Retro Walk: 23rd October 2004

Glen Callater 23/10/2004
Munros: Tolmount, Tom Buidhe, Cairn of Claise
Accomplices: Stuart

With the munro bug biting, a chance to climb a few munros in a day was very enticing. Stu had planned the route, which for the first and only time was a reasonable one. After an early start from Aberdeen, we reached the car park on the Glenshee road at the base of Glen Callater, managing to squeeze into the last bit of space available. The day looked as though it was going to be a good one, but here in the shade it was freezing, so we wrapped up well and jumped on the bikes for the ride up the glen.

Carelessly discarded bikes for pointless photo
Sun up to warm us

The ride was easy enough up to Lochcallater Lodge, with stops only for pictures or to remove layers once we were up in the sun. Stuart had decided we were going to ride the bikes along the edge of the loch, which was good fun for the most part but also tough going. Past the end of the loch, we decided we had taken the bikes as far as we cared to and left them to continue along Jock’s Road on foot.

Stu and Loch Callater
Much better view now
Stu pottering around doing photo stuff
Loch Callater and a rock
Shortly before bike abandonment point

After a pleasant short walk, the steep grassy climb to the bealach began, although it seemed fair to stop before the top for a nice lunch. At this point, I offered Stuart a cup of coffee from my flask but he seemed happy with one of his many Lucozade bottles, so I though I’d save it for later. After pulling ourselves up the last of the climb, we cut off to the right for a final push to the summit of Tolmount. Summit reached and snacks eaten, we looked across to our next target of Tom Buidhe and decided not to be put off by the gathering clouds. After what seemed like no time at all, we had hopped over the boggy basin between the two peaks and were on our second munro of the day.

Not much of a road up Jock’s Road
Top of Jock’s Road
Tolmount summit shot
Tom Buidhe done

The weather was still fine, so we set off back the way we had ascended to take the path across to Carn of Claise. This was a pleasant stroll across the open plateau, only marred slightly by Stuart’s insistence on postulating how easy it would be to kill someone and leave their body up here. Keeping my unprotected back away from his murderous eyes, we reached the boundary wall which led to our next summit and had fun leaving footprints in the pitiful amount of snow that had collected in its lee. With these distractions, we were at the summit before we knew it, although we didn’t hang around long enough to have some of my coffee as the weather was starting to feel a little colder as the afternoon wore on. An approaching walker wearing all his layers and an arctic balaclava made me feel a little underdressed as I was still in shorts and Helly Hansen!

Cairn of Claise

At this point, heading North to Carn an Tuirc and the easy land rover track back down to the lodge was the logical route choice. However, as Stuart had already climbed it he had conveniently left it off the route, hence the reason we had taken the bikes along the loch. This meant we had to retrace our steps all the way to the summit of Tolmount and back down Jock’s Road. By the time we were down in the glen again, evening was fast approaching and so we had to get on the bikes and get going.

Ready to reverse our ascent
Handy sign, but we’re going the other way

After a short while, we realised that struggling along this side of the loch again was going to take a while and leave us in total darkness. I decided we should cross the river just before the loch to gain the land rover track which sprouted over on that side, making for a much quicker ride back. We made our way across to the Allt an Loch, and after some very nifty balancing, stretching and jumping I made it to the other side with dry feet. After seeing my precarious crossing, Stuart decided to look for an alternative due to the fact his boots gave him no grip at all on wet rock. After watching him mince up and down the far bank for ten minutes whilst the light faded, I finally cajoled him across, though he chose to just walk straight through rather than try the dry feet route.

Once we had gained the land rover track, I thought Stu would like some coffee to cheer him up about his cold wet feet. Upon being offered a nice hot drink, the murderous glint returned to his eyes. He couldn’t believe I had been holding out on him for this long! I subsequently found that things need to be said to Stu at least 3 times before they filter through to his consciousness. After persuading Stu not to kill me and leave me floating in the loch by giving him coffee and Tunnocks, we could finally ride for home. There was just enough light to make it to the lodge along the decent track we were on, followed by a flying descent in the pitch black along Glen Callater to the car.

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