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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

TGOC 2016, Days 7, 8 & 9: Kingussie to Braemar


DAY SEVEN: THURSDAY: KINGUSSIE TO MEUR MEADHONACH CHEESE & WINE PARTY

The weather forecast for this morning is very poor. Strong winds gusting heavily from the south with rain for most of the day. We're heading south. Straight into it then. Deep Joy.

After one last bath and a fabulous breakfast at The Cross, we shoulder our freshly replenished bags and head off to the excellent butcher for top-quality pies and cheeses. And then, at way past a sensible time to leave for a day in rotten weather, we finally say goodbye to Kingussie.

RUTHVEN BARRACKS

We knock our route over the very exposed and boggy Blar an Liana Mhoir into touch and decide to trudge up Glen Tromie. Not much can be said about today's walk up Tromie as it is very cold, very wet and, if I'm honest, a bit miserable, really. I do recall one bright moment. We meet a couple of guys rebuilding a section of wall near the very recently smartened-up Killiehuntly. The estate has recently been bought and the new owner is spending a great deal on getting it back to scratch, which is providing a lot of work locally.

CLICK TO ENLARGE, OR RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN NEW TAB OR WINDOW

At our first lunch stop at a stone building near the end of the wooded section of the glen, we bump into a solo Challenger, a lovely bloke. He's just about finished his lunch and is about to set off again. I'm not very communicative, I'm afraid, as I'm hungry and the blood sugar is low... (I'm trying, vainly to dream up excuses here for being anti-social...) I ask him out of politeness where he's off to next and he produces a map as I produce a pie and mustard and all my mental energies are focussed on my food.

Desperately poor behaviour. I know. I can only apologise to the chap. 

Then it's off again, stopping again at Bhran Cottage, still in the rain. Phil's just about to climb inside the tracked vehicle outside, when an estate Land Rover turns up, and in one smooth movement Phil pirouettes to sit down with his pies. The keepers around these parts are friendly and he waves, and shakes his head as if to say "Madness."

Back on the track it's bloody hard work climbing up to the terrace between the Tromie and the Allt Bhran but soon we're down, crossing beneath the weir, to take a small rest.

CLIMBING AWAY FROM THE ALLT BHRAN WEIR

You'll see from my notes made on the map that we now deal with "HARD GOING" and "VERY, VERY HARD GOING." As indeed, it is. The mile-long section below the plantation working our way up the Allt na Cuilce is particularly ghastly. We flounder up rocky/boggy sections alongside the burn until we give that up as a bad job and climb higher to the edge of the trees. And that is humourously boggy! 

ROUGH COUNTRY. VERY HARD GOING

However, as you can see, the scenery hereabouts is gorgeous. It's a big, big, empty place. Okay, there are plantations, tracks, weirs and the like, but they are simply dwarfed by the scale of the landscape around us.

FOLLOWING THE ALLT NA CUILCE UP INTO THE BOWL

As we near the site of our Cheese & Wine Party, up in the bowl, we strain to see if we can spot any tents. Not so far. We carry on walking on what is now delightful turf, with the stream becoming more and more caochan in quality. 

NOT FAR NOW. KNACKERED

We check, very carefully indeed, that we are exactly where our Cheese & Wine Party invitation says we should be and flip up the shelters. It has now stopped raining and the clouds are huge cumulus jobs that are lit wonderfully by the evening sunshine.

CHEESE & WINE VENUE

WEATHER CLEARING AT LAST

After sharing hip flasks and general slapping-each-other-on the-back moments for getting through a pretty rubbish day we sort out light evening meals before adjourning to Trinnie at about 7:30pm to start on our own Cheese & Wine Party. We have brought with us a rather fine red from The Cross and some excellent cheeses and pies. It's a shame no-one else could make it, but we make a fine fist of it, and toast absent friends, giggling a little as we have another sip of nectar. The wine is soon gone and so we resort to the Talisker and Speyside as we put the world to rights. 

C/O PHIL


EVENING LIGHT SHOW

The temperature is now heading south and Phil leaves me with the empties, the crisp packets, fag ends and half drunk glasses to deal with. I tighten the guys and slide into bed, taking one last look outside before sleep, when this is what hoves into view!

AN UNEXPECTED GUEST: EIMAR WOOLF ARRIVES @ 21:40

That could give a rather nasty shock to a more susceptible person. For Christs' sake, Eimar! It's twenty to bleeding ten at night!

But, wonderfully, Eimer Woolf and Humphrey have lollopped all the way from Kingussie in just an afternoon to make the Cheese & Wine Party. And, they bring with them fabulous nettle-wrapped cheeses and a litre of red! Gallic hugs to them both. Phil pulls a coat over his pyjamas and rejoins the party.

WITH HMP3: CHEESE & WINE AFICIONADO

PERFECT CONDITION
A damn fine end to a not so brilliant day. Cheers, Humph!



DAY EIGHT: FRIDAY: MEUR MEADHONACH TO THE GELDIE BURN

Now then, now then! Today's post is to try and persuade Challengers to try a different, more exciting and no more taxing day to get from the Spey to Braemar. This day is a Little Honey! A Peach of a day! With Views To Die For! And No Nervous Clambering along landslides up the Feshie.

Read this carefully. Take notes. There will be questions at the end. Alright. You can turn over your papers.... NOW.

There are quite a few pictures and three videos for you to enjoy today, all with one purpose: To persuade you to try this magnificent route.  Right-click the map to open it in a new tab or window so you can refer to it at your whim. 

Okay then. Why is this route so top-draw and chuffing brilliant? Let's find out:

CLICK TO ENLARGE, OR RIGHT CLICK TO ENLARGE IN NEW TAB OR WINDOW

First of all, we clamber up the side of the hill to gain the old Rover Road above. This heather bash should be taken steadily and all manner of things can be found at your feet. it's a good start to the day as it warms you up gently whilst gaining a quarter of the total height climb today. There is only 400m of ascent today, and you are rewarded with fabulous views.

GROUSE

ANOTHER OLD GROUSE... LOOKING BACK DOWN TO GLEN TROMIE

CLIMBING UP TO THE TRACK. HEAVY GOING REWARDED WITH THE RAINBOW'S END

AND THE RAINBOW'S OTHER END




Here's the first video (above) of the view from the track, looking down to our camp site. It's a bit noisy as it is very windy. Just look at the scale of the place. The rain squalls over in Glen Tromie. 

Having gained the track, we scamper along at a fine pace enjoying the easy going and slowing for the grunty steep bits, of course. But in the back of our mind is the knowledge that the uphill part of today will not last long at all, and from then onwards it's all down hill! What's not to love?

ON TRACK. HEAVY COLD SHOWERS

LOOKING ACROSS TO MULLACH CLACH A' BHLAIR IN CLOUD

There are still some squally showers to deal with, and the wind is a bit nippy and knocks us around a bit, but, MY! What a day!

DISTANT MONADH LIATH

LOOKING WEST

LOOKING EAST FROM MEALL AN UILLT CHREAGAICH

We make Meall an Uillt Chreagaich with consummate ease. We must be getting fitter. We dump the packs and have a wonderful rest here. I know this is a completely different place, but this hill reminds me a little of Haystacks in the Lake District, in that it is not by any means a big one, but it is set amongst some fine hills all around, and you have wonderful views of each.

CLOUDS NOW LIFTING: LOOKING NORTH EAST ACROSS THE FESHIE TRENCH

LEATHAD AN TAOBHAIN

GLEN TROMIE, SPEYSIDE & MONADH LIATH

A HUGE PLACE. I LOVE THIS PICTURE.


WEATHER CLEARING: TWO OLD LAGS. YOU COULD MAKE A COMPLETE CHALLENGER OUT OF THE PARTS




Okay. Time for a second video. The video above is a 360 panorama from the top of Meall an Uillt Chreagaich. And remember, this is a dead easy hill to climb! Go on. make your mind up to come this way on your next Challenge!

CAIRN TOUL (I THINK)

We now set off along the ridge heading east on a faint path on gorgeously crunchy gravels and mosses to Glas Leathad Lorgaidh. Don't you just adore these Gaelic names? Over to the left is the huge bulk of the Moine Mhor Cairngorm plateau with the peaks lurching up into space like enormous Atlantic rollers.

HEAVY SHOWERS TO THE EAST

All about us are mountains, massive empty spaces, clouds and distant showers raking the landscape. And we're generally heading downhill, strolling along on fabulous ground. It's joyous stuff!

VIEW EAST FROM GLAS-LEATHAD LORGAIDH


INSPECTING THE FORTHCOMING PEAT MAZE [C/O PHIL]

At the end of the ridge we need to drop down to the puzzle of the peat hags and so from here we establish the best route through. We are blessed with incredibly dry conditions and so the peat maze is a delight. We stop for a well-earned lunch at the bottom. As soon as we stop we start to cool in the nithering (Thank you Pieman, for that excellent adjective) wind.

LUNCH STOP

We pick our way through with ease and collect the magnificent Caochan Dubh. This little beauty will transport us for four kilometers of magical walking. She heads delightfully east with wonderfully grassy banks and the kettle-gurgling burble to accompany us for most of its length until she becomes more grown up and a youthful flirty stream. Occasionally she drops over a rock band to a slightly lower piece of heaven, with an accompanying delightful crystal-clear waterfall. Do decide to come this way, please!

COLLECTING CAOCHAN DUBH

CAOCHAN DUBH

FROM CAOCHAN DUBH LOOKING TOWARDS THE UPPER UPPER RIVER FESHIE, THE GELDIE & MORVEN


CAOCHAN DUBH, A BAG OF BONES AND MORVEN [C/O PHIL]

Finally, we join with the "Upper Upper Feshie" - so named by us because it's the section that is right at the top and flows eastwards. A few years back, Andy Walker and I saw an otter swimming here. We cross the Feshie - Phil dry-shod in his boots and me paddling across. It is wide and shallow hereabouts and I don't think it would pose too much difficulty when in spate.

UPPER UPPER FESHIE [C/O PHIL]

As I'm mucking about with shoes and socks Phil sorts out a Challenge Brew. This man is just about the most perfect walking companion. Apart, that is from the snoring, cursing and farting. You'll see from the next picture that even though it's sunny, the wind is perishingly cold. So it's on with all the clothes we can muster.

UPPER UPPER FESHIE CHALLENGE BREW {C/O PHIL]

So here's the last video of the day, taken from the confluence of the Caochan Dubh and the Upper Upper Feshie. The views around here are stunning. You simply don't get these walking up the Feshie from Ruigh-aiteachain.




CNAPAN MOR & UPPER UPPER FESHIE

EVEN THOUGH IT'S SUNNY IT'S VERY COLD & VERY WINDY

ARTY PHIL

It's now a delightful stroll along the south bank of the river, mostly following deer trods, with the occasional climb up above the eroded banks. The river is a beauty, with little drops that catch the sunlight and with pools below that invite a dip, in warmer weather.

DOUBLE EXPOSURE: UPPER UPPER FESHIE

We make the big bend in the river and head off across the watershed bog (not too bad even after heavy rain) to collect the trade route along the Geldie that heads towards the fleshpots of Braemar.

HOME FOR THE NIGHT ABOVE THE GELDIE

IT'S A VERY BIG PLACE



DAY NINE: SATURDAY: GELDIE BURN TO BRAEMAR

Yes, we wake to more rain. That wonderful cloudscape from last night heralded it pretty accurately. As we pack up, we are joined by Markus Petter again, who had been camping just short of our spot. A smashing bloke, but walking much faster than Phil or I want or need, as it's a simple stroll into Braemar from here, so we let him beetle off into the distance.

MARKUS IN THE RAIN

LOOKING BACK UP THE GELDIE TO MORE 'INCOMING'

MORVERN IN SHOWERY WEATHER

We have been this way countless times but it is always a pleasant stroll. We very slowly reel in the distant landmarks and chatting away with Phil the time flies by.  

LINN OF DEE TREES

RARE SUNSHINE, LINN OF DEE

PROMISE OF A CUP OF TEA

DENIS, MAR LODGE, TEA

After a bit of a dither (experienced by quite a few Challengers) in finding this year's tea room at Mar Lodge, we are re-united with the Challenge Family. All manner of larger than life characters are here, all not quite wanting to leave their chairs and tea to stroll the last few miles into Braemar. 

We hook up with Vicky & Toby and Humphrey. After we had left Humph still camped up at the Cheese & Wine, he had walked up the same hill but then down the entire length of the Upper Upper Feshie and declared it a "Mighty Walk!" As indeed it is.

THE RIGHT STUFF: VICKY, PHIL, HMP3 & TOBY.

And we make Braemar. The Fife Arms is still under renovation. It will be interesting to see how the old girl is treated. I hope the developer shows some respect.

THE FIFE ARMS. NO ENTRY [C/O PHIL]

It was while we were in the cafe that we met an American chap with a very smart camera who was taking pictures from his seat of people out and about through the cafe window. In the very brief conversation I had with him it transpired that his wife was singing in the village this evening. Sadly, I thought no more about it until after we had left our B&B which was right next to the old church on the main road. Through the windows we heard the most angelic voice, that I recognised instantly as belonging to Beth Nielson Chapman.

She was singing "Sand and Water", which you will have listened to if you had clicked on the video that preceded my previous post. In the evening sunshine it was glorious.

Anyway, as Phil and I head off to the sea of swirling Challengers in the pub in Braemar, I'll leave you with another of hers.




12 comments:

  1. Interesting route. Noted for future plagiarisation ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plagiarise away Sir!
      It's really meant for those who have already seen the beauty of the trade route up the Feshie. If any reader has not, that would be my first recommendation, as it is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.
      But for those who want to get away from the crowds and have some magnificent sweeping views, and walk the full length of a fabulous caochan, and all for very little effort (well, on this particular day), it's an absolute winner!

      Delete
  2. I know that area to the south east of the Tromie and i remember well the Cheese and wine party of, i think 2013 which was in the vicinity. Beautiful area and what a beautiful song to finish with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Al, it is absolutely fabulous, as from the top you are in effect at the top-centre of a massive bowl looking north to the Monadh Liath, and with glorious views over to the Moine Mhor and south all the way to Morven, above Braemar.

      Delete
  3. Cracking write up, splendid photos, wondiferous all round.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As I read I was mentally noting the excellent route ideas - then I see from the comments that so too was Robin. You and Phil are very excellent interesting route identifiers. Thank you kind sir.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What am I like?
      What am I like?
      What AM I like????

      Sheez! I have doing a little housekeeping with the blog and have just found your rather nice comment FROM TWO MONTHS AGO!!!
      Sorry David!

      Delete
    2. No problem. And I have just read this post again thinking "Here's an innovative alternative route to Glen Feshie", having forgotten that I had already read and commented. Goldfish brain. Me not you.

      Delete
    3. It's an age thing, David.
      This time next year it'll all come back.

      Delete
  5. Magnificent scenery. Spent a wonderful few nights camped up here in appallingly bad weather (when the rivers were a b'stard to cross!) but it can't detract from the majesty of one of the UK's wildest and remote mountains.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree, Andy.
      So when can we expect to see you on the TGO Challenge, Sir?

      Delete

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