Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
22nd February 2009
Exploring the misty corries of Beinn A'Bhuird
The day showed plenty of promise as I headed out to Invercauld near Braemar but when passing Ballater I could see a misty shroud over the top of Lochnagar. The snow covering the hills had made a hasty retreat to higher ground over the last week and I wasn't expecting the conditions to be very icy. Hopping onto my bike I began the cycle up past Invercauld house and up through the pine tress to near the old ruin of Slugain. The track was mainly snow free but one or two of the burns I had to cross were flowing well and their rocky bottoms tried to unsettle my balance. To stop part way across would have meant an icy paddle and cold wet feet. The track rises gradually as it winds it way up the Slugain and the stiff breeze increased the effort required. Toward the end of the ride some rough gravely track required some attention especially with a steep drop off to the burn Allt an Slugain on one side. It had taken about an hour but now it was time to leave the bike behind and head along the path above the fairy glen. The path lay buried below some snow drifts at times causing me to sink in deep in places. It wasn't too long before I emerged onto some open moorland with Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon showing in the distance.
Beinn a' Bhuird
The darkening skies brought a light shower and with the promise of more rain to come I was encouraged to stop and put waterproofs on. My plan for the day was fairly open, the weather would determine my ultimate goal, whether Beinn A'Bhuird, Ben Avon or possibly both. I followed the track that leads up to the col between these two massifs. Reaching the base of ridge that leads to Cnap a' Chleirich and where the path begins to zigzag upward toward the sneck I decided to take the less distinct path that follows Allt Dearg. The way was boggy and soon lead onto soft snow higher up. Gingerly picking my way across some snow fields I was soon amongst the many large boulder's that lie in the huge corries of Beinn A'Bhuird.
Coire Nan Clach
A grouse took flight and its alarm call had a couple of Ptarmigan quickly following, their flight hampered by the strong wind. The mist blocked any view of the corrie rim but the many crags and cliffs looked spectacular under the wintry conditions. I weaved my way through the rocks and traversed some steep snowy slopes as I worked my way from the northern corries and into those to the south. After a final rise I emerged just above the snow and ice covered Dubh Lochan, the normally very dark waters were showing white with a bluish tinge.
A large group of about a dozen Ptmargin took to the wind even though I was still a few hundred meters away, another handful followed their lead shortly after. I had hoped to get some photos of them but they seemed very skittish today and I never got anywhere near close enough. I settled down behind one of the many big Glacial erratic's and piled on an extra layer while having lunch. My ungloved hands soon felt the cold as I poured hot water from my flask to make a welcome brew, so it was gloves back on while enjoying my sandwiches trying not to take a mouthful of fleece as I ate.
Corries of Beinn A'Bhuird
I wandered nearer to the Loch and managed to cross the outflow without any drama. Some of the boulders were the size of cars and sat impressively on the corrie floor snow receding from around their base.
Erratic in icy pool
I made my way to the foot of the crags that lead up to A' Choich, this rocky outcrop can provide a pleasant scramble to Beinn A'Bhuird's south top, but with the worsening conditions there seemed little point to go higher so I headed down the ridge. I managed to ford Allt Dearg upstream from where it meets Allt Mor and rejoin my outward route 200m from the main path.
Cnap a' Chleirich
A pleasant walk back was occasionally interrupted by some snowy obstacles but I made good progress on the way to find my bike. The cycle out was much quicker than my inward journey and I needed to limit my speed in places to avoid a rough landing on the bumpy bits. The weather had been a bit of a let down but I'd come away after enjoying some fresh air, savoring the atmospheric scenery and not half as tied as my trip the previous week.
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