Second time lucky! The last time I tried to get up here I got caught by stalking taking place. So this time I made sure that the hotel allowed parking still and there was no stalking taking place. The WX forecast looked good too!
Nearly every-time I’ve been up to this part of Scotland it’s been low cloud. The WX forecast was for cloud to start at 900m and to rise during the morning with cloud above 1000m by lunchtime. Rain was predicted for later and it was to be quite sunny. That was almost how it was but I missed the bit about yet another Baltic wind blowing. However, even Ben Macdui was cloud free most of the time I was on the top and he stands 1309m tall!
I decided on the simple Munro bagger’s trade route for this hill and it makes it a trivial 8 points. The start is the Dalmunzie House Hotel which is 2.2km up a private road. You can park by the gate and the walk is 4.4km longer. Or you can pay £2 and park at the hotel. I decided to pay to save my legs!
The drive up was fraught with problems. The A93 is a rubbish road. It winds out of Perth up through the fruit farms, past the Meikleour Beech Hedge, snarls up in Blairgowrie, climbs to Bridge of Caly. Then it’s narrow and windy to Spittal of Glenshee. My old bus might have 160bhp and rev like a banshee but it’s not quick and the straights on this road are never straight enough for long enough! However, the first problem was the Farming Yesteryear show at Perth racecourse. I passed a procession of vintage commercials, all wonderfully restored with period paintwork. Fantastic stuff. I’ve had a few classic cars in the past (Rover P5B V8) but a classic lorry is what I want. AEC Matador or a 50’s ERF. There were Mk1 Land Rovers, Volkswagen Caravanettes, classic cars of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. The most modern being a H reg Stag. I always wanted my dad to buy one. He knew better! Of course there were tractors. It appeared every Fergy TE20 ever made was either driving there or on a flatbed trailer.
And a Diamond T heavy tow truck. Well it was fantastic apart from it was flat out about 25mph and produced more blue clouds of fumes than that volcano in TF-land did. There was a jam getting into the race course and so I was 25 mins late getting to the hotel. For a while I was going to abandon my climb and go to the show simply because of the vehicles I’d past on the way. But the WX forecast was too good. So after driving up said horrible A93 and getting stuck behind a huge coach of German tourists for 5 miles I arrived at the hotel.
Into reception and out with the cash. They take a note of when you’re due back and where you’re going when you buy a ticket which is nice to know. Of course, I have other safety nets, but this adds value to the cost of the parking. The very attractive young lady at reception wrote down my itinerary whilst I tried not peer down her cleavage. Rather a revealing blouse for the sabbath I thought and averted my eyes… as far as the short skirt she was wearing. Strewth! Anyway I regained some composure, took my ticket, smiled like a buffoon and wandered out with my heart banging away like a Leftfield track.
There’s a sign from the hotel directing walkers and just before you come upon the farm there are two *BIG signs, one for Glas Tulaichean and one for Glen Taintneach. Both point into fields rather than along the road but when you look carefully you can see marker posts for the route to follow. In my case the path diverts walkers around the farm rather than through the yard. Shortly after that you come across the dismantled railway track.
Before Dalmunzie House was a hotel it was a rich dude’s country house with a shooting lodge 2.5 miles up the glen. He had a narrow gauge (2ft6) railway built from the house to the lodge. There’s loads of gen about it on the web and fascinating it was. The engine and wagons are in the car park of the hotel still. Anyway, you have the option of walking along the disused track bed with lots of things to trip over (sleepers, great big rail mounting bolts etc.) or you can wade the Glen Lochsie Burn and continue along the track. If you wade the burn, you have to wade it again 2miles up stream. Crossing the burn can be extremely difficult when it’s in spate. It’s about 20ft wide at this point. I was doing the railway route so marched on.
A fine glen with good steep sides and the path is easy to traverse, trip hazards aside. It’s a bit wet and it turned out the day before had been very wet. Nothing gloopy to sink into but lots and lots of mud and puddles. At the end you look messy rather than wet. Finally the Glen Lochsie Lodge comes into view and very sad it is now. Just barely standing and probably will collapse soon. There’s a footbridge to cross the Allt Clais Mhor burn. Again fordable today but could be hard work after prolonged rain without this bridge. I had a chat with a couple who were chilling out after fording the main burn. They didn’t know about the railway path and were surprised when I suggested Googling any mountain name for more info. “There’s info on mountains on the internet?” one of them asked quite surprised. Hmmm!
From here there’s a bulldozed path to almost the summit. 4km of walking and 500m of ascent and you’re there. It’s made so easy by the path. Very steep at first then just steep but it eases considerably by Breac-raidh and there’s about 1.5km which is almost flat before the final pull to the summit. The bulldozed track continues and there’s some rubbish at the side which marks where you turn off for the summit. It’s obvious because the track starts to descend. From here it must be almost 2 or even 3 minutes to the trig point. Anquet said 2hrs45 but my total time to the top was 2hrs 15 and that included waffling with the people I met. Shows how easy the path makes it. It would require exceptionally bad conditions to get lost on this hill, only heavy snow and whiteouts would do it as the path is such a scar.
The views were really top notch. All the way up I wondered what the 3 huge mountains were. After much head scratching I realised it was the Beinn a’Ghlo group. I’ve never seen them from this side before and they look huge compared to the view from the A9. Of course the Lairig Ghru was superb as was the selection of proper sized hills either side. Clearly visible: Ben Macdui 1309m, Cairn Toul, 1291m, The Devil’s Point, Cairn a Mhaim, Beinn Bhrotain 1157m, Derry Cairngorm 1155m, Ben Avon 1171m and Beinn a’ Bhuird 1197m. Phew! Never mind Lochnagar, Glas Maol and Cairn a’ Gheoidh and a million other Munros and Marilyns. Glas Tulaichean may not be much to look at but the view from it is a classic.
The only downside really being the wind. Very strong but constant and Baltic. There’s nowhere to shelter on this summit so it was a two fleece and goretex job to try to keep warm. It’s early in the season but the old down jacket maybe needed if it doesn’t warm up a bit before the snows come. When the sun was out it was just cold, but when the sun was hidden it was not too pleasant. At the top an abandoned iron fence post supported the fishing rod and onto 60m and CQing I went. Zilch. Nada. Rien. Nothing. 15 minutes of calling produced no calls at all. The RSGB news net was in full flow with G4HPE and his Bob Danvers-Walker accent coming through at S8/S9. The beacons were OK too. I could physically see 2 mobile phone masts (The Cairnwell and Mount Blair) so I could spot myself but I thought I try 40m/30m first. On to 40m CW and almost at once DL3HXX came back. Or was it DL3SXX Concentrating on not counting the dots and yes it was ‘H’. My receiving not his sending I must add! After that 40m CW did the trick. I still can’t cope with a pile up of 2 calls or more. So apologies for frustrating callers with me sending ‘QRZ?’ over and over Any I soon had DL, G, 9A, ON, SM, LA worked. LA was LA1ENA/P, my first S2S on the key. Although I was so chuffed when I realised Aage was portable and sending me a summit ref. that I went to pieces and missed most of what he sent.
I tried 30m to no avail and thought I call just once on 60m before I pack up as I was now rather cold. Blam… GW7AAV came back at S9. He immediately noted this on Facetwit or Booker or whatever it’s called and in telling me produced much guffawing at both ends of the QSO. Quick calls with G4USW and GM0AXY rounded of the day. Now I found a Mizuho 20m base loaded telescopic whip the other day. ‘Found’ in that it came with some SK gear I’d bought and had been put aside for safe keeping. After which I forgot about it! It seems to tune up on 20m and I was going to try it. But as 40m/30m didn’t seem to be buzzing and I was cold I didn’t bother. Next time. Also I clean forgot Alistair had alerted for Braeriach ES-002 (3rd highest mountain in the UK) and I could see it about 25km away. I could have had a trivially easy handy S2S too. Pah! I packed up, took photos and set off back down.
There’s lots of routes down. You can drop into Glen Taintneach and walk out that way or drop down the other ridges. There’s a footbridge at the bottom of the next ridge SE across the Allt Clais Mhor just before you get to Glen Lochsie Lodge so this makes a different route down. In the end I did the reverse route back. All the time the cloud had been building and as I was dry and wanted to stay that way I didn’t go exploring. The return route was pleasant as I dropped out of the wind but typical of many shooting estates like this, there’s no a lot of wildlife, deer excepted and I didn’t see any of them. No birds until I got back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel I had a pot of tea. They do very good cakes and scones but not for me sadly. The tea was not quite as good as the Bridge of Balgie tea but still excellent. As I was a fair way out from home I decided to reccy a few possible parking spots for a few other hills in the area. Well it would be silly to drive all this way again only to find no parking where I wanted to stop. After finding all was as shown on Google Streetview I drove back. The traffic was bad all the way home. And stone the crows, I got caught in the Farming Yesteryear traffic leaving the show. Gordon Bennett! There was some ripe language in that car but it was soothed by, mainly, Hank Mobbley’s Workout on the CD player and the fact petrol was 110.9p/L in Perth which is 4p cheaper than here.
Total walked: 16.6km, total ascent: 792m, total driven: 199miles
This really is a trivial Munro. Seriously. Don’t be alarmed by those biggish numbers. There’s not much effort needed other than putting one foot in front of the other. Sure Glas Maol, just up the road, is 6.5km and 432m for 8 points too. But you have to ignore all the ski tow paraphenalia that spoils the walk. Well worth the drive and effort for the views of the Cairngorm Massive and hotel staff!