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Corbett bagging: Morven, near Ballater

Written by Fiona

November 21 2023

The Corbett Morven is one of the easier outings in the list of 222 Scottish mountains with a height of between 2500ft and 3000ft. I took the opportunity for a campervan night with Hubby G near Ballater, Aberdeenshire, and a short Corbett bagging adventure on a day of uncertain weather.

A van adventure

My friend Cath, who owns Highland Campervans, kindly offered me the chance to borrow a larger campervan (based on a Flat Ducato van). This meant there would be plenty of space for G and I to spread out both in the living area and the sleeping area.

I was keen to find out how the van felt to drive. I am more familiar with a VW Transporter size of campervan, but I was impressed by how easy it was to drive the larger van. I easily negotiated many hills as we drove to Ballater from Inverness and even snow-covered tarmac around the ski area of The Lecht.

It’s important to get familiar with the length and width of the van and I did so with surprising ease.

The space inside is fantastic. The living area includes a table and two-person bench seat, plus two swivel seats, the driver and passenger seat. There is a well-equipped kitchen galley and also a separate loo and shower.

The huge bed stretches across the rear of the van. There is an option for another two-person bed at the front of the van, too.

The things I most liked were the ability to easily stand up in the van, a living and kitchen area, plus a separate bed, that are permanently laid out (rather than the need to fold out and away the bed) and the loo. I very much like the loo because I have spent years making use of a simple plastic pee pot!

The van also has many storage areas.

G and I enjoyed a really comfortable night in the van parked up near Ballater.

Bagging the Corbett Morven

As we approached the parking spot at the start of Morven, at the end of a minor road near Logie Coldstone, I spotted another van, a Hymer. I wondered out loud if the Hymer might belong to my friend Maggie’s partner Andy. After parking, we took a look at the Hymer and walked to the rear where we spotted two bikes, once of which was Maggie’s! It seemed like a very small world that they had chosen to walk the very same hill on the same day.

While Maggie and Andy had already set off, I knew the route included a section of “out-and-back” at the top, so I was hopeful we might bump into each other.

The route to the summit of Morven starts on a track to the rear of the parking area and then heads through a gate and fields. The gradient was gently uphill to begin with, before we reached a heather-clad slope that progressed far more steeply.

We somehow missed the more obvious path here (in fact, everyone we spoke to that day did the same!) and ended up trudging through deep vegetation for a section of the lower slopes. Finally, we managed to traverse north and then discovered a very well trodden path. We simply followed this westwards climbing quite quickly towards the higher plateau of Morven.

Looking back over our shoulder every so often we enjoyed surprisingly clear views over the surrounding countryside.

There were well-known hills to spot, including Bennachie and Clachnaben, as well as the mountains of Mount Keen and Lochnagar.

While the sky was clearer than we had expected, the wind was fierce and cold. There was also plenty of snow on the ground at higher altitude.

The final push to the summit at 872m took us past a minor summit with a cairn. It was here that we finally met Maggie and Andy, who were on the return descent. We agreed that G and I would bag the summit and then catch them up on the downhill.

Half running and half hiking, we made a quick descent and enjoyed a picnic lunch with our friends on the mountain slope in a relatively sheltered spot.

It was great to be able to walked companionably, with tons of chat, back to the start with Maggie and Andy. There is an option to form a circular route of Morven but we were talking so much we missed the turn at a junction.

Instead, we discovered that there is an obvious path from the gate in the field all the way to the top of Morven!

Morven route details

Distance: 7km

Total elevation: 700m

Route: Strava and OS Maps

Corbetts bagged: 134.

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