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Forfar & District
Hill Walking Club

Forfar & District Hill Walking Club

Forfar & District Hill Walking Club


2024 News



2024 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2002-2012
Note that the journal is stored in reverse chronological order. Some items may be missing but can probably be found in the Newsletters


Sunday 9th June 2024
Day Meet - Derry Lodge - Bike and Hike

Awaiting report.


Monday 3rd June 2024
Outdoor Meeting - Girds

Awaiting report.


Sunday 26th May 2024
Social Meet - Hampers and Champers

Awaiting report.


Sunday 19th May 2024
Day Meet - Ben Vorlich & Stuc a' Chroin'

Awaiting report.


Monday 13th May 2024
Outdoor Meeting - Visit to Tayside Mountain Rescue Base

Awaiting report.


Friday 3rd - Monday 6th May 2024
Weekend Meet - Isle of Skye

Awaiting report.


Sunday 14th April 2024
Day Meet - Jock's Road

The April day meet provided a bit of a change from recent walks, in that a through walk with a bus had been planned. The chosen walk was Jock’s Road, and it was a surprise to many that the club hadn’t done this well-known right of way through the Angus hills for several decades. It proved to be a popular choice, with twenty-five members meeting at Glen Doll car park at 8am, where a bus was waiting to transport them round to the north end starting point at Auchallater.
The walkers set off just after 10am in sunshine on the pleasant track which follows the Callater Burn, reaching Callater stables after an hour where a refreshment stop was enjoyed. At this point one member went ahead as he was planning a high-level route over Tolmount, Tom Bhuidhe, Mayar and Dreish. The remainder followed in small groups along the banks of Loch Callater. Beyond the loch the path fades and the mountains close in as the head of the glen is approached and the path climbs gently to afford splendid views into Coire Kander on the right. The walkers stopped here for another break just as the weather was closing in and donned waterproofs before tackling the steep climb up to the Mounth plateau. The rain showers turned briefly to snow and hail as the plateau was reached and the walkers were now exposed to a chilly northerly wind which did not encourage any let-up in the pace as they passed the high point of the walk at Crow Craigies. The wind abated further along the plateau and the descent towards Davy’s Bourach was made in more pleasant conditions. Some time was spent at the Bourach checking that everything was in order. The rain came on again on the walk down from the bourach, becoming progressively heavier on the way through the forest to the Glen Doll car park. The last group reached the cars just after 5pm, with the “A Team” having arrived some 45 minutes earlier.
Most of the walkers then adjourned to the Clova Hotel, where a buffet meal had been organised. This was a replacement for the 60th anniversary meal which unfortunately had to be postponed the previous October. They were joined by other members who had not walked and four others who had an afternoon walk up towards the bourach.
The total distance covered in this walk was 21km (not eight and a half miles as stated on the signpost at the Glen Doll end of the walk!). The highest point was Crow Craigies at 918m. The solo adventurer completed his walk of 4 Munros successfully in a similar time to the other walkers, having covered an extra 6 kilometres or so! The four afternoon walkers turned back before reaching the bourach, the original plan having been to meet the main party around there, but a combination of old injuries and not very promising weather discouraged them from walking any further. Their walk amounted to around 10km.
This was easily the most successful walk in terms of numbers for a few years – food for thought for the future. Through walks and buses may be the order of the day.

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Friday 22nd - Sunday 24th March 2024
Weekend Meet - Invergarry

Fifteen members descended on the Saddle Mountain Hostel at Invergarry on Friday evening for this weekend meet.
Saturday
With the forecast indicating a very stormy Saturday the members very tentatively made plans for the following day. Seven decided on a low level walk, while two decided to take their chances on the nearby Corbett, Ben Tee. Another was determined to climb Sgurr Mhaoraich, “determined” being the operative word as he had two attempts at it! The remaining five, all keen Munro baggers, threw caution to the wind (literally) and decided that Gairich was to be their destination. Their record of a very eventful day follows:
As part of the Invergarry weekend away, a group of intrepids decided to tackle Gairich on the S side of Loch Cuaich. We set off from the car park by the dam at the east end of the loch in less than ideal conditions (wind, rain, hangovers) and with little prospect of conditions improving. We ’skelpit on through dub and mire’ for an eternity (or about 3 km in metric) following the footpath WSW to the edge of a plantation before heading due W up the ridge Druim Na Geid Salaich. The wind and waterproofs negated conversation and the rain mostly obscured any views-other than the view that we were all in need of a checkup from the neckup. We were all in a shallow depression whilst sheltering in a shallow depression when Ian declared that he was baling out. Graciously, he told us that he would sit (on the heated seat) in his (waterproof and windtight) car and wait for us. The rest of us might have followed but a lull in the rain lured us on. We hit the slush-line as the ground steepened and climbed with care, especially where the path passed above a rock face. Thankfully we were now in the lee of the hill. Most of the way up, we stopped for lunch and contemplated the tiny but tricky looking scramble above us. A solo walker on his way down assured us that it was A Doddle. (He was from Paisley.) The Doddle turned out to be a Grade 3 Doddle in the wet snow but we overclamb it and summited 20 minutes later. We could have greeted when greeted by driving snow and zero visibility. We didn’t hang about. On the descent we were relieved to find a route that bypassed the scramble and shortly afterwards dropped below the cloud level. Things were looking up. Then we looked down and saw Paisley Man. He was sitting motionless after having appeared to have thrown all his belongings up and down the hillside. We went down to him and discovered he was trembling and as white as a sheet. He informed us that he’d slipped, been unable to stop himself and plummeted over a 30ft vertical rock face. He’d then tumbled at least another 50ft down the slope before coming to rest. And he reckoned his arm was broken….
All credit, his Garmin watch had already raised the alarm and he had already spoken to the emergency services on his mobile. Help was on its way. After checking that he had no allergies, our mobile pharmacy (Fleur) gave him a couple of analgesics. His arm was put in a sling and he was sat on a mat with a foil blanket around him. He was given a dry hat, a dry glove and his belongings were gathered up (apart from a packet of crisps that was never caught.) His phone rang again and we were told a helicopter was 20 minutes out. This, coupled with the fact that he was getting very cold, had us decide that it would be best for him to try and slide down the hill to flatter ground. Once off the steepest ground he managed to get to his feet and very carefully we continued our way down.
Right enough, the helicopter arrived about 20 minutes later and, after a lot of fanning (!) about it lowered the winchman down. His name was Scottie. He was ruggedly handsome, in crampons he must have been nearly 7ft tall and was altogether dashing. The way the ladies were looking at him, I thought he might be the one needed rescuing….. To cut a long story short, the helicopter managed to set down about 300m away. Our casualty provided the pain for our painstaking descent to it. About an hour (?) after we’d come across him, he was being whisked off to Raigmore Hospital. But not before we tried to get him to sign a membership form. We resumed the trudgery of the long, saturated walk out. True to his word, Ian was still there, waiting in the car park when we squelched up in the fading light. He’d been alerted by an estate manager that there had been a rescue and he was much relieved to see us. But not as relieved as us, seeing those heated seats.


Meanwhile, the lone walker on Sgurr Mhaoraich had to accept defeat as he was reduced to crawling on hands and knees, such was the ferocity of the wind.
The other two groups, by comparison, had a less eventful day. The seven low-level walkers set off in two different groups, following a circular route through the surrounding woodlands, passing Loch Lundie and succeeding in finding a fabled “secret” bothy, the location of which its caretakers ask not to be divulged. In keeping with the spirit of this request, even the other groups present on the weekend could not get them to divulge its location. The larger of the two groups on this walk, five in number, followed an extended route via Bridge of Oich, spotting a golden eagle en route. This walk covered 22 kilometres in comparison to the 15 kilometres covered by the other two low-level walkers.
The remaining two walkers had a testing day on Ben Tee. The calm conditions and drizzle on the lower slopes gave way to knee-deep snow, gales and poor visibility on the higher slopes. They were almost tempted to turn back on several occasions but soldiered on to reach the summit where they had a well-deserved bite to eat before a hasty retreat back down the snowy slopes.
The latter two groups and the solo walker arrived back at the hostel around the same time in late afternoon. As the evening gloom set in, some concern was beginning to be expressed for the Gairich party when they arrived with stories of their eventful day.
Sunday
Sunday dawned with a much drier, brighter and calmer day. A large group of eight went a bit further west and north to Meall Dubh, a Corbett which is now in the middle of a very large wind farm. The hillside is now a maze of vehicle tracks between the turbines, providing some navigation practice to ensure that the correct track was being followed.
The solo walker set off early for Sgurr Mhaoraich, take two. This time he was successful in much improved conditions.
The remaining group of five decided to tackle Am Bathach and Ciste Dubh. Straight from the horse's mouth:-
We parked in a layby half a km E of the Cluanie Inn in Glen Sheil and walked a further half km to the edge of a plantation. There we found a path that led NNW straight up the hill. We were expecting tired legs after yesterday's travails but we climbed steadily, spurred on by the ever-improving views in the still, sunny conditions. Somewhere around the 600m mark we hit the snowline. There wasn’t much of it but what there was was quite wet and slippery, making the going on the steep, grassy slope considerably harder. We arrived at the top of Am Bathach around midday and stopped for a break and a cup of tea. It was at this juncture a major incident was narrowly avoided when a certain gentleman passed a certain lady a bag of jelly babies whilst declaring “Got to keep the old boiler stoked!!” Only furious backpedalling averted another callout for the emergency services. We followed the ridge NW and crossed Bealach A Choinach. We stopped for lunch atop an outcrop of rock having climbed 100m up the other side. It was at this point IC decided the Corbett would be enough for him. After ‘haein’ wir piece’ he headed back towards the cars via the Allt a Chaorainn Bhig. The remaining group continued NNE then N following the ridge. The only deviation from the top of the ridge was to take a small bypass path past the sharp peak of An Cappach. It was during this manoeuvre we experienced the only short ,sharp snowshower of the day. The last half km to Ciste Dubh consisted of a very narrow ridge made tricky by the snow having been compacted by the foot traffic. However we gingerly made it to the top and were rewarded with absolutely stunning views all round. We returned back the way we had come even more gingerly with the long slope to the W feeling quite perilous with the thin coating of snow. Likewise, we opted to drop down to the Bealach 200m to the E of where we came up in an attempt to choose the least steep gradient. Once in the Bealach again, we had dropped below the snowline. We followed ICs chosen route down the Allt a Chaorainn Bhig finding a strong path that led us right back to the cars. All agreed it had been a red letter day to be in the hills. Especially after yesterday!

All fifteen walkers therefore managed two full walking days on this weekend, no mean feat considering the conditions on Saturday.

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Tuesday 12th March 2024
Mountain Mind Quiz

The club has won the prestigious ‘Mountain Mind Quiz’ trophy at a mountaineering quiz held at Blairgowrie Golf Club on Tuesday 12 March. This is the fifth time the Forfar club has won the event. Congratulations to members Graham Brown, Ray Campbell and Colin Sinclair who represented the Club at the quiz, expertly organised this year by Blairgowrie and District Hill Walking Club. The team topped the leader board after answering questions on Scottish mountains, bothies, geographic featues, glens and lochs, flora and fauna.

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Sunday 3rd March 2024
Day Meet - Ben Vuirich

Six members set off in the direction of Blair Atholl to climb Ben Vuirich by the western approach. The new car park at the road end above Old Bridge of Tilt is a vast improvement on previous arrangements and the £5 parking charge seemed reasonable under the circumstances. The walkers set off eastwards from Loch Moraig at 8.50am. After about three kilometres the path forked, and the group took the right hand fork towards the old settlement at Shinagag. It was about this point that the walkers disturbed three black grouse. This was to prove to be a walk with wildlife much in evidence for the first time for a few outings. The bridge over the Allt Coire Lagain was crossed just before Shinagag was reached and it was noted that that the river was quite high with meltwater, a factor which was to cause some difficulty later. The path from here disappeared temporarily due to some new plantations but after a rough few hundred metres the track was found again. There had been some significant fresh snowfall and the last part of the track was covered in very wet and slippery snow. After a refreshment break about 11am the track end was reached and the group took to the open hillside, with the snow becoming much drier and easier to walk on. As more height was gained the walkers soon found themselves above the cloudbase and frequent navigation checks became necessary. Just before 1pm the welcome sight of a snow-engulfed trig point came into view and the walkers settled down in the shelter of the cairn for a well-earned break. After taking bearings in the poor visibility, the descent was made in a north-westerly direction before turning north down a gully to join the track which runs under the slopes of Beinn a’ Ghlo. From here the walkers faced a long nine kilometre walk back, following the route of the Allt Coire Lagain much of the way. A herd of red deer watched our progress for a time before nonchalantly moving on. Shortly, another path junction required a decision to be made between continuing to a ford across the river or taking a longer route back to the bridge at Shinagag. The shorter route was taken, and the group soon found themselves at the ford. Most of the stepping stones were submerged under water and it took some time scouring the bank for a likely-looking route before all members managed to cross, some getting wetter than others in the process. The last stretch of the track was notable for the presence of wildlife. Some red kites were spotted, along with a group of roe deer and some lapwings, but the stars of the show were some short-eared owls which were patrolling low over the grassland and heather, looking for voles, evidence of which had been spotted earlier with the tell-tale signs of little holes in the snow and grass. It was just after 4.30 that a very weary group of walkers reached the welcome sight of the cars, about seven and three-quarters of an hour after leaving. The distance covered in the walk was 22 kilometres with 800 metres of ascent.

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Thursday 15th- Monday 19th February 2024
Weekend Meet - Lake District

11 members attended. Six members arrived on the Thursday evening for a four night stay at the Robertson Lamb Memorial Hut in Great Langdale. Five further members arrived on Friday for a two night stay. This was the first time the Club has stayed at this mountain hut. It had been recommended and it was known to be in an excellent location. Members found it to be well equipped and comfortable. The fact no one else was staying at the hut also helped to make it an enjoyable weekend, despite the poor weather Friday and Saturday.
Friday
Five members set of from the road end in Great Langdale in showery weather with the intention of climbing Scafell Pike. To begin with the odd top revealed itself as the group followed the Cumbrian Way before climbing to Angle Tarn via Rossett Pike. As the group reached Esk Hause, and took a refueling stop, the weather closed in and the rain became more consistent and heavier, reducing visibility in the process. One wet (sic) member decided to turn back at this point. The other four continued to climb and reached Scafell Pike via Broad Crag. They found the going tough with a number of boulder fields to be negotiated. Given the time and poor weather, the group decided to return via the approach route rather than trying to complete a circuit. Distance c20k with c1300m of ascent. Another member walked a short way with the main group at the beginning of the walk before exploring Langdale.

Saturday
The weather having worsened overnight, the very low cloud level obscured the fells and Saturday’s rain was increasingly persistent and heavy as the day progressed. Making the most of the day, all eleven members walked from the hut to Ambleside following the Cumbria Way. The group enjoyed the pleasant track to Chapel Stile, then on to Elterwater and Skelwith Bridge. By this time the rain was heavy and the remainder of the route left the Cumbria Way and became a trudge along minor tarred roads then the main road into a very busy Ambleside. After a spell of welcome shelter and sustenance in two of the town’s hostelries, the drookit group caught the bus back to the hut where they filled the drying room with their soaking gear and enjoyed a very good evening after their wet day out!

Sunday
The weather forecast for Sunday was more encouraging and it remained dry with good visibility. Four members decided to explore the Langdale Pikes. Setting off from the National Trust car park below Dungeon Ghyll, they enjoyed a fine day in the hills completing the circuit of Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott, High Raise and Sergeant Man before returning via Stickle Tarn and Dungeon Ghyll. Distance c12k with c1000m of ascent.

Five members set out to walk a circuit of Great Langdale and Little Langdale around Lingmoor Fell. Having walked to the top of Great Langdale, they followed the footpath from the campsite, climbing out of Great Langdale, then descending past Blea Tarn and into Little Langdale. They enjoyed the magnificent views of the Langdale Pikes, Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, the Pike of Blisco and many more which they tried to identify. Descending into Little Langdale, the wonderful views of the fells to the south opened up. Following the pleasant track from Fell Foot Bridge along Little Langdale, the group then crossed the Greenburn Beck over the quaint Slater Bridge footbridge and climbed northwards towards Great Langdale, stopping on the way at a roadside hotel where they sat outside and enjoyed a welcome short break and cool drinks while they basked in the surprisingly warm sunshine. The path then took them through the woods along the southern edge of Great Langdale to Oak Howe where they crossed the Great Langdale Beck and followed the road the short distance to the RL hut.

Two other members walked round Tarn Hows, enjoying the wonderful views of the Lakeland fells after the cloud of the previous two days.

Monday
After cleaning the hut, the six remaining members departed. One member headed south to visit friends while the other five visited Grasmere. On another dry day, and after a search for somewhere to park, three members pottered about in town while two enjoyed the short climb to Helm Crag above Grasmere.

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Monday 12th February 2024
Open Meeting / Annual Photographic Competition

21 members and a guest attended. After the short Open Meeting, the Annual Photographic Competition was held. Graham Chalmers, the judge, had been perusing the 81 photos from 17 entrants. Entrants had been given a code so Graham had no idea of whose photos they were. Graham went through the entire 81 entries, commenting on each. His comments will be added here later. Results are as follows :-
Best Photograph (Brian Coull Memorial Trophy) : 1st Jackie Arbuthnott, 2nd David Sinclair, 3rd Nicola Baillie
Best Collection of 3 Photos (Norrie Trophy) : 1st David Sinclair, 2nd Nicola Baillie, 3rd Jackie Arbuthnott

See 3 links here on Google Photos


Sunday 4th February 2024
Day Meet - Morrone

After some discussion about the intended location and name of the hill for this meet, it was clarified that the destination was the Corbett overlooking Braemar, and not the Morven located 25km further east as some had thought.
Nine members in total ventured out on this meet, six setting off from Forfar at the relatively late hour of 8am and three others heading straight to Braemar. Seven members set off through the village at 9.40 with two latecomers intending to go for a low-level walk before meeting the others afterwards. The weather was calm but overcast with drizzle in the air, which was a bit of an improvement on the high winds which had been expected. The road led steeply upwards from the west end of the village, rising above Morrone Birkwoods before becoming a footpath leading on to the open hillside, with good views back to the village and Balmoral beyond. To the north, Ben Avon and the other high tops were just clear of the cloud, and it was clear that much of the snow cover of recent weeks had gone. As more height was gained, the wind increased notably and layers of clothing which had earlier been removed had to be hastily retrieved from rucksacks. The cloudbase over the Cairngorms had also lowered significantly. By the time the walkers reached the top at a height of 859 metres, the wind was really making its presence felt and the wind chill was significant. The walkers were therefore really grateful for the shelter provided by the buildings surrounding the telephone masts for a refreshment stop. While they were sitting there, they were joined by the President and her husband who had decided to follow the others up the hill rather than go for the intended low-level walk, no mean feat considering they are both working their way back to full fitness after long lay-offs. After a lengthy break it was time to venture out into the wind again. The latter two walkers decided to retrace their steps down the path while the other seven headed off on a slightly longer route in a southerly direction on the vehicle track to a subsidiary top before curving west, down to the Clunie Water. The first kilometre or so was very exposed but once past the subsidiary top the wind abated as height was lost and the walking became very pleasant again, although the light drizzle continued to make its presence felt on occasion. The last part of the walk followed a minor road which runs alongside the Clunie Water, past the golf course and back to the village. The car park was reached just before 2pm, a total time of just over four hours. The two walkers who had returned by the upward route arrived only minutes later, and all nine enjoyed a cup of coffee in Braemar before returning home. The distance covered on the walk was 12km. The total ascent was 600 metres.

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Sunday 21st January 2024
January Day Meet / Annual Social Meal

Unfortunately all walks were cancelled because the arrival of Storm Isha. 33 members attended the meal at Sinclair's Kitchen at 5.30pm. Unfortunately, 5 other members had to call off. An excellent meal was served and a good blether was had by the attendees. By the time the group left, Storm Isha had really set in with torrential rain and high winds.


Sunday 14th January 2024
David Sinclair - New Donalder!

Congratulations to David Sinclair who "compleated" the 140 Donalds, consisting of 89 Donald Hills and 51 Donald Tops. These include 7 Corbetts and 24 Grahams. David was accompanied by his wife Sarah, and his parents, Colin & Linda. The last of his Donald walks set off from Glentress Farm on the B709 and climbed the Donald Top of Bareback Knowe (657m) before climbing to his final summit, the trig point on Windlestraw Law (659m). No great celebrations took place there, as a shower of snow and freezing rain swept over just as David reached his last summit. The event was celebrated with a meal in South Queensferry on the return journey. David reports that he did 71 on his own and the rest accompanied mainly by Sarah, and a few with other family and friends. It took about 50 walks, starting in 2015, when living in Linlithgow. Completing them from Pitlochry was a good deal harder. Munros and Donalds done. Corbett completion is fairly near but Grahams might take a bit longer!

David is the club's 2nd known Donalder. Alec Smith ""compleated"" in March 2017. See details here.

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Monday 8th January 2024
Open Meeting

18 members and a guest attended. The meeting was followed by an excellent presentation by David Sinclair on his 2017 bike trip from Linlithgow to the Black Sea and back. David also showed his 2019 bike trip to France and Spain to complete a loop bypassed on the 2017 trip. He brought along his bike and various bits and pieces.

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Sunday 7th January 2024
New Year Meet - Tarmachan Ridge

The New Year outing fell victim to the weather, but with settled conditions moving in a few days later a decision was made to head a bit further west to the Tarmachan Ridge on the following Sunday. This range often gives good winter conditions and so it proved on this occasion.
The short notice given for this rearranged walk meant that only four members turned up, although others took advantage of the good weather to enjoy shorter local walks locally.
The small group reached the already busy Ben Lawers car park just after 9am and were walking by 9.20. The recent rain followed by the cold nights meant that the path was a sheet of solid ice in many places. The snow line was reached around the 900m mark and the walkers had a refreshment stop in a sheltered spot facing the sun before putting on crampons for the last steep section before the main top, Meall nan Tarmachan, at 1044m. From here it was a wonderful high-level walk round the south-facing cliffs in snow which was deep enough and crisp enough to comfortably take a crampon. All the hills to the north and west were pure white, with Ben Nevis standing out particularly clearly against the cloudless sky. After another refreshment stop at the western end of the ridge, the group retraced their steps a short distance before descending into a corrie filled with fresher, softer snow. This proved to be quite steep in places and was quite warm work in the sunshine. The walkers then contoured round the side of the hill to the east before eventually rejoining the outward path. Crampons were then swapped for ice grips to negotiate the icy path and it wasn’t long before the car park was in sight. The car park was reached just after 3pm as the sun was lowering in the sky and the temperature was starting to drop. The walk covered 12km and although much of the walk was at an altitude of more than 1000m, there was only a modest 800m of climbing, thanks to the high starting point.

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