Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

Déjà vu

After 2 weeks of complete inactivity nursing the knee followed by another 4 weeks of gentle exercise, boredom, lots of stretching, short walks and it was back to where it started; Keiloch & heading for the Slugain.  The morning was bright & clear, -3.5C & hardly a breath of wind.  The track up past Invercauld House had been ploughed & gritted so it was an easy march to kick off the day which suited me since the 2 night load had grown to nearly 11kg by the time the ice axe, Kahtoola’s, snow shovel & snow shoes were thrown in.

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I’d planned a relatively benign outing ~45km over 3 days, shouldn’t be too taxing on the knee or the feeble legs.

SlugainFeb15 Map

Once the Slugain track was reached it was on with the snow shoes to start the mechanical plod up the LRT; snow shoes are easier going than post holing but having nearly 1kg extra strapped to each foot definitely made the legs feel as though they were getting a decent work out.  I pulled up for lunch just below the ruined shooting lodge, a nice spot to get a brew going.

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Not much further up the glen I came across the remnants of a campsite, a large tent platform & a decent one man snow hole

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Looked like a good sheltered spot but my sights were set on a spot much higher up the glen.

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I finally arrived just below the ‘Sneck’ at about 4:45, there are a few level spots but with the forecast predicting a significant increase in wind through the night I dug into a snow slope.

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By 6:00 I was firmly ensconced in my bag enjoying a large mug of tea; I’d only travelled about 14km in around 5hrs but the legs felt as though they’d had enough.

Day 2

0C, blue skies & a brisk 30mph northerly.  Once up on the Beinn a’Bhuird plateau conditions under foot change to wind scoured ice so it was off with the snowshoes & on with the Kahtoola’s.

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The plod across to ‘North Top’ was uneventful; the small summit cairn always seems a bit of an understatement for such a fine mountain.  Then again perhaps a huge manmade edifice would just spoil the place; it does enjoy some fine vistas (on a fine day).

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The westerly crossing of the Moine Bhealaidh towards Glen Derry was an auto pilot ‘moment’, a familiar route with firm going under foot most of the way, just an occasional crunch as the frozen crust gave way.  It made a pleasant change from the squelching bog; the only annoyance was the incessant northerly wind.

Approaching the lower slopes of Beinn Bhreac I started feeling quite dehydrated & started dreaming of a brew.  No sheltered spots here-abouts on the wind scoured plateau or on Beinn Bhreac so I located a snow drift amongst the peat hags & dug in; not a monumental construction just a 1m square hole but a luxurious enough spot to get the stove fired up.

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On the southern slopes of Beinn Bhreac the snow conditions softened so it was back to the snow shoes for the descent.  The snow abruptly ended for the ascent of Meall an Lundain, easy going across short heather with any potentially boggy bits well frozen.

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Descending to the SE the snow reappeared at around 650m, really soft stuff & quite deep in places.  I’d planned to pitch up by the ford across Allt an Dubh-ghinne but it was only 3:30 when I got there so I wandered off following the LRT downstream.  I was heading for a pitch down by the Punch Bowl but an hour later I spotted a tasty spot amongst the pines (~NO 096922), just 6m off the track, which only took a minute scraping across with the shovel to reveal a smooth level pitch (& now free of twigs & cones); too good to pass up.  My relaxing evening was disturbed about 7:00 by a large group coming off the hill, the first folk I’d seen on my outing.

Day 3

A few minutes of stretching to loosen up the knee after yesterday’s 19km plod were needed before I could set off on an unremarkable plod for 3½ hrs, 11km, along LRT mostly covered in soft snow back to the car.  It had been a most enjoyable trip, the legs felt a little tired but the spirits had been somewhat recharged.

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8 comments on “Déjà vu

  1. Kirsten paterson
    February 9, 2015

    Glad you’re out and about again Paul. Thanks for sharing those lovely photos.

  2. AlanR
    February 10, 2015

    Great stuff. Good to see the knee improving.

    • Paul Atkinson
      February 10, 2015

      Thanks Alan, always good to get out playing in the snow when conditions are good.

  3. Martin Rye
    February 11, 2015

    Good to read you’re out and about Paul.

    • Paul Atkinson
      February 12, 2015

      Hi Martin, still need to get out a lot more to build the fitness back up for the TGO.

  4. Paul Byrne
    February 13, 2015

    Glad you are out and about again. Like you I’ve had about 6 weeks off and now trying to get fit for TGO

    • Paul Atkinson
      February 13, 2015

      I’ve certainly found that it takes longer to recover from an injury with age, fitness goes quicker & takes longer to regain.
      Oh to be a 40 something whippersnapper.

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This entry was posted on February 9, 2015 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .
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