Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

A Gorms crossing

Zero plan but what looked like a half decent forecast saw me hurriedly pack a sack & jumped on a bus towards Braemar.  I finally got dropped off close to 2pm at Invercauld Bridge.  The driver asked where I was heading; “I’m just going into the hills for a few days” must have sounded a very vague plan.

Day 1 – Monday, 3 Nov 14

At the outset the ‘plan’ was simple; Crathie & turn left OR Invercauld & turn right; Invercauld won, only because I hadn’t walked up the Slugain in a while.

Day 1

The walk up the Slugain was non-taxing, even navigation was easy.


It didn’t take long to be out of the commercial forestry of the lower glen & be following the LRT up the glen into open moorland.

Slugain track

I was toying with the idea of camping below the ruined bothy high in the glen but it was still quite early so I decided to head over to Glen Gairn where I knew there was ample good pitches.  I took a short cut up an old LRT up the side valley east of Meall an t-Slugain, it had been a while since I past down this track & quite surprised by the amount of damage the recent floods had caused; several sections had been almost completely swept away.

Side track 2

The LRT ends about ½ km from the watershed but an ATV track provides a useful continuation up the valley, before swinging west to a line of grouse butts, leaving only an easy few hundred metres down into Glen Gairn.  It was 4:30pm & getting quite gloomy when I got down into the banks of the infant River Gairn, I soon found a nice level spot (NO 139977) a few hundred metres up the glen from where I normally pitch up as the rain started falling in earnest.  Up with the Duomid, throw the sack inside, grab a platy of water & then dive in for a very long night.  Even with the rain battering down it still felt good to be out & about once again.

Day 2

6:00 am, it was still dark & the rain was lashing down; I rolled over for another snooze.  I eventually stirred again at about 7:30, well by stirred I mean I rolled over & got the coffee going, it was still raining but it didn’t sound as bad.  After a lazy breakfast I was packed away on the path west back towards the Slugain track by around 9am.

Day 2

During the previous evening I’d formulated a plan to head west to White Bridge & then perhaps continue over to Glen Feshie or swing South down Glen Tilt……???

The first obstacle on route was the Quoich ford, the stepping stones have been washed away & the river level was fairly high so it was a cold wade, over knee depth in a strong current,  to get across.

Quoich ford 3

After crossing in trail shoes the feet were freezing but not having to mess around changing boots they soon warmed up stomping along the good footpath through the pines.

Quoich path 3

The crossings of the Allt an t-Sneachda & Beinne were only ankle deep wading but served to chill the feet again.  The Allt an Dubh-ghinne was another matter; knee deep, fast (not as bad as the Quoich)  & seemed very cold.


The feet were far too cold for a stop so I pushed on over through Clais Fhearnaig into Glen Lui & trogged up the track to Bob Scott’s for a late lunch out of the rain; the place was a mess so I had to spend 10mins collecting up rubbish & sweeping out the place.

Over a big mug of hot soup I decided to head up the Luibeg over to Glen Dee to stop off at Corrour Bothy for the night and postpone a decision on tomorrow’s plan until I’d seen the weather.

The Derry Burn was the fifth cold wade of the day but short lived, only knee deep & the feet soon warmed up with a speed yomp up the glen; I couldn’t be bothered with the slight detour up to the Luibeg bridge either, just waded straight across the ford & hopped over the hill to the Bothy.

Spent ½ hr tidying up the place giving it a good sweep out, burning a couple of bags of rubbish & then settled down to a comfortable night out of the wind & rain.

Day 3

I was up & about at 6:45, there was a dusting of snow around the bothy & the hills around looked as though they had a little more but the wind had dropped significantly.

Corrour 1

With the improved weather I decided to head over the Lairig Ghru & set off into another light snow flurry.

Day 3

Beyond the Pools of Dee the overnight snow provided a thin covering of the boulder fields.

Pools of Dee

Going was tediously slow.

LG to AV

On the downhill section I did manage to download a MWIS forecast which looked decidedly unhealthy for the morrow, 55-70 mph winds gusting to 80 mph with rain & snow.  I decided to head for Aviemore & the train home (rather than swing East to Ryvoan or West into the Inshriach Forest).

I quick consultation on the internet soon provided the train times to Inverness, 2:39 or 4:19 pm, the early train looked doable but I had to get a move on, the good footpath through Rothiemurchus did help pick the pace up.

Rothy 1

I managed the final 12km in just over 2hrs arriving in Aviemore with 10mins to spare.

The end of another little jaunt, not fantastic weather but it did give me an opportunity to check out my winter kit & try out the Duomid.


2 comments on “A Gorms crossing

  1. Martin Rye
    November 8, 2014

    Always a gamble backpacking this time of the year. Storms are often and snow can come. You made some good calls on that trip. Shame the bothy was needing a tidy up. It should have been left tidy by those before you. August storm did a lot of damage. I wonder what the Feshie would have looked like in that storm ? Power of the forces of nature in the Cairngorms is a humbling thing. Thanks for sharing.

    • Paul Atkinson
      November 8, 2014

      It helps knowing the area well, lots of contingency plans lodged in the grey cells & where the good campsites are.

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This entry was posted on November 7, 2014 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .

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