Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Saturday 26 November 2011 - Cnapan Nathraichean (824 metres)

I wonder how many of you have heard of this hill. I certainly hadn't until the other day.

It was Chairman Jerry's selected venue for Aberdeen's XXL Club's 'Annual Dinner Daywalk'.

I spent much of yesterday observing 'High Winds Forecast' warning signs on all roads north of Preston, but encountered only the minor inconveniences of snow and deer on the road north of Glenshee, and was able to enjoy an excellent evening at the Moorfield, reached via a walk through a blizzard.

By this morning the snow had gone, below 800 metres anyway, and it was a merry bunch of 25 who set off from Keiloch at 10am.

Jerry soon had us admiring Invercauld Bridge (pictured), built around 1748 to span the River Dee as part of the Redcoats' military road between Blairgowrie and Fort George in the Moray Firth, to consolidate the position of George II after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1746.

After our interrogation by a Laird With Four Dogs, the woods of Ballochbuie Forest provided shelter from the elements as we strode on past the roaring Falls of Garbh Allt before stopping for tea and brownies at the edge of the woods.

Here Jerry lost 3 wimps who feared for their hats if they continued. He then chose a direct route up the hill, Cnapan Nathraichean (824 metres), have you heard of it? The snow clad summits of Ben Avon and its many tors glittered in the winter sunshine across the valley. The going became heathery, with deep holes, and bouldery. Another 9 wimps fled the scene - crashing down a gully to the east in pursuit of their hats.

The rest of us continued on upwards over broken ground. We couldn't all see each other but we could hear the flapping of crinkly Goretex. Especially from the foolhardy minority who tackled the crest of the ridge.

12 of us finally made it to the summit (824 metres) where views of Lochnagar vied for our attention with the sight of the 13th member of our party, the Elder Statesman, crawling laboriously up to the summit cairn.

It was great fun!

After battling on along a few metres of broad ridge we descended through deep heather with boggy holes, past The Prince's Stone, which Alastair visited but most of us missed, towards a small lochan, where in a sheltered spot in the heather we were entertained by the spectacle of our Elder Statesman descending erratically past the inflow to the lochan, which today was actually its outflow, via a small waterfall that was flowing uphill.

After a while we felt that having already stopped for several lunches it was time to head off again, leaving the Elder Statesman to choke on his sandwich. Then he skillfully avoided a turn down a slippery narrow path, chosen carefully by Jerry in order to lose backmarkers and provide the dry cleaning establishments of Aberdeen with a bit of custom next week.

I think (though I'm not sure, it wasn't my duty to count) everyone got back to Keiloch by 3.30, after a most enjoyable (I think) 14km stroll up a hill nobody had been up before, with about 600 metres ascent, in 5.5 hours.

Did I mention that the 'High Winds Forecast' messages on yesterday's motorway signs came true?

4 comments:

Louise said...

Sounds like such fun. Maybe!

bob Andrews said...

I recognised the word "cnapan" as there is Welsh word of the same spelling - Ball of wood or a kind of game.

I spoke to my friends who were in Madeira at the same time as you and no you didn't meet!

Alan R said...

Martin you leave me speechless. How you pack it all in is phenomenal.

Phreerunner said...

It was great fun Louise, we had a kind of crawling game called 'dodge the bunny'. No wood was involved. It's a shame we didn't meet your friends, Bob, but I'm glad they weren't the ones who were lost. Speechless, Alan? That'll be the day! Ha!