Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Looks like I got away in time

14th August 2009

The weather prospects may have been uneven if anything but I grabbed a few days away in Aviemore this week. The Caledonian Sleeper conveyed me there and away again overnight before today’s heavy rain ensconced itself over Scotland. Tuesday saw me trot over Meall a’ Bhuachaille, Creagan Gorm, Creag a’ Chaillich and Craiggowrie in ever deteriorating conditions (eventually leading to wind blown rain and poor visibility) that left me needing the services of a drying room afterwards. Ironically and maybe irritatingly, the weather improved in leaps and bounds after my descent until the sun appeared on my return to Glenmore. Never let it be said that the Scottish weather doesn’t appear to have a sense of humour but it was decent walking nonetheless and I later got in a shower dampened yomp around Craigellachie after an early evening meal.

A mix of sunshine and light showers was what awaited me on Wednesday when I went poking around Inshriach. Whatever sights I might have set on reaching the summit of Creag Dhubh were given something of a cold bath when I saw the thickness of the heathery carpet that I would needed to cross and ascend. After the previous day’s exertions, I very sensibly thought better of it but have noted the opportunities for a first Munro hereabouts but reckon that more low level explorations are in order first. I may not have made it to a summit but a circumnavigation of Loch Gamhna and Loch an Eilean more than made up for that, even if that meant contending with other holidaymakers. More poking followed my evening meal when I got to seeking out the Speyside Way only to note that the route has changed since 2007 when my OS Explorer map was published.

As if to prove that mountain weather has a mind all of its own, Thursday started out damp, so damp that I retreated indoors to the comfort of a return journey along the Strathspey Railway. The dampness hadn’t been predicted but the weather started to turn for the better as I got back to Aviemore again and a spot of wandering was in order for the afternoon and early evening ahead of my overnight trip south. In short, the steam railway trip had made good use of an otherwise uninspiring morning and it doesn’t take you through ugly surroundings either.

A bus journey conveyed me to Glenmore again from where I ventured over the Ryvoan Pass on my way to Strath Nethy, where views towards Bynack More and Bynack Beg distracted. In fact, the sight of a good path towards Bynack More has me wondering about doing a trek to its 1090 metre high summit sometime; having more time available may have seen me make an attempt on the day. As if that weren’t enough, there are far too many other options to considered for the same small area, never a complaint. Sun was in short supply but it stayed dry and that state of affairs was well appreciated after Tuesday’s dousing. Saying that, it was still midge weather so stopping places needed careful selection so as not to be overrun by the infamous irritants.

Returning to Glenmore meant reprising the outbound journey until after An Lochan Uaine where I selected a forestry path climbing the lower slopes of Meall a’ Bhuachaille more enthusiastically than I might have liked at this point. However, I didn’t go unrewarded with the sun coming out to enliven the vistas that opened out before me at the top of the path. Kinder gradients awaited me for the way down a forestry vehicle track.

From Glenmore, I followed the "Old Logging Way", a new off-road cycle and walking track shadowing the road back to Aviemore without appearing on my 2007 OS map. Catching the bus back might have been the less tiring option but I wasn’t going to leave even an ever cloudier evening go to waste. In fact, I was back in Aviemore without feeling too shabby after my exertions and with ample time ahead of my train for getting some food. Whatever doubts surfaced in my mind about the sense of my decision proved groundless.

Looking back at it now, imperfect weather failed to put paid to a well packed and well used few days. A trip to Aviemore may not be as attention grabbing as one to the Western Isles like mine last year but it was a break from the daily hurly burly and that was what was really needed. Mallaig may have surfaced as an option for a multi-trip this so-called summer, in line with my usual drift to the West Highlands, but the prevailing weather sent me east to follow up on my April excursion and more can follow from this one again. That western drift has left much unfinished business in the east, always a shot in the arm for when it is needed. This posting itself is, as long as it is, the start of an unfinished business with my intending to elaborate in the fullness of time. In a way, it’s like the trip itself: a lot done but more to do.

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