Craig Leek Carn Liathhike

A bus trip to Keiloch for some exploration, no big hills today just a wander around a few nooks and crannies on the edge of familiar places. Despite being past Craig Leek many times, I’d never been over it. First I took the cliff path around a bit before climbing the side. An unusual bird call echoed around the crags, couldn’t see what it was and didn’t remember to use the ‘’ identification app .. ach.

Crags of Craig Leek
Guide hut of Felagie
Felagie bog
Something calling up there but couldn’t see it
Nice wide pano rising up
Along the scenic cliff path
Off path and heading up, nice views of the Dee
Pano Dee valley

I wasn’t really expecting much snow today, I’d not be heading to munro height but could see there’d been some snow showers filling up the tops

Beinn a Bhuird

Once out of the main treeline, there was a carpet of smaller regeneration. I presumed there must be fencing somewhere to allow this, on this side guarded by the steeps and crags

Looking towards Lochnagar
Frozen bog

I found an old wall and followed it along before finding the small cairn at the top

Craig Leek looking north
Craig Leek looking south

On the north side there’s a path not on the map which converges and then disappears at the wall

Short steep bit
Widespread regeneration

There’s quite a lot of new fencing lower down by the main track and associated gates, and wide tracks, but today I wasn’t taking the easy option to Carn Liath

New fencework
Heading along the edge of woods

The snow was lying a bit deeper here, but I gained the big wall which I was going to follow all the way to the top and beside it looked ok

Heading up Creag a Chait there’s a flat nook sheltered by a small crag that would make a nice camp spot

Sheltered nook

The wall in places winds and arches through steep and tussocky ground and I’d occasionally diverge along deer paths to find easier going

Traversing easier ground

In places the wall had sheltered andsculpted substantial drifts

The Allt Cuk
Wall makes a bridge

As I climbed higher there were now some more substantial drifts to negotiate.

Looking towards Culardoch
Hare prints inverted

The wall terminates in a small shelter. It must have took some amount of graft building the wall across about 5k from here back to Craig Leek

Shelter end of wall

I’m never quite sure where the exact top of Carn Liath is: OS has both 861, 863 and 857 tops, but there was a survey in recent times that decided something-or-other and that there is a separate hill, Creag na Dail Bheag which is the high point, although OS maps and SMC hill lists don’t seem to have got the message. It reinforces to me the futility of list-ticking ’rounds’, there are many great places yet on no lists because of the tyranny of numbers and gatekeepers of lists. The only numbers that matter to me are 1x great view, 1x interesting route, 1 or many of fine crags, waterfalls, trees and streams.

Carn Liath .. maybe the top, maybe not

Nonetheless I headed over to “Creag na Dail Bheag” primarily because it has a closer view of Ben Avon still in wintery garb, not because it is 1m higher. I’d taken the last of my winter’s snow beers up with me (Burnside Brewery “Snowed In” and had a seat for lunch and cracked it open.

“Snowed in” with appropriate chilling
A decent view of Ben Avon
and also Beinn a Bhuird

Fortified by this strong ale, the heather glided under me and I decided to take in a ridge of small hillocks rather than heading to Meikle Elrick as per my original plan

Heading down to Meall Glasail Beag
Looking west to the path from Carn Eag Dubh, mountain biked back as part of the Deeside Trail
Swooshy drifts
Following a deer path
Looking across to Allt Tarsuinn. Looks to be more tracks there than the map indicates
Mostly close cropped heather with the occasional squishy bit
A small shelter probably for deer stalkers
Meall Glasail Mor?

Lower down in this unlikely rarely visited location, I happened across a family who had wandered up from an Invercauld estate jeep. The chap seemed keen to see eagles and wildlife, and being an “english posho” I suspected unlikely to enjoy me bursting his bubble with regards to Victorian land management, and what that means to nature. A missed opportunity perhaps to shine some light on the reality: that his hosts at Invercauld are renowned for brutality to raptors (a poisoned one having been found not that far away).

Meall nan Caorach?

I headed down to Glas Allt Beag but the recent conversation had put me at risk of missing bus, so Little Elrick was also thwarted and I followed Slugain glen downstream,

Glas Allt Beag
A boulder’s strata like Jupiter’s clouds
Glen Slugain

I followed the burn further off track through glades and copses

Burn heading under an estate track

Curiosity dragged my west to a ruin: Balnagower cottage. A very scenic location, and such a waste to be let go to ruin.

Balnagower Cottage
Roofless inside
A door ajar to the Dee
Empty panes overlooking plains
Peeking peaks through lumpy log pillars

The watch had swung too far in a wistful moment and I had to slap tired feet on the hard Keiloch track march to make the bus.

Farewell Keiloch

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *