Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

A dawdle around Ben Avon

Thought I’d take another wander through the hills for a few days with ‘Scottish Hill Tracks” as my guide so I ended up at the Linn O’ Dee at the crack of dawn, well 11am, with a 60+km route planned.

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5th April 13 – 26km

After a short walk down the road I set off up Glen Quoich leaving the river above the ‘Punch Bowl’ and crossing over the shoulder of Carn na Criche towards the upper reaches of Gleann an t- Slugain.  There was still a fair amount of snow about so going was quite slow in sections.

The track over into Glen Gairn was generally invisible, 20-30cm of soft snow, and it took some time to negotiate the lurking ankle twisters down into the upper part of the glen where going improved as the descent continued.

There’s ample good camping spots scattered down the glen, rough grass pasture, in times past it must have been reasonable cattle grazing.

Lower down the glen the footbridge (NO 172998) for the path to Bealach Dearg and the drove roads over to Invercauld and Inver, today it looked as though snow mobiles had crossed.

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There’s another footbridge another footbridge about 1km further down the glen that connects to the LRT up to Bealach Dearg.

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At the junction with Glen Builg there’s quite a large number of sheilings scattered amongst the drumlins and a little further down the glen there’s even the remains of a whiskey still. It would have been a nice place for a hostelry when the drovers where passing, not much passing trade now.

Queen Vic passed this way a few years back and writing “A fine walk this, but a sad one. Along much of the route are ruins of former habitations, especially Glen Gairn and Corgarf, which have suffered massive, and continuing, depopulation”.  Tonight the population was to be increased by one.

It was after 7pm by the time I reached the ruins of Lochbuilg Lodge (NJ 187027), deservedly a very popular camping spot, and luckily I found a reasonably level spot clear of snow to pitch up on.

6th April 13  – 16km

8am, a hard frost, ice coated the inside and outside of the Trailstar, the water had frozen and even my boots which I’d put inside the bivi bag were solid.

Had a lazy breakfast enjoying the glorious morning sunshine with not even a gentle breeze, snow showers were forecast but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  I hadn’t planned a long day so I was in no hurry and finally got on the road around 10am following a set of snowshoe tracks, unusual for Scotland but having been trudging through the snow for a while I definitely thought it would be something to look into one day.

Looking back across the loch it was hard to distinguish the ruins from the background of rocks and heather.

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The going eased a lot after a couple of km’s as I descended into Glen Avon and Inchory; straight ahead 10 km to Tomintoul but my chosen route was west following another drove road up to the Fords of Avon and the Lairig Laoigh.

The plod up the LRT made for easy progress….at first!

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The higher I plodded the tougher it became as more soft snow was encountered; the odd snow and hail shower passed through just to prove the forecasters right.

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I finally managed to get to the Faindouran Bothy a little after 4pm, I’d planned to camp out ‘in the back yard’ having heard that the bothy was out of use due to the chimney stack collapsing but on inspection it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined.  A big plug of snow inhabited the grate but the place was draft free and pretty comfortable as the snow showers continued outside.

By 7:00pm I’d eaten, had my hot chocolate and was in bed listening to ‘drama of the week’, 8:30pm lights out!

7th April 13  – 21km

6:15am and I was awake, 6:30 time to get up, start breakfast and pack up.

By 7:45am I’d had my porridge, a bucket of coffee and I was on the road west.  The overnight frost seemed to have firmed up the snow a little but not enough to make the going any easier than yesterday.

I was a little concerned over the crossing of the Avon, I’d carried a pair of Crocs fo rthe river crossing just in case but I didn’t fancy icy feet, but it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.  No stepping stones today; the river must have been under 2 – 3m of hard packed snow, I crossed a little gingerly continually prodding the snow ahead with my walking poles but it was solid.

Looking back across the stepping stones to the refuge

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It took 5 hours of hard going to make Bob Scot’s where I took the opportunity to stop for a short while and have a hot lunch while outside it snowed quite heavily.

A short trog down the LRT and it was back to the car and the drive back to ‘civilisation’.

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This entry was posted on September 28, 2013 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .
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