Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

Early Spring

I must admit to feeling a bit lackadaisical for the past few weeks, probably down to mid-winter blues & the absolutely rubbish weather for backpacking; a good weather forecast finally stirred me into action……..an easy stroll in the ‘gorms.

Driving up Deeside through thick fog didn’t inspire much confidence in the forecast but wandering up to Derry Lodge things started to look very much on the up with blue sky starting to peep through the gloom.


Time to climb……I headed up the ridge for Derry Cairngorm & once well above the treeline the cloud inversion filling the glen was evident.


Took a lunch break high on the ridge enjoying the sunshine, even at 0oC with zero wind it was a nice spot to watch the world go past……well the odd grouse.


The lack of snow cover for mid-January took me aback a bit, it looked & felt like spring. From the summit of Derry even Ben MacDui looked spring like.


Off to the south the extent of the inversion was clear with a raft of cloud filling the lowlands & percolating up the glens.


After dawdling along & sightseeing it was 4:30 by the time I’d traversed the boulder fields & dropped down to Loch Etchachan. I soon found a good level pitch on the split of ground between the main & minor lochs; by 5:00 everything organized, half in the bag, enjoying a pot of tea watching the last glimmers of sunlight dwindle over MacDui.

It was one of those magically evenings to lay back & enjoy the moment; -3oC, zero wind, absolute silence; doors of the Duomid tied back providing a view of the Milky Way arcing across the sky.

Day 2

I ended up sleeping in a bit, 07:45, probably down to star gazing for so long the previous evening, a stiff breeze & a thin layer of high cloud had built during the night; a bit chilly but the day ahead looked promising.


I was in full dawdle mode so didn’t get underway until close to 9:30 to make the 300m ascent above Coire Sputan Dearg; bright sunshine but the 30mph wind made it distinctly chilly.


I dropped off the pack on the lower slopes of MacDui, made the quick round trip to the summit then headed off down across the boulder strewn southern slope towards Carn a’Mhaim.


I’d decided to head for the Corrour bothy for the night & could have taken the ‘short cut’ down the Taillear burn but the Carn a’Mhaim ridge (really the only ridge line in the ‘gorms) is always a delight & I had plenty of time even after a long lunch stop at the bealach.

The ridge didn’t disappoint, despite the chilly 20mph wind, & I met up with a bunch of day trippers on the way down all enjoying their brief foray into the hills.  While my new walking partners headed off to their bikes & race back to the car I turn in the opposite direction.

I reached the bothy around 3:30, lots of folk coming & going over the next hour or so. Most folk were heading out to Linn of Dee but 2 late comers were heading over the Lairig Ghru that evening having come from Rothiemurchas & been enticed by the glorious weather into completing the Braeriach – Angels Peak traverse.

Jack & Rosie were staying the night & Kevin arrived well after dark, so not a crowd but some company & a wee fire thanks to Jack & Rosie carrying in logs & coal the previous day.

Day 3

Kevin was up & away before first light on his way to Aviemore via the tops; I rolled over for an hour finally getting underway by 8:45.


My original plan was to head up Devils Point but a cloud base around 900m prompted a charge, a wander over the Corbett Sgor Mor; not a dramatic mountain but the rolling ridge does provide a more interesting route back to the Linn of Dee than the usual track.

First step to tackle the normally boggy bealach crossing to Creagan nan Gabhar,


Fortunately, the ground was substantially frozen & easier going once above the heather to the bald granite summit, onward lay easy going along the rolling ridge to Sgor Mor.


On a fine day the summit provides excellent views of the surrounding mountains, today the low cloud & occasional light snow obscured them mostly but not the easy route ahead to Sgor Dubh.


Heading south the going deteriorates & once below 600m the soggy bog & heather returned but only for a couple of km until the Glen Lui track was gained a short walk from the carpark. The route over Sgor Mor had taken around 1 ½ hrs longer than the track but it provided an eminently more enjoyable finish to the trip.



One comment on “Early Spring

  1. Kirsten
    January 23, 2017

    Nice trip, Paul, thanks for sharing your photos.

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This entry was posted on January 23, 2017 by in Trip Reports and tagged , , .

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