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Geal-charn / A’Mharconaich / Beinn Udlamain / Sgairneach Mhor

Tuesday 29th December 2009

Drove up to Drumochter on Monday night to sleep in the car at minus 10.   Not too cold but not warm either and I missed out on a sesh at Ricky and Sian’s for the privilege!

However was on the hill at 8.30 am and walked the round of 4 Munro’s.  7 hours later and I was back at the car and drove home.

Once above the valley mist visibility was good all day but not as sunny as I’d hoped for.  White and cold sort of summarises the day – and thank goodness there was no need to compass navigate. Fairly featureless.

Glas Tulaichean

Me on Glas Tulaichean

Saturday 12th December 2009

Glas Tulaichean, Glenshee

Drove over from Glendoll the night before and slept in the car again.  Only minus 5 but I felt the cold – shouldn’t have because I’ve been out in much worse – must be getting old!  Morning was overcast so no hurry to get up and I drove the final 10 miles to Dalmunzie about 9.30am.

From there cycled up to Glenlochsie only using the old railway track to avoid the cottages then onto the estate track and about 4 river fords.  The path up the hill was just short of motorway standards so no navigation required.  I got the impression clear blue skies were just a few 100 feet above – but not for me.  Jogged down and a fast descent on the bike.

I’m now half way to the Munro’s. Only taken 40 years.  Better up the pace a bit!!!

Sunday 13th December

Lochgilphead JogScotland Santa Run. Only 3 miles.  Fortunately no pictures available.

Tolmount & Tom Buidhe

Friday 11th December 2009

Set off from Slockavullin about 8am to Glendoll via Troon and Kirkcaldy for some family stuff. Arriving in the glen at 11pm at minus 4 and, ignoring the ‘no overnight parking signs’, slept in the car.  There used to be a great wee basic campsite up here, progress has given us some big visitors centres and signs!  The plan was to bag the Tolmount and Tom Buidhe and as many of six tops and one relegated top I’d failed to summit on previous trips stretching back to 1979, as was possible.  Given that I expected a long trek I took my bike for the trail in and out and (hopefully) to cycle about the plateau.

Slept well but the cold made me stay wrapped up until 8.30am and I set off at 9.  The missed 90 minutes of daylight would prove costly later on.  I must work on motivation in the mornings!!   Cycled up Jock’s Road until the end of the forestry then pushed up the mountain track, eventually to Crow Craigies, first top of the day.  The descent before re ascending to the Tolmount was uncycleable due to soft snow. Great. Pushed the bloody bike  up a mountain and can’t use it!   Left the bike next to a prominent rock and climbed the Tolmount, over to Tom Buidhe and back again. Prominent rock wasn’t quite so prominent as I thought but found the bike after not too much hassle.

Skies were blue, sun was shining, views up to the Cairngorms spectacular and 2 munros and one top bagged. So far so good.  Pushed up to the relegated top of Creag Leachdach where I met possibly the rudest person I’ve ever met in the mountains who barked at me “What are you doing here”. Possible he doesn’t like bikes; possibly he’s just a rude twat.  Anyway I did my best to annoy him. Briefly thought of doing a Trotsky on him but I’d left the axe in the car. Next time!  Plateau snow was good and hard most of the time. A few patches meant the front wheel sunk in and I went over the handle bars a few times, but it was good fun. From Leachdach to Fafernie in no time then over the Munro of Cairn Bannoch which I’d done before with Brian but it was too easy to miss.  Cycled to just below the summit cairn then down to two tops of Cairn of Gowal and Craig of Gowal.   By now it was 2 pm and if I wanted to do more I had to get over to the Lochnagar side of the range.

I was 3 tops short of completion  and would no doubt finish in darkness. Cycled off in the direction of Creag and Dubh for no good reason other then it was the best snow to cycle.  I’d been before but went back anyway, which probably wasn’t a good idea because getting back to Cairn Bannoch from there was hard work before a really fast (for me!) cycle to the foot of Carn a Choire Bhoidheach and a push to the summit. Another repeat Munro just because it was en-route to two tops I’d missed, Eagles Rock and Creag a Ghlas-uillt. Now with the sun sinking fast I had one top left, Meal Coire na Saobhaidhe, but that meant getting up and over Lochnagar.

As darkness fell I stopped and ate for the first time and pondered what to do. Thought about leaving the bike and walking by torchlight, but probably would never have found the bike again, so set off back to the car. Found the Glas Allt path easily and biked down bits until it got too steep. Round the head of Lock Muick and pushed up the Coirre Chash path to the path down to Glen Doll – when it all started to go wrong. I couldn’t find the Glen Doll path. I’m pretty sure in daylight this would be easy but I was restricted to the beam of the torch and looking both sides of the wee barn I couldn’t find the way down. Eventually set off over rough ground, eventually reaching the river and the track back. At least that’s the summary, seriously considered sleeping out at one point!  Back at 9pm.

A 12 hour day. 4 Munros, 2 of which were repeats, 7 tops, (2 repeats and 1 just to be sure) 1 relegated top. About 27 miles. If I’d got up earlier I’d have bagged the last top.

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The Code

The Country Code, which most of us learned in school (and we probably haven't read since!), was updated in 2004 when it became the Countryside Code. Here's the updated version:
  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people
In Scotland, where there is a more general right of access, there also exists the Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
  • Take responsibility for your own actions
  • Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind
  • Help farmers, landowners and others to work safely and effectively
  • Care for the environment
  • Keep your dog under proper control
  • Take extra care if you are organising a group, an event or running a business.
There's obviously a lot to to be learned from these - it's amazing how many people get out to enjoy the countryside but are still happy to leave it in a mess. Even with the recent updates, the Countryside Codes seem slightly outdated when considering the wider issues involved when lots of people get out into the countryside. Some places just can't handle high volumes of people, no matter how they behave and publicity, no matter how interesting or well-done , has the potential to attract lots of people to an area. Blogs including video, pictures or words, form part the the wider media which could easily contribute to tipping the balance, and so we as bloggers have to consider the implications of what we decide to post. Can the place we're writing about take more people, and if not, it might be wiser to leave maps, place names or grid references out of posts. In Scotland, the Mountain Bothies Association has been careful to protect the location of some Bothies due to mis-treatment and, in some cases, even malicious vandalism. That is not to say they would not advocate people using them - in fact, a well used, maintained and loved network of bothies exist, and the MBA as an organisation is there to encourage this. Some bothies are busier than others but generally it is the less remote places which are more susceptible to abuse - something which might be worth considering when deciding whether to post information. It must be said, in most cases it's obvious what should or shouldn't be publisiced, but it's worth taking these considerations to mind.

Please note: The Code is constantly being revised and added to. If you like to add something login in to the discussion on the forum.