Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

Short days…long nights

Time for another stroll into the Cairngorms, this time I decided to head off into one of the quieter areas, off to the SW of the park with 4 nights food.

It was the now usual late afternoon, 4:30, set off from the Linn of Dee heading W along the familiar track in the gathering darkness, head lamp at the ready.

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Pitch black by the time I dawdled the 5km to Whitebridge, my pitch for the night, by 7pm I’d enjoyed a fine dinner & was firmly tucked up in bed. Spent the evening plugged into Podcasts with the only interlude being for hot chocolate & a wee dram before slipping into hibernation.

Day 2

0730 & the dawn was just appearing, sunrise was still an hour away, a heavy frost has coated the Duomid with ice inside & out.  The first visitors of the day cycled past just as I set off close to 9am, ½ hr later the cyclists were back; they’d cycled up the wrong glen.

I originally thought about crossing the Geldie Burn to Bynack Lodge but I didn’t like the look of it, the icy stepping stones & reasonably high water put me right off; I didn’t fancy the risk of a dunking or even wet boots spoiling the trip, the return was something different.

New plan; wander up to the Feshie watershed.  At the end of the track I checked out the next ford, across to Geldie Lodge; high but doable.

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I continued towards Glen Feshie for around an hour, ~4km, then struck off S cross country to join the River Feshie as it turns up into the mountains.

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When I joined the river at the shielings, NN915873, thoughts came to taking a look at the ‘Black bothy’ site (two buildings and fifteen huts) about 1Km away, NN923868, somewhere I’d always wanted to have a look see. The area looks a bit bleak now but when they were inhabited there was a Pine forest, the remains of which still visible amongst the peat bogs. I mused over the idea while enjoying a hot lunch but decided time was marching on so I did the same following the grassy bank of the Feshie upstream.

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I’d decided to head about 5km upstream as the crow flies before ‘nipping’ over to the head waters of the Tarf, it probably was nearly double that distance on the ground following all the twists & turns of the river; some nice camping spots along the way though.

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The Allt Coirie nan Cisteachan, my guide over to the Tarf, was reached at sunset, about 3:30, still 5km over to the Tarf Water.

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A good pitch alongside the Feshie enticed me but it felt way too early to stop, so it was off up the burn. I made the bealach before having to dig out the headlamp, on a track or good footpath it wouldn’t have been necessary but cross country is a different matter. I eventually gave up trying to follow the infant Tarf downstream as the heather trogging seemed to prove easier going & eventually came to a halt at a level spot ~NN 858810; the 5km had taken about 2hrs to traverse.

Pitching up I noted lights up on the slopes of Beinn Dearg some 1.5km away to the S, strange I thought, wrong side for anyone descending the hill. I turned the headlamp up to full power to signal my presence, just I case, then got on with the job at hand. The practiced routine; Duomid pitched, get water, pot on the stove, set the nest, inflate mat, sleeping bag, on with the down jacket, off with the boots & trou’s, on with the leggings & then side into bed just in time for the pot to be boiling for that needed brew. A clear sky, -4C, but I was cosy & with the lights out (door open) I could lay back & stare at the Milky Way.

Day 3

Despite the early bed, I slept until 0730, still twilight & the first coffee was enjoyed tucked up in bed. On finally crawling out & starting the packing I could see headlamps steadily descending towards me, strange, me thinks. I was just into the second coffee when they arrived, they had camped up on Beinn Dearg the previous night & were off to ‘bag’ Beinn Bhreac (Corbett); we were all equally surprised to see anyone else at the back of beyond.

I was away before 9am heading for Beinn Dearg but the summit looked to be cloaked in mist

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Less than an hour later I stumbled through the guy’s camp, their Macpac looking a bit lonely.

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The summit of Beinn Dearg was firmly covered in clag & not wishing to visit another ‘cairn in the mist’ I decided to bypass it by traversing around the hill E to Elrig’ic an Toisich

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By the time I reached the summit of Carn a’Chiaraidh, en-route towards Carn a’Chlamain, the clag had lifted a little so I took a stroll S to Beinn Mheadhonach which provided a good view to Chlamain.

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After returning N to the saddle I descended E to the Feith an Lochain, the boulder hopping across the burn was a bit precarious with ice coating everything but the micro-spikes soon sorted that out.

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Either side of the burn is a labyrinth of normally very soggy peat hags, today the hard frost made it a breeze to navigate through before the climb up to the ridge.

Carn a’Chlamain had turned into another ‘cairn in the mist’ episode with the sun straining to make an appearance.

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But dropping only 100m the route over to Meall Tionial became visible, long ago learned when travelling cross country in the ‘gorms it’s best to either stick to the ridges or follow the water.

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From Meall Tionial the target for the night, the Tarf Hotel, came into sight, only 1.5km away but I knew the heather bashing would slow me down a bit.

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I made my way down to the Feith Uaine Mhor & followed it straight down to the front door, it took over an hour.

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As expected there was no one at home, according to the bothy book no one had visited for a couple of weeks which isn’t un-usual but they had left a small stock of fire wood which was sufficient for a small fire for a couple of hours later that evening.

Day 4

Another -5C night & the crossing of the Tarf Water was predictably icy.

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My original route plan was to head N to Carn an Fhidhleir then tranverse to An Sgarsoch & follow the high ground E to Bynack Lodge but having seen the ford there I decided to head directly over An Sgarsoch to the ford at Geldie Lodge.

After making my way downstream for about 1km it was hit the heather time again.

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It took a couple of hours to reach An Sgarsoch’s summit; weird weather, off to the S low cloud flowed into the glens.

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While N, blue skies.

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I continued N following the usual Munroe’ists route towards Scarsoch Bheag

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Pretty firm going across the bealach’s bogs so I headed directly around the E flank on deer trails to join the stalkers path further N. The ford across the Geldie Burn took a bit of studying to work out a dry-shod route across, I reckon the minor height gain of the micro-spikes probably helped avoid a very cold wet boot.

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All that was left of the trip was the familiar long, 12km, trek down the glen to the Linn of Dee.

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I was back at the carpark at dusk, -5C, off the hill a day earlier than planned but I’d had a nice wee trip.

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One comment on “Short days…long nights

  1. Kirsten
    December 11, 2016

    Thoroughly enjoyed your trip report as usual. Thanks!

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This entry was posted on December 11, 2016 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .
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