After a couple of days working on the Balavil Estate near Kingussie, this was a quick afternoon jaunt - mostly on two wheels - en-route home to Deeside. Having made use of the flattest approach track along a glen I could remember, the ascent was a short romp up and down the heather of this retiring, underwhelming Corbett.
I parked at the bridge at the base of Glen Tromie, where the river plunges through a gorge, arriving after my work at around 3.30pm. I donned my new Montane windproof (intended to replace the tattered, much-loved version I’d been wearing since I was 13) and cycled off with the scents of pines enriched by the tang of spring showers. The lime greens of new growth were, as yet, sparse on the trees. The glen felt oddly domesticated, punctuated by a series of modern properties. There was barely any gradient to contend with, Meall Chuaich & a dog shaped snow-patch high on its northern flank dominating the skyline. Billowing clouds and ominous shadows threatened a downpour.
After 40 minutes of cycling the 7 miles up the glen, I left the crowing of a confused cockerel, from a near-by property, to embark on the short ascent – only a mile and 1200ft to the summit. The pathless heather-bashing was a bit harsh on my antiquated brashers. A steep, calf-burning slope was taken direct, with much blaeberry underfoot, criss-crossed by various paths, none manmade. Views broadened from the Newtonmore hills to Creag Meagaidh, reflective snow still blanketing its high plateau.
The gradient eased and a carpet of cropped heather took me easily to the summit cairn. The high Cairngorms, dusted with fresh snow, were flanked by curtains of rain and hail. Elsewhere blue sky was a frequent backdrop; to a snowy Ben Alder over the shoulder of Meall Chuaich. I picked out Beinn Bhreac, surely the remotest Corbett in the Grampians. After 20 minutes at the top, I romped down the spoungey cushion of moss to the bike in only 15 minutes.
The cycle down the glen was not the free-wheeling picnic it can often be. Having had no lunch my energy was sapped, and the head wind drained my momentum. A freezing deluge soaked me to the skin, with pins and needles from cold hands gripping the handlebars having to be shaken out. At one point I came off my bike for a break and was stumbling around like a drunk. I swept down possibly the only downhill stretch to return finally to the van, ending a descent where my average speed had only been 1 mph faster than the “uphill” section!
Still, a decent wee adventure squeezed into 3 hours, enlivening the commute home for sure
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.