Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

Cairngorms Jaunt

It’s been a while since I’d really been out in the hills, a few day rambles & a couple of DofE Assessments had been the sum of the exercise since getting back from the HRP, over six weeks, but a good forecast & a ‘55 Club’ ticket saw me in Aviemore at 11:20am & heading out of town by 11:21am….. I really don’t like Aviemore.

There’s nowt like a plan & I didn’t have one just an 8kg pack with 4 days food & the Cairngorms NP ahead & a target of Ballater.

Aviemore to Corrour Bothy; 25km, 1340m ascent

Av Day 1

Jumping off on the Logger’s Road towards Loch Morlich I decided to head off towards Glen Eanaich, I hadn’t been through there in a while.  I hatched a plan to climb up the western side of the glen to Carn Ban Mor & then pitch up somewhere on the plateau around Tom Dubh where I knew there was plenty of good spots.

The walk up to Loch Eanaich is a straight forward trek up an estate track but the scenery is fairly pleasant.

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Plan A got scotched by ongoing stalking activity in the higher reaches of the glen & a polite request to stick to the path on the East side of the loch up into Coire Dhondail.

I thought about pitching up in the coire as it looked a nice enough place and amongst the rough grass & boulders there was some level spots but it wasn’t even 4pm, time enough for a few more miles.

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The steep path up to the coire rim had suffered some damage from the recent storms that enveloped the ‘gorms; a section of path has washed away & minor avalanche of boulders, it just required some additional care.

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Once up in the coire rim the weather looked to be going downhill.

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I’d two route choices; head off cross country south towards Tom Dubh & my ‘planned’ camp  or head off up to Cairntoul & onto Corrour…………..Corrour won the day.

The cloud descended before I reached Angel’s Peak (Sgor an Lochan Uaine)……..so no photo’s as I’ve enough of cairns cloaked in clag…..the well worn path leading over Cairntoul & down to Coire Odhar made for easy navigation & I strolled into Corrour at 6:30pm.

The bothy was fairly busy & 3 tents occupied the prime spots (it was a Saturday night) but I soon found a slot for the Trailstar nearby & got a brew going; after a bucket full of pasta it was early to bed as the bothy inhabitants decided to be a little unsociable & had retired by 8pm.

Corrour Bothy to Wester Shenalt; 36.5km 1200m ascent

Av Day 2

I didn’t get as early a start as I’d wished & after a brief chat with Matt, an acquaintance from the 2013 TGO challenge, it must have been nearly 9am before I hit the path over to Luibeg, at least the weather looked to be improving & the cloud looked as though it would eventually clear the tops

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Wandering over to Derry Lodge I mulled over options for continuing East; through Clais Fhearnaig to Glen Quoich & then over into the upper reaches of Glen Gairn; or a high level trek across the Moine Bhealaidh over to Beinn A’Bhuird & Ben Avon.

I chose the high level route & headed up the west bank of the Derry Burn to the upper footbridge & then up the main track to the Glas Alt Mor ford.  No finesse called for here, just straight up through the heather covered ridge on the north side of the burn following whatever deer trails I came across.

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Once on the plateau Beinn A’Bhuird (North top) around 5km directly across the Moine Bhealaidh came into sight.

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The ‘Moine’ is one of those places where it’s not whether the feet will get wet but how many minutes they’ll stay dry, I think mine lasted about 5mins.  Once the feet are wet it definitely seems makes life much easier, no more mithering about just splodge onwards avoiding the deep pools & the slime pits.

By the time I got to North Top the cloud had dropped some (~50m visibility), no panoramas here.

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I couple of easy compass doglegs across the plateau & I descended out of the cloud down to the ‘Sneck’, 4pm, decisions….decisions.

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Pitch up just south of the Sneck or head over Ben Avon to Glen Gairn; I carried on & climbed back into the clouds.

I was fortunate to enjoy a temporary reprieve from walking in the clouds as I approached the summit tor of Ben Avon (Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe)

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By the time I got to the tor the cloud had rolled in once again & I even got a short very light flurry of snow.  No time to hang around contemplating the lack of a view, it was nearly 5pm & I just wanted to get down into Glen Gairn & get pitched up.  The route down the Allt an Eas Mhoir was easier to pick up than expected, even though the old stalkers path marked on the map is well overgrown and more like a stream bed in places there was well trodden deer trails almost all the way.

I was down to the footpath in Glen Gairn by 6pm joining 100’s of deer with stags up & down the glen making a heck of a racket.  I was tired and really would have liked to have just pitched up on one of the grassy spots close by but I thought it was prudent to get out of the area just in case there was any stalking activity planned for the next day.

I’d really had enough when I rolled up at the ruined settlement of Wester Shenalt (NJ 209019) at 7:30pm.  I dropped the pack before heading to the nearby burn (same name) to fill up the platy, of course the now dry feet got an accidental dunking as I slipped into the burn in the darkness.  First priority was to get some food on the go before getting the Trailstar pitched & the bed sorted; by 8:30pm I was tucked up in bed & shortly afterwards chucking out Z’s (it was only afterwards I released how big a day it had been).

Wester Shenalt to Ballater; 22km, 275m ascent

Av Day 3

After yesterdays yomp it was ‘nice’ to follow what is probably the TGO Challenge trade routes into Ballater.  An easy stroll down the LRT to the bridge over to the derelict Tullochmacarrick farm & then down the North side of the Gairn to the hump backed bridge near Gairnsheil Lodge.  The bridge is not as humpbacked as the nearby Cock Bridge but its steep enough to give some motorists a shock.

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Getting through Tomnavey farm proved a bit tricky, a section of the track was blocked with old gates to pen up ~100 sheep necessitating climbing multiple rickety fences to get around.

A little way ahead I decided to divert a little & take a look at the ruined settlement of Ardoch, the ruins were unspectacular just a couple of derelict buildings & some wall foundations but I was taken aback when I spotted an owl sitting in the window of one of the buildings, it didn’t seem to be perturbed but I didn’t get any closer.

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It was only a short stroll to Lary & the start of the 6.5km of black top into Ballater; it was pretty boring but only lasted about an hour & I only saw one car.  I arrived with just 5mins to spare for the bus back to Aberdeen & civilisation; the ‘55 Club’ & over 60’s bus pass certainly makes getting out a less financially painful experience.

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This entry was posted on October 15, 2014 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .
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