Mid-november saw a period of heavy rain and floods and I wondered if any had fallen as snow higher up. Sentinel Playground showed a scattering, and I headed out on the bus at the weekend to see if I could get amongst some early season snow.
At the Falls of Garbh Allt, I carefully clambered down to the thundering river. No chances were to taken today trying for an optimum angle
I hoped I’d be ok to ford higher up heading to my primary location (Carn an t-Sagairt Mor) as daylight was short and there was not much scope for prolonged detours. Coming out of the forest the skyline was disappointingly dark with little snow cover remaining from earlier in the week, and the full force of a strong wind now revealed into my face.
I’d pondered a through trip to Lochnagar and Crathie but it was a tough ask in the daylight available, and the wind discouraged me, though looking across to it clearly there wouldn’t be much snow cover slowing progress.
I ducked down off the path into the gully where back in March I’d looked for snowhole possibilities, but today it’s main attraction was it’s still calm in the lee of the hill.
Something pale in the stream caught my eye – another chunk of of the plane wreck higher up on the hill, acting like a small dam.
I decided to stay in the lee and ascend the steeper north-east side rather than go around, and tramped a bit of snow and kicked the odd step. In deep snow, this side needs care as there’s avalanche hazard due to some slabby/grassy surfaces in conjunction with the gradient.
I found another couple chunks of wreckage lying below the top where the main ‘wing’ is.
Out of the lee the wind howled past creating a very sub-zero wind chill, I was ahead of schedule so I’d head on across to Sagairt Beag, and then to The Stuic corrie and see how I got on from there.
Away from the snow, the hares sensibly sheltering on the lee side, stood out clearly. Each year now they have longer where their camouflage is out of sync with nature.
.. what they need is more of this ..
.. to stay out of sight from this.
I headed up over Sagairt Beag’s mossy slopes with the occasional glance back at sporadic sunbursts
It’s a cracking panorama on the west side of the Stuic corrie, the dark crag to the side with the scattered pools below, and Lochnagar beyond.
Although there was no snow this time, the pools and surrounds make for some nice photos. The last time I’d been here I only visited the larger pools but this time stopped by some of the smaller ones. The strong wind was rippling the surface but a long exposure smoothed things out a bit. The smaller pools have more interesting geometry and the boulders make for a more interesting shot.
Engrossed in the shores of the pools looking for angles, the clock was ticking and I abandoned climbing higher to Loch nan Eun, then started across to Sandy loch, slowed clambering over the boulder field, and decided to cut that short too and begin heading homeward.
I headed to cross the Allt Lochan Nan Eun but had understimated it’s high-water vigour: no chance of crossing today without major risk of being pummelled in the torrent. No choice but to head back up to the loch and go around.
The shore of the loch is riddled with invisible caochans splashing and burbling unseen under rocks and heathery nooks
There are a few very large erratic boulder scattered on the side of Meall an Tionaill, but exploration higher up would have to be another day
With the sun away to set I made haste towards the upper Ballochbuie Forest boundary where the deer fence is and which I reckoned may have a path along it, there was something path like in place albeit boggy.
Crossing the Backsheil burn required a bit of a leap of faith at a narrow point in it’s gully that had been led to by a deer trail. Trust the deer as the locals to know the best way across.
The last hazard of the day was the delayed crossing of the Allt Lochan Nan Eun at the site of an old bridge (washed away a few years ago) now a ford, where the river splits into a few threads so wider but shallower. There was no way of keeping dry feet here, just plant the boots submerged and being careful to not fall ‘full-length’
I’d checked the Feindallacher bridge in passing earlier, fearing it may have been washed away in the recent flood but it had survived, and now just a few miles to squish back to Keiloch in the gathering dark