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Aviemore to Blair Atholl over two days

Aviemore to Blair Atholl over two days


Postby rgf101 » Tue Oct 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Date walked: 17/10/2015

Distance: 60 km

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A few weeks back I spent a very happy three days in the Cairngorms (not yet written a report) going up and down some mountains with a heavily-loaded pack. Having nursed my calves back to their original state, I started plotting a few days with a lot less ascent and hopefully a few less kilograms.

Over the last couple of years I've gone Aviemore to Braemar (taking a 'short-cut' up Coire Clach nan Taillear and over to Loch Etchachan and Glen Derry) and done the Scottish National Trail sections from Blair Atholl to Kingussie. I fancied doing something along those lines, with a couple of nights in the tent, and skipping any 'short-cuts' up mountains. A butchers at the map and a poke around on here and going Aviemore to Blair Atholl or vice versa seemed to fit the bill.

Original plan was to head up to Aviemore Saturday morning, camp near or a bit past Corrour Bothy on the first night, then get a good chunk of the way down Glen Tilt before camping on the Sunday, and then walking out on Monday morning. However an exciting evening of beer and nachos on Friday got sadly cancelled, meaning I could head up a bit earlier and get an early start on the Saturday - which, I figured, made getting back on Sunday a possibility. Would mean two longish days, but I knew the bulk of the miles would be on good paths or landrover tracks, forecast was solid, and I'd whittled the gear down by a good few kg.

I opted for a night at the Aviemore Bunkhouse and a pint at the bar rather than camping the first night - was dark by the time I got to Aviemore and I couldn't be bothered looking for a campsite in the dark. Up and out the door the next morning by 6:40, meaning I was walking through Rothiemurchus as the sun came up over frosty heather. Absolutely gorgeous and didn't for a minute regret ditching my other idea of a bus or taxi to the Sugarbowl and taking Chalamain Gap.
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Looking back after gaining some height, and Aviemore has never looked lovelier, hidden under a blanket of cloud. Perfect autumn morning, bright sun, brisk temperatures, frozen midges.
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Coming up through the Lairig Ghru and the Devil's Point shone in the sun, saying, I like to think "welcome, welcome, there's a toilet at Corrour now, y'know."
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The boulder hopping was fun and made a bit more interesting by a layer of frost. I'd decided to do this trip in trail running shoes rather than my usual boots, and this was one of only two points I regretted that. Managed to get on the wrong side of the river after the Pools of Dee, but spotted the path I should have been on before crossing was a problem.

From the Old Bridge Inn to the top of the Lairig Ghru took me four hours, then another two hours to Corrour, with quite a few stops to enjoy the views. Dropped in to Corrour for a coffee, lunch and a chat with a couple of folk setting up or breaking camp and someone who'd come up from Bob Scott's and was waiting for his son to come off Ben MacDui. Then a contribution to the Corrour Compost Collection and I was on my way.
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The path between the Corrour turn-off and White Bridge seemed, at the Corrour end, pretty indistinct. I missed it initially, partially distracted by an errant contact lens which had to be rescued twice from the heather, rinsed with finest mountain water (I'm fairly confident my stomach can deal with a bit of deer poo, not so sure about my eyes) and popped back in. I don't have my Harvey's map to hand, but looking at the OS map on here I think maybe I turned off too soon. Either way, the first stretch of this involved a fair bit of mud-jumping - second and last time I missed my boots. It gets better as it goes on though, and the larger part of this section was good fun walking with not a single soul in sight, albeit with wet feet thanks to a wobbly stone in the middle of what I guess must have been the Allt Clais Mhadaich.
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The river crossings just past White Bridge were fine - I remember last year getting across all three with dry feet, but this time round that wasn't an option - maybe if I'd looked harder it could have been done. Being keen to get camped and already having wet feet I made the somewhat impatient decision to just walk right through - daft, as it turned what were by then slightly damp shoes into soaking wet ones that I had to pad around camp in.

By 5:30 I had my tent up at Bynack Lodge and was starting in on dinner - an Adventure Foods Goulash, one of four camping meals I got as a gift a few months back. So far the Adventure Foods Chili Con Carne is the winner, but this one comes second. So that was about 20 miles in 11 hours, with probably two or three hours of rests.
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The ruins of Bynack Lodge make for an atmospheric camping spot, and with the stags sounding like they were roaring from behind the nearby trees all the more so. Fell asleep with the sleeping mat half out the tent so I could look at the stars, then woke up at 4am from the cold and dragged myself back inside to snore the rest of the night away.

Awake at about 7 the next morning, packed, porridged and on my way for 7:45. From here into Blair Atholl it's the very occasional patch of mud at the start, good stalkers path, and then made landrover tracks and roads. The first few hours were enlivened by constantly stopping to try and spot the stags, which always sounded to be just a few hundred meters away, but only a couple of actual sightings.
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(there's a stag in there, ask me for the full-size original if you want to spend an hour finding it)

Glen Tilt is as lovely as you could want it to be, but by the time I hit Forest Lodge I was more focused on the thought of a pint at the Atholl Arms and maybe... hmmm, Sunday, isn't it... Sunday roast sounds nice.
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As it happened I made it into Blair Atholl just in time for the 14:11 train south, so jumped on that - the next one was a good few hours away. Home and in the bath for half five, and not a word of complaint from my calves...
rgf101
 
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Re: Aviemore to Blair Atholl over two days

Postby weedavie » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:01 pm

Got to admire anyone who can march the length of Glen Tilt then bypass the Atholl Arms. I've often cycled it but Forest Lodge to Marble Lodge is as much as I've walked - that seemed flat and long and still miles from Blair.
weedavie
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Re: Aviemore to Blair Atholl over two days

Postby rgf101 » Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:27 pm

Would have meant a four hour wait for the train, and I didn't want that many pints. Well, not as much as i wanted a hot bath and some clean socks...

Did spend the last hour or so of the plod into Blair Atholl both trying to make an effort to enjoy the scenery and wishing really really hard for someone to come past and give me a lift...
rgf101
 
Posts: 431
Joined: Jan 21, 2014

Re: Aviemore to Blair Atholl over two days

Postby wilkiemurray » Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:00 pm

Good effort and great photos - had a jaunt up Glen Tilt at end of Last week - beautiful glen :)
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