We had planned a little foray to the Ladder Hills on Saturday, but the forecast wasn’t good, so we postponed to yesterday. as it was, Saturday wasn’t so bad, but yesterday was glorious.
We set off about 09:40, I thought we might be pushing it for daylight hours as I wasn’t sure quite how long this walk would take, but we arrived at the car park and enjoyed a coffee and second breakfast before setting off at 11:16.
There’s an information board at the car park, despite this not being the car park marked on the map, nor the one specified in most write ups, but it’s the one I’ve previously used with Laura. We set off straight from the car and along the track towards East Auchavaich Farm, then along to Corrunich and Ladderfoot, before the track following the Ladder Burn. It’s the kind of track that continually goes up, and then up some more, all the way to the top of The Ladder, but it gives great views over the hills behind as you pause occasionally to breathe. It was during one of these pauses, quite close to the top, when David said, “Oo, big bird!” Sure enough, there was a large bird in the sky coming overhead. My initial reaction is always that it must be a buzzard. It avoids disappointment. However, as this bird soared overhead, it was absolutely unmistakably a Golden Eagle. What a treat!!
We didn’t have far to go now to reach the ridge, and when we did what a view! It was just splendid, with hills to all sides and blue skies above, glorious.
The information board
Along the track to Ladderfoot
Looking back at the start of the climb
An unusual deep square pool at a small dam
Continuing to go up
Looking NW once we gained the ridge
Looking SW from The Ladder
So we set off then, roughly SW along the ridge to the first little rise, Dun Muir. I knew there would be peat hags, I was expecting it to be quite bad, but either it wasn’t that bad, or it was drier than usual or maybe I’ve just had so much practice and got very good at hag hopping! We had a great time and made short shrift of those peat hags. Once we were passed the hags and on the next little rise, the ground was fantastically easy going, a mix of short heather, lichen and a bit stony in places and often a faint path to follow. It wasn’t long before we were heading up to the trig point of Carn Mor and a lunch stop. It was really quite blowy at the top, so once I’d taken a few photographs, David suggested deploying the bothy bag, just get some shelter while we ate and avoid me losing my fingers. What a difference! Although, I have to say, my least favourite bit of the trip, I felt quite claustrophobic as the wind outside pushed the bothy bag fabric against my head, but it was warm.
We’re getting to the point where we will all just enjoy the views…
Pretty sure this was the one where I could see Ben Wyvis, but was proving it would come out on a photograph. think I was right…
The last bit up to the trig…
Naming the hills (must have been looking north-ish…)
Really shouldn’t put David in control of the camera…
Once we’d eaten, stowed the bothy bag and rearranged our layers of jackets, we set off along the ridge once more, still heading SW, again with great going underfoot. There was another little descent and rise before we could see the fence line we were heading for that we would handrail down to the ruins at Clash of Scalan. Once we’d caught sight of it, we just cut straight across the next lot of peat hags in a direct line to the old fence and then turned NW to follow it along the little spur. At the point the fence turns more westerly, we paused to take in the views, including the top of the ski tows at the Lecht just peeping over the hills in front of us. At this point, we took a direct line north, steeply downhill and straight to the ruins.
We handrailed down from there
Once at the ruins it’s easy to pick up the track that leads to the College of Scalan, a secret seminary in the past, now a museum, and then along to West Auchavaich, passed the car park marked on the map, then along passed the Braeval distillery and back to the car.
The College of Scalan
…with water wheel
It was an absolutely fabulous day, I felt so emotional at times, quite overwhelmed by the beauty of the day and sheer fun of the walk, it was spectacular. I loved it! For some reason my Viewranger stopped tracking about a half mile short of the car, which was better than David’s which stopped just 25m after we set off, but I would guess we covered just short of 9.5 miles with around 2,054 ft total ascent and in about 4 hrs and 45 mins including rest stops.