Date Walked: 25th April 2011
Distance: 10 miles (16km)
Actual Ascent: 2454 ft (748m)
Time Taken: 5.5 hours
Easter weekend was always going to be busy in the Cairngorms so I needed to find a 'less popular' hill to go at. WH to the rescue again with 'An Socach'. I reasoned that anyone making the drive to Braemar area for bagging purposes would be looking at multiple's i.e. the cairnwell munros to make the journey worthwhile and your average 'day tripper' wouldn't even be aware of An Socach.
So I approached the parking spot beside the A93 with a healthy mix of excitement and anticipation, there was only one car parked there and I knew the guess was a good one. The sky was still a whiteout but MWIS tell me that will be gone by 12 noon, so 11am was an excellent arrival time.
So, kitted up in new lightweight 'summer boots' carrying the usual snacks, an orange and more drinks than a man could possibly need I headed off through the gate and down the ATV track.
In a very short distance you round a curve to see this beautiful little cottage nestled in the base of the hills
As the track turns around the cottage it's clear that it is well maintained but currently 'closed up' - a summer let perhaps?
Behind the cottage is a style, make sure you stick with the ATV track and don't get tempted by the small bridge crossing Baddock Burn
The glen then opens out in front of you and Braddock Burn switches sides under a small well constructed bridge
The track makes for good going as it undulates along the glen hugging the lower flank of Sgor Mor
About 3.5k into the glen you cross the first real ford of the day, an easy task today after such a long dry spell
Immediately after the ford turn west and begin the ascent of Socach Mor along the narrow track barely visible perhaps reflecting its popularity
As it was so dry I cut off the path and away across the heather toward the cairn situated midway up Socach Mor
looking back shows it is a rapid ascent through the heather but good going all the way, perhaps it would be more difficult in wetter times
Eventually I reach the cairn that is much larger than first expected and so appeared much closer from lower down the slope, its one of those "how much bloody further is that cairn" cairns, Socach Mor is behind the cairn still wearing a small belt of snow on its northen slope
As someone had taken the time to build a cairn I thought it only proper to sit down and have a cuppa and take in the views across the glen....not just resting ; )
zooming into the hill I see a lonely figure wandering down with a small white blob jumping around beside him. It turned out to be the owner of the other car at the layby and his 'westie' , we shared a 10 minute chat about the usual before he went on his way - so now I have the place to myself.
I set off up the side of the hill with a new kind of excitement that comes from knowing the sky is clearing and you have a 2k flat top to wander about on all by yourself.....the steep side of the hill soon focussed my attention on just getting up it!
Even at the first false summit the views are fantastic
and at the next one the same again
at last the cairn is in sight for the top of Socach Mor which is virtually all of the ascent done
MWIS got it bang right again delivering beautiful clear skies at exactly the right time - it's difficult not to say 'wow' out loud when faced with such views across to the Grampians..... and so I do...several times
looking along the top to An Socach at the end of the snow line, just a nice 2k wander in sunshine with blue skies on a warm and beautiful day...all alone....fantastic
Best have a cup of tea in the shelter first though and grab a pic for the records...
looking back toward Braemar shows the last of the solid cloud burning away
then its time to get going to the summit and I'm a little surprised to see a 'well trodden path' in the rocky ground, perhaps this hill is more popular than I thought
another look over to the Grampians as I cross the saddle
looking south-west as I wander I am surrounded by stunning views, there is virtually no noticeable ascent as I cross so I can just wander along enjoying the views
from the southern edge of the saddle Loch nan Eun comes into view sitting above the glen
soon the summit cairn is in sight and its a slight increase in ascent to finally make the top, though the views around mean you still don't notice any effort to make it
turns out that is the summit shelter, the cairn is a little further west so off with the bag and a summit wander is in order
looking back from the summit across the saddle shows the virtually flat top
to the north the Grampians look spectacular away on the horizon and the lush green glens like a puzzle pathway to get you to them
best get one of these for the records, I'm not being artistic, there's no trig point up here to set the camera on
a closer view of Loch nan Eun
after a good 30 mins up top really enjoying the scenery, the weather, the beauty and the solitude of the place its time to decide on the descent - back the way I came or the drop off half way across the top and down to the track below
it is tempting to stay up top and go back the way I came because everywhere I turn is a view to good to leave
in keeping with my dislike of doubling back on a route I elect to take the route down beside Allt Boruiche careful not to walk across the snow that may well be hiding some dicey drops
once I have skirted round the initial snow banks a path (of sorts) appears beside the burn
it's a good descent, steep in places but I can't help but think it would be bloody awful when wet, looking down at my new 'lightweight summer boots' I'm glad this is not the bog it could be
after a short time I come across the ATV track marked on the map and make my last tea stop on a well sited boulder beside the track
The track meanders along slowly descending the rest of the way to the bottom of the glen
There are a number of fords along here but they present no issues today, when its good and wet they might
Soon I am almost back to the point in the glen where I turned off and headed up Socach Mor
the open end of the glen looks a lot better bathed in sunlight than it did on the way in
when the small cottage comes into view it is almost a shame that I am coming to the end of the walk, it seemed very short even though it comes out at 10 miles
I can't help but envy the owner of this cottage on a day like today
just a few hundred yards now past the horses along the side of the plantation and I'm back at the car
When I set out this was a bit of a 'make do' hill to avoid the easter crowds, by the end of the walk I realised it was a little cracker that I really enjoyed and seemed pretty easy too....maybe it was those new 'lightweight' boots ; )