Hey! The weather was lovely again, which meant that our fine weather route was on. The plan was to clamber up the Minigaig and then track back to pick up the Corbett and then walk the boundary of the National Park along the tops.
[CLICK TO ENLARGE]
After saying our goodbyes to Alan & Sheila we set off with Les & Issy slowly up the stream to find the good path up the Minigaig. It was all good fun and there were snow patches,. Before too long Les & Issy were specs in the distance – they walk smoothly, efficiently, like the deer – and we weren’t up for knackering ourselves trying to keep up. In fact we had an enjoyable stroll, and cutting up to the Corbett was great, with the ground gradually improving until were were strolling along on firm little wavy bobbles.
[PHIL'S PIC OF ME ON THE MINIGAIG – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The wind condensed into clouds over the snow patches and provided some cooling. The views from the top were wonderful and Andy took a video, which will be up on his place when he gets around to it. There’s a lower top with fabulous views to the north before you get to the Corbett itself and down in the bealach between we thought we could see Les & Issy having a break. We didn’t see them again – as they were off to bag the Munros with their effortless stride.
[PHIL'S PIC FROM THE CORBETT LEATHAD AN TAOBHAIN – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
Phil quipped a la ‘Withnail & I,’ “Here we are, on top of a Corbett. We’ve gone on holiday, by mistake!”
[ANDY & PHIL, LEATHAD AN TAOBHAIN LOOKING TO THE CAIRNGORMS – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
Then it was down quite a way through some fairly complicated bogs to the next bealach and a longish struggle up to Glas-leathad Feshie. I was going along really well today, feeling fine, after quite a long sleep the night before.
[ANDY & PHIL CLIMBING GLAS-LEATHAD FESHIE – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
When there are snow patches to climb over, photos just have to be taken to show how ‘ard and rufty-tufty we are. Cheers Phil!
[PHIL'S PIC OF ANDY & ME CLIMBING GLAS-LEATHAD FESHIE – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The top of this hill is just fantastic. It’s not a Corbett or Munro or anything, but it offered the best views of the day and crisp walking underfoot. The big brown area in the next two pictures this side of the snow capped Cairngorms is a patch I like to call the “upper, upper Feshie,” as most folk think of the upper Feshie as the bit above Ruigh-aiteachain to where it bends right back on itself at the watershed with the Geldie, whereas there are another seven miles or so of glorious wild country up to the Feshie’s source further east.
[PHIL & ANDY, GLAS-LEATHAD FESHIE, WITH CAIRNGORMS & MEALL TIONAIL – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
If Picassa allows, I have uploaded Phil’s picture (the next pic) full strength, so you can see just how gorgeous this view really is:
[PHIL'S MAGNIFICENT PANORAMA: CAIRNGORMS TO AN SGARSOCH & BEYOND – CLICK TO BLOW UP HUGE!]
It was now freezing cold in the wind and we dropped off the top to find a bit of shelter for lunch in the sunshine. THIS is what the TGO Challenge is all about: A bit of an effort to get to the top, magnificent scenery, great weather, good mates. We looked at the route ahead of us and decided we had bitten off rather more than we could comfortable chew by going all the way to Carn an Fhidhleir, so discretion won the day and we decided instead to drop down to the Upper upper Feshie and re-join our route at the Feshie/Geldie watershed.
[DROPPING DOWN TO THE 'UPPER UPPER' FESHIE – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
Andy was going like a train today and was generally a small blue dot in the distance, as first we followed a snow banked burn down, and then met the Feshie to follow it’s glorious meanders for mile after wonderful mile. To our right we had the snaking ridge we had dropped down from and to our left we had a fabulous view of the Cairngorms all slathered in snow, that you just don’t see coming up the Feshie from Ruigh-aiteachain. In front of us was Meall Tionail.
[ANDY & THE 'UPPER UPPER' FESHIE & MEALL TIONAIL – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
It was a rare moment when I was at the front that I spotted a big dark shape in a pool in the crystal clear Feshie. It was an otter! It was slowly swimming upstream. I called to Andy and he raced over to see it too. It was lithe and much much bigger than I had expected – only ever having seen them in the sea from a breakfast window at Carbost on Skye. What a fabulous day!
[PHIL & ANDY, THE UPPER UPPER FESHIE & CAIRNGORMS – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
You’ll see from the map at the top of this post that this part of the Feshie meanders deliciously all over the shop and generally the grassy banks allow smooth passage all the way, with just the occasional bog to hop or bluff to clamber up and over. Sometimes we took the lower route below the tall peaty bluffs and paddled through the edge of the river. There are no paths excepting the deer trods, which guide you wonderfully all the way down this fabulous river.
[ANDY'S PIC OF THE UPPER UPPER FESHIE & CAIRNGORMS – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
[ANDY, UPPER UPPER FESHIE & CAIRNGORMS – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
And then my afternoon “wall” hit me like a freight train. All of a sudden at around this time my knackered old frame just gives up on me and I become light headed and horribly wobbly. Today it was at about 4:30 and came as a bit of a surprise as I had been bowling along very happily indeed; No great effort was required with the walking.
Nothing for it, but to sit for a while in the sunshine, have a drink and something to eat and a short snooze. No bad thing, really, in this beautiful country. Phil & Andy walked on; there was no chance of anyone getting lost today. It was pure heaven sitting there, listening to the lark song and the rush of the river over the bleached stones.
Then it was back to the day-job – so I was up and feeling really great once more after a good stop. I caught the others and then slid past with new-found vigour and picked my way through the bog to the track above the Geldie and then raced along with the wind at my heels. We decided to stop a mile or so short of our intended camp-spot, where the Geldie tucks in close to the path and before too long we had the shelters anchored down firmly against what looked like might be a rough night. I tucked in to Pasta in cheese & mushroom sauce, the last drops of whisky from my wonderful son, Oli, and then a deep sleep.
It had been a big day, in glorious country with two great blokes.