3 days in the wilderness to complete the 'Round of Geldie'
by Mountainlove » Thu May 28, 2015 10:43 am
Route description: An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir
Munros included on this walk: An Sgarsoch, Beinn Bhrotain, Carn an Fhidhleir (Carn Ealar), Monadh Mor
Date walked: 23/05/2015
Time taken: 25 hours
Distance: 60 km
Ascent: 2117m20 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).
I admit planning to walk 60 km in never worn new shoes was slightly risky, but after reading the hype about walking shoes vs walking boots, I was keen to form my own opinion with all the conditions the Scottish Highlands can throw at you. Shoes aside, the trip I had planned were 4 remote Munros, which I had named the 'Round of Geldie'
I left after work on Friday and after a 3 hour drive set up camp in Glenshee. The long stretch of suitable camping spots seemed strangely deserted for a Friday evening and I had no problem finding a great place to set up camp. I had passed 2 tents on the 15 mile stretch down the Glen and was surprised when another car parked right behind my car on the otherwise deserted stretch of road. Watching the car for a good half an hour from my tent, I could not believe it when the driver decided to stay for the night and sleep in his car. What is it with people who can't give other some kind of privacy on an empty stretch of road!!! Slightly paranoid, due to too many murder mystery books read, I finally fell sleep.
It was a beautiful morning when I drove down the Linn of Dee Road and parked my car at the large car park in the woods. Setting off my 20 kilo backpack was hard going and I kept on telling me it was 'only' 13 kilometers. The path along River Dee was beautiful and I loved to see the old settlements to the left and right of the track. Crossing the white bridge, the red house and numerous burns Geldie Lodge appeared in the distance.
Leaving the woods
Part of the old Settlement (on the left)
How far will I have to walk I asked myself here
I guess for quite some time
The red house on the way
A bridge to cross
Finally the first two Munros come into view on the right- An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir
and Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor to the left
I had planned to stay at Geldie Lodge and was glad when 3 hour into my walk I arrived and was presented with a river crossing. The water was freezing, but I enjoyed the refreshment while I walked through it. Walking along the path up to the lodge , I passed a field and shed to my right. There was no animals in the field and the shed looked perfect. Keeping my fingers crossed that the ground in the shed would be even, I crossed the field and found a suitable place amongst the stone slaps, where I could pitch my tent. Unpacking my bag I had lunch, set up the tent and packed my other backpack I had carried along. Pleased I looked up towards the deserted Geldie Lodge which must have been an impressive building once upon a time. It might would have been nice to camp up there, but the shed was better!
My home for the next 2 nights
Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor
Crossing Geldie burn one more, I walked up the slopes thick with heather and bog. It was hard going and the beautiful weather of the morning had changed into an overcast day. Moving along I looked up the hills ahead of me, but could not see any kind of track. Looking for the easiest approach, I decided to tackle the most easterly hill which I thought was Beinn Bhrotain. The climb was arduous as I had to cross many peathags and cross another burn with bare feet until higher up I reached a path which lead me towards the summit.
Geldie burn which needs to be crossed
On the walk up ,looking back
and ahead...the right bump is not the first Munro!
By the time I reached a path and looked back
Looking up towards Carn Cloich-mhuilinn
Standing on the summit I was pleased to have climbed the first Munro and due to the freezing conditions decided to head down towards the Bealach to have a bite to eat. Sitting down a short while after and checking my map I was confused, as the area where I thought I was, was certainly not the area the map showed me. Digging my GPS out, I soon realized that I had climbed Carn Cloich-mhuilinn - Doh! On hinsight my mistake wasn't that surprising, as I later found out Carn Cloich-mhuilinn used to be a Munro right until 1981 when it got demoted...that explained the well trodden path to the top.
From the summit of Carn Cloich-mhuilinn looking east
Me on the summit
The way up Beinn Bhrotain
Getting up again, I made my way up to Beinn Bhrotain. Big blankets of snow still covered the mountain and the wind had picked up. Far too cold for my liking and nearly June! The top of Beinn Bhrotain was well equipped with 2 sheltering areas and amazing views around the Cairngorms, which made the climb well worth it.
The top of Beinn Bhrotain
The flat top of Monadh Mor
View towards the east and Devils point
Devils point closer up
I did not lingered long and made my way down and towards the flat top of Monadh Mor. The views towards the Devils Point in the distance and the valley far below...the sheer size of the Cairngorms was mesmerizing!
By the time I walked along the flat top towards the cairn of Monadh Mor I was clad in my full winter gear. Sitting down at the cairn, I met up with two others hill walkers who had camped outside Corrour bothy and told me it was packed to the rim with lots of additional people camping around it- just as well that I had chosen Geldy Lodge!
Summit cairn of Monadh Mor
Looking back towards Beinn Bhrotain
The long way back
The two walked on and the cold made me leave soon after. Walking back I continued the lengh of the mountain until I decided to head down towards the burn. Another 5 kilometer through thick heather laid ahead and to make matters worse it had started to rain.
It must have been a good 2 hours later when I got to my tent. Oh how nice was it to have a shelter where I could dry wet clothes and cook my dinner. Looking up towards Geldie Lodge, I saw quite a few tents and decided to stay put where I was. A visit to inspect the ruin could be done tomorrow.
Geldie Lodge during the next day
By the time I was ready for bed, the stable looked like a wardrobe, but at least I had not take my wet clothes inside the tent.
Drifting off to sleep I listened to the wind picking up to Gale force and heavy showers drummed on the roof. I was startled when I suddenly heard a strange howling noise and sounds as if children screeched in the background, I strained my ears. I had not seen children and the howling was nothing I have heard before in the hills.
The noise stopped, but spooked I was laying awake for ages trying to figure the sound out.
I woke up after a pretty restless nights. The storm and heavy rain had woken me quite a few times and hearing the rain during the morning , did nothing for my motivation to get up and climb another 2 sets of Munros. Dragging myself out of my warm sleeping bag I made breakfast. Hearing noises I looked up and saw the inhabitants of the tents up at Geldie Lodge walk past me with all of their 13 Huskies. Quite a sight and that explained the strange noises I have heard the night before!
An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir
By the time the sun suddenly started to appear, the bleak morning turned into something much more enjoyable and my motivation returned. Packing my bag again for the day ahead, I set off towards the good track towards Carn an Fhidhleir. The path leads past Geldie Lodge and moved alongside the burn further below for a few kilometers. I followed it towards the end, crossed the burn and started the climb up.
Looking back towards An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir across the valley
Miles upon miles of heather
The higher I got the more the wind picked up and yet again I was walking through thick heather. A bit tired from the previous day, I took my time changing my direction frequently so I had a break from walking into the strong wind. Soon heather gave away to rocky ground and the views opened up. Walking towards the cairn, the wind was a good 40mphs, yet the weather seemed to me on my site. Heavy rain clouds seemed to be around me, but looking up I seemed to walk under a circle of blue sky and sunshine. The weather god was certainly on my site. When I reached the cairn I did not linger and moved down to find a suitable and less windy spot to have lunch.
On the climb up with bad weather in the west
Summit cairn of Carn an Fhidhleir
Views towards the South
My lunchspot and view towards An Sgarsoch
Crouched in a wee ditch a wee while later, I was startled by another hillwalker. The first and last one I would see that day. He stopped for a brief chat and as I was just about to leave, I joined him on the downhill climb, until our paths split again. There is quite a big drop between the two Munros, but due to a gentle uphill climb, it was again easier than it had looked. Lots of natural paths crossed peat hags and heather until further up, I found a path again and reached the flattish summit of An Sgarsoch. A wee shelter close to the cairn took my attention. Small but it had a roof and would have provided shelter in the rain. Keen to reach the summit I moved on and lovely views towards all different directions could be enjoyed. Sitting at the cairn I felt glad that I had completed these remote Munros.
The climb up towards An Sgarsoch, looking back to Carn an Fhidhleir
Dramatic weather around me
But blue sky above me
The shelter on the way up
The summit cairn
Looking back towards the previous Munro
They might be not as exiting as the Fisherfields, but the sense of remoteness must be similar. For my downhill walk I aimed towards a path I had spotted in the distance. (which is also the suggested Walkhighland path) I was not sure if there was another path and did not wanted to chance my luck. (Later on I had read that there was a path towards Geldie Lodge?, but from the top this was not visible.) The route I had chosen, was a gentle downhill walk until I joined a track at the left hand side of Sgarsoch Bheag. The path wound itself around the wee hill and I followed it, until I left it to reach the main path a few hundred yards below me, I had walked along in the morning.
The way back down
On the path with the two Munros and Sgarsoch Bheag in the middle
It was afternoon by the time I reached my tent. There would have been enough time to walk back to my car, but laziness and the knowledge, that I would not find a better and dryer place to camp let me stay put. A rather boring evening followed (must take a book next time) and after a great night sleep I packed by bags for the 13 km walk back to the car.
Looking back towards Geldie Lodge
Knackered after 3 days
On the way back
Crossing the white bridge
Back to the old settlements
Oh and my new walking shoes? They certainly don't look new anymore after sinking into bog, getting scratched on rock and heather, soaked by rain and snow and 3 days of continues wear.
They were great on all terrain apart from wet conditions. I did not get blisters, but in wet conditions the friction of wet sock against shoes on a downhill 5 km slope through heather, was a lot worse than I ever felt in boots.
On the plus side the shoes dried incredible quick afterwards and in comparison to wet boots my feet felt better than they would have in wet boots. My feet were also less tired than they would have been in boots, but my usual sore spots I get in my boots after long days (below my big toe for example) were the same. Boots will certainly keep their space in my shoe cupboard, but for long walks in dry conditions I will enjoy my new shoes for a lighter approach and cooler approach in summer.
by larry groo » Thu May 28, 2015 11:21 am
Good job.... I cheated and did these mainly on a bike!
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- Joined: Apr 19, 2010
- Location: The Garioch
by dogplodder » Thu May 28, 2015 11:31 am
by Mal Grey » Thu May 28, 2015 12:54 pm
I think the howling in the night would have had me headed for the car!
by rockhopper » Thu May 28, 2015 1:16 pm
by AnnieMacD » Thu May 28, 2015 2:45 pm
Thanks for the summary re the approach shoes. What make did you buy?
by Mountainlove » Thu May 28, 2015 3:14 pm
As for your question Annie, the shoes I ended up with a pair of SCARPA Zen Pro Approach Shoes. Based on the fact that they were the most comfortable ones I tried on during a walk through every single Outdoor store in Glasgow
@ Dogplodder ... I think without a bike or a tent you could only do 2 during one day and thats only if you like 12 h days
by Beaner001 » Thu May 28, 2015 4:54 pm
Enjoyed that report, your making me seriously think about trekking trainers now, Dan Duxbury had them on when I met him on his continuous round of Munros last summer.....that said he had gone over his ankle the day before I saw him and was hurting quite bad......
by basscadet » Thu May 28, 2015 6:01 pm
by dav2930 » Thu May 28, 2015 11:00 pm
by Mountainlove » Sun May 31, 2015 5:37 pm
@ Beaner001...Regarding walking shoes I had been worried about going over my ankle, but then thought about all the times I wear trainers and shoes during normal day to day walks and don't go over my ankles. I guess if you don't have an issue with weak ankles you should be fine
by Phil the Hill » Mon Jun 01, 2015 2:43 pm
by Collaciotach » Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:54 pm
Great wee report and grand camping pitch
by jimandandrea » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:34 pm
About cars parking beside you in Glenshee: In Feb last year we were parked at Loch Morlich, only us amoung LOTS of available space. Just as it got dark two cars/ one person in each (they were together) parked right beside us and, to keep warm, kept their engines running for about 3 hours on and off. Not amused.
by Graeme D » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:41 pm