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]

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

TGOC Day 6 - Coignafeuinternich Ruins to Aviemore

Wednesday 16 May (0725-1500)
Distance: 16 miles
Ascent: 1600'
Weather: sunshine and showers (all snow until Aviemore)
Number of mountain hares seen in last 24 hours: 7

Mick thought that last night was cooler than the previous nights. In my warm sleeping bag, I didn't notice, but he must have been right as our morning involved crossing iced-crusted peat hags, with icicles hanging off the overhangs. I suppose the fact that it was snowing quite convincingly when I peeked out of the front of the tent may have been a bit of a clue too (a surprise, though, as it was lovely dry snow and so made no sound on the flysheet).

Before we got to the icy peat hags, a walk was enjoyed up the Allt Mor. Although not shown on the map, there's a track which runs up to about 590m, and beyond the track the ground may be a bit boggy (as you'd expect, given the lie of the land), but it's a straightforward walk.

It's the bit between the Allt Mor and the Caochan Crom nan Eag that involves weaving through peat hags, but it wasn't a difficult passage and the icy crust assisted us.

Picking up the burn running down to the Dulnain started the section which was the highlight of our day. It's a stunning burn, which we crossed over and over again as we picked our way down its length. If you've not been there, then it's definitely a walk worth doing if you happen to find yourself in the Monadhliath (you wouldn't struggle to find a good pitch down there either).

A while before a waterfall, the valleysides become steeper and deeper, so we left the side of the burn to climb out of the dip and heather-bash over the open hillside. Traversing the side of the Dulnain valley we slowly dropped down to pick up the track which leads to the Red Shed bothy, which we had earmarked for a tea-break.

A tea party was already in full swing, with 6 other Challengers, when we entered, and we soon had the stove out to join in. We didn't stay in company for long though. Either we smell a lot (well, it had been 6 days since the last shower!), or the other chaps' tea break had reached its natural conclusion. They left us after 20 minutes or so, just as another snow shower passed through. We stayed about a quarter of an hour longer and left in the sunshine.

The Burma Road was our route into Aviemore and there's not much to say about it. It gives some good views and very quick walking, but it is something of an intrusive blot on the landscape.

It started to rain as we approached Aviemore. Ruining our 2-day run of snow and hail showers which haven't got us wet. It wasn't heavy rain though, so the waterproof trousers remained untroubled in our packs.

Having arrived in town, we're not being sociable at the campsite tonight. We had Aviemore earmarked for a bed, so we're B&Bing it. A long time has been spent in the shower and our host has kindly done our washing for us (saving me time standing at the sink!), so we'll be setting out squeaky clean in the morning, and well rested (I hope!) after a night in a proper bed.

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