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Last of the Cairngorms - salvage job on the Peak of the Wind

Last of the Cairngorms - salvage job on the Peak of the Wind

Postby Graeme D » Wed May 11, 2022 10:22 pm

Munros included on this walk: Sgòr Gaoith

Date walked: 08/05/2022

Time taken: 8.6 hours

Distance: 27.2 km

Ascent: 1190m

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Originally I had been supposed to be in Glen Strathfarrar this weekend with Bruce and John doing the four private Munros to the north of the glen but that was shunted back a fortnight after John remembered he was on a stag weekend in Brighton! :roll: It remains to be seen whether he returns from Brighton and is able to join us later in the month! :? :shock:

I had resigned myself to another weekend of jobs in and around the house but with my mother in law having recently fractured her shoulder, my wife and daughter were going to head through to Hamilton to help her out with some stuff on Saturday and then go over to Paisley to stay with my sister in law and her daughter on the Saturday evening, before going to the dreaded IKEA on Sunday. That I was not even asked whether I would want to come along was absolutely fine in my book. Naturally my mind instantly sprang into action concocting hill plans. 8)

I would not be able to leave Perth until after lunchtime given that Ailsa had an away fixture for her Jeanfield Swifts U12s team in Inverkeithing on the Saturday morning. I could have arranged for someone else to take her but to be honest, her Saturday morning games have become part of my weekly routine and I thoroughly enjoy going and watching her and the girls and being a proper soccer mom! :lol: It's as close as I get these days to reliving the old days on the terracing of East End Park in the 80s and the legendary Lothian '68 supporters bus days running out of Ryries Bar in Edinburgh in the 90s. :lol:

As it turned out, a couple of things cropped up meaning it was mid afternoon before they left Perth and it would have been late afternoon before I could head away. I had identified the Corbett Geal Charn from Dorback Lodge as the Saturday afternoon plan with the Munro Sgor Gaoith pencilled in for the Sunday. I binned the Saturday plans and did a few jobs around the house and garden instead. Unfortunately this meant that I got live radio coverage of the Pars being condemned to the third tier of Scottish football by the powerhouse that is Queens Park. Relegation to League 1 in 2013 with a team of boys after going into Administration and suffering a points deduction and the wholesale departure of the first team was regrettable but understandable. Relegation to League 1 in 2022 for a club of such stature, resources and fan base is nothing short of an utter disgrace for which all associated with it should hang their heads in shame. :( A salvage job was required to gain something out of an otherwise pear shaped weekend! :lol:

First I needed a beer. In fact, I needed several beers and as a result ended up being a bit later up on the Sunday than planned. I was still away for the back of 8 and heading north up the A9 towards Aviemore. I had long since decided that when I finally got round to Sgor Gaoith, it would be from the north through Rothiemurchus rather than the more conventional approach from the west via Glen Feshie. Longer but probably more scenic and varied.

I was parked up at the end of the road at Whitewell and off down the path onto the Coylumbridge to Loch Eanaich track by 10.30 on what looked like shaping up to be a cloudy but dry spring day with possible spells of sunshine. It didn't take Luna long to locate the first dirty great muddy hole to jump in. :roll:

Look what I found!

Typical Rothiemurchus

So many destinations!

At the crossroads near Loch Deo I had to make a decision about whether to tackle the loop clockwise or anticlockwise. I settled on the latter and headed along the predictably busy track towards Loch an Eilein.

More textbook Rothiemurchusness

The busy track got even busier as we turned left at the junction to skirt round the southern shores of Loch an Eilein. The world and his dog (many dogs actually) seemed to be out walking, jogging or cycling on this fine Sunday morning in May.

Loch an Eilein

We turned left on to the path at the northern end of little Loch Gamhna and headed south into the wilderness. Instantly the crowds were left behind and it was just myself and Luna.

Loch Gamhna

If there's a swamp, she'll find it!

I filled up on water at the Allt Coire Follais and carried on the path as it gradually bent downhill towards a building shown on my OS sheet where the path up onto Creag Dubh branched of south east. There appeared to be a path heading that way before the building but I trusted my OS sheet and carried on. We soon came to the little wooden hut with the information board about the Inshriach Nature Reserve. A small group of walkers were sitting enjoying the sunshine on the large flat patch of grass to the side and the door was lying open. I took a wee shifty inside and was surprised to see that it was a rudimentary bothy complete with bunk beds.

The bothy

A clear path ran past the front door and into the woods behind which I figured must be my path. I managed to follow it for a short distance as it gradually got fainter and more overgrown and then disappeared completely into bandit country. I carried on, hoping that I had just temporarily misplaced it but to no avail. A glance at my map indicated that it could be no more than a couple of hundred yards or so due east before I should pick up the path I had seen earlier so I ploughed on, trying to not think about what would happen if I suddenly keeled over in such terrain! :crazy: Eventually the jungle spat me out on a muddy, well used looking path with the sound of the Allt Coire Follais evident a short distance across it. It was with some relief that I set off uphill towards the broad plateau of Creag Dubh.

Back down across Inshriach

Ascending through the scattered pine stands

I stopped for lunch just where the path crosses over the Allt Coire Follais beneath a very impressive set of crags to the left of the path, before carrying on up onto the tundra-like plateau, emerging a short distance south of the Argyll Stone. From here the route was clearly visible snaking up onto the dome of Sgoran Dubh Mor, its eastern slopes plunging precipitously down into Gleann Eanaich.

Passing below the Argyll Stone - unmistakably Cairngorm plateau

I fired off a few photos to the family Whatsapp group and to Kev before heading south past Clach Choutsaich and onto the long ridge over the former Munro of Sgoran Dubh Mor and to the Peak of the Wind. Luna was in her element - no sticks but more stones to pick up and carry than you could wave a stick at! :lol:

Due south to Sgoran Dubh Mor

Loch Mhic Ghille-chaoil and Braeriach across Glenn Eanaich

I met a few walkers coming down off Sgoran Dubh Beag, some in pairs, some solo, and several of them confirmed that it was a tad blowy up between the Munro Top and the Munro Summit.

Creag Dubh and Lochan Beanaidh from Sgoran Dubh Beag with Loch Morlich and Meall a'Bhuachaille in the distance

I stopped off at the small summit of Sgoran Dubh Beag to get some views and photos down the cliffs to the loch far below and to check out some of the impressive cornicing hanging to the cliff edges. Then it was up onto the Munro Top, where it was not nearly as breezy as I had expected, and then across the wide, flat saddle to the Munro summit, my final Cairngorm Munro.

Braeriach and the northern end of Loch Eanaich from Sgoran Dubh Beag

Sgoran Dubh Mor

Braeriach across a large cornice

North across Sgoran Dubh Beag and Creag Dubh to Rothiemurchus

Sgor Gaoith from the summit of Sgoran Dubh Mor

The loneliness of the long distance walker

Residual snow choking the gullies on the final approach to the summit

The southern end of Loch Eanaich from literally just below the summit of Sgor Gaoith

South across the Moine Mhor

Contemplating a League 1 campaign and a derby match with Kelty Hearts!!! :shock:

No 5 Buttress

North from the summit

Having read about the possibility of a scrambling ascent of Sgor Gaoith from the shore of Loch Eanaich, I was determined to include a descent of these slopes on my route and so with a word of encouragement to Luna, who looked a little dubious, I set off down between No 4 and No 5 Gullies.

Buckle up for the ride - starting the descent straight down between No 4 and No 5 Buttresses


Several times I ended up in tight chimneys where large chock stones made it very difficult to carry on, and probably impossible for Luna, so we had to retreat and clamber out to find an alternative line. My hands got a little scuffed up with some of the moves I was having to perform but nothing that drew blood or caused any lasting damage and eventually, with a good deal of relief, we emerged onto the relatively benign heathery slopes just above the shoreline.

Descending and still alive

Still descending and still alive

Still still descending and getting quite confident about my chances of making it out alive

As good as made it

Once down onto the "path", or at least where my OS sheet claimed there was a path, the going was still pretty rough but at least there was no chance of getting cragfast or falling to a sudden violent death, and it was a mercifully relatively short distance to the beach at the north end of the loch. Luna was of course not going to go willingly without a few rocks being lobbed into the loch for her to chase down and even indulged her primitive Find and Bury instinct on the beach.

No, it's mine and you're not getting it!

In fact I think I'll just bury it here for safe keeping!

Then it was a short and fairly straightforward hop across the set of stepping stones at the mouth of the outflow and onto the track for what I knew was going to be a LONG walk out to Whitewell.

The stones

Looking back to the head of Gleann Eanaich

Back to Sgor Gaoith and Sgoran Dubh Mor

I passed a guy about half way back who had just finished putting his tent up on a lovely wee patch of grass next to the river and supressed a pang of jealousy at how his Sunday evening was panning out compared to mine! :(

At the point where the route splits for a section I opted to take the lower path and passed by a couple of spots that I took a mental note of for future wild camping locations. Back out on the track, I began to suspect that the Romans had been involved in its construction! :shock:

Kill me now!

It was another big relief to finally reach Loch Deo and know that it was now only another 10 minutes or so back to the car where Luna inhaled her dinner and I got ready for the drive back south.

Loch Deo

It was great to have salvaged a good day out of the weekend and to be able to contemplate the forthcoming Strathfarrar gig and how 3 blokes and a dog are going to manage to cycle along the glen from the locked gate carrying supplies for a 2 night wild camp! :D

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Graeme D
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Re: Last of the Cairngorms - salvage job on the Peak of the

Postby rockhopper » Wed May 11, 2022 11:38 pm

That looked good. Nice route, Mr D, and you returned via one of my favourite mountain biking routes - cheers :)
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Re: Last of the Cairngorms - salvage job on the Peak of the

Postby gaffr » Thu May 12, 2022 8:42 am

My own backyard area although in recent times the area for stretching the legs on the off road bike. I have not approached the Sgorans all the way from Whitewell :) I think that when I pedal along the trail around Loch an Eilein there appear to be a tracks/paths leading into the area where Creag Dhubh and the Argyll Stone could be reached.....possibly the way that the Sgorans were reached in by-gone days? Like yourself have only ever approach the Stone and the Sgorans from Jack Drakes Bothy....easier to reach for me from home using the new cycle path beside the Dualled bit of the A9.

Having four leagues in the Scottish Professional Football system I guess has the meeting of each other four times in a season to a bit Incestuous? However I guess that it gives the Teams a positive incentive to have a fight for a win for a promotion or at worst a scramble for avoid demotion. Don't watch a great deal of Scottish Football and I did try to stay with the televised, ariel/with the ball constantly out of touch, promotion to the big league football match between Inverness and Arbroath. Ditched this fairly quickly for the televised match between Edinburgh City and Annan where the ball was kept on the ground most of the time...I guess that this is for promotion to the league that both Inverness and Arbroath were trying to leave.
Not having the paid for stuff on TV I do come across a fair amount of Football from the various ladies Leagues that have matches on the TV.....here the ball is played mostly on the ground with increasing skills.
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Re: Last of the Cairngorms - salvage job on the Peak of the

Postby litljortindan » Thu May 12, 2022 6:38 pm

Quite a "walk". I've admired those crags from above but would never have considered descending that way.

Sad to see the Pars in a slump. When DUFC were struggling to get promotion there wasn't too much between those two teams for a couple of seasons. Doesn't take much for fortunes to go in opposite directions it seems. I thought the Arbroath game was a must-watch, not for the football so much as for the Dick Campbell show.
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