Corriehabbie hill – a short winter walk in whisky country.

Nearing the top of Corriehabbie hill near Dufftown.

Nearing the top of Corriehabbie hill near Dufftown. Pam and Jim enjoying the day, cold but clear.

I had a lovely walk yesterday less than an hour from the house, it is in the heart of whisky country. I had two friends who are part of a group called ” the Last of the Summer Wine Mountaineering Club”  By the name we are a more mature group. We try to get out occasionally and have a wander, the numbers depend on how busy we all are and only three of us made the trip yesterday. It is hard making the effort, early start, dodgy roads and lots of other excuse, but usually if you make an effort it is worth it. It was a lovely sunrise as I left Elgin into whisky country, a red sky over the hills made it an enjoyable journey.  These Glens are famous for the whisky of this area Glen Livet, Glen Rinnes and Glen  Fiddich where the distilleries are fed from the wonderful water  of the area. Many call Corriehabbie  a boring hill but they are spoiled for choice up here and with the views make the easy walking a great introduction for a short winters day. We set off from the B9009 between Dufftown and Tomintoul and a turn off for the Ellivried  Farm, parking here can be difficult as there is wood cutting in progress.  Ben Rinnes is opposite and was looking inviting an old friend to me but not today. The open fields and a shooting track take you up to the Hill of Achmore 519 meters and easy walking takes you to Muckle Lapprach 729 metres. A small drop through peat hags covered in drifted snow and then on to the summit of Corryhabbie Hill and the “hatted trig point”. There was little snow but on the lee side the snow was building as there was some on the beleach (saddle) that had drifted in among the peat hags. This hill has always lots of club moss near the summit and this plant was still all over the hill yesterday, a hardy wee plant.

The Hatted top on Corriehabbie Hill

The Hatted top on Corriehabbie Hill

This  summit area was the scene of Colbys Camp when the area was mapped many years ago ( I wrote on this a few days ago) The views to the Cairngorms were good with  a few  clouds and the promise of more snow.  All around are magic hills like the Cromdales and Ben Rinnes and others that few visit, we had only seen two other walkers, how lucky were we. It was cold as we stopped for lunch – cold enough for duvets and the hot tea was magic. From here we joined Morton’s Way ( a shooting road built by the one time laird at Glen Fiddich Lodge namned Morton) It is easy walking with a little snow but ice in places, the winter climbing would be in today. From here after a kilometer an easy walk down a ridge, I am sure we found another part of Colbys Camp where measurements would be taken of the Ben Rinnes side of the Hill. This would be an ideal hill to Ski away from the crowds?

Could this be another piece of Colbys Camp on Corriehabbie?  Unusual for me to wear such dark colours.

Could this be another piece of Colbys Camp on Corriehabbie? Lots of building amongst the boulders. Unusual for me to wear such dark colours.

The walk down the ridge with the heather burnt made it easy walking. Then across the river always a bit of fun  and we  passed a few holiday homes in the glen and ruins of another era when these Glens were vibrant places.

We were soon back at the car, faces and legs, knees feeling the effects of our lovely walk.

Corriehabbie is said by those who know these things  a “boring hill”, not to me it was an enjoyable wander with two good friends and a some great views. I saw a huge hare and some deer but even better was the lack of people. Even the wind – farms in the distance did not spoil the day, a lovely walk, easy on the knees, good weather and a bit of winter.

Back home in 45 minutes to home – made soup, a bath and get ready for my trip to the North West on Tuesday. Oh to be 20 again!

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
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