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Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo


Postby BlackPanther » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:49 pm

Route description: An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir

Munros included on this walk: An Sgarsoch, Carn an Fhidhleir (Carn Ealar)

Date walked: 27/07/2016

Time taken: 10 hours

Distance: 43.3 km

Ascent: 1061m

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Some Munros inspire. Some others are guilty pleasures. Some are a good training ground. And then there are the "why do we bother" Munros.
In case of An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir, I can't really imagine anyone being inspired by them. People climb them, because they are Munros. They may seem a bit of a challenge for day-walker due to their remote location. Yes, it's more about "how to get there" rather "how to climb them". The Munros themselves are (I'm describing my feelings as I experienced them) boring, round, not too wet but not too dry, don't offer much of a view, annoying, windy, well, generally just a couple of BHLs (boring heathery lumps). But reaching them... hayyyyyy, that's a whole different story!

Of course the distance (43km from Linn of Dee) can be walked if you are fit and fast. We decided to take bikes to speed it up, but almost forgot how long it takes to drive from Inverness to Braemar over the high pass with additional weight attached to the car. We arrived in Linn of Dee at half past nine, at least weather looked decent at the moment and midges were not too aggressive...
Our route:

Track_CARN AN FHIDLEIR 27-07-16.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


I was told that the Geldie track was similar, definitely not much worse than the approach to Maoille Lunndaidh, which we cycled up and down a couple of months back. Therefore, I was confident I would manage on my bike, despite my personal hate for rough cycling terrain.
It was all right to start with, a few loose stones but generally, a decent track, and views were encouraging:
Image
As we progressed, the track was slowly getting more stony and in places it was back to head-wobbling and teeth-chattering:
Image
River Dee was not in spate just yet, but rather full and I was already concerned about two crossings that awaited us further on:
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A quick breather by White Bridge, Panther impatient to push on...
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Past the bridge, the track improved again if only for a short distance, but weather was getting darker and more moody, we wondered how long it will last till the first shower arrives!
Image
After passing the first ruined building (where Geldie Burn flows into River Dee) we stopped again as the saddle on my bike needed adjusting. I was already a bit annoyed with the experience, rough going by my standards, and the worst was yet to come!
Image
The long, painful push to the ford over Allt Dhaidh Mor was a true torture, of course I lost my balance a couple of times and flew off my saddle, ending up with bruised knees and elbows. I kept telling myself, this is the worst part of it, it can only improve from here... Maybe if weather was better, I might feel more chuffed, but the cloud was thickening and a strong wind was blowing straight in to our faces, slowing us down even more. It never rains...
We reached Allt Dhaidh Mor to find out that a digger was working on the ford (evening it probably?) and we had to find a place to cross (with bikes) a few meters down the stream. Eventually we managed to get across, but water was high in this river, making me worried about Geldie Burn. We cycled a few hundred meters further and as soon as we saw Geldie Burn, we knew this was the end of our cycling part:
Image
We chained bikes together and left them by the ford, then spent another 10 min or so working out, how to get to the other side without taking boots off for wading. Somehow we succeeded :lol:
As we stood by the river, Kevin checked his watch:
"Holy sh**t, it's already half past twelve, we might not have enough time to climb the hills and get back before it gets dark!"
I felt my heart sink.
"At least we do ONE." I suggested and Kevin nodded. We would go up An Sgarsoch first, reversing WH route. Time permitted, we might climb the second Munro, too.
As we began walking up to Geldie lodge, I looked at the two Munros once again. They were just below cloud level and didn't look inviting at all. At this moment, the inevitable moment of doubt came...
"Why do I bother to do it at all? I couldn't care less about these two BHLs. Whether I climb them or not, what difference does it make? I'll feel just as miserable having done them, as I would feel if I didn't. So WHY THE HELL AM I DOING THIS???
I was close to tears, my misery growing at fast pace, I just wanted to go home and put an end to this horrible, knee-bruising and ass-bumping experience...
The stalkers path and descending cloud:
Image
We passed the ruined Geldie Lodge and started up an excellent stalkers path traversing below An Sgarsoch. Kevin was walking quickly, checking his watch all the time and I struggled too keep up with him. At some point he passed me half empty pack of HobNobs and grinned his teeth:
"I feel quite energetic, I must say, full of confidence, we shall be able to do it if we climb fast. Finish off the cookies, honey, you will need a sugar boost now! By the way, how are you doing?"
All I wanted to do was to throw the HobNobs at him and shout out that I felt MISERABLE AS HELL!!!!! but... I only heard myself say:
"All right, fine, just keep going."
Bryan Adams would say:
"Yeah I would fight for you
I'd lie for you
Walk the wire for you (a mountain in this case)
Yeah I'd die for you..."
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Up An Sgarsoch:
Image
We left the stalkers path about 2km after Geldie Lodge and aimed due south, circling around Scarsoch Bheag. At some point we came across another path, a bit wet in places. It disappeared soon, after crossing a small stream. We pushed on to the summit of the Munro and surprisingly, my misery started to fade out slowly. I was still miles away from my usual hill-mad state, but my composure was coming back.
Looking down to Sgarsoch Bheag:
Image
Back to our cycling route, with showers developing around:
Image
Still looking for my lost mojo near the summit of An Sgarsoch:
Image
We kept pushing at unusually fast pace (unusual for us, most times we linger around too much) and eventually we emerged on the summit plateau. It was such a relief for me, I run to the summit cairn shouting "Oh, cairn, cairn, cairn, my phhhhecioussss!", I almost kissed it :lol: :lol:
Naaw, that's better, I think I found my lost mojo! Munro no. 191 (22 for Lucy):
Image
Kevin checked his watch again - it took us less than 2 hours to march up An Sgarsoch from the crossing of Geldie Burn. For me, that was like sprinting!
We were out of the cloud at the moment, but surrounded by very grey, depressing, rolling-rolling landscape. A few snaps from the summit:
Image

Image

Image
Another shower passing by:
Image
It was windy and cold on the summit, but the c-shaped shelter offered good protection from the gusts, so we sat down to our lunch, discussung our options. We could just retrace our steps back to the bikes and arrive back to the car park with loads of time to spare. Or, we could go for the other Munro. We calculated, we should just about have enough daylight left. Not that we never walked back in darkness. It happened occasionally, especially on shorter days (once we descended Alligin in the middle of the night, after watching sunset on Tom na Gruagaich), but cycling in the dark - well, that would be something new, especially on this buuuumpy track!
We took the risk. Maybe because the though of returning here for the second mountain, repeating the teeth-chattering experience seemed even less appealing :lol:
The descent to the col was easy most of the time, an obvious path higher up, a few wet areas and peat hags lower down. We stopped at some point to wear waterproofs as it started raining quite heavily. The rain lasted maybe 15 minutes and when it cleared, we were on the steep, grassy slopes of Carn an Fhidhleir, marching up at a crazy pace again...
Looking back at the descent from An Sgarsoch, peat hags and all...
Image
Near the top we met two ladies with full rucksacks, they have bagged the two Munros and were now descending towards Beinn Bhreac, looking for a good place to camp. They were a but surprised to see us with daypacks on Carn an Fhidhleir so late, until I explained we had bikes down by Geldie Lodge.
The cloud descended on the summit of Carn an Fhidhleir and as we walked along the wide ridge towards the cairn, I was suddenly... myself again. Happy as a little kid who has just got a bar of chcoclate. My mojo was back. I couldn't believe, only a few hours later I was ready to just turn back and abandon the climb.
Happy Panther back where she should be!
Image
The summit of Carn an Fhidhleir is not much different from its higher neighbour. The cairn is a bit smaller and, of course, with clag hanging just above our heads, views were limited to say the least.
Image
Not much to see, really:
Image

Image
Gaick pass, I think:
Image
The Cairngorms, especially the higher peaks, never cleared:
Image
We didn't spend much time on the summit. Views were insignificant and the wind got stronger again.
We left the summit of Carn an Fhidhleir at half past four and began the long trudge back to Geldie lodge. First, we descended north, then north-east along the grassy slopes (path to start with, wet vegetation lower down) to the wide glen of Allt a'Chaorainn. Here, we spent some time finding our way across bog and peat hags, but once we crossed the stream and found the upper end of the stalkers path, we picked up pace. I let Kevin lead the way - he was the one who felt "energetic" after all :lol:
At some point he turned to me and said:
"We must be mad doing this!"
"Sure we are" I answered "I'm already way past the point of no return to sanity!"
It was 6:20 when we returned to our bikes. It started raining again and we were forced to cycle half way back in waterproofs, but luckily, it was downhill now (though still very rough to my taste). I managed to fall once more, a few more bruises added to the tally. When the rain passed, we stopped to dump the dripping coats and overtrousers. The final kilometers back on the better part of the track were now cycled in much better mood.

I don't know if I'll ever return to these two. Maybe, if we do a second round (probably never then). But even though I'm not going to miss An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir and I still couldn't care less about them two BHLs, they will always be remembered as the Munros that almost brought me to tears.
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BlackPanther
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby simon-b » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:04 pm

These two are definitely better in sunny weather with views and shallow river crossings, BP! Well done for persisting and doing them both.
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby skawt100 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:30 pm

I remember the feeling well on these ones when we reached the end of the well made path below the two munros. We left our bikes at this point and the feeling of remoteness hit me quite hard. No escape routes if anything happens and just a day pack.

The cycle in is not easy the closer you get to the Geldie Lodge, especially in hiking boots so huge props for persevering! Two murnos I won't be returning to in a hurry. Maybe a wild camp from the south in the long distant future.
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:15 pm

This is probably politically incorrect in every direction; but these are exactly the kind of hills that made me realise some while ago I will never do all the munros. I'd rather wander around Liathach or Bla Beinn 10 times than sround this kind of BHL but once.

Congrats on your determination and persistence!!! :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby jamesb63 » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:02 am

10 out of 10 for the perseverance BP , they do look a bit of a slog
I intended to do them 2 weeks ago but done 4 from Derry Lodge instead
I talked myself out of them :lol: :lol: but will get there sometime
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby BlackPanther » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:11 pm

Thanks for comments, everyone! Writing the report was almost just as painful as climbing them, not many photos to choose from (we only took the small pocket camera) and not much to describe apart from my complaints :lol: :lol: :lol:
We actually returned to the area yesterday to climb Sgor Mor and weather was similar: showery, low cloud plus strong gusts of wind. Which made me think: does Glen Geldie ever have any decent weather? :wink:

As for compleating Munros: maybe I never will. There are still quite a few BHLs on my list and I may really lose my mojo on one of them...

Weather forecast for tomorrow: winds 50 gusts 70mph. We're heading up north to bag some Grahams!
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby prog99 » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:15 pm

BlackPanther wrote:We actually returned to the area yesterday to climb Sgor Mor and weather was similar: showery, low cloud plus strong gusts of wind.

You were parked next to us, recognised the cuddly toy!
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby simon-b » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:31 pm

BlackPanther wrote:...does Glen Geldie ever have any decent weather? :wink:


Yes!

P7210016.JPG

P7210023.JPG


I'm sure I can't be the only person on this site who actually enjoyed these two hills :shock:
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby xslawekx » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:46 am

Did these two just a couple of weeks before you.

Walked in from Glen Feshie and combined them with a couple of Corbetts as an overnight trip.

Actually loved crossing the pathless moorlands past Leathad an Taobhain, the feeling of remoteness and desolation I had had seldom found before...
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby razzah » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:50 am

simon-b wrote:
BlackPanther wrote:...does Glen Geldie ever have any decent weather? :wink:


Yes!

P7210016.JPG

P7210023.JPG


I'm sure I can't be the only person on this site who actually enjoyed these two hills :shock:


You're not - I really enjoyed these too. I love the isolation and space of them, and actually thought the views were lovely.
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby Moriarty » Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:57 pm

razzah wrote:
simon-b wrote:I'm sure I can't be the only person on this site who actually enjoyed these two hills :shock:


You're not - I really enjoyed these too. I love the isolation and space of them, and actually thought the views were lovely.

Aye - I enjoyed them too. Hills for those who enjoy the stravaig rather than crave arriving somewhere specific. 8)
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby kaye.cantlay » Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:43 pm

I did them 2 weeks ago....
I wasn't overawed by them and I didn't much enjoy the cycle either.
i abandoned my bike before the first river crossing.
It had rained hugely the day before and both rivers were full.
Boots off and river-crossing-crocs on for both...
The mountains were not the most inspiring, but I did at least get great views of the Cairngorms, so the day provided some satisfaction!
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby Bruno » Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:04 pm

I did them 10 years ago, on a June day. Weather, it has to be said, was a bit mixed.
I thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet , especially on Carn Fhidleir. A real sense of being miles from anywhere and the absolute peace that a light warm breeze on the summit brings. And of course, superlative views of the main Cairngorms massif.
Truly a case of the journey being as important as the destination.
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby old danensian » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:24 am

As ever, an entertaining piece of writing - really getting to know how you feel on some hills.

I came back from these two a few weeks ago in exactly the same mind-set - but time is a great healer. It's about settling in to ponder and appreciate something different, think about so many different aspects of the hills, the communities that have lived in them and the expanses we can (normally) see around such remote hills. I can still picture in my mind's eye the views over to the Cairngorms but also, more spectacularly, The Window on Creag Megaidh as a clear skyline notch in the distance.

OK, for those of us who aren't MTB fanatics, the second half of the ride-in can be a tad bruising shall we say - and I always curse that I forget to wear the lycra cycling shorts with gel seat pad that I use in the gym.

Persevere - and no matter how rough it gets, still write about it.

OD
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Re: Fhidhleir & Sgarsoch: how I almost lost my mojo

Postby GillC » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:33 am

Oooohhh I feel your pain, for the cycling bit at least. I hated every bit of that rocky stony horrible track. We took the bikes over the ford,,not fun either. And I do believe I may have shed tears on that one,,total frustration. My only saving grace in going on to do the hills was,,we camped at Geldie Lodge so at least we had fresh legs.

I truly believe my total hatred for bike approaches puts me in the darkest mood possible and a grey day on the hills does not make up for that lol.. Anyway,, strength of character,,and a hob nob or two, saw you through. Its much harder when youre not having fun, to carry on and get the job done. so hats off to you for pushing on. :clap:
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