The second Cairngorm Club COVID bus meet was to Culardoch a corbett I’d last visited November 2018. Instead of the usual start (Keiloch) we headed off from a layby at Inver, through farmland and some birch woods

Ruins of Balnalan
Troops blethering as we gradually ascend
Combination of farm tracks and paths
Bracken and birch
Heading out on to moor below Leach Ghorm
Nice view opening up to the north-west
The track closest to Leac Ghorm starts good
..but fizzles out to overgrown. not one for the bike, there is a lower track that looks more used
Is that Culardoch in the distance? Can spy a scattering of snow
Lochnagar behind us
We join the lower track which is in good nick
One of those shots when you can’t quite capture the high dynamic range shooting into the sun
First dusting of snow in a while
Morven 10 miles distant across the bleak spaces of Monaltrie Moss
Frozen pools as we get higher
We’ll certainly be tramping through snow soon
Deer fence east of the foot of the hill
Fortunately a gate
Beginning the main ascent

Lovely to get boots in some snow again, soft and fresh and lying nicely in the lee. The wind had dropped as we were sheltered from the westerly.

Making for a false summit
Up up up
Almost there
Big winter sky and some flurries whipping past

Now out of the lee shelter, we got a sharp breeze sweeping across the top.. brrr very chilly

At the top. A great vista to Ben Avon
And across to Loch Builg
Zoomed in
Enough snow to pain the hills nicely

We took a quick snack break but the full force of the wind was blasting past and too cold to stop long. Glad I’d erred on the side of caution and brought a full-weight down jacket to put on. You never quite know what the wind speed or wind chill is, but I’d see how it compared with a predicted ‘feels like’ of -15c. I’d recently bought a gadget that measures just these things..

Kestrel 2000 in windchill mode. In general it was indeed averaging -15 or so, with gusts of 35mph pushing it just above -20 occasionally. The static temperature was about -2.
Glugged the hot chocolate, a swig from a hip flask and then packed up and heading down
Looking down on the upper river Gairn
Hutton institute Culardoch scientific installation

I’d taken a stroll off the main track before to visit this mysterious installation – but this time we had somebody that worked at the Hutton institute in our group and they knew all about it’s purpose. It has it’s own web page that explains.

Curves and lines
As we turn south we once again get a look at Lochnagar
Following the landy track

We took a left and headed towards the start. Some of the troop decided to hack down into and across the gulley containing the Stable Burn, myself an another continued around the longer but easier track that heads around Bhonich. It crosses a few small fords.

Wide ford but narrow above and below
Gulley containing the burn has some slippage
Sunset approaching
The track heads east above Glen Feardar

In an attempt to catch the bus, myself and another had paced on ahead of the group, in a hurry we didn’t stop to check out these old farm cottages at Auchtavan, which are conserved as an example of a highland ‘fermtoun’ and were refurbished quite recently. More info here.

Unusual ‘hingin lum’ wooden chimney construction

Head torches on, we navigated the last few km in the dark lanes, alas missing the bus but good to get a day out in a club group again.

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