Sagairts and Stuichike

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.

Old Bridge of Dee at Keiloch – water still high and turbulent
Up through the forest

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.

Following the Feindallachar burn

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.

Lochnagar hidden in some cloud but thin on snow
Shining wet slab nooks further up the Feindallacher
Up to Carn an t-Sagairt Mor
Looking back

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.

Sagairt Mor /beag gully

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.

Metal sheeting from plane crash

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.

Winding upward through small snow patches
Not a blob of snow .. it moved! A hare in winter fur
Higher up better camouflaged
Looking over to Callater Glen
Creag an Loch pond, Sron nan Gabhar, Morrone and beyond

I found another couple chunks of wreckage lying below the top where the main ‘wing’ is.

Unexpected chunk at NO 207 846
Looking across to Carn an t-Sagairt Beag
Up at the top, the main wreckage wing

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.

Carn an t-Sagairt Mor top
View to Dubh Loch

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.

Hare watches my progress

.. what they need is more of this ..

Lovely snow texture

.. to stay out of sight from this.

Amazing how in strong wind they can progress into it without flapping a wing. I initialy thought at the time this was a raven in the distance, but in the cropped photo the head looks eagly even if the storm-folded wings don’t
Another chunk of wreckage at NO 209 843

I headed up over Sagairt Beag’s mossy slopes with the occasional glance back at sporadic sunbursts

Sun almost splitting the clouds
Blue and shattered grey
The Stuic
Tor bobble near the corrie edge is the part where I turn right to descend

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.

The Stuic panorama

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.

Underneath the Stuic
Looking towards Lochnagar
A view of the Stuic ridge, a popular scramble

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.

Carefully stepping across a boulder field past Sandy Loch

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.

Allt Lochan Nan Eun a tumbling torrent today
Old Bog-wood

The shore of the loch is riddled with invisible caochans splashing and burbling unseen under rocks and heathery nooks

rocky eastern shore of Sandy loch
The Sandy Loch’s northern sandy shore. In summer no doubt a fine place, but windswept today
Curved and split boulders

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

Winding through smaller lumps
Stuic zig-zag

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.

Sunset falling over Braemar
Following the deer fence of Ballochbuie
There’s a few lone trees inside the enclosure but doesn’t appear to be much regeneration unlike Feshie. I wonder if deer do make their way inside
Deer watching on the skyline

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.

Across the Blackshiel burn

Into the woods

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’

Across the 1st part of the All Lochan nan Eun, boots awash, but not far to go now

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

Across the Feindallachar
Back to the Bridge of Dee

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