After heading to the West Coast and returning without a single additional Munro to my name last week (see this post on the spectacular Kinlochewe to Poolewe walk) I was ready to get out of Aberdeen and get up some hills a bit closer to home. Inspired by Steven Fallon's suggested route I chose the mountains east of Glenshee as my destination, the idea being to bag six of them before heading back.
Due to the strange bus services going on at this time of year I was able to take the 503 from Aberdeen and get dropped off at the head of the A93 pass just south of the ski centre at Glenshee. This was great as it already gained me a significant altitude and also cut off the traditional long walk in. After a quick pause to don waterproofs against the Scotch Mist that was being blown through by strong winds I headed up the track to the summit of Meall Odhar. It's a strange world around there, particularly in the mist. Eerie items of ski equipment, rusty and forlorn, suddenly appear out of the mist, and the wind set up an unearthly wailing in the wires of the lifts. To my south it certainly looked brighter but closer at hand, my first target of the day, Creag Leacach, was hidden beneath cloud.
From the summit of Meall Odhar I descended slightly, and then before the main pull up to Glas Maol began, headed southeast, picking up a narrow but well defined path that contoured around the base of Glas Maol, bringing me up to a Cairn above Bathach Beag. Here the sun came out and the clouds lifted so I stopped to remove all the waterproof gear. From the direction of Glas Maol a large party of hillwalkers came and after cheerful hello's I set off along the ridge to my first Munro of the day.
Creag Leacch looks an impressive hill and the ridge path took me up across a couple of boulder-strewn bumps before reaching the summit (1 hr 15). I paused for a bite of lunch and a mug of tea before heading back the way I'd ascended.
At the bottom of the final pull to the summit I re-passed the hillwalking group who were heading south, and now continued on my way to Glas Maol. Initially I followed a line of fence posts from the cairn I had stopped at earlier but once up the slope had to leave them and strike eastwards to find the cairn and trig point (2 hrs).
The clouds had rolled back in at this point and it was gloomy and windy. After a moment to celebrate my 10th Munro I headed off, descending from Glas Maol and then picking up a broad track which wound its way around the head of various Corries to reach the slopes of Cairn of Claise.
It was a long walk up but had some nice views, particularly to the south and eventually I reached the summit cairn, straddling another dry-stone wall (2hrs 40). After another quick bite to eat and some tea I headed off east with the view now opening up magnificently towards Lochnagar. Before me was Tolmount and Tom Bhuidhe and it was to the latter of these that I headed first. The bottom of the descent offered some awkward boggy ground but it didn't take long to pick up a firmer path which led me to the summit (3hrs 20).
After pausing to take in the view I retraced my steps down the hill and then crossed over to the Tolmount. Again I picked up a course of iron fence posts which brought me to the flat summit (3 hrs 40). From here there were excellent views down to Loch Callater. In the distance veils of rain were covering the major bulk of the Cairngorms. Although it rained briefly at this point it was not enough to force any waterproofs on.
I now picked my way across pathless, undulating terrain, westwards towards my final Munro of the day, Carn an Tuirc. I passed some lingering snow and chased hares across the mountains, all of the time walking into a strong and unpleasant headwind. Then, with the view back to Glenshee finally appearing, I found a track that came down off Cairn of Claise. This led me up to the rocky expanse of the summit (4hrs 40) of Carn an Tuirc where a shelter offered me respite from the wind and the opportunity for a last mug of tea.
I now crossed the summit plateau of Carn an Tuirc before finding a way down to the landrover track that comes up from Loch Callater. A steep descent, occasionally coming across sheep, brought me to the shores of the Loch where a number of people were enjoying the evening sunshine and having a fish.
I sat down on the small beach by the lodge and rested the feet for a few minutes. Then it was off down the track heading north through Glen Callater. The sun got stronger as I hit the A93 and by the time I arrived in Braemar it was a beautiful evening. The whole walk had taken exactly 7 hours and now I had time in Braemar to enjoy a pint in the Fife Arms and have a celebratory fish supper.
The bus back meandeared its way along Royal Deeside and I eventually returned to Aberdeen around 14 hours after leaving. For six Munros by public transport I don't think it was an unreasonable time.