Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

Easter Bunnies

I missed the good weather over the Easter weekend thanks to trying to shrug off a dose of the dreaded ‘man flu’ but fortunately the spell of good weather seemed to be unusually, for Easter in Scotland, to be extending into the week ahead so it was off to the ‘gorms with a view to wandering some unfamiliar territory & visit some ‘old friends’.

I decided to drive around to Nethy Bridge late afternoon walk a few km & then pitch up rather than suffer the early morning drive so it was 4:30pm by the time I was heading off into the Abernethy forest.

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A pleasant & non arduous dawdle up to Forest Lodge near where I planned to spend the night, however the best laid plans often get upset; in this case a Dutch couple had set up on MY spot.  Time for Plan B, I’d continue on tomorrow’s planned route & find a spot.

Beyond the Forest Lodge Bridge I followed the good footpath that parallels the Allt Crom rather than follow the forestry track, a much pleasanter route & me thinks more opportunity of finding a camping spot.

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Well than was not to be & I wandered onward checking out likely looking spots; too bumpy; too sloping; too wet; sometimes it seems that’s how it goes.

I did get my first view of Cairngorms proper with the snow cover looking to have suffered considerably over the last couple of weeks.

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At the ford on the Faesheallach Burn (NJ 052144) after checking up & down stream & finding only banks of cobbles & gravel or bog I decided to head ‘off route’ east towards Eag Mhor where on a previous outing I’d seen some likely spots.  The spots I’d noted alongside a small burn turned out to be quite soggy, with evidence that the stream had recently overflowed.  I ended up pitched up amongst the pines close to Eag Mhor, relatively flat & dry but annoyingly deep in Bilberry.

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I’d travelled 12km , a bit further than planned but it would serve to shorten tomorrows jaunt.

Day 2 – 22km, 700m ascent

Avon D2

I back tracked to the Faesheallach Burn ford & then followed the LRT up towards Bile Bhuide, the source of all the cobbles & gravel alongside the burn downstream was soon noted, a few million tonnes of glacial deposits.

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An AVT track led from the end of the LRT to the summit of Bile Bhuide, an uninspiring rounded lump of peat hags, not even a cairn, the only thing of note is a small derelict shack close by.

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I took a quick bog trot across the peat hags & then up to the stony summit of Geal Charn before heading down to the Allt Preas a’Choin, following the snow filled drainage line down was easy going for a while until…..

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…..luckily there wasn’t half a metre of ice water at the bottom.

The Water of Caiplich was flowing well with no way to cross dry shod not that it concerned me a lot as I’ve reverted to the trail shoes but it’s nice to not have to take the plunge if you don’t have to.

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I decided to postpone the pleasure of refreshing the feet & followed a good deer trail downstream on the northern bank, a few minutes downstream I noted the remain of a couple of shielings perched above the flood plain.

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The venue of Mr Sloman’s TGO Cheese & Wine party (NJ 102105) is the grassy area across the river though there are acres of reasonable camping spots on both sides of the river.

I finally forded the Caiplich a couple of km further downstream (NJ 115105), it was over a foot deep but not too fast; a bit chilly on the feet but they soon re-warmed.

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Beyond this point the river seemed to enter more of a gorge

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I followed a line of old fence posts that led to a minor bealach & the boggy entrance to Glen Loin.

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A reasonable deer trail led quickly to the LRT leading down into Glen Avon, easy going with Ben Avon growing all the while.

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Call me soft but I did manage to seek out a dry crossing of the Burn of Loin about 100m upstream of the ford….well I had nice dry, warm feet by this time.

All that was left was to amble down Glen Avon to look for a nice place to pitch up, the Linn of Avon looked quite impressive, a pity there isn’t a nice flat grassy pitch down there.

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I had thought to wander up Glen Builg a short way where there ample opportunity to find a good spot but decided to check out the area local to the start of tomorrow’s route, I soon found a nice grassy spot just off the track (~NJ 177071), sometimes I can be fortunate; I’d a nice overlook of Glen Builg & my wealthier neighbours down at Inchrory House about 1km away.

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Day 3 – 32km, 1360m ascent

Avon D3

My perch gained me the early morning sunshine so I was up & away before 8am heading up the LRT towards Carn Fiaclach on a bright but blustery morning with low cloud spilling over the mountain from the south.

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I do like the granite tors quite common across this part of the cairngorms, it’s easy to imagine all kinds of faces, etc amongst the contours.

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The passage across the summit plateau wasn’t as scenic as it might have been, the cloud blowing in from the south reduced visibility to less than 50m & with the snow cover masking the footpath.  It was point to point navigation between the tors which seemed to suddenly loom up in front out of nowhere.

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The descent from Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe towards the Sneck dramatically illustrated the conditions.

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The final descent to the Sneck was remarkably clear of cloud but the 25mph+ southerly wind across the plateau was being accelerated through the funnel to 50mph+; definitely in the ‘may impede walking’ category.

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Once across to the summit of Beinn a’Bhuird (North Top) I turned north towards Cnap Leum an Easaich, the going down the broad ridge was quite pleasant; dry underfoot, sparse vegetation, boulders & gravel.

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I followed the ridge down to Spion Rocks, a good over look of the River Avon upstream of the Faindouran Bothy.  Decision time; head north to the footbridge over the Avon & Faindouran or head west & ford the Avon.  The water levels didn’t look bad (well as much as I could tell from 1km away) & the islands at NJ073040 looked to prove a good crossing point; it was head west.

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The final descend to the river was down through steep heather covered slopes into boggy ground, not too troublesome just a bit slower going.  The Avon was a simple 3 stage hop about a foot deep with the only thing of note was a lone flip flop floating past; my guess is someone’s unsuitable footwear from the Fords of Avon crossing about 3km upstream.

I’d thought about calling it a day at the Fords of Avon refuge & pitching up on the patch of grass there, but it was only 4:00pm so I bypassed the double fording of the Allt Dearg with a little heather bashing & set off north up the Lairig Laoigh thinking to pitch up by the burn Coire Odhar; a place I’d used before.  The ground proved really sodden with the recent snow melt so plan B was abandoned in favour of an amble over the hill & down into Strath Nethy.

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Plan C was to camp by the footbridge (NJ 021105), the site of the former Bynack Stables, but the presence of a large 4*4 pickup parked across the camping spot put pay to that idea; plan D, the Ryvoan Bothy only 2km away.

Even with only 2 people in the bothy I pitched up outside by & by 7pm I’d dinner on the go as more folk arrived, by 8pm there was half a dozen more in the bothy & another 4 people in 3 tents.

Day 4 – 12km

I slept well & arose fairly late not getting underway until around 9am leaving the remainder of the patrons busy with breakfast.

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The track by the bothy has being ‘upgraded’ with an excavator busy adding the finishing touches to the drainage as I passed.

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Speaking to the operator he informed by that the plan is to extend the work all the way around to Bynack Stables in September.

The journey back to Nethy Bridge was a pretty uneventful 2 ½ hr dawdle, I did take the time to visit the memorial shown on the map near Rynettin (NJ 012138), I’d walked past on many an occasion but never bothered to visit.

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I somehow presumed it would be for some local highland aristocrat or other & found it quite a poignant memorial to James Hamilton Maxwell, someone “who loved these hills”.

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2 comments on “Easter Bunnies

  1. Kirsten
    April 10, 2015

    Nice one, Paul, your start is part of my TGOC this year.

    • Paul Atkinson
      April 10, 2015

      It was quite an enjoyable little outing, the Water of Caiplich was a nice find which I’ll visit again, perhaps a descent from it’s source up on Bynack More.
      I’ve walked the route east through Eag Mhor through Dorback & onto Tomintoul previously which may be where you’re heading on the TGO, a nice route avoiding the high stuff.
      Have a good crossing.

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This entry was posted on April 10, 2015 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .
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