Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
26th February 2010
A long tramp along the River Gairn through Grouse country and over Brown Cow Hill.
I was looking for a bit of a leg stretcher that wasn’t too far outside of Aberdeen and decided on Brown Cow Hill a little north and west of Ballater. After heading along the Tomintoul road from Ballater I turned off at Gairnshiel Lodge passing a couple of walkers on their cycle's soon after. A bit of waste ground opposite the cottage at Braenaloin made for a suitable parking space. As I pulled on my boots and prepared for the off the cyclist’s re-appeared and headed out in front of me, possibly off to do Ben Avon. Crossing the road I turned down the track heading toward the small wood and cottage at Rineten before the track joined the course of the River Gain.
Brown Cow Hill
The river was in full flow and the bright sunlight danced off the choppy surface as it churned its way over the rock strewn riverbed. This is definitely Grouse country and the babbling of the river was frequently interrupted by the cackles as birds erupted from cover. They would then sometimes land not so far away before giving a nervous chuckle while keeping a beady eye out for any further approach. The track crossed over to the opposite river bank via the bridge near Daldownie to reach Corndavon Lodge and Bothy. The lodge is marked as a ruin on the map but was actually in very good order as was the adjacent locked Bothy. I had considered taking the south ridge of Cairn Sawvie that runs up between the burns Easter and Wester Shenalt. I decided to carry on past the second burn and take the ridge up to Carn Ulie; a track appeared after a while to ease the going up the heathery slopes.
Brown Cow Hill above River Gairn
There were now good views down to Loch Bulig while Beinn Avon and Cullardoch stood high on either side of the River Gairn as it ran down from its source in the west.
River Gairn, Culardoch and Beinn Avon
The col between Carn Ulie and Meikle Geal Charn was a boggy affair although much of the ground was still frozen hard just under the surface. Peat hags provided good hiding places for scampering Mountain Hare's as they broke for cover while good numbers of Grouse constantly shifted positions over the mountain side.
Beinn Avon from Carn Ulie
The rocky top of Meikle Geal Charn was in complete contrast to the surrounding area and provided a good vantage point.
Beinn Avon from Meikle Geal Charn
Storm clouds were now darkening the skies but strong winds were keeping them on the move and meant the occasional snow shower was only fairly brief. I now turned my attention to Cairn Sawvie spotting more Mountain Hare as I crossed the col; one was enjoying the returning sunshine so much I managed to get reasonably close.
Cairn Sawvie is at the west end of a broad rounded ridge that runs along over a couple of km to Brown Cow Hill in the east.
Snow showers east from Brown Cow Hill
After dropping down west of Brown Cow Hill to point 748 I had my long overdue lunch while deciding on a good line for my return. Down below beside Alten Siebh around 100 deer watched as I negotiated the slippery heather slopes on my way to Tom Odhar. I picked up and followed a land rover track on the eastern side as far as Allt Coire nam Freumh before leaving the track as it turned up hill. I now headed toward Tullochmacarrick below Fox Cairn and the bridge that would return me across the River Gairn. A final couple of km along my outward path and I arrived back at the van just a few short minutes before the days earlier cyclists appeared and passed with a wave.
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