An Sgarsoch - 1006m
Saturday 8th June 2013
Weather/Conditions: Hot, sunny day, heavy clouds building in the afternoon but didn't come to anything. Wonderful warm night walking into the Cairngorms, with the brush of sunset in the skies and late half-light of midsummer.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 49.2km / 1300m / 9h 15m
Accompanying: Fhidhleir/Sgarsoch with Struan, Ian and James, then did the evening walk into the Cairngorms alone
Today's Munros were were in the back end of nowhere, vast humpbacks of heather and snow in the very inner reaches of Atholl. By the standards of most Munros, they are infrequently visited.
I'd planned to climb them on the 1st June, but Steve (my bro) had asked if I'd be back his birthday, so I left them until now. It was also great to do them with James, Struan and Ian, who I haven't seen for far too long!
We cycled up to Geldie Lodge via White Bridge and left the bikes. In the pre-mountain bike days, these hills were an extremely long walk, but nowadays they can be done reasonably in a day. Even then, it was a longer trip than I'd expected. It's typical of the Atholl area that hills will take longer than they appear to on the map. Miles of heather-covered slope are wearisome, and these hills just that!
We did Carn an Fhidhleir first, with the thinking that it would be good to get the far one done first. We headed up long slopes to the summit, with the sun bearing down and the air warm. The Cairngorms, just to the north, were magnificent. Soon I would be crossing them.
An Sgarsoch was another big heathery dome, and we made it in fairly quick time. None of the four of us had been to this summit before. That says something for the inaccessibility of these hills, despite their location south of the Great Glen, where the hills are generally more popular. Outside of the Munro Round, it was also my last Munro ticked off south of the Great Glen, SO quite a special one.
We plodded off back to the bikes. Back at Geldie Lodge we met a team of archeologists. They told me that in their excavations (somewhere west of Geldie Lodge), they'd found a flint dating back to around 8000BC and a hearth. Fascinating! They were all heading back to Braemar for the night in landrovers while we were to cycle back! Never mind - we were almost as quick.
I enjoyed the cycle back a lot. I really felt comfortable on the bike, and could pound out higher intensities of effort than ever before. So although I've always been able to find my way around on a bike, today I really got the pleasure of the effort.
A great day, and really nice to see Struan, Ian and James.
Tonight, I'll be walking into the Cairngorms. This range has been hanging over me for a wee while now and now I'm finally about to tackle it. For the last couple of weeks, I've seen them every day from multiple angles, covered in snow and looking mighty. They're coming into summer condition now, and finally I'll get into the heart of them.
I'd rather not walk in tonight but if I don't, the Ben Avon day would be 35kms - too long! I feel reasonable (if ready to crash out!) so it's for the better to do the easy miles into Gleann an t-Slugain.
I'll be out of touch for a few days: on Monday time I'll tackle the central range from Hutchison - Corrour and then on Tuesday I'll do Devil's Point - Braeraich and back to the ski centre to meet dad.
Wednesday is looking like a washout, so if I can just get the summits done now, I can turn that in to a rest day. I'm sure it will be much needed! So that's all for now: one range (the Grampians) is finished, and I move onto another. I've done a huge amount of Munros recently, and it's been great. I hope the Cairngorms will be as good.
Written c. 12th June:
I began the Cairngorms seeing them as a mental block, and ended them with the most fulfilling several days I’ve yet done.
I’d been looking at the Cairngorms for a while. When I first saw them close to hand at the start of June, they looked like they’d stepped straight out of Antarctica. It was sobering to see. I went on my way ticking off the Grampian Munros in perfect weather, watching snow melting off the Cairngorms, the high stony peaks climbing into blue skies. I had so long to wait until I finally got on them! Would the good weather hold out?
On the 8th June, I’d climbed An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidhleir, two Munros still outstanding, and located in the middle of nowhere. I was feeling rushed becuase I had to walk into the Cairngorms that evening. The weather window would end in three day's time - just the amount of time I needed to get through the Cairngorms. Dad and I rushed back to Braemar, got a meal, I typed out a quick blog post (sorry if it showed!) and got gear sorted. Then the clincher: the Cairngorms map was nowhere to be found. Dad needed be heading home – work in the morning. I needed a map quick. The Fife Arms staff couldn’t help, neither could folk at the bar.
The Youth Hostel was the answer. I came out £7 down, happy with a new map, and headed off to Keiloch where dad finally dropped me. After so long looking at the Cairngorms, I was finally going to be on them.
With a rucksack bulging and crammed to capacity, I marched off past the old pines into Gleann an t-Slugain. I was speeding to beat the night, (not that there is much night-time right now) and walked in wonder to the sight of dark pines and sky on fire in the sunset. Deer watched silently from the woods then trotted off. Detail and scale of distant Beinn a' Bhuird was lost among the gathering twilight, and curls of wispy mist rolled in across the hills as the light finally failed.
After the long walk in, I settled in at 11pm, candle light shimmering on stone walls, the bothy door shut behind. I cooked a last meal and turned over to sleep.
Carn an Fhidhleir - 180° North
Carn an Fhidhleir - 180° South
An Sgarsoch - 180° North
An Sgarsoch - 180° South
(0.00) 10.20am Linn of Dee
(1.50) 12.10pm Geldie Lodge
(4.00) 2.20pm Carn an Fhidhleir
(5.10) 3.30pm An Sgarsoch
(5.35) 3.55pm An Sgarsoch (left)
(6.40) c. 5.00pm Geldie Lodge
(7.40) 6.00pm Linn of Dee
(0.00) 9.25pm Invercauld
(1.35) 11.00pm Bothy