The forecast was for a mostly dry day with sunny intervals and clouds generally above Munro level, but with a cold wind on the summits turning a forecast 4 degrees to feeling like -5 with windchill. Our research had indicated that this hill might have stalking at this time of year, but not on Sundays, so we drove to Layby 88 on the east side of the A9. We were the only ones in the layby but we spotted a car parked by the start of the access track a little further south.
We took the wide verge to the access track and followed the stony track which headed along a spur. As the gradient eased, we noted large chunks of white quartz and then the ground took on the appearance of being covered with light snow: lots of small pieces of quartz nestling between low grass. Although not visible as much of a depression on the ground the map showed this area as quarry, so we guess it was quartz being quarried.
Quartz quarry on descent (when light was better)
A high point is reached just beyond the quarry, and the track splits with the northern leg heading towards Carn na Cairn, and the southern leg towards the not-a-Marilyn Munro A’Bhuidheanach Bheag. Here we met a couple descending Carn na Cairn and heading for the other Munro. The track became boggier as we headed along the undulating ridge for almost 2 km, at which point the ridge bent right and we started following an intermittent series of fenceposts. We were coping well with the boggy sections until we came to an area of peat hags just before the final ascent, but once they were carefully and successfully negotiated the small summit cairn complete with a central wonky fencepost soon appeared.
On the ascent we had heard Andy MM0FMF on Ben Vrackie, so gave him a call as we reached the summit, but he was initially busy with a 13cms contact. It was cold and windy at the summit, with cloud cover well above the summit. There was also absolutely no shelter anywhere on the flattish top, so extra clothing layers were rapidly applied. Caroline decided that the small cairn was as good as anywhere so having managed to straighten the wonky fencepost in the cairn, attached the end-fed halfwave 2m antenna to it (having judged that the 2m dipole wasn’t robust enough to survive the wind). Martyn set up HF a little way away. Unfortunately despite being on a Munro, we managed just the one 2m contact, the S2S with Andy once he had finished with 13cms. Martyn had a reasonable run of 13 contacts on 5 MHz, after which Caroline took over HF qualifying the hill with just 8 contacts on 40m including an S2S with OE15SOTA. A move to 20m was even harder work, with just 3 contacts though 2 were S2S with LZ/SV2RUJ/P and YO8SSH/P.
The weather improved as the day went on with the cloud breaking up, and the wind easing slightly, but still cold. By the time we had retraced our steps and reached the base of the hill it was looking a lot nicer under blue skies.
Better weather as we leave the summit
Views on the way down
Clear blue skies looking back at ascent route on return.