Cairngorm Capers

Somehow I have managed to avoid the A9 for the past 5 months; my last trip up that way being to a mates leaving do who headed off to Canada. Early this year I had 4 weekends away on the trot up in the north west – maybe I was just sick of the A9!? This weekend the local mountaineering club headed up to Mill Cottage near Kincraig. The location is handy for Glen Feshie, and another club member Colin (now Kermit – don’t ask!) has also recently completed his Munro’s so is now also bagging the lowly Corbetts (Scottish mountains over 2500ft). There are 222 Corbetts in total, of which I have currently done about 30.

The hills getting bagged Saturday were Leathad an Taobhain (912M) and Carn Dearg Mor (897M). I saw it as an opportunity for a human-powered bag – biking in from the hut, and after a wee bit of persuasion, so did Colin. Its about 24KM of road, 6KM of off road, and 14KM on foot all told making for a 44KM round trip so a fair day out.

The bike in was uneventful, and the views of snowy mountains were grand. We reached the end of the estate road tarmac, and carried on up a steep hill reaching Lochan an t-Sluic where we ditched the bikes. From here there a decent track most of the way before a 100M drop and 150M rise to the summit proper. If it had not been for the snow, it would probably have been worth taking the bikes most of the way there – the decent back the way would have been great!

Was grand to be out in the snow again, mostly superficial, but with some surprising drifts in places. I was thinking to myself that with a bit more snow cover, this would make for a decent ski-tour. I shall have to come up with a way of mounting the ski’s properly on the bike as 30KM with them on your back would be naff.

Retracing our steps we found a wall to hide behind for food and then headed off for the 2nd hill. It was not looking promising view-wise on the way across, but it cleared up affording us decent views in all directions bar north. Back at the bikes, it was clear that we were not going to be back at the hut in daylight – but we would get most of the way. The off-road part of the descent was great fun, and staying out of the drainage ditches kept one awake on the road section. The final 45 mins were done in the dark – with the assistance of about 2500lumens from 3 lights to illuminate the way ahead!

The next day, I had planned to do a section of the River Spey from Newtonmore to Kincraig. I awoke late, and drove to Kincraig Church just as it was kicking out after the Sunday service. I had intended to cycle from here to Newtonmore, but decided that I was too late, and it was bloody cold and I would be finishing in the dark. Instead, I ditched the bike idea and just stuck the boat in the drink at the Church. The new plan was just to paddle across Loch Inch and up the Spey against the current (but with the wind). The sun was out and it had thankfully by now warmed up a little. I’ve never been on the Spey before and was surprised at how slow this section was – no real perceivable current. I went upstream for about 5KM, before reversing it to get back to the van for about 3PM after a 14KM paddle – a pleasant if sedate way to spend the day.

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