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The Munros
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Lochnagar


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Despite being a climbers' paradise, with a huge wall of granite cliffs and gullies, the mountain's name is derived from the small lochan in the coire, being the "little loch of laughter or noise".

To start, take the public road up Glen Muick to the terminal car park. Continue on foot for 250m to Spittal of Glenmuick and turn right to cross the glen, passing Allt-na-giubhsaich and continuing westwards along a pine-girt track. This leads to a track which leads to the col at the head of Glen Gelder. Leave this track now and go SW, crossing a slight dip before going uphill to reach the Fox Cairn Well just over 1km from the dip.

Ahead lies a steep section called The Ladder. It's worth making a short diversion to the west to reach the col to the south of Meikle Pap, as from here there is a grand view of the great cliffs. Continue up The Ladder, safer amongst the rocks near the coire edge, to gain the summit ridge. A short drop across a broad col and a final 70m of climb finds you on the near-level plateau.

Enjoy the walk along the coire rim, passing the cairn of Cac Carn Mor, rounding the exit of the Black Spout, and finishing the climb at the summit boulders of Cac Carn Beag. The summit trig point will be found within the boulder pile.

As an interesting aside, the Gaels made a rare error here, as they named the lower point Mor, whereas in fact it's about 6m lower than the higher point. Also, cac is a corruption of cadha, which is a slope or path up a slope. Cac has also led to the Scots word keech, which in polite language would be called faeces, so here we have the big and little cairns of, er, cac!

To descend by an interesting round trip, take the path down by the Glas Allt, passing a waterfall and then by a zig-zag section to the wood sheltering the royal hideaway at Glas-allt-Shiel. A foot-burning stomp along the road takes one back to the end of Loch Muick. Either continue by the road to Allt-na-giubsaich, or if conditions allow, cross the outflow of the loch which is a few minutes faster but perhaps with wet feet.

 

Maps: OS Sheet 44 'Ballater, Glen Clova & surrounding area'
Distance: 19 km
Ascent: 800 m
Time: 5.5 hours
Food & Drink: Ballater has the closest concentration of hotels and cafes.

 

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