WEDNESDAY 18th MAY 2011
Onward! Today was to be two climbs – the first up and over to the River Dulnain and the second up and over on a rover road through the site of the proposed Allt Duinne wind power plant.
I had pitched by the ruins of Coignafeuinternich with Andy, John & Norma, Stuart & Maria, Bernie and another couple who kept themselves to themselves. Apparently it had been a gusty, rain-splattery night but I missed all that – as I had slept like a baby. The thing was, today was another cracker! Okay it was a bit blustery and the showers did promise to come in with a bit of smack behind them – but it was the Monadhliath – with Miles And Miles of Bugger All – true MAMBA country!
S&M (ooh!) and I were all heading off to Kincraig that night but chose to start off in completely opposite directions – that’s part of the fun of this amazing event – you can do what appears to be identical routes but find that in fact you are criss–crossing, so rarely meet up.
Even though Andy was off to Aviemore, it seemed that we were now joined at the hip and so we started off together until Andy could find someone more handsome or better at route finding to walk with. We were actually packed and ready to go at more or less the same time too! Result!
Sigrid Rausing, the enlightened owner of Coignafearn Estate, whose land this is, has made a cracking job of greening this little valley up for her wild-life. It’s ten years or so since I had last been up in this little valley and the difference is wonderful to witness. Before it had been a sterile trench and now it seemed to be bursting with vibrant growth and life.
Just after this shot, it came over all splattery again with some nasty little gusts but the over-trousers were only on for about half an hour. During this half hour, Andy was picked up by some big rufty-tufty manly types who were “going his way” and he was off like Flynn with them, to the awesome fleshpots of Aviemore. He mumbled something about the promise of a lot of sticky stuff in his tent. I couldn’t bear to listen. So I wandered off, alone, up the hill to have a spot of elevenses in a sheltered spot just to the north of Carn Dubh, in the sunshine.
I’m not supposed to have tasty things like nuts and chocolate or I’ll drop dead (or something like that – I wasn’t listening properly at the time – everything had gone blank after the consultant had forbidden marmite) but what better place to drop dead than a little gulley high up in the Moanies in weather like this? Handfuls of honey- roasted cashews and two or three Marathon bars later I headed out of my little place of happiness to stagger about in the wind to skip through the hags to pick up the little stream that would take me down the other side. It Looked liked this:
It’s lovely, eh? Yes, yes it is. A bit of hard work though, but not for long. Because then it looks like this:
The trick is to pick up the little streams as high as possible because it’s springy turf and you bounce all the way down until you get to bits you have to be careful with, like this:
The Monadhliath around these parts is very interestingly arranged, with two plateaux surfaces – the tops (you guessed that already, didn’t you?) and a level just below them (you can see it mid left on the picture above) between the 550 and 600m contours, which means the young rivers have an interesting journey of gushy stuff, calm stuff on the lower plateau, then gushy stuff again before joining the Dulnain below. The gushy stuff is obviously more eroding and so it cuts nice gorges into the hillsides.
You have to be careful negotiating these gorges – the deer tracks like following the crest of the gorge and when it’s windy it’s a Good Idea (and the capitals are important here) to walk on the side where the wind will blow you away from the gorge and not into the gorge.
I remembered this after being picked up by one particular gusty gust and deposited on my shoulder and knee on the only rock poking out of the Monadhliath for miles around. Ouch! It hurt… Fortunately, away from the gorge.
A few miles to the north I could make out Andy and his new chums dropping down onto the second plateau on their way to the Red Bothy.
Lunch was called for and so I slipped into Dulnain bothy to inspect the damage ( a nasty bruise coming up on my shoulder and a puffy knee) for more highly dangerous food stuffs. More nuts, more chocolate, lots of chocolate raisins and a scrummy fruitcake. I am amazed I am still here really…
Looking out of the bothy windows you get a cracking view of the Allt Duinne – the little river that will be the centre of the windfarm slap-bang on the Cairngorm National Park’s boundary. The view looks like this:
Go On – Click on it – It’s glorious! It’s miles and miles of wild land beneath huge skies, with plover, golden eagles, curlew, grouse, peewits… hold on I’ll get my bird book….
As I left the bothy Ed (of Ed & Jack) arrived, having dumped poor, poor Jack somewhere behind him so that Ed could go top-bagging. I found out much later that they had misunderstood where they were to meet up and had both been sitting for hours on end in different bothies. They’re good lads and I’m sure the time spent relaxing was well spent!
The great thing about waking in plimsolls is that you can just bash your way across rivers and you don’t have to worry about wobbly – knackered – dangerous looking Heath-Robinson type bridges. There is only the one bridge over the two crossings anyway so I skipped across getting my feet all nice and cool. Then it was a straightforward haul along the rover-road up and over to Kincraig. The view on the way down to the Spey Valley was pretty fine:
I made it in fine time – early afternoon - to stay with Dave & Val Machin at their lovely place in Kincraig. They forced wonderful beers upon me and gave me a lovely room with ensuite everything, fluffy towels (ooh they were fluffy!) and entertained me royally! The food! Oooh the food was wonderful! Val’s a veggie and her vegetarian lasagne was just out of this world! So much so that we had seconds and then thirds! This was followed by sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and sauce (with seconds & thirds of that too!) MA came round too to tuck in, as her guests (S&M) had nipped off to bed early. Maria had also been blown over at about the same time as me a few miles to the south of me. It had been a bumpy day!
It was at this point that the late arrivals arrived… the Spillers, with Ged & Helen and a friend in tow… It was well past 8:00pm and Val rose to the Challenge admirably, seeing as we had scoffed everything in sight… Well done Val!
A wonderful day.