A short day on the Cromdales. The Moray Mountaineering Club Christmas Bus meet and Dinner. A song for these hills.

I first skied ( badly) on these hill in the 70’s on a day we could not get to the winter Corries in the Cairngorms due to the snow blocking the ski road. As we were staying in Grantown for 2 weeks on our Winter Course with the RAF Mountain Rescue. It was a long day of falls and bumps getting of in the dark. It was a great break from the climbing after “several days of fear” on the routes. These hills and this ridge in summer are when dry a magic walk and full of history of whisky smuggling illicit stills and now the Whisky Distilleries that are nearby.. There has been a big battle here described in the song by the Corries at the end of the blog.

I got to know this area pretty well yet now my memory is fairly vague. The Cromdales deserved a day out as I have not been on these hills for years. I always see them on my drive to the Cairngorms. They stand out and always look inviting yet few visit this area.

The Guidebooks state: The Cromdales are a lovely range of hills full of history. You can see the huge Cairns on the summits.

Lovely light early morning

Our plan was to take my van leave early and hopefully climb Carn a’ Ghille Charr the more northeasterly of the two Grahams in the Cromdale Hills. The Grahams are the mountains in Scotland between 2000 and 2500 feet high, with at least 150 metres of descent on all sides. I am still struggling with my cough so had the ability to get off the hill if not feeling great. Dianne who lives nearby wanted to do a hill as well so I had a companion.

The drive was interesting we decided not to go in the bus as it would not be taking in these hills. As the roads were icy and I took care. This road is classic and after Grantown was interesting but stunning. Most of the rest on the Bus meet were walking via local routes to Grantown. I just wanted to get up higher and see how I was going on the hill . I found out later that two of the lassies were of to grab a Munro at Glen Feshie. They had left at 0500. Hardy lassies.

Pretty icy early in morning take care. Driving is in winter all part of the journey.

Our hill it states “Though a simple rounded hill it has fewer visitors than its neighbour, and the old paths that lead up onto the ridge from the Cromdale side have become overgrown which means parts of the route involve harder going through deep heather”. Today it was very icy to start and the ground frozen. You had to take care as the paths at low level were covered in ice .

On the track. Lots of ice hidden under the track.

We parked in the small car park by the river Avon at Ballcorach NJ155265 and followed a very icy path up to a ruined house at Kinardochy. So sad to see these places fall into disrepair how many stories could they tell?

Kinardochy ruins sad !

From her a track snakes up the hill and keeps you out of the Heather. This is shooting country and much of the land is burnt later in the year. Once of the track nearing the ridge it becomes Pathless for much of the ascent, with sections of deep heather today with lots of snow. It was surprisingly hard going and bitter cold. There were lots of mountain Hares stunning in their white coats. It was magical to see them. They were scurrying about.

On the ridge

The ridge is usually soggy in places with an intermittent path. Not today and there are tracks from vechiles an ATV track all the way to the summits. Today they were snow covered and icy in places the wind got up we had a wee break at the top Carn Eachie there was limited shelter.

Ben Rinnes. My local Corbett.

I put my big gloves on and the cloud came in. Clouds scurried across the summits but the views of my local Ben Rinnes and Corriehabbie hill were looking great. I could see plumes of spin-drift on some of the higher tops. There is a huge wind farm nearby but the Cairngorms looking plastered looked superb.

The Tomintoul Distillery is in the Glen below and with the mighty river Avon this is another wonderful place.

The Cromdales.

It was grab a sandwich and a hot drink and head on the the highest top. Carn A’ Ghillie Chearr 710 metres “hill of the unlucky or awkward boy”. The weather changed and cleared up but we had another quick stop. It was so cold though I really felt it.

I wanted to visit the crash site of the Armstrong Whitley that crashed here in the war. Sadly two of the crew survived the crash one died in hospital but only one of the crew survived which was a miracle. I could not imagine being up here after a crash. I would love to hear the local stories of the recovery of the crew?

On 31st January 1943 this aircraft took off from Kinloss airfield at 10.35hrs to undertake a cross country training flight. At around 17.00hrs the aircraft flew into high ground close to the summit of Carn a’Ghillie Chearr; one of the larger peaks in the Hills of Cromdale. It is located on the lower top just to the East just South of the summit. I will visit it again as this was covered in snow.

After this we headed straight of down the hill, it was steep and hard going and were soon down at the path that followed the River Avon back to the van. The path was still icy. It was then a drive back to the Grant Hotel in Grantown and the Christmas meal. We had 50 sitting down for a grand meal. Thanks to all for making it possible.I was tired not feeling great but superb to be out on these wee hills. Old age does not come easy but its great to be out.

The Haugh’s O’ Cromdale The Corries – lots of memories of this and other great folk bands,

“As I come in by Auchindoun,
Just a wee bit frae the toun,
To the Hi’lands I was bound
To view the Haughs of Cromdale.
I met a man in tartan trews,
Spiered at him (asked) what was the news,
Quo’ he, “The Hi’land army rues
That e’er we come to Cromdale.”We were in bed, sir, every man,
When the English host upon us cam;
A bloody battle then began
Upon the Haughs of Cromdale.
The English horse they were so rude,
They bathed their hoofs in Hi’land blood,
But our brave clans, they boldly stood
Upon the Haughs of Cromdale.”But, alas! We could no longer stay,
And o’er the hills we come away,
Sore we do lament the day
That e”er we come to Cromdale.”
Hus the great Montrose did say:
Hi’land man show me the way
I will over the hills this day,
To view the Haughs of Cromdale.”They were at their dinner, every man,
When great Montrose upon them cam;
A second battle then began
Upon the Haughs of Cromdale.
The Grant, Mackenzie and M’Ky,
As Montrose they did espy,
Then they fought most valiantly
Upon the Haughs of Cromdale.The McDonalds they returned again,
The Camerons did our standard join,
McIntosh played a bloody game
Upon the Haughs of Cromdale.The Gordons boldly did advance,
The Frasers fought with sword and lance,
The Grahams they made the heads to dance,
Upon the Haughs of Cromdale.And the loyal Stewarts, wi’ Montrose,
So boldly set upon their foes,
Laid them low wi’ Hi’land blows
Laid them low on Cromdale.
Of twenty-thousand Cromwell’s men,
A thousand fled to Aberdeen,
The rest of them lie on the plain,
There on the Haughs of Cromdale.Of twenty-thousand Cromwell’s men,
A thousand fled to Aberdeen,
The rest of them lie on the plain,
There on the Haughs of Cromdale.”

The Battle of Cromdale was fought on the 1st of May, 1690. Cromdale was the final battle fought on the British mainland in support of the first Jacobite Rising. It was fought between a small force of Jacobite Highlanders under the command of Major-General Thomas Buchan and a Government army of dragoons and infantry under Sir Thomas Livingstone.

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 and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Friends, Gear, History, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Plants, Recomended books and Guides, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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