Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th January 2019
Saturday 12th January – Glas Maol & Creag Leacach
So it was time to dust off the old cobwebs and get out for our first hill walk of 2019…It could be a sore one.
The plan was, due to darkness hitting us here right now around 4.20/40pm, to head to the Glenshee area as there are a total of nine Munro’s here which are mostly pretty easy to access.
This was win win all round as we would get a few Munros done and it would allow us to be up and down before darkness fell…failing that we had packed our head torches.
We only need to tick off another five Munro’s in this area as we have previously done four out of the nine.
So our first Munro of today was Glas Maol (1068m) which is the highest of the four Munro’s on the east side of the Cairnwell Pass.
Glas Maol is a large rounded hill that has had its northern slopes used for the Glenshee Ski Centre.
The craggy face of Glas Maol is probably one of its best features.
The climb in was relatively easy and the temperature was pretty mild, I use this term loosely as we are in Scotland, but considering the time of year we were of to a great start.
We plodded upwards until surprisingly we had reached the top. I say surprisingly as I thought it might have felt more difficult considering we had not been on the hills for a good few weeks (read:real Scottish mountains).
From the top we then took the South West ridge to the summit of Creag Leacach our second Munro of the day.
There is not a massive descent between summits, which are arranged on a plateau, so this made the walk to the next summit pretty straightforward.
On reaching the top and before heading downwards we even managed to squeeze in another ‘Top’ – a mountain peak that’s part of a larger hill.
From here there was a choice of routes down. By this time it was cold and windy so the quickest way down sounded like a plan to me.
Sometimes however quickest is not always best as this route led us to finish off our walk with a tiring long climb out over the Cairnwell Pass back to the car…exactly what you need after a tiring day!
Overall it had been a good day on the hills and it felt nice to be back out again.
Surprisingly there were only patches of snow today, considering the temperatures up here, I thought there might have been more!
Sunday 13th January – Cairn an Tuirc & Cairn of Claise,
It was to be a weekend of hills so we decided to return back to the same area today to see if we could get another couple of Munros under the belt and that we did.
Today compared to yesterday however was wild and fierce. Temperatures had dropped immensely and there was really high winds. On low ground gusts must have been around 40mph and on high grounds they were well over 70mph. It was going to be a tough day!
From setting foot outside the car waterproofs were on, it was wet, it was windy and it was freezing. The wind striking your face felt like being hit by piercing needles, pushing against such force was difficult but upwards we climbed…slowly…it was the only way to do it.
After what felt like forever we were almost at the summit. The wind kept hitting us full on, but even more so here and it was so powerful, it was a struggle to even step forward.
Every step an effort. The top was so rocky it made things even harder as if they could get any harder but even a simple step over a rock was unbalancing.
On reaching the summit shelter which is basically a half moon built wall to give some protection on the summit we clambered against the rocks to try get some protection….the wind still howled around us and now because we were stationary temperatures dropped further, it was so cold. We had brought our emergency shelter with us so we quickly unpacked it and sat underneath it in order to be able to fuel up and escape the harsh winds from striking our bodies. The emergency tent is not a miracle worker but it provided us with a short period of respite before we were off again. Our fuel today involved a flask of homemade spicy chicken soup, just the thing to heat up the body and my goodness it tasted amazing.
Then we were off again and as we were here we decided to hit summit two to reach our second Munro of the day Cairn of Claise…yeah pretty mad all things considering, I would agree!
Firstly though we had to get off this summit and it was proving difficult.
I have never in my life felt winds this fierce…to the point it blows you over…you literally cannot lift one foot off the ground or your gone, you can’t stand up straight as it’s so strong…can you imagine?! And just to top things off we were on top of a mountain and we needed to get off, well actually firstly we were trying to make it to a second munro before doing so…good plan…is this a Brogan trait, is it in the blood…my excuse anyway, I’m using it?!
It was fight and flight, literally, it was a challenge to conquer and eventually we battled our way through it. I had to take out my walking poles at this stage for balance to stop being blown over as I could not stand up straight from the gusts. This involved me spiking in one pole in front of me to stop being blown forward and one to the side as at this stage the gusts were now coming from behind.
Then we were of, kind off, fighting against the winds to the next summit. At this point we were quicker on our feet, slightly, to get much needed temperatures rising and with boggy grass to walk over it was much easier going than slippy wet icy rocks but the feet were going to get wet, it was a given even in waterproof boots!
Temperatures at this point were still freezing and just to help with matters it began snowing. The direction we travelled meant we were now being beaten and battered by galeforce winds in a snowstorm…not good for the eyes, overall just not good.
We fought and we battled and I possibly might have taken a slight hissy fit due to frustration, but that’s allowed surely, until we hit the next summit…and as quick as hitting it we were off it again, we had to keep moving in these conditions.
The wind continued to blow and it never eased up but mentally things started to feel better as we were heading back out. We plodded some more. Then, there in front of us was another ‘Top’…we couldn’t pass it obviously, well technically we easily could have because there was a slight trail around the bottom of it, but just because we could, we chose to climb it!!!
And then we were heading back down!
The walk out was as boggy as the walk in, it was wet wet and wet. And then there was the sight for sore eyes… our car in the very very very far distance, but I could see it!
Onwards we continued and actually quicker than I thought as we were soon back at the car…rejoice…It was a happy moment. We were cold, wet, relieved but satisfied, hugely satisfied that we had just managed to complete what we had in those conditions. It had been a tough day on these Scottish hills for sure!
Entering the car was more rejoice as it was such a relief to be free from the howling winds that had consistently rung in our ears for hours on end…silence was to be heard…well what felt like silence all things considered but the wind still battered against our car..but who cared!
So with four Munro’s and two Tops ticked off I’d call that a pretty successful weekend!