Sunday, April 15, 2012

Outer Fife 3: Glen Isla, Broad Cairn, Lochs and Mucik and the Capel Mounth

Route Points: The Doll, Broad Cairn, Loch Dubh, Lock Muick, Capel Mounth Road

Route Type:Big Day Out

Access Type:Mostly Rights of Way

Route Access:
Lock Muick: Right of way to Glen Isla on Capel Mounth
The Doll: From Car Park head back to public road and Turn Right.


This is a big day out with a bit of a faux pas in the route decision, most guidebooks will tell you to cross the capel mounth, pick your way up the rocky trail to the col below Broad Cairn and then pick one of 2 rapid descents, either the Land Rover Track or Corriecash (referred to as The Lightning Streak to the Aberdeenshire clubs) dow to Loch Muick.

Foot of the Capel Mounth
Starting at the Doll car park we headed into the higher section of Glen Islaon good estate track, passing the foot of the Capel Mounth road, at one point you get a choice of two routes, I took the right hand route without thinking, and this brought me to a cracking bit of boardwalk. Yes I did just say that!

Cracking bit of Boardwalk

Alex pushing the Meta over some very rocky stuff
This leads to a quick hike-a-bike over some rocks and a bridge to get back onto the land rover track, from here the climb really kicks in and is fairly rocky and was tricky for me on a hard tail with not much cadence range, Alex just battered over pretty much everything on the Meta, so I had to find a picture of him pushing up it!

It's a cracking climb both when pushing and when finding rideable sections though, and the views back down the glen are spectacular.
The steep but well made section near the col.

This eventually leads to a memorial bridge where the path becomes smooth and well made, it is however also very steep and littered with culverts, if you are fit enough it is climbable.

It was on this section that with a bit of speed up I decided to try and jump a culvert, fud!  A rapidly deflating rear tyre was the reward and an enforced stop.  There isn't much shelter here either thankfully all the effort of a tyre change meant I didn't notice but Alex headed on for a bit to keep warm.

When you reach the col you are presented with a T-Junction, to the left is the path up to the boulderfields round broadcairn, and to the right is the horse stable at the junction of the two routes down to Loch Muick.

Alex on the edge of nothing?
The OS Landranger shows a path round Broadcairn and we headed for this only to realise that the boulder field was unrelenting for a short sharp lift onto the path, the path wasn't much better!
One of the waterfalls was rideable
As we went round the side of Broad Cairn it quickly became obvious that it was gonig to be too windy to make decent progress along the intended route round the horseshoe and descenting the side of Lochnagar, so we bailed out down the Coirre Uilleim Mohr, this has a faint path visible down it and we followed it as far as possible before picking a route to the waterfalls of the Allt an Dubh-Loch.

The first waterfall we hit at a flat point and it was possible to ride across it, the picture to the left shows Alex crossing, I had crossed on foot to get this before going back to try it on my bike.

The 2nd waterfall was a different challenge. We arrived it a narrow section with steeps sides, what looked like a piece of the rock stretching across as if the water had carved under turned out to be a rock wedged over a precipice.

The other needed a more careful crossing
But after this we found a good route for a reasonable distance along the exposed rock before picking a route on a better trampled path down to the loch.

At the loch is a narrow rocky path identifed as a good nit of single track by Kenny Wilson in his publication of the Loch Muick and Capel Mounth route, going down this bouncing between rocks, battering pedals and going huge sections without pedalling was brilliant, utterly nuts but brilliant. I think at one point I spent 5 minutes without pedalling and not knowing my chain was off the small ring at the front.  At one point at a river crossing that was not rideable some walkers had stopped for a break. "Oh look here's another nutter!" was my greeting from them.

Singtrack Chute at the Boathouse
Eventually this spits you out on the track round Loch Muick and we stopped on the shore in the woods near the lodge to consume lunch.

From the lodge the trail becomes a land rover track and is really smooth and if you follow it all the way will take you to Ballater, however if you are going for the Capel Mounth you need to turn off at the boathouse at the north end of the loch down a short singletrack chute.

The Capel Mounth Road starts here
Follow the path from the boathouse to the junction with the path along the east side of the loch, but turn left and then right singposted for the Capel Mounth.

This is a sharp climb on good land rover track, I was attacking the Jennly Babies by now though and Alex was running on empty, it is a tough climb but well worth it, as with all the Mounth roads you are following the footsteps of many a cattle drover or theif and clan chief with war party.

At the summit of the Land Rover Track you hit the march line and presumably an estate boundary here the road turns from landrover track to singletrack path despite being marked by the OS as a track.

This also signifies the start of a cracking descent down to the foot of the glen, it's steep, technical in places and great fun.

The trail changes from a path cut by years of trampling to rocky chutes and back again a few times and as you plummet into Glen Isla you can see the Doll far below.  Nearer the glen floor you enter an area of woodland with the trail defined by logs either side, with a tricky rocky river crossing.  This path then spits you back onto the landrover track on the glen floor that you started off on for a nice easy downhill spin back to the Doll Car Park

No map yet as there is something wrong with my Open Space API key