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A Winter Walk in Strathdon

DHC : Gairnshiel (Old Military Road)

21 January 2023

The intended start point had to be moved due to the layby on the Gairnshiel road having been used as a repository for snow and now not accessible. So, the five cars with 13 walkers drove round to the access point further north on the A939 at Ordgarff. We were pleased to welcome John Mason on his first DHC outing and also to see Ben back again after his first outing earlier in the month.

There was a stiff and cold wind in our faces as we headed south-eastwards following the Don along the old Military Road that was built in the mid-18th century to link Corgaff with Aberdeen. We walked across two of the old bridges on the way along to the ‘road’ junction near Delavine.

We left the Military Road to take the track uphill and leading to Carn Leac Saighdeir (699m). The snow was very much softer than expected – there was none of the ice experienced on the pavements of Banchory and Aboyne. Instead, we had to break trail through soft snow most of the way. The wind was still fresh and with no shelter available we had a short break for food before continuing upwards.

It was very slow progress as our large group made our way uphill. Before reaching the upper slopes, we conferred and agreed to reduce the scope of the outing by walking over Saighdeir and dropping back down to the Road rather than taking the planned wider sweep over the other minor tops. We also agreed that in the event of the wind becoming too difficult we would even shave off the summit and cross the hill by its shoulder. About 500m from the top we encountered mist and the winds picked up and blew the snow into our faces; an easy decision was taken to avoid further height gain and skirt round the shoulder to find the slopes descending back into the glen.

On reaching the road we found some shelter by the ditch for lunch before heading back towards the cars. A short outing of a little less than 10km but good to get out and a gentle reminder that we are back into winter walking.

Attendees : Gail, Sandra, Alison, Gillie, Paddy, Graham N, Kenny, Robert, Gordon, Alan, Ben, John and Sandy


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