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]

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Scotland - Day 17 (Aviemore)

Our last day of walking today and the original plan for the day with the best forecast (which happened to be today) was to go up Ben Macdui. After a bit more thought, we tempered our plans to the much shorter outing from Coire Cas car park up to the top of Cairn Gorm and back. The route we took is below, and we went anti-clockwise (given there are arrows on the track, I probably didn’t need to clarify that, did I?):


Anyone familiar with the ascent route that we took will probably notice that we started it in a bit of a non-standard way. Merrily we followed the path out of the car park without really paying attention to where we were going, until eventually I came to notice that we were gently skirting, rather than climbing up a spur.

We put that right by simply heading straight up the hill, which put us nicely where we wanted to be.

Having made a bit of an effort to get out of bed at a reasonable time today (Mick did grumble a bit at the 6.30 alarm!) we were up on the steep bit of the spur before we’ve usually even got our sandwiches made, which meant that the snow was still frozen solid, which (in turn) gave us a good excuse to don crampons (something which doesn’t happen very often as Microspikes so often do the job).

It’s steep heading up there, but otherwise easy going, particularly as I wavered around all over the place (zoomed in on the full-sized version of the recorded track you can see the line wobbling around). We were definitely in the minority; the chap ahead of us and the couple behind us were all on skis.


The views from the big cairn at the top of that ridge were stupendous, and we were so eager to see what it was like on the top that we didn’t pause there for tea or cake (admittedly both had featured earlier on). Up to the top of Cairn Gorm we headed, and what should we find there (aside from lots of skiers), but people dressed in jeans and street shoes! Nowt like a funicular railway to give inappropriately dressed people access to very big hills (although, in fairness, it was so warm and lovely up there today that there was nothing inappropriate about wearing jeans).


We tarried on top for a long while enjoying the views, dealing with the rumbling tummies and enjoying the views some more.


As the recorded track shows, we detoured over to the east edge of the summit, just to see the view from there. The snap above is looking back to the weather station. All the black dots are people.


Looking SW from the summit. The best of a bad bunch of photos which completely fail to convey the outstanding views.

The crampons weren’t needed for the downward leg to the Ptarmigan Hut, but it was as easy to leave them on as to remove them. Remove them we did, when we got to the hut, only then to find that our way the other side was a big sheet of ice. We managed about a hundred yards before the spikes came out.

The way down follows ski runs from much of its length, so we got some entertainment as we went. It’s just a shame we didn’t have the camera out and switched on when a Tornado (the plane, not the weather phenomenon) came roaring low up the valley and over the top of the Ptarmigan Hut. That would have been quite a spectacular snap.

Contrary to how our track appears on the map, we didn’t lose the path as we returned to Coire Cas. It was mainly free from snow by then and it’s such an obvious constructed-path that there could be no doubt that we were on it. It’s another example of the path having been moved from the line shown on the map.

It was only a little outing on the grand scale of things, at just a tiny bit over 5 miles with a couple of thousand feet of ascent. It took us just under 5 hours, although I think that if we had the breakdown of the stats we would find that around half of that was spent sitting down, admiring our surroundings (sometimes scoffing sandwiches/cake/chocolate at the same time).

An excellent, highly-enjoyable, little outing it was, with the icing on an already-very-nice cake being that we finally saw a herd of reindeer. When we pulled into the (then very quiet) car park this morning, there they were, right in front of us.


  1. That's the second time that Paramo has been up there. Looks good!
    I'm glad you've had such a spectacular trip, just make sure you bring nice weather in May (doesn't have to be hot, just dry would be good!)
    See you again soon.

  2. That looks amazing! Err... did you go to the night club under the police station?