Thursday, 9 October 2008

Winter comes early.


















Tuesday 30th September. Camped OS map LR 36 GR 974091 Approx.Came up on the night coach to Aviemore. A long run, road works at Milton Keynes meant a 14 mile detour. An artic lorry rearranging the central reservation and demolishing a lamp post on the motorway meant further delays and then a further accident on the M8 caused yet more problems. By the time we made Aviemore the coach was almost two hours late. Thus fourteen hours of travel with one 15 minute comfort stop. Oh the joys of travel! My first goal was the loo and a few cups of tea. A pot of tea and a scone later and I headed for the fish and chip shop. The last time I used the one in the centre of town, the chips had left much to be desired. There was another chippie further down the road and I headed for that. Horror, it was closed. Disappointed and hungry I cut my losses and headed out. Time was getting on and with the weather being good I wanted to walk a few miles at least. Took to the woods and made my way through the Rothiemurchus forest on paths and tracks. It was fairly late evening by the time I stopped just the other side of Loch Morlich. Tired, the tent was put up in a small clearing among the trees. Damp moss underneath, however, it will suffice for tonight. Strange noises in the wood as darkness cloaks the trees. Roe deer bark close by. Creatures rustle through the undergrowth. An eery, wailing cry echoes across the loch, a loon. Ducks, possibly disturbed by a fox, quack loudly.
Wednesday 1st October. Camped OS map LR36 GR 020105
Slept late this and so made a later start than normal. A few showers of rain during the night but the morning started off dry. Dark, sombre clouds moving rapidly on the tops indicated bad weather further up. Lacy tendrils of thin cloud drifted down the slopes. Made my way through the forestry toward Ryvoan bothy. Gathered a few bits of kindling on the way. Also, found a few pine trees that had exuded drops of resin. Good for glue but also an aid to fire lighting.The path up to the bothy has been much improved since I last walked in this area. Went up to the bothy but it was still early in the day and so continued on to Bynack stable. For a few moments I was thrown. The old stable has totally gone. It had always been a ramshackle of a place but quite a few folk over the years had used it as a rough doss. Also, there was now a footbridge over the river Nethy and the path had been much improved. The river crossing had often been tricky in bad weather and the surrounding ground boggy. By now it was raining and the wind was rising. The temperature was dropping too. Taking stock of the situation I knew that if I headed up Strath Nethy there where few places to camp. Heading around to the Fords of Avon offered much the same choice. Also, it would have meant a high and exposed pitch. With the rain increasing in intensity it was not a difficult decision to camp where I was. Gusts of wind coming in from the north, north east snatched at the tent material as I pegged it out. Out of curiosity I wanted to find out if it was possible to use the bush buddy in bad weather. With the rain lashing down, complimented by sleet and hail, I was doubtful. It was tricky but I managed it. Basically set up the stove with kindling, some fat wood shavings and pine resin, under the opening of the tent, lit it and and then popped the cooking pot on top. It had to be shielded from the wind as Tonight is cold and here down low it is sleeting so probably it will be snowing higher up.
Thursday 2nd October. Camped OS map LR36 GR044936.
The weather eased during the night but the temperature plummeted. Woke to a frozen tent this morning. The tops have a fine dusting of snow. Mulling over what to do, it was obvious that more bad weather was on the way. The sky was a bruised blue black. Looking up Strath Nethy the glen looked ominous, dark, brooding, hemmed in by steep crags. Already the cloud base was dropping. One of the options I had been considering was to nip up the glen to the saddle. Another was to nip over the Barns of Bynack. That would have meant a long day in poor weather. Not really viable. In the end I opted for the straight forward route, following the path that comes around below the Barns. Not a difficult proposition but oh my, it was boggy, much mud and water. As I climbed up the hill away from the river cold rain was already drifting across. As I came around to the Fords of Avon it was more sleet and wet snow than rain. The idea of camping in the region where scrapped. There was little choice but to continue over the Lairig an Laoigh and down towards Glen Derry. Hail, sleet and snow continued to harry me as I came over the bealach. It was obvious a storm was brewing. Heading down the glen hail beat a tattoo on my waterproofs. Curtains of rain sweeping down off the tops chivied me. What a relief to get down to the trees near the old lodge. Tomorrow evening Duncan, one of the blogging community is coming up from Aberdeen. He requested that I camp near the lodge on the east side of the river. Have managed to find a nice spot among the trees. Tonight all is noise and tumult. There is a great roaring in the trees as the storm rages all about me. The wind is actually coming from two directions. This part of the glen is obviously a confluence for the wind. Driving down Glen Derry and sweeping down from upper Glen Luibeg. The tent is well snugged down but it is a tad daunting as strong gusts buffet both the rear and side. Rain and ice add to the clamour. Natures orchestra at full volume.
Friday 3rd October. Same location as last night.Spent the day pottering. The worst of the storm blew itself out by this morning. The snow line has dropped and flurries of snow where actually falling down here in the glen. Stags have been roaring. An ancient primordial sound, there bellowing echoing around the hills. Went for a wander but did little all day. Duncan is due in tonight. He will arrive well after dark. Initially I was a little unsure how he would locate me. Even in the daytime the tent, being a dark green, is difficult to spot. However, I brought with me a tiny, but bright red flashing led light. With a couple of old tree limbs I rigged up a point to hang the light on. It feels surprisingly vulnerable to have this little light flashing away. At one point while waiting for Duncan I heard a strange sound. Looking out I could see nothing in the Stygian darkness. A quick flash of the head torch, a grunt and a pair of eyes staring back at me. A stag, he had been curious about the flashing led and had come to investigate. Duncan came in at around 22oohrs. He was laden with food. Unfortunately I had already decided to head out on Sunday. My original plan had been to head up on to the tops for a few days. With the current weather conditions that idea had to be shelved. Getting through the Lairig Ghru probably would have been no problem. However, I do not find the west side of the Cairngorms as interesting. It would have meant a few days just doing low level stuff and marking time. best to quit while still enjoying myself.

Saturday 4th October. Camped OS map LR 43 GR 052895
Rain was pattering on the tent early this morning. Bacon butties for breakfast. Looking at the weather we decided on a low level route. A pause at Luibeg bridge for photos. it gave us a moment to catch our breath. Starting off this morning I had not felt that good. Rain, which had been threatening, now began to fall steadily. Coming over the shoulder of the hill the view ahead was atmospheric. Thick cloud in the Lairig, Corrour bothy, low and squat below the high crags. It was a wet and slippery descent to pick up the path down Glen Dee. Much of the upper path was waterlogged with wet, boggy conditions underfoot. Looking back we saw a wonderful rainbow arching right across the glen. A waterfall on the other side of the river tumbled down the hill in a cascade of foaming water. At one point I managed to drop in to a hidden hole. No damage done just wet feet. Further down, slipping on a patch of mud I took a tumble, the weight of the rucksack pushing me forward. Duncan, being the gentleman, was kind and helpful. He did not even take a photo. As we descended the weather began to clear. Looking back we where treated to an awesome of steep crags, snow on the tops and even a glimpse of the sun, wonderful. We paused for a quick break at White Bridge and then strolled down to where we are now camped. This is Duncan's home turf and he certainly knows some good camping spots. Fired up the bush buddy in the last light. Duncan was treated (?) to fried pitta bread with cheese inside. A good day and a pleasant evening.
Sunday. We headed out this morning.Duncan has kindly put me up for the night and I am heading down on the night coach tomorrow evening. Thank you Duncan, much appreciated.

3 comments:

AktoMan said...

One advantage of you heading out early was that we had a pile of food available for scoffing. Thanks for the bacon rolls and pitta-bread cheesy pockets. And the tales of derring doo in the hills.

My versions of the short circular that I did with you on Saturday is now posted.

And thanks for looking at the washing machine when you were here, it worked for an extra wash before conking out again. So it gave me some extra clues on what might be wrong with it.

Sean The Silver Fox said...

Hi Dawn, Great post. It seems like you pick the worst weekend to go camping. Mind you this year its been a lottery with the weather.

Take care Sean

blogpackinglight said...

Thanks Dawn , good read and lovely pictures. Wish I was there (sigh).