Across the wilderness from the Tilt to the Feshie
by malky_c » Tue May 21, 2013 11:15 pm
Munros included on this walk: Carn an Fhidhleir (Carn Ealar)
Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn Bhreac, Beinn Mheadhonach
Date walked: 19/05/2013
Time taken: 15.25 hours
Distance: 58 km
Ascent: 2100m4 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).
Corbetts: Beinn Mheadhonach
Distance: 19 km
Ascent: 1100 m
Time taken: 4 hours 30 minutes
Weather: Muggy with heavy shower. Claggy and windy on top.
I was only going to go for a short walk this weekend, but Gill was away so I could see the opportunity for an overnight trip. This was initially going to be a camping trip, giving me more route flexibility, but with such an appalling weather forecast, I opted for the more lightweight bothy option instead, ditching the tent and stove. I had also considered a return to Blair Atholl on the Sunday, but kept my options open. However, I had always wanted to walk down the Feshie, so I hoped for some half-decent weather.
Firstly was the issue of a work go-karting trip in Elgin. I couldn't back out now, and it was pretty good fun in the wet actually. So I wasn't stepping off the train in Blair Atholl until just before 5:30 pm. This ended up being a good move, as a day of hideous weather gave way to a dryish evening.
Leaving the station:
A shortcut round the back of the caravan site took me to the usual Glen Tilt car park, then onto the track. I took a couple of short detours to the right to get away from the main track up the glen. Between the trees, there were exciting glimpses down into the Tilt. Hard to get a photo though.
Through the grounds of Blair Castle:
Avoiding the main track along Glen Tilt:
Approaching Gilbert's bridge, I passed a couple who were on their way back from Carn a Chlamain. They had assumed it was possible to drive up to Forest Lodge, so ended up with a longer walk than they had bargained for. They warned me of rather unpleasant weather higher up.
The Tilt at Gilbert's Bridge:
The going was easier on the feet on the far side of Gilbert's bridge, and the views opened up a bit. Unfortunately the rain also started here. Despite that, the colours were very vivid.
Glen Tilt from opposite Auchgobhal:
Glen Tilt and Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain:
By the time I got to the upper bridge in Gleann Mhairc, the rain was off again and the air cleared a bit. The clouds continued to look oppressive and impressive though.
It was quite gusty on the ridge, and I had a break when I reached the drystone dyke. At this point there was even a spot of sunshine on Carn Liath on the other side of Glen Tilt. Then it was into the clag to the summit.
Back to Glen Tilt:
Beinn Mheadhonach summit ridge:
Brief sunshine on Carn Liath:
A shoulder of Cairn a Chlamain:
Back towards Blair Atholl:
Beinn a Chait:
The walking over the plateau was really easy going - like walking through a field. Out of the cloud again and I dropped down to the Feith an Lochain, until the floor of the glen, the going continued to be very good.
Feith an Lochain, Loch Mhairc and the Tarf Munros:
There was definitely a feeling of being in the middle of nowhere here, with bare hills to all sides. I could just make out tomorrow's target, Beinn Bhreac. Although it involved some extra ascent, I opted for the col south of Braigh Sron Gorm as a route to the bothy, rather than following the Mhairc round to the Tarf.
The Feith an Lochain, with Beinn Bhreac in the background:
I expected to be able to see the bothy from the col, but it didn't appear until the last minute, when it was practically dark. Lower down the corrie, the peat hags got worse. Still, I arrived just after 10pm, which was roughly what I had predicted.
Inside the bothy (the sun lounge):
Last time I stayed here was almost 10 years ago, while passing from the western Glenshee hills to Carn Ealar and An Sgarsoch. That time I had reached the Bedford Memorial bridge in the dark, then made my way up the Tarf with a handheld torch which ran out of power on the way. Sadly the bothy book from back then wasn't around. The new one (going back to 2010) had some familiar names in it though.
Some familiar names:
Pre-cooked cold pizza and soup from a flask for tea. Despite forgetting my sleeping mat, I got a decent kip. At various points in the night, it was absolutely hosing it down. Still, some decent views and only an hour or so of rain today - pretty good going!
Munros: Carn Ealar
Corbetts: Beinn Bhreac
Distance: 39 km
Ascent: 1000 m
Time taken: 10 hours 45 minutes
Weather: Calm and cloudy, eventually clearing away to warm, hazy sunshine.
Up early for a 7am start. Not having a tent or any cooking stuff to clean made it a doddle to get ready. No rain but the cloud was right down to the bothy. I put on my waterproof trousers and jacket before starting - a mistake as it was quite muggy. I stopped after half an hour to take them off again.
Tarf Hotel/Feith Uaine bothy:
The Tarf in the morning:
I followed the Tarf for a km or so before heading up through deep heather towards Carn Ealar. I had taken the same route last time I was here, albeit with views that time, and remembered it taking much longer than expected. Today I was on bearings the whole way to avoid some of the intermediate summits on the ridge.
At about 800m, blue sky appeared and I had a few almost-views. Sadly it didn't last and I was back in the clag again. It took almost 2 hours to reach Carn Ealar.
The clag almost cleared on the way up to Carn Ealar:
Next to Beinn Bhreac, and with no sign of the clag clearing again, it was bearings the whole way. Due to the lack of scenery, I strayed away from the highest ground and aimed for the shortest route.
Typical scene en route to Beinn Bhreac:
On the final approach to Beinn Bhreac, the cloud cleared a bit again and at least allowed me to see the summit I was heading for. I was accompanied by some rather mournful plover song, which just added to the empty, desolate feel.
Back towards Carn Ealar:
Admiring the views from the summit of Beinn Bhreac:
Up until now, I was undecided whether to head back to Blair Atholl via Beinn Dearg, or the longer walk out to Kingussie. As the wether was pretty benign, I opted for the latter, as I'd always wanted to do a crossing of this area.
I dropped down into Coire Creagach, which was pretty wet and haggy, and was on the Feshie by 11am. Since I had found a random spot of sunshine, I had a break and pondered my next move. I could either follow the Feshie in a big loop, or cut straight across peat bogs and drop into the Feith na Craoibh Chaoruinn. It was 10km vs. 4km so I went for the shortcut. I was aware I might have some interesting river crossings later, but decided to worry about that when I got there.
Cnap a Choire Chreagaich:
Back across the Feshie to Beinn Bhreac:
It was a pretty rough crossing, but some of the peaty pools were quite atmospheric. Unfortunately it looked like lots more clag was sitting in the lower Feshie.
Sron na Ban-righ might have made an interesting diversion if it hadn't been in the clag. Only 20m or so away from being a Graham, it would present some interesting logistical problems for the walker who didn't like getting their feet wet.
Sron na Ban-righ:
As it was, I dropped back into the clag and picked up the burn. After some time passing between oozing peat hags, it developed into a small gorge. As there was still a narrow grassy bank at this point, I stuck to the bottom of the gorge. As it narrowed and steepened further, I scrambled down the watercourse itself, wondering when it was going to lead over a big drop. It was pretty eerie.
Eerie stuff in the Feith na Craoibh Chaoruinn:
Soon I was at a significant drop, and fortunately there appeared to be a heathery ledge leading out. After a bit of hanging onto trees and heather, I was on something approaching a path. I was pretty grateful, as the hillside was much steeper and craggiest than it looked on the map.
Probably time to get out of the gorge:
Waterfall that I avoided walking off the top of:
Back down onto the Feshie, and it didn't really look foldable here. Not to worry - I was on the correct side anyway -I'd just need to follow the animal tracks on the less frequented side of the river. I soon passed the remains of a bridge.
Down on the Feshie again:
The walking was mostly OK. I could see a family picnicking on the other side - the first people I had seen since Glen Tilt. There was the odd annoying section where crags dropped right into the river, and I had to climb up a little and traverse along steep slopes. I soon hit a track, which promptly forded the river and left me back n animal tracks again.
I didn't think I was too bothered by the prospect of more awkward traverses, but before I knew it, I was wading the river at a slightly shallower looking point, aware that I would need to re- cross it later. It seemed fine - only came halfway up my shins - until I realised that it had split up, and I still had the deepest part to wade. It came up to the tops of my thighs this time - glad I emptied my pockets before plunging in!
Now I was on the proper path, which was much easier walking. I had also avoided a more awkward section on the other side, so it was well worth it in the end .
Steep sided in places:
Last of the narrow bits - my wading allowed me to avoid traversing this section:
Soon the sun was out and it was time to stop for a break. This was the sort of weather I had been waiting for! The path crossed a washed- out section. There were tree trunks sitting halfway down the landslip, and some more in the river. It would be impressively scary to be here with that happening
Some pretty big things get washed down into the river:
One of the bits that has slipped away:
Creag na Callaich:
I took a quick look in the bothy - one of the cleanest and brightest I have seen. Then it was over to the Carnachuin bridge to see if it had been repaired. There are always threads popping up about the state of this bridge, but I never bother reading them, so I wasn't sure what I would find. No surprises - it was still broken, although there were some new bits of timber lying alongside, waiting to be assembled. I knew I could use the next bridge (although it would make my walk a little longer), but since my boots were already wet, I thought I'd try another bit of wading. Crotch deep, but no real issues.
There are obviously plans afoot to repair this bridge soon:
...but not yet!
Never mind - it was only crotch deep :
I hadn't realised the road on the far side was Tarmac. I was only on it for a short while, before pulling up a steepish track away from the Feshie. It was a shame to leave such a great glen behind.
Looking up the Feshie before disappearing over the hill:
Sgoran Dubh Mor across the Feshie:
I wasn't sure how the next section would be. The path marked through the woods could have been anything from a vehicle track to something so overgrown that it would be invisible. Thankfully it was the former for a bit, and once the vehicle tracks ended, the way was still obvious. After a short section across open moorland, the second section through the forest was very pleasant underfoot, not to mention very quiet, other than the sound of a woodpecker somewhere. You can probably thank mountainbikers for keeping this route from becoming overgrown, judging by the tracks.
Creag na Sroine:
Through the Fhearnasdail woods:
I took a slight shortcut to Baileguish across a delightful grassy meadow, then got onto a forestry track. Here, I realised that if I wanted the 16:56 train home, I'd really need to get my skates on.
Cairngorms from Coire Fhearnasdail:
Western Cairngorms from near Baileguish:
I walked fast, and even jogged a little through the woods to Drumguish, but it became clear that the only way I'd make the train would be if I managed to hitch a lift. Nobody stopped and the train left shortly before I reached Ruthven Barracks. Never mind - it was warm and sunny, and a great spot to sit on a bench and finish off my food.
Monadhliath behind Kingussie:
In Kingussie, both chippies were shut much to my disappointment, but wandering through town to check killed most of the time before the next train. I couldn't believe how much colder it was in Inverness - I had to put my fleece back on for the short cycle home from the station.
by londonwalker » Wed May 22, 2013 3:57 am
by weaselmaster » Wed May 22, 2013 7:24 am
by Johnny Corbett » Wed May 22, 2013 8:34 am
by Sabbathstevie » Wed May 22, 2013 12:22 pm
by LeithySuburbs » Wed May 22, 2013 2:59 pm
by Fudgie » Wed May 22, 2013 3:18 pm
by basscadet » Wed May 22, 2013 4:23 pm
Its surprising how much new growth there is in Glen eshie after just a couple of weeks since Leithy and I were there
by gammy leg walker » Wed May 22, 2013 9:04 pm
by kevsbald » Wed May 22, 2013 9:15 pm
by rockhopper » Wed May 22, 2013 11:17 pm
Would agree - I remember when planning a route for BD-BM-Ca'C actually thinking at one point about taking the bike all the way round as parts looked cyclable but was glad in the end that I hadn't as I'd probably have had to carry it quite a bit.malky_c wrote:The walking over the plateau was really easy going - like walking through a field.
by pigeon » Thu May 23, 2013 1:33 pm
by malky_c » Sat May 25, 2013 10:41 pm
pigeon wrote:Great effort Malky,a chippy at the end would have been a well deserved treat Smashing report
Bummer it was. My wife was through in Kingussie during the week - both chippies were open then as it was school lunch hour
basscadet wrote:Aye, sounds like a right good wander
Its surprising how much new growth there is in Glen eshie after just a couple of weeks since Leithy and I were there
Something like this has been on my mind for years but your report made me get off my arse and do it.
londonwalker wrote:Good read that Malky. Are you ever at home
Only when I have to be!
by Caberfeidh » Sun May 26, 2013 11:06 am
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