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Friday, 1 January 2010

The 2000 Challenge, Day 9: Inverey to Braemar

Inverey to Braemar is not very far - about 8 km separates the two youth hostels - and there is a direct road linking the two. So of course, that's not the way I went. Oh no. I had decided when planning my route that to get from Inverey to Braemar I would go high, and walk the ridge round the Coire nam Freumh to Morven. And, weary though I was as I set out from Muir Cottage, I wasn't going to let the fact that I had walked nearly 40km the day before persuade me to opt for the easy alternative.

And so, from Inverey, I took the track up the hillside known as The Colonel's Bed, and on up to Carn Mor. It was a fine, clear day, but none too hot - an excellent day for hillwalking, in fact; and once I overcame the feeling of "Why am I being such a dumbass - there's a perfectly good flat road down there I could be using, for goodness sake!" I really began to enjoy it. I also found a couple of little keepsakes on the path as I went. A lost Tam-o'-Shanter hat (which I picked up at the time, but have long since discarded) and a rather impressive little multi-tool, which I picked up and have kept in my rucksack as part of my emergency equipment ever since.

Once I reached the top of Carn Mor, I was glad I had come! The ridge I had set out to walk forms a natural horseshoe, enclosing the bowl of the Coire nam Freumh. It is a truly classic glacial landform offering stunning views over spectacular landscape, and the ridge line just beckons you on. So I followed the ridge line.

The col between Carn Mor and Carn na Drochaide was a little peaty, as one would expect, but not too wet and easy enough to pass through. The ascent out of it is really stiff, and leads to a finger-like ridge pointing up to Carn na Drochaide. Look to the right as you climb this, and there is another ridge of beautiful tops stretching away into the distance - Creag a' Mhadaidh, Carn Ghrioghair, Sgor Mor and eventually, in the far distance, An Socach. I was struck by just what a delightful ridge that would be to walk, and I have tried on many subsequent occasions to devise a Challenge route which could sensibly make use of this incredible highway in the clouds. But, thus far at least, I have been unable to come up with anything sensible.

From the summit of Carn na Drochaide, there is an easy descent to the north north east until, after about a mile, you begin to climb once again. A Land Rover track to the summit of Morven now comes up from the right and can be followed for the rest of the way. If Land Rovers can make it, so can people ... or so I thought. But it was still a pretty tough climb, and by the time I reached the summit I really wished I had thought to do a bit of singing on the way up!

At the summit of Morven there is a transmitter mast, and a little hut with a memorial plaque commemorating somebody who lost his life up there. A chill wind was blowing and it was decidedly inhospitable, and I decided not to linger. I had walked my ridge, and now I wanted to get down to Braemar. There is a good path down, well maintained, and I followed this all the way.

Walking through Braemar, I saw the most amazing riding horse and could not resist asking the rider about its breeding. Highland cross Cleveland Bay! Now there's a cross you would never think to try - but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense.

I bought myself a fish and chip supper, signed in to the youth hostel for two nights, and headed to the Fife Arms to join the party which was already in full swing. I had a rest day to look forward to, so could party as much as I wanted ... except for one thing, which was that I needed to be back at the Youth Hostel before they locked up for the night. Damn!

1 comment:

  1. Subsequent experience revealed that the Colonel's Bed is actually the name given to the ground to the South of the Ey Burn, whereas I was to the North. But whatever ...