Recovery Walk: Meall a’ Bhuachaille

Stopping off in Aviemore for a couple of days post-marathon, having done very little yesterday, aside from going to Kincraig to see Hamish, the very cute and playful baby polar bear, I decided to stretch my legs today. (The marathon blog will follow later this week – just waiting for the race pics).

The wind was up and the thought of munros didn’t hold any great appeal. There was also the issue of Bruce having completed the Cairngorms meaning driving back towards Fort William for the two he wanted, and the less than favourable forecast in addition to the prospect of a long day knocked this on the head.

So, Meall a’ Bhuachaille it was, an easy corbett we’ve previously done with good paths and decent views. The first stop after parking up near the Glenmore Visitor Centre was the green loch, Lochan Uaine. This beautiful loch is worthy of a visit in itself – local legend says it’s green as the pixies wash their clothes here. I like that better than the other potential explanations.

Carrying on, we continued along a good track which gently pulled us up to the Ryvoan Bothy. The bothy now has a wood burning stove; I’m sure this would be a welcome sight if spending a night here! We stopped off for a snack and enjoyed the shelter.

It was then onwards and up to the summit of Meall a’ Bhuachaille. Having started at a decent height this does not appear particularly daunting and indeed is an easy walk up. The path has been built up well and there are steps on eroded sections, making for good progress. I carried my walking poles in case my legs felt tired but although aware that they’d worked hard (tight calves) the poles stayed on my rucksack for the duration.

The higher we got the windier it got, and on reaching the summit it was blowing quite strongly. Having stopped at the summit cairn / wind shelter for another snack I realised why the folks coming down were wearing jackets and hats! It’s amazing how quickly the wind chills you when you stop at height.

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We headed down the back of the hill after a chat at the summit with a few other walkers, deciding against going over the two other tops as we’d only be buffeted by the wind and aside from adding distance would be unlikely to gain much in views.

Dropping down it was fine to have the wind ease and eventually I was able to remove my hood and see! One of the hazards of hair that Bruce is blissfully unaware of is that it’s dangerous when blown across your face unexpectedly, cutting off all visibility!

Back down to the lower paths in Glenmore, we continued along past the very impressive ant hills. Quite how they get so spectacularly large is beyond me – a real feat of nature! They were massive!

Returning to the Glenmore Visitor Centre we picked up the car and headed up to the Cairngorm Mountain Cafe for a relaxing afternoon. That’s what holidays are for!

Sgor Mor

Arriving at the Linn of Dee car park it was with a little trepidation that we set off, the car thermometer reading a chilly -5C! Thus, 3 pairs of gloves went on at the outset, prevention being better than cure, and off we went.

A short distance along the track we turned off and headed up through the trees. Looking back (always remember to look back when out in the hills) the sun shone beautifully, a lovely reminder of why we were out today. Continuing on and out of the trees we were then faced with some heather bashing, always a joy! (If you’re not a hill walker you may not detect the sarcasm here).

Coming upon the expected deer fence we headed along to the gate, only to find it frozen shut. Over the gate it was then!

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A further pull up took us onto the plateau that leads to the summit of Sgor Mor. This was stunning as always and today we were treated to blue skies and views of the big mountains around the Cairngorms.

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The trek across the plateau proved frustratingly slow, although on return to the car we realised we’d made decent time so perhaps in this case perception was not quite reality. It did feel like a drag at times – fresh snow having fallen last night provided a very powdery underfoot condition which meant sinking deep as we broke trail. Bruce did most of the work, but I did take a turn on occasion to give his legs a little relief.

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Finally reaching the summit we took in the 360 views:

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The breeze had picked up and the temperature felt like it had dropped quite a bit, so we chose not to linger and instead  found sanctuary just a little way from the cairn to rehydrate with some hot soup. As usual, neither soup nor the accompanying teacake have ever tasted so good!

To return we took a different route, heading cross country to drop down to the path leading  back from White Bridge. Again, the terrain proved frustrating, both of us unexpectedly landing over our knees in snow at points. At this point we looked back but rather than being surprised at how far we’d come, instead, we were disappointed and concerned about how long it had taken to cover such a paltry distance! What was that I said about looking back?!?

Thankfully the boots stayed on, despite having to wriggle out of our indentations in the snow, and it wasn’t long before gaiters were added to keep further snow out. The descent became easier as gravity assisted and we made our way downhill alongside the stream.

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The path was finally reached and good pace was then made back to the car, at which point we agreed that it had been a worthwhile and enjoyable day.

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One final stop led us to The Bothy in Braemar, purveyors of very good coffee and cakes. Then homeward bound it was, thoughts of work and routine starting to creep in. Hopefully not too long until the next escape!