November 2010 – Dulnain Bridge
Friday, 5th November found 9 of us at our guest house in Skye of Curr above Dulnain Bridge. 4 had already had a day’s bike ride round Abernethy Forest which seemed a bit energetic. However it did set the tone for the weekend. A large dinner was provided, duly preceded and followed by beer and whisky to say nothing of the wine with the meal.
It was perhaps surprising that we all appeared at 8 o’clock for breakfast and could face the substantial amount which was again put before us. Martin went one better with his kippers as well as his bacon and egg. We could but presume that he was getting in the mood for some watery antics. We set off, 7 to go walking and 2 visiting a selection of Speyside distilleries by bike. The later returned and claimed to have had an energetic day.
The rest of us took cars up to the top carpark on Cairngorm, which gave us a satisfactory height gain before we had walked a step. When we did set off it was along a made up path to the South West. This gave a very gradual height gain till we were just above the Lairig Ghru (and also the snow line). We appeared to have marched on faster than time so the question arose as to where to go? The original intention had been to traverse around the Northern Corries of Cairngorm with a possible extension down the North ridge. However, it was agreed that we had time to go over the plateau to Ben MacDui.
This proved correct and lunch time found us at the cairn with another three people and their three dogs. It transpired that they had been camping (using tarps)! We were also informed that it was quite warm with a dog in your sleeping bag – each to his (or her) own! It was a pity that the dogs were underfed, being a complete nuisance nosing into lunch boxes all the time. Why can’t dog owners control their pets?
On the way back over the plateau we were disappointed that Martin’s kippers had not produced the right frame of mind for a dip in Lochan Buidhe in spite of offers to break the ice. Neither could we persuade him to practice bum slides on some snow banks even if they did end in a burn. Anyway, such good time was made that, in spite of a stop for more sustenance and a snow shower, the top of Cairngorm was attained.
From the top the way down was a revelation – cairns at 5m. centres for the first section. Then a made up path with posts on each side. We presumed that the ropes had been removed for the winter. It is a pity that the stone pitching forming the path was lethal with 5cm. of snow on it. Our footprints joined those of everybody else in being beside the path.
As will have been gathered the weather during the day was benign. In the morning there was a small inversion so we looked down on Loch Morlich through the clouds. As forecast clouds descended on to the tops in the middle of the day with visibility remaining at about 500m. so navigation was not a problem having left Ben MacDui in the correct direction. From just below Cairngorm (at the top of the Fiacall) Loch Morlich was again framed in lower cloud.
All in all a good day with the cars being reached at 4.30 with ½ an hour of daylight left.
Evening brought more gentle drinking and another large meal. The suggestion of a visit to a local pub did not have many takers. Are we all getting older?
Sunday saw us slightly depleted. Christmas shopping called for one. Martin decided that he really might want a swim as the bikers were going to Loch Einich. Of the walkers one wanted to be home by 6 o’clock so we decided to go up Sgor Gaoith. This we duly did but no sign of the swimming party as we looked down. Maybe this was because our time on the top was distinctly limited due to the strong and very cold wind. This caused a quick retreat to a late lunch stop out of the wind and below the final slope. We had taken time to admire the extensive view from the flats of Inverness and Ben Wyvis round past the Glen Affric hills, Ben Alder, past Ben Nevis and Glencoe to the southern Cairngorms – magnificent!
We all reached the cars at the time planned and parted with thoughts of “where would the Winter meet be?”, “would our leader forsake his bike?” and “did the bikers get back safely or did they have the final swim in Loch Einich?” More seriously, an excellent of lodging together with dry weather made for another great weekend.
Mountain Bikers Report
This trip saw a departure from staying in one walking group with a breakaway group going Mountain Biking. Ron Ireland, Martin Raeside, Alistair MacDonald and I ventured off on our bikes on Friday.
ST got it wrong from the start by departing from Boat of Garten rather than the planned Nethy Bridge. In the end it was of little consequence and probably turned out better as our anticlockwise route to Aviemore along the National Cycling Route 7 was picturesque other than the ghastly housing estates from “Everywhere Town”. Why Cairngorm National Park can give approval to such ordinary housing is anybody’s guess. Fortunately, we did not linger in Aviemore preferring to venture on to Loch n Eilean in the Rotheimurcas Forest. This is fantastic biking country with well drained paths and beautiful native trees to enjoy. We took lunch at Cairngorm Bridge and then moved onto cycling around the south shore of Loch Morlich. As we progressed passed Glenmore Lodge the rain started. Martin declined his usual dip in his favourite lochan and we ascended to Ryvoan Bothy at the head of the pass across from Abernethy Forest.
We quickly descended into the Forest getting very dirty from the wet conditions. While Ron Ireland did not have suspension he compensated by having mudguards and other suburban paraphernalia which protected him from the excesses of the Scottish weather.
Although the Ospreys had left for the season we cycled around Loch Garten which is a magnificent and tranquil setting. The whole trip was some 35 kilometres and despite the inclement weather was a superb ride.
The Cycling group on Saturday was restricted to Alistair MacDonald and ST. Ron and Martin decided to join the walking group on the Cairngorm plateau. The cycling route for Saturday was on the Glenlivet Estate owned by The Crown Estate. Full marks to the Crown in providing excellent waymarks for the cyclist and walker. This area is a little off the beaten track but provided great views back to the Cairngorms and we did not really see anyone all day. Our route started just north of Tomintoul at Glenconglass. We climbed for a considerable time to reach the summit of Carn Daimh (570m) then descended into Tomnavoulin. The route down the hill was extreme mud and venturing off the track I had an altercation with a barbed wire fence. Thanks to Alistair’s paramedical skills I was released from the fence with little damage other than my pride.
The Saturday cycle turned out to be a tour of the distilleries. While all were closed we cycled passed Tomnavoulin, Glenlivet and Tomintoul. At the end of the route we visited the Whisky Castle shop in Tomintoul and made some purchases.
On Sunday the cyclist, Alistair, Martin and ST parked at Coylumbridge and cycled to Glen Eanich. It was a long steady ride up to the Corrie which is one of the most spectacular in Scotland and a great place for the geography student. While it took 2 hours to arrive at the corrie it only took 1 hour back the way with the benefit of a southerly wind behind us. With time to spare we cycled around Loch n Eilean again before departing Aviemore for the last time.Members should note that the Winter trip will be on 3-6 March 2011 at Borrowdale House in Keswick.