Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
31st May & 1st June 2014
A high level circuit of Glen Geusachan taking in an overnight camp on the Devils Point, returning the following day over Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain.
I quite enjoy the notion of going walkabout and whilst my weekends camping trip may not necessarily fit with grand aboriginal ideal, heading for the outdoors for a wander and only a vague plan for a route seemed to fit well enough with the idea of walkabout for me. Having said that, being in Scotland, I suppose what I had in mind could be better described as more akin to a wee Stravaig.
River Dee at Linn of Dee
As on numerous occasions in the past I gradually formulated some rough ideas during the drive along Royal Deeside and into the Cairngorm national park. I had been wanting to make a return trip out the Devils point for some time and had wondered if it would be possible to find a space between the rocks on the top for a summit camp; there was only one way to find out! Worst case scenario I knew I would be able to pitch at the bealach that connects with the neighbouring peak of Cairn Toul, the bealach should also provide a good place to collect an overnight water supply. I dispensed with my mountain bike for this trip to allow greater flexibility when choosing a return path. The walk down to white bridge was very pleasant and passed over quickly as I chatted with a fellow hiker. He had been dropped off at the Linn of Dee by his wife and was taking a low level route around to Granton on Spey. Parting company I headed into Glen Dee following the east bank of the river while he made the circuitous route to Glen Feshie. I was soon at the impressive cascades and waterfalls at the Chest of Dee after which the glen turns north and narrows as it is squeezed between the massif of Beinn Bhrotain to the west and the bulk of Sgor Mor to the east.
Chest of Dee
The path way was on the whole pretty good but occasionally a little indistinct when passing over some slightly boggier sections.
The Glen eventually opened out again and I got my first view of Devils point marking what can probably be described as the start of the ancient pass; the Lairig Ghru.
I caught up with a rather heavy lady her friend and their dog to be greeted with the rather unusual question “do you have any spare boots?“. She had somehow managed to loose both of hers in a bog! She’d walked the same path as me and so just where she had managed to find a bog deep enough and then actually loose both boots heaven only knows! I couldn’t really help, I certainly didn’t have any spare footwear. All I could do was offer my sympathy and leave her to negotiate the long walk out in her stocking feet. The approach to the Devils point is always a highlight went venturing through the ‘Ghru and I stopped for a while to savour the views. After fording the Dee I approached Corrour bothy with its recently added toilet facilities. At the back of the bothy a good path heads steeply up into Corrie Odhar. Part way up I enjoyed a good chat with an experienced hill walker returning from the tops. A snow bridge had formed near the top of the bealach and I took the advice given moments earlier and resisted any temptation to cross. At the bealach I filled my water bottles before beginning the final climb onto Bod an Deamhain; the Devils Point. I started to search for a suitable place to pitch but started to wonder if I would manage. I discovered a couple of possible spots and quickly decided on one. The shelter was soon up but I wasn’t entirely happy with the security of the stakes. I wasn’t to far from the summit and so decided to take a stroll over before unpacking completely. It turned out a good decision as I found a much better place to camp on a grassy spot behind a small rocky knoll. After returning from the summit, I upped stakes and moved home to my new found site.
Devils Point summit
A relaxing evening followed, enjoying my surrounds, drinking a few brews and making my evening meal.
Ben Macdui from the Devils Point
It was getting a bit chilly as I climbed into my sleeping bag to settle down for the night. My alarm had me awake again far too early, but I just about managed to rouse myself and get the stove fired up. After making a quick brew I then headed the short way over to the summit and enjoy the dawn of a new day.
Ben Macdui Sunrise
The sun started to put in an appearance over the shoulder of Ben Macdui whilst morning mist toyed with the top of Cairn Toul.
Morning Mist, Cairn Toul
Cairn Toul & Ben Macdui
After a leisurely breakfast I was eventually packed and away around seven.
Early morning mist on Cairn Toul
I dropped back to the bealach adjoining Cairn Toul before turning east, contouring round Buidheanach of Cairntoul above the wilds of Glen Geusachan.
Glen Geusachan from Devils Point
The tundra like appearance of the terrain was further enhanced by the sudden appearance of a herd of Reindeer.
They appeared at a steady trot on the slopes below me but soon stopped and began to graze. Their curiosity soon had the better of them and they slowly made there way over toward me. I’d taken a seat to watch the scene and wondered how much closer they would come. It turned out to be within just a few feet of me, the Reindeer seemed very relaxed and some had even settled down in the short grass.
I was enjoying the moment sharing the hillside with these friendly animals but eventually stirred myself. Across Glen Geusachan the crags of Beinn Bhrotain were dappled with snow while at my feet patches of Creeping Azalea added a splash of colour to the hillside.
As I turned north the terrain became much rougher as I worked my way over an extensive boulder field. I descended to make a crossing of Allt Clais an t-Sabhail but made an effort not to loose to much height below the level of my target, Loch nan Stuirteag.
Loch nan Stuirteag
At the loch I chatted with a couple of guys readying themselves for a trip up Cairn Toul. Their camp spot on the shore of the loch seemed rather idyllic, especially in the developing sunshine.
Following the waters edge I turned the loch in a clockwise direction in order to reach the bealach at the start of the elongated body of Monadh Mor. Further north the spectacular craggy ridge of Sgor Gaoith could be seen poking above the Moine Mhor.
Sgor Gaoith from Monadh Mor
It was now a clear run along the length of Monadh Mor, initially over rock and moss before grass took more of a hold.
Beinn Bhrotain from Monadh Mor
There was then a bit of a drop to the narrow bealach on the lip of Coire Cath nam Fionn over looking Glen Geusachan before a rocky climb up Beinn Bhrotain.
Beinn Bhrotain from Monadh Mor
From the summit I decided to head out over Carn Clioch-mhuilinn before following the path toward Carn Fialoch Beag, losing it while passing over some boggier ground. Lengthening heather made for a spell of more awkward walking in order to reach the path running along the banks of the river Dee.
Lairig Ghru from Carn Fiarcach
I decided it was time for a wee break to muster a bit of energy in readiness for the long walk out. Stove assembled and kettle on I dipped my feet in the cool waters of the Dee while waiting for it to boil. After a welcome soup and bite to eat, feet were dried and I was (just about) ready for the off. After a long last look up the Lairig Ghru I turned to follow the river south and then east all the way back to journeys end at the Linn of Dee.
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