Sunday 27 October 2013 was listed in the Club calendar as a visit to Ben Lomond. On Friday there were only four of us signed up for the walk and the forecast for the West of Scotland was abysmal: low cloud, heavy rain, strong winds … basically the sort of day when you'd prefer to stay in bed rather than rise with an early alarm call.
I got in touch with my fellow walkers and proposed an alternative venue – could we head for Glen Shee instead? The forecast for that area was still not great, but for at least the early part of the day it was not to be as wet or as windy, and the cloud level was expected to be higher.
In the morning, I met up with Carolyn and Colin (our fourth companion had dropped out) and we set off for Aberdeenshire. It was quite a pleasant drive up and apart from an interesting diversion in Blairgowrie, due to misleading signposting of a diversion, there were no delays.
It was even dry at the car park at Auchallater Farm, so duly booted up and suitably clad we headed off up the track beside the Callater Water. We had not gone far when we had to stand to the side of the track to allow a Mountain Rescue vehicle to pass: it drew up some distance short of the loch and the passengers disappeared up the hillside, presumably on some sort of training outing. It was nice to know they were nearby if we needed help!
The only signs of life at the Lodge were a couple of ponies grazing in a field. We struck off up the hillside to the left and continued to follow the path.
Not long after I took the photo of Carolyn looking out over the loch the wind rose and we stopped beneath Craig an Loch to add a layer of clothes and to take on some fuel. The clouds on the surrounding hills came and went but visibility was still considerably better than we had anticipated.
Leaving the track as it curved to the south we followed an old line of broken fenceposts. We were amused by a gate swinging on a hinge between two posts – with no fencing it clearly didn't matter whether it was open or shut!
The line of the old fence quickly led us to the summit of Carn an t-Sagairt Mor, which was indeed cloud covered. We did not linger but retraced our steps towards the swinging gate. We came across quite a number of pieces of wreckage from an RAF Canberra aircraft that crashed near the summit in 1956.
By now there was sleet falling and the wind was gusting quite strongly. Walking was not too difficult but we were glad to be on our way down the hill. Walking was not too difficult. We saw a couple of ptarmigan which seemed unperturbed both by our presence and the inclement weather.
Carolyn's new gear stood up well to the heavy rain that pursued us down the hill. The views over the loch and surrounding hills were largely obscured by curtains of rain and mist so we did not dally but headed for the glen as quickly as we could. Back beside the track we had a brief halt for a drink and some food before walking back along the riverside to Auchallater and the comfort of the waiting car. We had an enjoyable day out and definitely chose the right part of the country for our day on the hill.