Sunday 8 March 2015

An Socach (Braemar)

Ponies by the start of the walk beside A93 (NO139832)

The forecast was for a good start, followed by "several hours of heavy snow" clearing out by the end of the day. Mmmmm....

We set off in sunshine, from the small parking area beside the A93 about 5.5 km north of the Glen Shee Ski Centre, west along a somewhat muddy track (the friendly ponies weren't helping with that!) and negotiating some icy snowdrifts that had taken residence on that path.

Baddoch Burn - looking south west to Sgor Mor

The track followed the Baddoch Burn along the glen, over a couple of bridges and past a couple of farm and stalking cottages. It really was rather lovely...

Jim and Rafe walk south west on the landrover track beside the Baddoch Burn views to Sgor Mor

We had a little detour off the track to explore the old clachan at NO128819. It looks like the glen was fairly well populated before the sheep farming and then deer forest clearances...

Clachan beside the Baddoch Burn - views north east

Jim and Rafe beside the Baddoch Burn (NO125815) - views south west

Our first sight of An Socach came as we passed Sgor Mor - a massive cornice hung over Coire Fhearneasg...

Our first view of An Socach over Socach Moor

Rafe - Ford on Allt Coire Fhearneasg

There has been a bit of a thaw of late so Allt Coire Fhearneasg was running a touch high for a dryshod crossing at the ford - so we headed up the north bank for a couple of hundred yards for an easier crossing.

Jim - waterfalls on Allt Coire Fhearneasg

Waterfalls on Allt Coire Fhearneasg

We were quite glad that we did - our first sighting of a adder this year - it was sunning itself in a sheltered south facing hollow.

Adder basking beside Allt Coire Fhearneasg

An Socach East Top from Allt Coire Fhearneasg

Once we were across the Allt Coire Fhearneasg, we found ourselves yomping through deep heather and patches of snow, making a bee line for the obvious cairn on An Socach North Top.

We were having quite a good day for wildlife...

Red deer as we ascend An Socach

Mountain hare on An Socach

Carn Aosda, The Cairnwell and Carn nan Sac from our ascent of An Socach

As we ascended through the heather and bog, the views were opening up - to the south we could see the whole of our route around The Cairnwell Munro's that we walked last month.

An Socach East Top from An Socach North Top

Once past the cairn on An Socach North Top, we were back on a path of sorts, somewhat boggy, but free of leggy heather! We pushed on towards An Socach East Top, the start of the summit plateau.

 Views north east to Sgor Mor, Coire Fhearneasg and Baddoch Burn from An Socach North Top

Jim and Rafe ascend An Socach East Top

Near An Socach East Top - views north east

Once on the summit plateau, we could see that the forecast weather was on its way...

Time for a spot of lunch in the shelter of the cairn on East Top summit - once out of the wind and sitting in the sun it was quite pleasant, but minute by minute the cloud closed in.

An Socach East Top (Munro Top 173, 938m) - views west to An Socach summit

Jim - walking west towards An Socach

Pretty much as soon as we slung our rucksacks back on, a stinging snow started, blowing in from the north. We marched off across the summit plateau towards the West Top - An Socach's summit.

Buff's were pulled up around our faces!

Rafe and Jim on An Socach summit plateau

It was over 2km along the top to the summit - a very chilly 2km - but as usual Rafe was quite happy, leaping up, trying to catch the snow flakes and hail.

The views could have been better, once we reached An Socach's summit (Munro 227, 944m), but it certainly felt wild and wintry.

There wasn't much hanging about - the usual and obligatory photo session - and we headed back along the summit plateau, getting the other side of our faces exfoliated!

An Socach (Braemar) summit (Munro 227, 944m)

Jim and Rafe - An Socach summit plateau - returning east

Rafe on a snowy An Socach

Rafe and Jim - nearing An Socach East Top

The weather seemed to be getting worse as we neared the East Top again, we were anticipating a chilly and damp walk out...

Rafe and Jim at the start of the descent from An Socach East Top
Views to Sgor Mor, Coire Fhearneasg and Baddoch Burn  

But pretty much as soon as we started down, the snow/hail eased off, then stopped, and the views opened up again.

And out came the sun.

It was time to throw some snowballs for Rafie...

Rafe and Jim descend from An Socach East Top - views north east

Looking back to An Socach East Top from Socach Mor

There was a definite thaw. We decided to aim for Allt Coire Fhearneasg a bit higher up to avoid wet feet.

We crossed a couple of big snow patches, much to Rafe's delight, and crossed the burn well up the coire.

After crossing Allt Coire Fhearneasg - views east

Views south west towards Coire Clachach over Allt Coire Fhearneasg

Once back on the main track, we stopped for a second lunch by the Baddoch Burn, before a gentle stroll back to the start...

Don't think the weather forcast could have been any more correct!

A good place for a picnic - by the Baddoch Burn

Old farmhouse at Baddoch (NO132827)

A warm welcome from the locals - Baddoch

Pony at Baddoch with Sgor Mor beyond - at the end of the walk

Route:  Layby on A93 5.5km N of Glenshee Ski Centre (NO139832), W then SW along the Baddoch Burn, over 2 footbridges, at ford on Allt Coire Fhearneasg (NO123811), head W along N bank and cross when suitable, SW across open moor to cairn at NO112803 (An Socach North Top), vague path W over Socach Moor, An Socach East Top (Munro Top 173, 938m), W 2km across An Socach plateau, An Socach (Munro 227, 944m), return to An Socach East Top, descend E via vague path to NO107807 (approx) and head NNE towards head of Allt Coire Fhearneasg gorge (NO116129 approx), cross burn and follow path above N bank to Baddoch Burn, track NE to start.

Statistics:  Distance: 15.5km  Ascent: 650m  Time: 6 hours

Map:  OS Explorer 387 (Glen Shee & Braemar)

An Socach (Braemar)

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