Lochnagar Circuit

Having had a number of days out walking, where the snow was generally excellent we decided to make the most of the beautiful forecast on Easter Sunday by heading over to the east to complete the Lochnagar Circuit. The circuit is long with around 28km of walking which includes 5 Munros, so we didn’t want to be attempting it with deep snow.

It was a very cold morning, with temperatures of -6 degrees according to the van, we had to scrape frozen condensation off the inside of the van! What the cold morning did bring, was a beautiful clear sky and hard frost. Soon after we set off we realised that the east had had far more snow than the west in the previous few days, and it became apparent that the day wasn’t going to be a quick romp along frozen high on the plateau.

The walk in towards Lochnagar was beautiful in the sunshine, as there was no wind we couldn’t hear anything over than our steps in the crunchy snow and the grouse flying around. We were amazed when we got to the col before the final climb up to Lochnagar, as the view of the north face was outstanding. Thankfully we had steps to follow on the climb up to Lochnagar, which made it significantly easier as the snow underfoot was fairly hard work.

The views across the plateau were amazing, it was a huge white expanse which seemed to go on for ever in one direction, and a view towards the other huge plateau of the Northern Cairngorms in the other direction.

We spent a long time walking in a circuit around the plateau to include the five Munros, but it never got dull due to the changing views and the immersive experience of being so small in such a vast white expanse. The weather was beautiful all day, and despite the air temperature being cold we both spent all of the day walking in base layers.

After lots of trail braking and tough walking we eventually got to the last Munros were we savoured the views down towards Loch Muick and the view of our long descent (~9km). We decided to try and save some time by taking the quick descent back down to the loch, rather than staying high on the plateau. This was a mistake as the snow hadn’t been in the sun all day and was very steep and frozen solid, which lead to a short but very exposed traverse to get to the path. This meant that after 8 hours of walking without needing crampons we had to get our kit out for 15 mins at the end of the day.

We made good time around the loch and got back to the car in just under the summer book time, which given the conditions on the plateau we were very pleased with.

Beautiful valley on the walk up from Glenmuick

Harder going on the climb up to Lochnagar

Stunning view of the north face of Lochnagar

Steep climb up onto the plateau

White wilderness on the plateau

Becky approaching Lochnagar

Summit panorama from Lochnagar

Becky on Lochnagar

Summit selfie on Lochnagar

Heading into the white expanse

Amazing views towards the Northern Cairngorms

Becky in the white wilderness

Becky on the summit of Carn a’ Choire Bhoidheach

Heading further into the white wilderness

Becky on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor

Us on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor in front of the Northern Cairngorms

Amazing view towards the Northern Cairngorms

Becky on the walk up to Cairn Bannoch

Becky on Cairn Bannoch

Selfie on Cairn Bannoch

Us on Broad Cairn

Descending from Broad Cairn with Loch Muick

Beinn Sgulaird

With tired legs and a less good forecast we decided to climb Beinn Sgulaird, a single munro above Glen Etive. Despite being a single Munro it was still a fairly long day, as the climb followed a long ridge line with plenty of undulation.

The morning was beautiful which provided us with great views towards the Glen Coe hills, and south towards the Cruachan range. The ridge itself would have been very enjoyable had it not been so cold in the wind, and my legs not having been so tired. Unfortunately as we approached the summit bad weather started to come in, and despite our summit not being in the cloud our views were restricted due to the Glen Coe hills and Glen Etive being in a snow shower.

After quick stop at the summit, we made a hasty retreat to get off the high ground before the weather deteriorated. As were were descending the weather progressively got worse, but we mostly stayed out of the precipitation.

Beautiful views looking up Glen Creran

Amazing views out towards the sea

Looking up Glen Nevis

Becky on Beinn Sgulaird

Summit Selfie

Beinn a’Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich

Chasing the elusive Scottish sunshine, we headed over to the west to climb Beinn a’Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich which are two Munros next to the Cruachan range. Trail magazine used the following two phrases in the description of the walk:

  • Their lofty curving ridges give spacious views across to the pointed peak of Ben Cruachan and the rest of the central western Highlands
  • A traverse of these two hills is a veritable menu of visual satisfaction that will certainly satisfy most palates. So get your axe out and tuck into this sumptuous hill feast.

These descriptions made the views from the tops sound outstanding, and a perfect pair to climb on a beautiful sunny morning. As the night was clear it was very cold, so we woke up to a very cold van with ice on the inside of the windows, but with beautiful sunny morning outside the van. On the walk in we discovered that it was calving season for the local highland cows, which delighted Becky.

The initial walk up the valley was up a track which was fairly painless, but we soon arrived at the base of the proper climb up to the summit ridge. This was very abrupt and made the climb up to Am Bodach on Aonach Eagach seem like a gentle stroll! We soon got to the top to be greeted by a strong wind, but stunning views in every direction.

The ridge up to the summit of Beinn a’Chochuill was beautiful, especially with the extensive snow cover which is still up high. We found it fairly amusing that there was a pair of hare foot prints between the two Munros, but the hare didn’t appreciate the dangers of cornices as their tracks were certainly not safe to follow!

As we were descending back down the ridge to the col we were passed by at least three low flying jets in Glen Kinglass, as they were so far away and so far below us I couldn’t identify what they were. The climb up to the second Munro was also fairly steep, but over quite quickly which just left the descent.

The descent was very easy down to 500m, and then very very steep back down the track which we walked up in the morning. We were glad to get back down to the track and then enjoyed the easy walk back down to the car.

Baby highland cows

Lovely views on the walk in

Amazing views of Ben Cruachan

Long way above the start

Great views down Glen Kinglass

Summit selfie

Amazing views of the Cruachan range

Becky on Beinn a’Chochuill in front of the Glen Etive hills

Looking back down the ridge towards Beinn Eunaich

Becky in front of the Cruachan range

Heading back down the ridge towards Beinn Eunaich

At the col between Beinn a’Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich

Looking back towards the Cruachan range and Beinn a’Chochuill

Summit selfie

Becky on Beinn a’Chochuill

The Tarmachan Ridge

To make the most of the weather forecast we decided to head south east with the aim of completing the Tarmachan Ridge, which is the ridge high above Killin at the end of Loch Tay. The conditions were generally pretty good, with snow from around 550m. We had plenty of sunshine which meant that we had fantastic views for most of the ridge.

The snow meant that we made quick progress once we were on the ridge, and we were privileged to have the ridge to ourselves after the initial Munro. Despite the easy access, we felt fairly remote while on the ridge, which combined with the weather made for a very enjoyable day.

There was a slightly unexpected arete leaving the second top which was very exposed which was very enjoyable, as we decided from the second top the forecast bad weather came and and the conditions reverted to snowy, windy and cloudy. The descent from the final col took a lot longer than expected due to the soft snow, combined with the track being covered in yet more soft snow until we were within 2km of the car.

Looking towards the dramatic peak of Meall Garbh

Becky in front of Loch Tay near the summit of Meall nan Tarmacha

Approaching the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan

Looking at the Tarmachan ridge

Becky on the summit of Meall nan Tarmachan

Summit selfie

Becky descending from Meall nan Tarmachan

On the summit of Meall Garbh

Me on the summit of Meall Garbh

Airy ridge descending from Meall Garbh

Normal conditions returned on Beinn nan Euchan