Hills: Broad Cairn, Craig of Gowal, Creag an Dubh-loch, Cairn of Gowal, Cairn Bannoch, Fafernie, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Carn an t-Sagairt Beag, Cairn a' Choire Bhoidheach and Lochnagar
Date: 5th June 2015
Company: Myself, Graeme and Penny
Distance: 34.8km, Ascent: 1555m
Time: 9Hrs 10Mins

My friend Graeme and Penny (the Wonder Dog) are currently undertaking a continuous (100 day) round of Munros. Earlier this week, I messaged Graeme to find out what hills he would be doing yesterday and to enquire as to whether or not he would like some company. Graeme quickly messaged back, "Yes" and that he would be doing the Lochnagar Horseshoe. The Lochnagar Horseshoe is a round of five Munros including Lochnagar, Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Carn Bannoch and Broad Cairn.

I have ascended all five of these hills many times previously. I have ascended Lochnagar at least a dozen times. My first ascent was in 1982. Since then I have ascended Lochnagar via a variety of routes including a climb via Eagle Ridge.

Myself ascending Eagle Ridge:

My last ascent of Lochnagar was on 2nd January 2015 when I undertook a traverse from the Spittal of Glenmuick to Crathie via Lochnagar. Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, Carn a' Choire Bhiodheach and Cairn Bannoch, I have ascended several times previously. I recall passing the wreckage of the Canberra aircraft while out on a school hillwalking trip back in 1982/83. I have ascended Broad Cairn about six times previously. My last ascent was in October 2014.

The last time I undertook the Lochnagar Horseshoe was in 2006. This was an anti-clockwise circuit starting with Lochnagar. Yesterday, we decided to undertake a clockwise circuit starting with Broad Cairn. The MWIS weather forecast for yesterday advised of possible showers for a couple of hours but an 80% chance of cloud-free Munros. As Graeme was only carrying a bumbag, I decided to ditch some of the contents out of my large heavy rucksack. I would later regret not taking my waterproof trousers as the forecast was incorrect.

This would be Day 36 for Graeme and Penny, with 104 Munros already completed in this his fourth round of Munros. Penny has also previously completed a round of Munros, so all going well, Penny may become the first dog to ever complete two rounds of Munros and the first dog ever to complete a continuous round.

I arrived at the Spittal of Glenmuick car park at around 07:30 and we were off walking by 08:00.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the outset, views were limited as the cloud-level was low.

Graeme and Penny on track to Loch Muick:

It was good to catch up with Graeme and to hear of his many adventures. The time passed quickly during the walk along Loch Muick and excellent track leading out to Broad Cairn.

Loch Muick:

Our first very brief stop was at Sandy's seat.

Graeme and Penny on Sandy's Seat:

From Sandy's Seat we continued on up to the summit of Broad Cairn. As we were now walking in drizzle, the camera stayed mostly in its case.

At the summit of Broad Cairn:

I asked Graeme if he wouldn't mind also ascending a few nearby Munro Tops. Graeme was happy to do so as Graeme also had not ascended these tops previously. The next hour or so was very much a case of wandering about in the mist. From Broad Cairn we made our way out to Craig of Gowal.

At the summit of Craig of Gowal:

From Craig of Gowal we made our way across to the summit of Creag an Dubh-loch. The summit above the climbing crag with the same name.

At the summit of Creag an Dubh-loch:

From Creag an Dubh-loch we made our way across to Cairn of Gowal which was mostly en-route to our next Munro target, Cairn Bannoch.

By now constant fairly-heavy rain had replaced the drizzle and due to my lack of waterproof trousers I was soon soaked to the skin.

At the summit of Cairn of Gowal:

From Cairn of Gowal, we made our way over to the second Munro of the day, Cairn Bannoch. We didn't hang around at the summit as the weather up there was fairly unpleasant.

At the summit of Cairn Bannoch:

En-route to Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, we also took a detour out to Fafernie.

At the summit of Fafernie:

It would have been nice to also ascend Crow Craigies but this would have added a further 5km to our walk. A top too far! During the walk out to Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, the rain stopped and the low cloud began to lift.

Heading for Carn an t-Sagairt Mor:

It didn't take long to reach the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, our third Munro of the day.

At the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor:

Just beyond the summit, we stopped to look at some wreckage. The wreckage is from a RAF Canberra B2 WJ615 which crashed here in 1956. Some very large pieces of wreckage remain on the hillside.

Aircraft wreckage on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor:

Aircraft wreckage on Carn an t-Sagairt Mor:

Graeme and Penny descending a snow patch:

At the col between Carn an t-Sagairt Mor and Carn an t-Sagairt Beag we stopped for some lunch.

More aircraft wreckage at the col:

Heading for Carn an t-Sagairt Beag:

Instead of skirting round Carn an t-Sagairt Beag, which would have been the easy option, we also decided to ascend to its summit. This was our 5th Munro Top of the day.

At the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Beag:

From Carn an t-Sagairt Beag we made our way across to our fourth Munro of the day, Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach.

At the summit of Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach:

The traverse round to Lochnagar along the top of the Stuic is a lovely walk in good visibility. Unfortunately, we had limited visibility of this nice coire and cliffs.

Heading for Lochnagar:

The Stuic:

The track from Carn a' Coire Bhoidheach arrives directly at Cac Carn Mor with just a short walk beyond to reach Cac Carn Beag, the summit of Lochnagar.

Approaching the summit of Lochnagar, Cac Carn Beag:

We stopped to take a few photos, including a selfie, and were soon on our way.

At the summit of Lochnagar:

Selfie at the summit of Lochnagar:

We were again walking in low cloud but there was no need to refer to the map as I know Lochnagar very well.

Looking back to the Lochnagar cliffs:

Looking towards Meikle Pap:


The walk back to the car seemed to take forever.

Rainbow during descent:

Looking back towards Lochnagar:

We arrived back at the car shortly before 17:30. With >22miles distance covered and >1500m ascent, it was certainly a good walk. The weather could have been better but the company was great.

Best wishes to Graeme and Penny in completing this mammoth undertaking.

You can keep up with Graeme's adventures on Heavy Whalley's blog.