LOCHNAGAR

Our first challenge was in 2017, when John, our CEO, challenged us to climb Lochnagar.  I think he chose this as the name makes it sound like a gentle stroll alongside a loch - how wrong an assumption that is!

Our first attempt had to be cancelled, due to forecast high winds, and the exposed nature of the top of this climb.  On that Saturday I took it upon myself to climb another Munro, Mount Keen, in case we were unable to reschedule the ascent of Lochnagar.  I really enjoyed the walk up Mount Keen, and have added a few photos from that day too for completeness.  On my way down I met John and his future son-in-law on their way up, so I'm not the only one crazy enough to climb hills for fun!  It was a really pleasant climb, but the last push towards the summit made me very glad that we weren't up Lochnagar that day, because the wind was phenomenal.  

Fortunately, we were able to reschedule the trip up Lochnagar, and John even allowed us to do it on a work day!  Jealous faces of those who were to stay in the office had no real idea of the misery that awaited the team!

While it may not have been windy on the 22nd September 2017, it made up for it in 'dreich'. Apart from the start and end of the walk, we were in thick cloud, and persistent drizzle, interspersed with some slightly heavier showers ensured we were all thoroughly soaked all day.

The climb was pretty tough, and it was hard to gauge progress, with visibility only a few yards at times.  It was pointless to try to take any photos on the ascent, and the camera stayed in my bag until we got the top, where Jackie from CLAN kindly took a group photo of the jubilant, if damp, team.  With the exception of a boulder field, however, the climb was more long than difficult, and in all honesty the trig point looming out of the mist came as something of a surprise.

The descent was a whole lot more pleasant, although some team members really started to feel the pressure on knees as we descended past the Falls of Glas Allt.  We were all very grateful that we hadn't done the circuit the other way round, as this was really steep.  We had now emerged from the cloud, and the beautiful scenery that we had missed all day started to reveal itself, but the cloud never lifted above around 1400 feet, so the scale of the surrounding hills retained their mystery.

Nevertheless, the Falls of Glas Allt was absolutely beautiful, and most of us took a few photos there.  We continued the descent down to Glas-Allt-Shiel, and it's picturesque setting at the western end of Loch Muick.  From here we joined the main track alongside the loch.

Things always seem much closer when viewed across water, and this was no exception.  We could almost see the car park, and yet the slog along the Loch really started to take its toll on tired legs, and blisters from the long descent were now rubbing badly.  It seemed to take forever to get back to the boat house at the NE corner of the loch, and even then it was another 25 minutes to get back to the car park.

I think the walk would have seemed much less challenging if the incredible views had been on show, but nevertheless, the whole team succeeded in the challenge, and raised in excess of £7,000 for CLAN cancer support.  

The walk (at least temporarily) got me interested in tacking more Munros, but a subsequent gruelling effort up Ben Vorlich and Stuc a' Chroin (translated to English as 'Peak of Danger') changed my mind a bit!!  That was until another walk in support of CLAN was suggested for 2019...

Below are some photos of the walks up Mount Keen (solo) and then what pictures could be salvaged from the team's walk up Lochnagar.  Hover over the images for captions, and click the image to view in full screen.

© 2020 By Ben Freeman