Big Sky Country on Brown Cow Hill

Brown Cow Hill – 829m
9th January 2009
Distance: 8 ¼ miles
Ascent: 500m
Time taken: 5 hours
Weather: Dry and sunny with strong winds
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Bill and Molly

Big round grassy hills often get a bad press, especially for those who like their mountains pointy. But this big sky country with an endless sense of space and freedom. This is definitely a hill to leave until the ground is frozen or snow covered unless you have a particular fetish for peat hags.

We parked at Corgarff Castle after the rollercoaster drive over the Lecht from Tomintoul. Corgarff is on the legendary Tomintoul to Cockbridge road, its closure always heralding the arrival of the first snows of winter.

The track up past the castle had a good covering of crunchy snow which made for quick and easy progress. The track passes a small area of forest and doesn’t go through a large plantation as indicated on the OS map.

Looking back down the Cock Burn

We left the track at its highest point just before it turned north and made our way up the gentle heathery slopes, often the quickest way through the heather was to follow the tracks left by the mountain hares. As we climbed towards the plateau the snow gradually became deeper, the heather more sparse and the peat hags increased in size and frequency and it was easiest to pick a route up by linking the peat hags together.

The first glimpse of Ben Avon

There was a very strong headwind and we took advantage of a peat hag to shelter for lunch. Bill justified carrying his ice axe all the way up by putting it to good use cutting himself a snow seat.

Bill knew his ice axe would eventually come in handy for something
Waiting patiently for lunch to be served

Molly trying to hide prior to ambushing us……….her technique needs a bit more work.

You can’t see me

A small pile of rocks indicates the 823m top which is the named summit of Brown Cow Hill. The true summit is well camouflaged against Ben Avon. Thank goodness for the Database of British Hills and their 10 figure grid references, these are vital for the hillwalker with a serious case of OCD.

A distant Lochnagar

A very windy walk of approximately ½ mile across the flat plateau brought us to the true summit which is indicated by another small cairn.

A feeble attempt at man leg

At this point the wind strengthened considerably and walking back through the spindrift was very atmospheric and quite exhilarating. Luckily the wind was behind us on the way down. Cold…………………… was not possible to put on any more clothing and still move!

Walking into the freezer

Molly thought this was a great game.

This is fun

It was a huge relief to get back to the track and get some shelter. The route back was quick and easy.

Looking down to a very chilly Corgarff Castle

This was a hugely enjoyable hill giving a great sense of openness, fantastic and very varied views. But with the conditions it proved a much tougher route than the distance and ascent would indicate.



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