Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
17th January 2017
Lochnagar from Invercauld through Ballochbuie Forest and via the Prince's Stone. Return around the back of the Stuic and the shoulder of Carn an t-Sagairt Beag
After some overnight snowfall I didn’t want to stray too far from the main roads to reach my starting point so settled on a walk from near Invercauld on the outskirts of Braemar. I fancied a repeat of a walk I had done back in 2015 taking in Lochnagar after weaving up through Ballochbuie Forest and passing the Prince's Stone on route. That day I ended up a little short of daylight so curtailed my plans for an intended return over the White Month, today I hoped to put that right. The gate to the white metal suspension bridge at Garbh Allt Shiel was locked as I had found previously so I climbed around as before onto the rather iced metal surface. After shuffling across the estate track gave more assured footing as I walked up past the estate building, all was quiet until one of the estate workers appeared with a pack of hounds in tow all quite keen it seemed to say hello. Peace was restored as I continued on my way to find my path into the forest; just inside the fenced area by the gate was a sign indicating that footpath repairs were ongoing and advised using an alternative route.
Pathway up through Ballochbuie Forest
Fortunately there is another path a little further down the track which I soon located and headed onto.
View from Ballochbuie Forest
This one skirts the fenced in area but joined my previous route up not far from where it crosses Feith an Laoigh.
Heading up toward Meall Coire na Saobhaidhe
Beinn a' Bhuird above Ballochbuie Forest
Just over the burn it was time to head east to toward Stob Liath and up the side of the gorge to the Princess Stone.
The Princes Stone
It was all a little off-piste from here as I headed toward Meall Coire na Saobhaidhe, the snow was a powdery covering over the heather and was not too deep to start.
Meall Gorm and distant Ben a'Bhuird
A few pockets of wind blown patches were harder going as I gained the broad ridge.
Meal an Tionail
Meal an Tionail & Cnapan Nathraichean
I traversed the side of the hill to reach the narrow bealach and the start of the final steep climb onto Cac Carn Beag.
Cac Carn Beag, Lochnagar
The top was clear at this point but mist rolled in as I got higher and remained during lunch.
I had the summit to myself for only a short while before a good number of walkers appeared.
Cac Carn Beag
I followed my nose to the cairn on Cac Carn Mor before taking a bearing to begin the journey over the White Month.
Cac Carn Mor
The mist started to clear as I descended but it wouldn’t be for long as another large bank was rolling in over the Month.
The snow was firmer here but not always supportive and became hard work in places. The footprints in the snow ahead of me were tending toward Carn a’ Choire Bhoidheach so I re-aligned myself with the Stuic, intending to follow the cliff edge down. The mist again cleared and eased route finding worries.
Heading down from The Stuic
Lochnagar and The Stuic
Druim Odhar was my chosen way off the hill and there was more hard work in store as I continued over uneven and heathery snow covered ground.
It was with some relief that I made the main track but only after a foot penetrated the snowy bank lining the Feindallacher burn and entered the water.
Beinn a' Bhuird
The track soon entered Ballochbuie Forest for the final few kilometres back to the bridge near Garbh Allt Shiel.
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