The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Creag Mhor (NJ057047; 895m)

Friday 18 May

Distance (bike): 7.5 miles
Distance (foot): 9.7 miles
Ascent: including bike, not far short of 1000m
Weather: An increasing layer of high cloud
Start point: Just up the road from Glenmore Lodge. I could have parked closer.

Blue = bike; red = foot

I'd intended having a nice lie-in this morning, having had a later-than-intended night yesterday, and a poor night's sleep the night before. Then I awoke at 0450 and when I was still awake at 0615 I thought I may as well get up and get on with it.

'It' was a hill that wasn't originally on the plan for this trip (neither was yesterday's for that matter), but I was in the area and it seemed particularly suitable weather for a summit that sits nestled well within the Cairngorms.

My bike-in to the bridge at the end of Strath Nethy was harder than expected (it was my expectation at fault; objectively it wasn't difficult), and at the bridge I found a whole troop of Duke of Edinburgh Scheme (Bronze) participants just breaking camp. They watched on as I dumped my bike and continued on foot up the good path that led me up and over the shoulder of Bynack More, then over a few undulations before dropping down to the Allt Dearg which runs through the next glen.

The perspective from this viewpoint had me doubting what the map was telling me: that the apparently tiny pimple I've marked with '2' was my objective. The hill marked with '1' is Bynack More, which stands less than 200m higher (1090m vs 895m)

Having ascended the shoulder of Bynack More in my shirtsleeves, the headwind I encountered on the other side had me in jacket, hat and gloves by the time I hauled myself up onto Creag Mhor ('hauled' is a particularly accurate description today. My lack of sleep was catching up with me and my mind was screaming at me to take a little break about every twenty paces. I ignored my mind as much as possible and promised it little breaks based on the altitude shown on my watch instead.)

On the top, suddenly I found myself in the Peak District...

...or I could have been with a lump of rock like that.

After standing atop the tor (no scrambling required - an easy walk up around the back), it proved surprisingly difficult to find somewhere sheltered to have lunch. That wind was getting everywhere! I ended up squeezing myself into an unattractive corner. I'm calling this break lunch, because it involved tuna sandwiches and cake, which are lunch substances; it was, however, only 10.30am!

The mountainous view from the summit to the SW (and me, because I failed to take a snap in this direction without me in it).

In the other direction is a barren, scoured landscape.

My return route would have involved slightly less ascent, but more miles, and less good path, had I returned via The Saddle and Strath Nethy. I really ought to have done that, just because I've not been to Fords of Avon before. But, such was my weariness that I opted for more ascent, less distance and better paths. On my way I met again the same TGO Challenger with whom I had walked a short way during my bike ride in, and also a mountain biker who had riden up and over the shoulder of Bynack More and was checking out the feasibility of a route over to Corgarff.

The path back over the shoulder of Bynack More is visible in this snap. In reality the gradient is gentle enough most of the time that the effort of ascending is barely noticeable.


  1. Very close to Munro status.

    1. And a good example as to how a Marilyn can be harder work than a Munro. Going up Bynack More would have involved significantly less effort and would all have been on good path.

  2. You're getting into some pretty wild country there. All good stuff. I'm impressed.

    1. The Cairngorms do give an odd mix of wild country yet well trodden paths.

  3. Is that the same pic twice? Lovely though it is, obvs.

    1. It is indeed. It's the problem with Bloggeroid - you have to expend effort to ensure you've attached the correct photos. I didn't expend that effort and by the time I notice I wasn't moved to go back and change it.

  4. Ah. I can understand that. At least it's a nice pic 😉