Time: 5hrs 50 mins (including 20 mins of stops)
Distance: 8.8 miles
Ascent: 591m (1,939ft)
Corbett: Morrone (859m)
Meteorology: Deep snow, light cloud clearing to clear skies, sub-zero
Attendees: Myself and Dave
Route: View on OS Maps
After several weeks of inclement weather including heavy snow and high winds, as well as problems on the roads, conditions finally seemed favourable to escape Aberdeen. The 201 Stagecoach was used to reach Braemar and despite a slightly late start we were deposited outside the Fife Arms only a couple of minutes behind the timetable and a couple of minutes before 10am.
Braemar was under heavy snow but the roads were clear and a steady stream of shoppers, walkers and skiers made the place look quite bustling. Icicles hung impressively from the eaves of the buildings and all around the hills were white from summit to glen.
Our vague plan was to attempt the Morrone horseshoe which includes Morrone, Carn na Drochaide and Carn Mar before descending to the Mar road and returning to Braemar. We passed the Duck Pond (though the ducks had abandoned the icebound water for a home away from home) and headed up past the few houses to the viewpoint at the foot of the hill.
There were relatively few tracks about and in fact as we started the ascent we overtook the only other hiker about who was toiling up through deep, powdery snow. We followed the course of the path for some way with the views opening out all around.
It was tough going though, often sinking waist deep, and breaking trail offered no respite. After some time I broke away from the line of the path and made a beeline for the plateau, hoping this would offer some respite.
Once up we marvelled at the views: over to Loch Callater and the hills around Glas Maol, east down Deeside towards Morvern, and into the heart of the Cairngorms, hidden by a cap of cloud. Ahead of us we spied the mast of the weather station and with the going eased by slightly shallower snow we were soon there.
The ascent had already taken us two hours so as we sat eating lunch and marvelling at the snowy landscape all around we altered our plans.
After descending Morrone to the col below Carn na Drochaide we contoured around the ridge slightly and then headed for a point deep in the Glen of Corriemulzie.
This descent was a delight, wading through deep, light powder with fantastic views all around and the sun shining on us. There were plenty of tracks in the snow but only one mountain hare was spied.
As we got into the shadows of the glen the snow deepened again and after crossing the burn, threading a narrow course between banks of snow, we picked up the line of the track but again found deep snow.
We paused for another brief snack and a drink before moving on. In the glen it was certainly well below freezing and there was a huge temperature contrast following all the exertions of the descent.
We now followed the line of the burn as it ran down to meet the Dee. As we approached the road we were treated to two small groups of deer wading through the snow. The clouds again had come in making the hills behind us look very wintry. After a short forest section we gained the road.
As snow started to drift down to headed back to Braemar, taking in the stunning views up the Dee (which was largely frozen over and hidden by snow) as well as the icicles formed by small burns trickling down the hillside.
After six hours on the hills we arrived back in Braemar where a well deserved couple of pints were consumed as we waited for the bus back to Aberdeen. A thoroughly excellent day and just reward for a lot of expended energy.