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Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby old danensian » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:07 am

Munros included on this walk: Cairn Toul, Sgòr an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point

Date walked: 25/07/2012

Time taken: 10.75 hours

Distance: 38 km

Ascent: 1382m

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After reaching my first 100 I was determined not to dwell at this achievement: there are no laurels with 183 to still to go. The forecast seemed to be improving with every update and MWIS began to promise some healthy looking percentages for last Tuesday and Wednesday.

Various domestics, and bits and pieces to arrange for the in-laws to move north, had to be completed on Tuesday. However, with some things already thrown into the back of the car, there was a chance I could get away by mid afternoon. I could still do something with a bit of a walk-in, enjoy a wild camp, then I’d be fresh for a day on the hills the next morning.

So, I managed to be away by 3.30pm but wasn’t sure if I was being optimistic in hoping to reach the Corrour Bothy that evening. I’d identified the three Munros to the west of the Lairig Ghru for the following morning: The Devil’s Point, Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine.

I left the car at Linn of Dee by 7.00pm at a leisurely pace. I blithely assumed that if the Lairig Ghru and the bothy proved to be a little too far then, if necessary, I could find somewhere to pitch the little green hotel beyond Derry Lodge or around Luibeg Bridge. However, my pace quickened as I began to realise that such spots were going to be as rare as hen’s teeth on this particular stretch. I accelerated above my early saunter as it became obvious that potential patches were too wet, too steep or so tussocky as to make the cocktail stick tent pegs of my Laser Comp useless.

By this time I wasn’t taking in too much of the surroundings; my legs had begun to regret doing the spin class that morning yet I now needed to push on. The sky had started to darken when finally the bothy came into view.

Corrour Bothy below Cairn Toul

Sunset glow up the Lairig Ghru from Corrour Bothy

Now I assumed that this was going to be remote: I’ve been on Nation Trust campsites in the Lake District that were less busy. There were already three tents scattered around the bothy, another one pitched just across the valley and two guys were in residence in the bothy itself. By the time I woke the next morning at least two more tents plus my own to added to the crowds.

The Devil's Point and Corrour Bothy

The next day dawned even better than the forecast. With bright blue skies above I was away by 8.30am; it still felt like a leisurely start to the day and the effect of the previous evening’s exertions had been left behind and resolved with a good night’s sleep.

South down the Lairig Ghru

Tackling the slopes up to Coire Odhar was immediate; there was no gentle introduction to the day as the path criss-crossed back and forth over the Allt a Choire Odhair. Nevertheless I was up at the bealach within 45 minutes and the gentler slopes of The Devil’s Point were crossed to summit within the hour.

Final slopes of Coire Odhar

As height was gained, my eyes were expectantly scanning the skies. The previous evening a golden eagle had been seen by those already at the bothy, not just circling but perched close enough to be captured on camera. I hoped to be lucky enough to enjoy a glimpse as well – but it was not to be.

The wildlife may have been a disappointment but the landscape wasn’t. From the viewpoint on The Devil’s Point, you are confronted with Scottish glens as they are meant to be, whether looking up Lairig Ghru as it slices between some of the biggest mountains in the country or down into Glen Geusachan – the epitome of the glaciated valley that any geography teacher would drool over.

Cairn Toul from The Devil's Point

Ben Macdui from The Devil's Point

Up the Lairig Ghru from The Devil's Point

Having revelled in the panoramas I dropped back to the bealach and followed the boulder and stone strewn stretches of path over Point 1213 and towards Cairn Toul. I kept to the edge of the corrie but, with hindsight subsequently gained on the descent, it would have been easier to follow the grassy tracks to the left that lead more directly to 1213. It may have proved to be less tortuous but admittedly it wasn’t as scenic: I should have done it the other way round, up the grassy slopes and down by the edge of the corrie.

The point at 1213m between The Devil’s Point and Cairn Toul deserves a name. Maybe it has one in some local parlance that has yet to reach the Ordnance Survey. I’m sure we’ve all been on more rounded humps with less of a presence that have a unique identity rather than simple a spot height. It stands distinctly on the skyline when seen from the valley and sits squarely barring the route to the higher Munro beyond. It presents the view of the rest of the day’s efforts, the steeper rise of the Cairn Toul itself and the drop to the bealach beyond and over to nearby Sgor an Lochan Uaine. Fortunately it also revealed the return route that the skirts below the top of Cairn Toul thus saving its re-ascent and buckets of wasted energy.

Another spell of teetering over stones and boulders soon saw the twin cairns of Cairn Toul reached, the most northerly being the highest.

Braeriach from Cairn Toul

Lochan Uaine - ready to spill over

After a break and a chat with others on the summit I dropped down to the bealach. Never mind “bealach”, with all the bleached grit and gravel it was almost a beach. On the way down you see Lochain Uaine below. The teardrop shape was an enticing blue and its outlet positioned just at the rim of the corrie. It was all too easy to imagine reaching down, giant-like, and scooping out a handful of earth from its narrowing outlet and seeing the waters breaking through the fragile strip that prevents its contents from flowing down to the valley below. Lilliput eat your heart out.

Once on the bealach I left my sac and taking just my camera I scaled my final Munro of the day. On the way up, while wrestling with the pronunciation of the mountain’s name in my mind, Presley’s song became lodged: I just couldn’t shift it, no matter how inappropriate or inaccurate the lyrics. “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog.” Unlike the song’s sentiment, “you is high class” is no lie.

Braeriach from Sgor an Lochain Uaine

Unassuming in its presence but spectacular in its position and outlook Sgor an Lochan Uaine at first appears as a mere shoulder of Cairn Toul not, as it is now established, the fifth highest Munro. You’d go a long way to better the spectacle of the corries and cliffs below Braeriach to the north.

It was here that I realised the planning mistake I’d made. Height had already been gained and logic from the view ahead dictated continuing along the high-level track. The trip should have been extended around the heads of the huge corries beyond and round to Braeriach then, descending down its south east ridge to the upper reaches of Lairig Ghru, back down to the bothy, then another night’s camp and a relaxed walk-out the following morning. In all, it would be a satisfying circular walk.

However, it was not to be as time was against me now. I didn’t fancy the prospect of adding up to three hours for the extended walk, plus another three for the walk out and yet another three for the drive back home. It’s now filed away for the future.

So I began to head back, collecting my sac from the bealach and cutting across the slope of Cairn Toul to Point 1213. After a brief stop again on 1213 I descend by the easier more direct slopes to the bealach above Coire Odhar and from there in no time at all was back at the bothy.

Down the slopes of Pt 1213 and to The Devil's Point - take the grassy tracks for an easier walk

After a brew before packing up the tent and a chat with a pair Duke of Edinburgh Award assessors waiting for a group to arrive – their every move followed from a distance through a monocular as they made their way up the valley – I headed back towards the Linn of Dee.

Corrour Bothy and the start of the walk-out below the nose of Carn a Mhaim

Yet more companionable conversation was enjoyed on the initial stage of the walk out, but I took a more leisurely stroll than others and I was happy for them to leave me in their wake. Having then been passed by those more sensible with bikes I’m prompted to consider a future purchase – my older town bike may not stand up to the rigours of some of the estate tracks and walk-in routes. Despite this, I enjoyed the walk-out more than the walk-in with better views looking down the glens adequately compensating for the tiring legs.

The walk-out down Glen Luibeg

Back to car by 5.30pm and back home by 9.30pm, it had been an interesting trip. A sociable day with plenty of conversation and sharing of experiences – maybe a little more enjoyable if hadn’t rushed the walk-in. You live and learn.

Some splits

Walk in (Linn of Dee to Corrour Bothy) – 2 hrs 30 mins
Bothy – The Devil’s Point, Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochain Uaine – Bothy - 5 hours 30 mins
Walk out (Corrour Bothy to Linn of Dee) – 2 hrs 45 mins
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby Bod » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:21 am

Ah old danesian! Well done getting out there and camping in the Lairig Ghru, lovely photos and well described. I have to look back to my school days now as to when I was up some of these hills, must be time to return I feel :wink: :D :D
Thanks for reigniting my plans for wild camping the Cairngorms again, cheers :D
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby mrssanta » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:34 pm

Go for it Bod, get that tent out again!!

The point 1213 does have a name, it's Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir. It's a nice hill with great views in itself.
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby morag1 » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:56 pm

Great photos of the Cairngorms, really enjoyed this :clap:

Good idea to break down the times like that, its really helpful to others planning their walks :D

Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:05 pm

Nice detailed report OD :D . It seems only fair to do these hills as an overnighter to really savour them - I may just do the same :) .
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby PeteR » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:34 pm

I really enjoyed this report and pictures OD :D Brings back great memories of doing this walk l;ast year. I didn't quite have the weather you did in the latter stages of my walk as the cloud came down for a period and I got a bit wet, but the views are something else all the same. I particulalrly liked the views from the Devil :D Worth the walk in just for that alone :D
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby Stretch » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:44 pm

Nigel, I'm very jealous, darn this fantastic report!
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby dogplodder » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:11 am

Enjoyed your photographs very much. I have some pics of the Lairig Ghru from above to it's good to see it from ground level too! :D
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby Gavin99 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:21 am

Nice one OD , a great report and very informative , I'll come back to it when I get around to this walk myself . I take it living in this neck of the woods isn't turning out to be too much of a hardship ?
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby L-Hiking » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:18 pm

Thanks for sharing Nigel, thats got my wild camp taste buds going :crazy:
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby jonny616 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:37 pm

Great report & photo's Nigel. rather jealous :clap:
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby DavidRDavis » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:07 pm

:thumbup: Nigel, great report, I was in that neck of the woods the week previous courtesy of the 'Caledonian reclining seat' and fold up bike. My first couple of days started with a ride up to Culra bothy and the hills around it then it was cycle from Culra back down to Dalwhinnie for the train up to Aviemore, where the weather broke and my plans for Braeriach came to nought. I only added Bynack More to the tally on my last day (although did do some of the lower hills to the North of Loch Morlich - very wet underfoot) which was the beginning of the good weather for your trip. At least your a bit closer to the hills these days. Looking forward to your next report. Cheers.
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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby L-Hiking » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:27 pm

Superb Nigel and fully deserved

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Re: Uaine nothing but a hound dog

Postby old danensian » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:40 pm

Hey - chuffed - just logged on for the first time in a couple of days and found out - having just bought myself a new pair of boots on Sunday - timing eh!

Thanks Paul and everyone else for your comments - I really enjoy the writing up after a day out so it's reassuring that the scribbles are appreciated.

Sorry Gavin - bitter sweet timing - see my post on the Meet string - I've had to bale out at the last minute

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