A day when long heather tamed vaulting ambitions10th September 2009
The chance of having a less laden rucksack for day two of my Aviemore escapade set my imagination to soaring when it came to walking possibilities. Thoughts of summits like Creag Dhubh and even a putative first Munro bagging all started to queue up for consideration. You would have thought that the efforts of the day before would have forestalled thinking like this but it simply wasn’t so. In fact, what proved to stall the putting of such schemes into action was something lowly: a thick blanketing of shin-high woody heather that obscured any paths that the OS chose to depict on its Explorer map for the area. That there was other woody growth abounding only could help in the return of an until then unleashed imagination to earth. Now that I cast my mind back over the day, I reckon that the outcome was only wise.
The day itself was blessed by sunshine with only the occasional light shower, a definite improvement on the preceding day. I took myself off to revisit Rothiemurchus as I made for Loch an Eilean, following tracks and trails that I first met last April. Showers were visiting the hills ahead of me, but dry sunshine was my fare as I made my way around by Inverdruie and Lochan Mor. All of this remained familiar to me until I stayed with the shore of Loch an Eilean rather than reprising that Easter Monday hike. Relaxed progress got me to Loch Gamhna from where I stuck with the lower slopes of Creag Fhiaclach. I had it in mind to check out the path leading to higher slopes from Inshriach bothy and the line looked anything but clear so I decided not to go doing the fool with it. If the path had looked usable, it would have taken me up by Allt Coire Follais before pathless progress would be needed to make it onto the summit of Creag Dhubh. Instead, I continued to Inshriach forest from where I checked out another seemingly promising track until it ran out at what appeared to be a weather station. Not being in the mood for cross-country travel over low and not so low-level vegetation, I decided not to persevere with checking out potential routes to the heights and took in low-level views of them instead. Plenty of tempting targets lay before me with Munros like Geal-charn, Meall Buidhe, Sgòran Dubh Mor, Sgòr Gaoith, Carn Bàn Mòr and Meall Dubhag. Beyond a number of those lay Loch Eanaich, the cliffs that loom above it and other lofty summits such as Braeriach.
On walking back from Inshriach, I opted to round Loch Gamhna even though it was raining at the time. That rain wasn’t to outstay its “welcome” and passed on soon enough and I had a dry weather amble along the western shores of Loch an Eilean with some spotlighting of the surrounding countryside by the sun. I even got to take some time out to stop and relax a little before leaving the loch to follow a different way back to Inverdruie in preference to the one that I had enjoyed earlier that day. The walk had been a good one for a subsequent visit to the area, but it does amaze how I managed to call it right on that Easter Monday visit; choosing vistas over heights certainly paid off in spades and it was just as well that I did.
After getting fed and watered in Aviemore, I decided to go investigating a short section of the Speyside Way only to find that its depiction on my map didn’t fully correspond with that on the ground. This type of discrepancy would also appear to have afflicted those various routes to the heights that I explored that afternoon so I am left wondering if OS need to issue a new edition to include any changes since 2007, not at all that long ago. Still, the hills were coloured russet from the evening sun and I got to walking off any excess that I had taken on board so it would be very thankless of me to be grumbling. All in all, it wasn’t a bad day at all.
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Fantastic photos and enjoyable write-up. It is a magic place and makes me want to go back.