately, now I could also see the (ugly) ski lifts and buildings around Meall Odhar.
Sunshine over Spittal of Glenshee.
I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Fife Arms, until it was time to check into the hostel in Ballater. Later in the evening I had a very nice meal at the La Mangiatoia restaurant which belongs to the owner of the hostel.
The next morning I drove to the start of the path that leads to An Socach, but it was extremely windy, and after a short walk along the track, just to see how bad it was, I decided against it. I was already struggling against the wind at low level, and I could imagine that it would have been a lot worse high up on the ridge.
Instead I drove back home, after what was quite an expensive Munro trip (considering the cost of petrol, accommodation and evening meal in relation to a mere 3.5 hour walk) – but such is life 😐