Archive for the ‘fords of avon’ Tag

Wild Camping in Big Country Part 1   12 comments

P4131365

The annual Easter wild camping trip. We’d made some plans to meet friends and pay a second visit to Arran. However the weather looked more settled in the East and while they stuck to their plan for Arran we headed east for TJS first visit to the Cairngorms, Scotland’s Big Country.

An overnight in Perth, a hearty breakfast in The Bothy in Braemar and round to Linn of Dee ready for a 5 day trip into the heart of this wild and remote corner of the Scottish Hills

P4131353

P4131354

We took the long walk in along Glen Lui, weighed down with 5 days supplies for a 4 night trip. Skies were threatening and spots of rain were in the air but never heavy enough for waterproofs

P4131355

It’s a long walk along the glen but there is a real sense of heading into the wilds. TJS has had a trip to Lochaber where long ridges predominate. The Cairngorms promise something different I told him. Long, deep valleys, high sculpted corries and extensive tundra-like plateaus.

P4131356

We passed Derry Lodge before turning north for Glen Derry. In my youth you could use the building for shelter, albeit a draughty one with all the windows and doors open to the elements. Its boarded up now with unfulfilled planning permission for something grander. There were a couple of people camping in the woods nearby, the only other wild campers we saw all weekend

P4131358

Our plan was to camp in Glen Derry. It’s a fabulous valley, broad, open, surrounded by towering summits and studded with natural scots pine

P4131362

P4131363

I wanted to return to a spot I’d camped in around 20 years ago and managed to find it! It’s an idyllic spot by the river and we found a sheltered spot under a tree

P4131364

We spent a couple of hours making it our home and having lunch. It was more tussocky than I remember and the photo below from the first trip proves it was indeed a much flatter grassier spot (although it was late May rather than Easter). That was a memorable trip for many reasons. Good times

Image 002

I wonder if it was the time of year or whether the translation from grass to tussock is part of the natural evolution of the landscape.

Cairngorms 1

We took a stroll in the late afternoon with a view to reaching Loch Etchachan. It was sunny when we set off but we caught a couple of heavy, wet snow showers, the only time we really got wet the whole weekend

P4131366

We passed by the Hutchison Hut, clearly now much improved, as are most of the Cairngorm bothies. We got a good way up towards the Loch before the cold and wet sent us back down to the tent to eat tea and get cosy in the tent for our first night in the wilds. A day of 11 miles and just shy of 3000 feet of ascent. Off to a good start

P4131368

The next day dawned overcast but bright and cold. We had a vague plan to repeat a walk I done on the previous trip, down to Loch Avon and back via Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui. The walk over the Lairig an Laoigh takes you into some real wild and remote country and its a stunning walk even on a grey day

P4141375

P4141376

We crossed the Fords of Avon without too much difficulty and took a peek in the Refuge. This has been massively improved to say the least. Last time I was here it was in effect, a small, squalid dark cave in a large cairn. Now its a wooden shelter (albeit with no windows) and rather snug and cosy for a couple of people.

P4141380

We pressed on to Loch Avon. One of the most dramatic locations in the UK if you ask me (I’m sure someone should). After a brief lunch stop at one end we walked to the other. The weather had dipped a little and it was snowing when we reached the other end

P4141381

We stopped for some soup and the sun came out! The beach is rather splendid and the water crystal clear, if a little chilly for a swim. There are plenty of spots for a tent so I must pay the place a longer visit.

P4141391

P4141390

By now we’d decided that the main summits were out-of-bounds with the weather so unpredictable, so a circuit around Beinn Mheadhoin seemed better. Onwards and upwards to Loch Etchachan with snow flurries still in the air but gorgeous views across Loch Avon as we climbed.

P4141394

P4141395

P4141398

After a heavy snow shower we had one of the best spells of the day at the Loch. It’s a magnificent spot, a dark corrie and lake, one of the highest in the UK. I camped up here with TBF and my dog Harry many years ago and this visit rekindled some fine memories. I took a bonus circuit of the smaller lake to take it all in

P4141402

P4141404

We had a spell of abundant sunshine and blue sky on the way down to Glen Derry and all was right with the world. I can handle a few brief soakings if the spells between are as good as this

P4141410

P4141412

TJS seemed to be enjoying it despite the cold weather. The Cairngorms has miles of high quality paths and he hates off-piste walking. He soared ahead of me most of the weekend waiting for me to catch up and show him how to cross awkward rivers and the like!

P4141414

P4141415

A view down Glen Derry. Our pitch is by the two dark trees in the right centre of the shot

P4141418

TJS feasting on his preferred snack of choice, Jaffa Cakes

P4141419

The day ended in fine fashion.  A few isolated showers and chill wind forced us to retire inside to cook.

P4141420

When we emerged for the usual post meal chores and ablutions we were treated a decent late evening light show for as long as our cold hands and other extremities could stand it before retiring

P4141421

P4141422

A highly satisfying and enjoyable day out in wild, big country and another 12 miles and 2800 feet of climbing under our belts. Not bad for ageing and novice sherpas

Cairngorms 2

%d bloggers like this: