Keith made a few notes about the Lochnagar circuit, one of the biggest munro walks from the summer. We took two days to do it, so why not grab yourself a cuppa, probably a biscuit or two, (it’s quite a long read) get comfy and give it a read….
So the plan was to shorten the route by cycling in to the Glas Allt bothy and walking up past the waterfall behind. It was a game getting both bikes on the van, but we found a way that didn’t block the lights in the end. Fortunately it was much quicker taking them off and setting them up whilst Stacey helped our son get ready.
We set off on the ride, enjoying the speed and fast progress. It turns out Stacey’s e-bike is a lower current driver than mine so the hills were harder work for her. We chugged in to the woodland after about 20 minutes and locked the bikes up. We didn’t linger as the shelter was great for midges!
The walk up Glas Allt was steep but easy and we made quick progress to the top. We then entered a long flat valley which seemed to go on forever…. eventually it steepened again and we climbed on to the summit plateau…. into the cloud as we thought we might.
As we pulled up the last steep bit, it started raining hard in quite a strong wind. We waterproofed up and set off briskly to Cac Carn Beag and the summit of Lochnagar.
We scrambled up this to the downwind side and some shelter from the wind. After a very quick lunch and a summit man leg pose picture we set off again, chatting to two women on their way to the summit. We set off at a leisurely pace towards the second summit, Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach but it felt like a long way in the rain. On our way to the third summit of the day, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, we dumped our bags when we realised we would have to back-track the same route. We took a very soggy summit selfie and headed down to retrieve our bags and head to where we planned to camp.
We were very relieved to see the saddle we’d eyed on the map as suitable for camping and let our son pick the spot to put the tent. We quickly put the tent up and got in out of the rain, changed out of our wet clothes in to our dry clothes before eventually cooking out of the tent door. The rain didn’t stop all night and was still raining in the morning. Our son didn’t want to go tot sleep that night either, but eventually did so, snuggling in to me and falling asleep pretty much touching nose to nose.
We packed everything away soggy and got underway, glad for the shorter day today. The 4th munro top didn’t take too long to reach with again a rocky summit at Cairn Bannoch. The 5th munro, Broad Cairn followed pretty quickly too but we actually got views from here as it had stopped raining and the cloud lifted. Great views all around of summits we have climbed together. There are very few munros in view from here left for us to do.
We descended over the tiresome boulders and made our way down, spurred on by the sight of an orange digger! After a little break at the digger, we carried on, descending the contour path down to Loch Muick. It was pretty busy but we stopped on the beack for lunch and to throw some stones in to the water. The walk back to the bikes was midge hell and we were glad to see the bikes come in to sight and we were able to whizz away from the beasties.
Overall, this was quite tough, given the extra rain that was not forecast. Very glad we did it though and I think the combination of bike and hike made this possible for us over the two days. Our son re-named this walk Frognagar because of all the frogs we saw, one jumping really close to his face as he was taking a closer look, startling him and making him fall over in giggles! Fantastic!!
- Nearest town: Ballater
- Distance: 10km bike with 20km walk
- Ascent: 1228m
- Terrain: Mixed terrain ranging from excellent paths to extremely boggy between munros 2 and 3 on the circuit.
- Things to remember: Change for the carpark at Glen Muick. It can get very busy there too. Remember the usual gear for mountain walking (map, compass, waterproofs, food etc). The first cairn near the top of the first munro is not the actual summit! Keep going!
How we did it:
- Covering that distance in that amount of time meant that going by bike on the easier terrain was a really good option! We know our son hates big paths (it really bores him!) so this would have been unbearable for him and we probably would have had to nag him a bit. By getting on the bikes, it split it up in to easier chunks for him and meant he could rest his feet on that 10km! Not too shabby!
- We love to add a wildcamp with our family munrobagging trips, as for us this means we can cover longer distances on a single trip to the mountains.
- A tip of ours for wildcamping is to pack a kids magazine to keep little ones busy while you’re having to do the inevitable stuff around camp, like cook dinner, fetch water etc. Remember to pack a pen too so they can do the puzzles and some colouring in it.
- We weren’t too sure about leaving our bikes locked up with a kids seat on the back. We’ve done it plenty of times on day walks but didn’t want to worry anyone on an overnighter, so we emailed the Braemar Mountain Rescue Team just to see what they’d suggest. They were ok with us just letting them know so there was no need for us to do anything different. We’ve met them a few times out and about on the hills there, a real friendly bunch of folk!
- The weather was forecast to be dry but it pays to always be prepared for anything on the mountains. We always pack our full waterproofs so there wasn’t any need for us to change plans. We were all just a little bit soggy.