Carn na Drochaide

22 July 2020 4 By Fred Carrie

Well known Scottish mountaineer Hamish Brown wrote that Corbetts tend to make better viewpoints than Munros because of their lesser height.

For those unfamiliar with this terminology, a Corbett is any individual Scottish hill with a height of between 2500 and 2999.99 feet and a separation of at least 500 vertical feet from any surrounding or adjoining hill. A Munro is a hill of over 3000 feet, although this is much more loosely defined, some 3000+ footers being Munros and some not. Go figure!

As an ex Munro bagger, now, with the benefit of years and experience, I realise just how inane this is. 🙂 Munros are mobbed, Corbetts a bit less so, and unclassified hills you get to yourself. Where would you rather spend a day?

Anyway, at 818 m or 2699ft Carn na Drochaide (NO 12730 93825) is a Corbett. We climbed it yesterday. We climbed it, not because it is a Corbett, but because it is a fine hill standing in splendid isolation above the village of Braemar and the views are spectacular. Not only did we have it to ourselves, once away from the car park we didn’t see another soul all day. The total round trip is about 9KM or 5 ½ miles.

The walk makes a good circuit, taking in the subsidiary tops of Carn na Criche on the way up and Carn Dearg on the way down. Incidentally Carn na Drochaide means The Rocky Hill Of The Bridge, Carn na Criche is The Rocky Hill Of The Boundary or March (I think) and Carn Dearg is The Red Rocky Hill. Whatever the names it is a fine walk, not too taxing and 4 hours should leave ample time for photography and sandwiches.

Following the track north-westwards on the east side of the river Quoich, the accent is steady but gentle eventually depositing you on the top of Carn na Criche (737m or 2472 ft). the total accent so far is about 400m or 1400 ft. It’s pretty easy going.

Heading Uphill
Heading Up

From here the views of the Cairngorms and Beinn a’ Bruird are spectacular.

Beinn a' Bhuird
Beinn a’ Bhuird

We continued south east along the broad ridge and a further accent of 80m or 260 ft took us to Carn na Drochaide. This is golden plover country, but I was soon asking myself why I’d bothered to carry a heavy 500mm lens up there as the total of our wildlife encounters amounted to no more than a few annoying black flies, one small fritillary butterfly and a single wasp. Not even a grouse or a meadow pipit! Hardly National Geographic material. To be fair though the breeding season is over and most birds have already moved away from the high hills.

Reaching Carn na Drochaide summit the views opened out once more with Ben A’n and Lochnagar prominent.

Lochnagar
Lochnagar
Ben A'an
Ben A’an

The decent by Carn Dearg is on an old stalkers path that comes and goes, steep in places and hard on the legs, but the view down to Braemar makes it worthwhile.

Braemar
Braemar

Midsummer light can be unflattering and make landscape images dull and uninteresting. Shooting black and white in such conditions helps and this is what I did.

Back at the car with weary legs we drove to The Bothy in Braemar for coffee and cake. Great to see these places open for business once again. It was the first feeling of relative normality we have had since March.

All in all a fine day and it goes without saying that no one should ever venture into these hills without map, compass and the ability to use them. Maps and compasses do not rely on battery power and should the weather turn inclement in these hills, if you are not prepared you may well be screwed! 😀