As with most family holidays, I aim to get at least one hill walking day, keeping the rest of the holiday for the family.
Well, actually, my son, a keen kayaker, is now claiming his day, a white water activity day!
|My son with the summit cxairn|
on Cairn Gorm in 2008
So, my hill walking day, where do I go?
Last time I was here in 2008, my son and I climbed Cairn Gorm from the Base Station, following the Funicular railway to the Ptarmigan Complex, then on to the summit by passing the weather station, in pouring rain!
We cheated on the way down. We walked down to the Ptarmigan complex and from there, got on the Funicular heading back down to the Base Station.
It was an enjoyable ascent, and descent, my second Munro (Ben Nevis was my first) and my son’s first Munro.
Sadly, we had no view from the summit, otherthan the cairns and lots of cloud. Strangely enough, I had a very similar view from the summit of Ben Nevis!
|Yeah, we cheated.|
But hey, why not?
The Funicular was fun.
But the weather was looking promising and last time I did Cairn Gorm, it was wet and cloudy. This time, I had a chance of getting some good views. But, it could be cloudy!
So our host suggested a nice looking and challenging circular walk, to the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadain via Beinn Bhreac.
I studied my map, looking at the ascent and descent routes. Depending on whether I go clockwise or anticlockwise, navigation looked relatively straightforward. The map suggested a form of maintained track one way and a river to handrail another.
So it was decided, to the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadain and Beinn Bhreac, were going to be my hill walk.
So, Thursday 7th June, the weather was looking good, well, it couldn’t have been much better, especially with the weather further south being as wet and horrible as it was.
My rucksack packed, my host had made a very lovely cheese and lettuce sarnie, along with a flapjack, I set off from the house we were staying in, headed up Gynack Road, past the Kingussie Golf Course and Caravan Park (can you remember how to pronounce that? I bet you had to look back…..).
|Cross this brdge from the Gynack Road to pick up the track leading through the golf course|
|The track going through Kingussie Golf Course|
|Almost the name for a pub!|
Sadly, no pubs on this walk.....
I have to confess at this point, once you get past the golf course and Caravan Park, the track is very laborious. I was considering a small detour to Creag Bheag, especially as the it took me away from the laborious track.
So I did, turn off and head towards the golf course, following the signs for Creag Bheag.
|Coming away from the track, this path, across the bridge, takes you up to the golf course.|
|Walk around the golf course, not just for respect of the golfers, but for your safety.|
The path takes you through some woodland, around to a derrelicked cottage
|Walking pas the derelicked cottage, takes you to a gate|
|After the gate, you walk through some more woodland|
|Loch Gynack through the gate|
|I just had to take this picture of Loch Gynack, before returning to the original route|
This was totally unplanned, so my original route had been totally binned, well at this stage.
Just to point out, before I left, my host, who knows the area very well (and my wife, not that she would have had a clue where I was going), were aware of my intended route and possible diversions. So if anything did happen and I was late returning home, they would be able give the police and local MRT sufficient information as to where to find me.
Not that I had any intention of getting lost or having an accident.
Now where was I, not lost, just distracted. Ah yes, Loch Gynack. I needed to re-plan my route, do I walk around the Loch or do I back track?
I’d estimated my time to be around six hours out, to go around would easily add an extra hour, because I’m terrible, I like to stop and take photographs.
So a quick look at the map and the various options, I decided to back track and pick up the track near to Pitmain Lodge.
Back on the track, alongside the Gynack Burn, I continued along my intended route when I decided based on the conversation the previous night, I was going to ascend Beinn Bhreac first then cross the ridge to the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadain.
The track is clear, well maintained, not surprising really, because this area is managed for grouse breeding.
|The track is clear and well maintained|
It’s worth remembering, this area, like virtually most open spaces where we can freely walk, are not just lovely looming open countryside, but a working landscape and often managed for whatever purpose it is being used for, if that doesn’t sound ridiculous.
|This open moorland is maintained for grouse breeding|
Anyway, back to the track, continuing upwards across some very featureless landscape, lots of grouse with young were spotted. As I gained height, so the Cairngorm range became clearer to view, on a nice sunny day.
Now I was beginning to wonder, had I made the right decision?
I looked back at the Cairngorms, then up at the route ahead, thought back to that time four years ago and thought, yes, I had made the right decision. There was cloud in the far distance heading up from the south and the chances are, I could have ended up on a cloud covered Cairn Gorm summit again, but here, I was going to be below the cloud whatever.
|Looking over to the Cairngorms|
|Cairn Gorm Summit; "I looked back at the Cairngorms"|
"yes, I had made the right decision"
So, I continued my ascent, happy in the thought I hadn’t made the wrong decision, looking forward to the view from the top over to the Cairngorms and hopefully, down to Kingussie.
From the moment I left the golf course, I hadn’t seen a soul, not one person, it was peaceful.
As I was getting towards the 700 mtr height of Beinn Bhreac, I met my first two and only walkers for the day, as they were descending Bhreac.
As hill walkers do, we exchanged a few words about where each had been and intended to get to, bid each other a safe journey, then carried on to our intended destinations.
From there on, it was me and only me all the way to the summit of Beinn Bhreac, where I stopped to tag the cairn and take in the views, across towards the Cairngorms.
|The Cairn on Beinn Bhreac Summit|
Guess what, the summit of Cairn Gorm was cloud covered!
I just had time to stop for a couple of photos before moving on across the ridge to the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadain.
As I said earlier, this is a relatively easy route to navigate, I could see from Beinn Bhreac the cairn on the summit of Carn an Fhreiceadain. A quick time check, bearing in mind I had taken a detour, which meant I was behind time and once I drop down from either summit, mobile phone signals were non-existent.
No problem, I would be back within the allotted time, so I carried on for Carn an Fhreiceadain.
Following the track, that was still well maintained, across what looked like very dry peat bog land, I headed for my next summit, enjoying the views and keeping an eye on the cloud moving from the Cairngorms towards me.
I wasn’t worried about being in the cloud, it was more a case of do I need to put my waterproof trousers on at the next summit, or do I chance it, knowing I didn’t really want to stop needlessly on my descent.
I took the chance, the waterproof trousers stayed in the top of my rucksack, still quick and easy to get out if I needed them.
I finally arrived at the summit of Carn an Fhreiceadain, tagged the trig point, and took in the views and a few photographs as well.
|Tagged, the trig point on Carn an Fhreiceadian|
The wind was gusting
up to 19.5 mph
and the temperature
|View to the north of the Trig Point|
Time was pressing on, a quick check on the map to confirm my descent route, noting the cairn marking my track down, and off I headed.
|the cairn marking my track down|
The views were still pleasant and I started to notice the temperature change quite quickly. This would most likely be due to the fact I started to become shielded from the wind.
The track continued to be well maintained, all the way down, including the many tracks that spurred off from the main track.
A word of caution, check your desired route matches the route you are on. Some of points where the tracks spur off can almost appear to be the route you think you want, but they are not!
|Looking down towards Pitmain Lodge|
Also, keep in mind, this is quite a descent, you are likely to be fatigued, therefore not only liable to take a wrong turn, but also could stumble on some of the loose stones on the track.
As you do, it was at this point, I started to think, what if?
Would anyone hear my whistle call of six blasts a minute and if they did, would they realise what it was or just think who is that lout making that noise?
Thank you to those who responded on Twitter that night to my curiously raised question, your feedback was interesting and valuable, but raised an interesting concern.
Would you recognise six blasts of a whistle or would you think I wish that lout would shut up and loose that whistle?
Anyway, I’ve digressed again.
Continuing down the track, I had the pleasure of looking back up Allt Mor before crossing the first of three bridges.
|Looking up Allt Mor, which feeds in to Gynack Burn|
Continuing my descent along the track, I could soon see the small forest by Pitmain Lodge, which meant the pleasant part of my hill walk, was nearing its end, but that long trudge down the road back to Kingussie was still to be completed.
|Three bridges to cross|
|The track leads to Pitmain Lodge|
Following the track down, as I neared Pitmain Lodge, I had to cross the river, Allt Mor, and then pick up that laborious tarmacked road, though the golf course, back in to Kingussie.
It was a good day’s hill walk, the weather had been extremely kind and the views were spectacular. Oh, and I definitely had no regrets not going for Cairn Gorm. Possibly another good weather day I’ll ascend Cairn Gorm.
Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,