Uaine nothing but a hound dog
by old danensian » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:07 am
Munros included on this walk: Cairn Toul, Sgor an Lochain Uaine, The Devil's Point
Date walked: 25/07/2012
Time taken: 10.75 hours
Distance: 38 km
Ascent: 1382m7 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
by Bod » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:21 am
Thanks for reigniting my plans for wild camping the Cairngorms again, cheers
by mrssanta » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:34 pm
The point 1213 does have a name, it's Stob Coire an t-Saighdeir. It's a nice hill with great views in itself.
Good idea to break down the times like that, its really helpful to others planning their walks
by LeithySuburbs » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:05 pm
by PeteR » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:34 pm
by Stretch » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:44 pm
by dogplodder » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:11 am
by Gavin99 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:21 am
by L-Hiking » Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:18 pm
by jonny616 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:37 pm
by DavidRDavis » Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:07 pm
by L-Hiking » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:27 pm
by old danensian » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:40 pm
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