As a cure for cabin fever this hill satisfies that need, as a route to recommend to others it scores 3 out of 100! The Newtonmore village website suggests this route and all I can say is that the webmaster (who I know) certainly has never trod this path, and, I would guess, nor has any other living soul!
Park about 400m after the Horse riding centre located at Biallaid at map reference NN703983, there is room at the side of the road to pull the car off the carriageway or a layby some 1Km further on. The route goes through the gate opposite, past the pheasant rearing pens, through the gate into the next field and then follow the track round the field, There is a convenient gate in the deer fence and then a muddy horse riding track to follow. So far, so good. The route directions say to head for the obvious notch in the skyline (NN691987) which is the only “easy” route onto the ridge, however it involves pushing uphill through mature Birch woods and shoulder high bracken and there is no obvious route, you will be ground breaking all the way. I ended up deviating slightly and had a short scramble but on the way down it was obvious that, if found correctly, this route involves no hand on rock. Once on the ridge the route is obvious and the summit is readily gained. Do not deviate to the South, this hill is prime rock climbing territory and the crags are steep.
Robin GM7PKT climbed this hill from the south west and this would make more sense.
There is not really enough shelter by the enormous - and oddly shaped - cairn so I slipped off the summit to put up the dipole – the weather by now was somewhere between horrid and foul and I had “summer weight” waterproofs so needed the shelter. A quick CQ on 5MHz brought a steady stream of regular chasers starting with GM4FAM and including summit to summit with GM4CFS, GM0AXY (and GM4YMM who denied that Ken had made her carry all the gear) and G4OIG in the deep south. Conditions were excellent with some deep qsb for chasers, I had no problems with either noise or any real interference and only a little qsb. 25 minutes later with 16 chasers in the log I qsy’d to 40m. The skip was really long, the nearest stations I heard were middle Europe, and needless to say no takers. I planned a second summit so, having been late arriving, decided to pack up and have my lunch on the way down.
Reaching the gully for the descent I could hear emergency sirens and numerous fire engines, ambulances and the police could be seen heading from Newtonmore and further North down the A9. Having reached the car I headed off for the road to summit number 2 to find the A9 closed by the police just before the junction I needed and there is no other sensible route to this hill. Consequence an early shower and a couple of pints of Trade Winds in my local hostelry.
For the collectors of bizarre happenings amongst you: on the road back from Grantown on Spey to Tomintoul I met a Highland Council gritting truck actually gritting the road, the outside temperature was 9 deg C and raining – WHY?
Thanks to the chasers as ever,