Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

Lairig Ghru

3pm & after 6hrs travelling (bus, train, pub lunch then bus) it felt good to hit the ‘Old Logging Trail’ out of Aviemore.

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I did think of heading into the ‘Old Bridge Inn’ for a pint but the recent floods put pay to that idea, they were still closed.  Today was a simple set up day; a 7km wander out of Aviemore up into Rothiemurchus forest to pitch up for the night. 

Plan A was to wander up the Lairig Ghru before heading up the ridge above Lurchers crag, over to Ben MacDui then down to the Hutchie bothy for the night.  I had expected snow conditions to have improved (consolidated) since my last visit so had omitted the snow shoes just packing the winter camp gear, 3 days of food, an ice axe & crampons; around 12kg.

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I’ve not found many suitable camping spots in Rothiemurchus forest but around the Cairngorm footbridge there’s some nice pitches & by 5pm I was settled in & the ‘kettle’ on for a brew.

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By 7pm light snow was falling so the Duomid was battened up, I slid into bed & got plugged into some podcasts for the remainder of the evening.

Despite the early bedtime I didn’t awake until well after 7am, peeking under the tarp I could see that 5 – 7cm of snow had fallen overnight; I put the tea on & snuggled back down.  Breakfast in bed, a winter luxury, then out into the cold.

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9am & finally on my away with light snow starting to fall.  I must have been day dreaming while ambling down the track as I walked straight past the Lairig Ghru footpath turning without even realising until I stumbled into the road leading up to Rothiemurchus Lodge, reversing would have made for a longer journey so it was up to the lodge & along the footpath from there back towards the LG.  Didn’t enjoy this bit; the boggy path was only semi frozen & the gloop was hidden by the fresh snow, would have really horrible in trail shoes.

Even at 10am with the snow falling it seemed quite gloomy as I finally joined the LG & started to climb.

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Time for plan B; too much soft snow about so forget MacDui & trek over the LG to Bob Scotts or Corrour. 

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The pace seemed to slow to a crawl the higher I plodded, cursing the lack of snow shoes as I waded along up to the knees & occasionally disappearing up to the waist but at least the sky looked to be brightening.

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Was surprised that the Pools of Dee remained unfrozen; normally they’d be thick ice & blanketed under metres of snow.

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Beyond the glen seemed to look to go on for miles, or perhaps it was the old legs telling the brain they’d had enough.

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Corrour bothy finally came into view at around 4:30pm; the legs were definitely feeling a bit weary rather than plod onward to Bob Scotts it was a sharp right turn & up to the bothy, finding 4 others already in residence.  The 17 – 18km over the pass had taken 8hrs, nearly twice as long as my last crossing back in September.

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Clear skies that evening promised a sharp frost but with 5 in the bothy the temperature probably didn’t get close to zero, it was that warm I had to unzip the sleeping bag after a while. Thanks to a chainsaw snorer I struggled out of bed & wasn’t on the road until 9am not looking forward to the 21km to Braemar.

Once over the minor bealach into Glen Luibeg the snow cover seemed to miraculously diminish.

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Time to pick up the pace a little, the 14:20 bus from Braemar seeming a distinct possibility. The fording of the Luibeg caused a bit of a pause, just long enough to don the crampons to tackle the iced up boulder hopping.

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Once down Glen Derry I took the track over Doire Bhraghad, a bit of a short cut to Mar Lodge & it also avoids a couple of km of tarmac.  The track has definitely suffered from the recent floods, 100’s of metres is in need of complete rebuilding with nearly 1m deep channels in places.

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I hit Victoria bridge at 1:30: 50mins until the bus & 5-6km; no chance & the snow had started to fall quite heavily.  I resigned myself to missing the bus & having to endure 1 ½ hrs of tea & cakes in the ‘Old Bakery’ café awaiting the next one.  Fortunately, half way to Braemar the thumb finally worked & I was whisked into town; the only downside being that there wasn’t enough time for the tea & cake in the café which in retrospect may not have been a wise thing given the 2 ½ hrs bus ride to Aberdeen.

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This entry was posted on February 13, 2016 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .
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