Woohoo! I've discovered how to add a few little tick boxes at the bottom of each post, to enable readers to record their reactions. Do please use them. I think I've identified the four most likely responses ...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The 2004 Challenge, Day 9: Skirting the Cairngorm

After a wonderful breakfast in the guest house, I headed south through Abernethy Forest, taking the tracks by way of Forest Lodge and Rynettin. This was uneventful woodland walking, climbing steadily the whole time, pleasant enough in its own way, but hardly anything to write home about.

When I reached the edge of the tree line, however - well, WOW! Now there was something worth seeing. It was a lovely clear day, the sun shining bright on the clear tops of Cairn Gorm and the Bynacks Beg and More.

I stopped for lunch at Ryvoan Bothy - a delightful little bothy, very well appointed. I suspect its proximity to Glenmore Lodge may well account for the pristine order in which it is maintained. I read the comments in the bothy book, then added a few of my own.

As I ate my lunch, a string of ponies hove into sight. Their riders dismounted to eat their lunch on the grass below the bothy. I exchanged a few words with the ride leaders, and discovered that they are from a stables which arranges a variety of multi-day trail rides through the wilds of Scotland. Being a Challenger with horses of my own, I could see the attraction ... but the logistics of doing it with a dozen ponies must be absolutely mind-blowing!

I headed on past Bynack Stable, at the foot of Streath Nethy. I noted that, should the bothy be full, this was at least a usable shelter of sorts ... but don't go noting that on your maps, guys and girls, because when I passed through on the 2009 Challenge the stable had come down in a storm and there was nothing left of it. Ah well ...

My planned route was to stay on the path as far as Coire Odhar, then turn off to Carn Dubh and walk the ridge north of Glen Avon. But as I headed up that path, I kept looking up at the beautiful, clear top of Bynack More, and wondering what it would be like up there on a bright sunny day like this. And believe me, if this had been the 2000 Challenge, I would have gone and had a look.

But this wasn't the 2000 Challenge. It was the 2004 Challenge, and I was trying to satisfy myself that I could complete a crossing without sparking another asthma attack from over-exertion. And I was walking solo, which meant that I couldn't afford to risk provoking another asthma attack in any event, because there woudl be nobody to help or even raise the alarm. And to top it all, my planned route for the day already stood at something like 30 kilometres, or possibly a little more. Even if I just went up to the top of Bynack More and came back down the way I had come, it was going to add 4 kilometres and nearly 300 metres of ascent. Call it an extra two hours on the day.

I was sorely tempted ... but I resisted. And to this day I bitterly regret that decision. It was the PERFECT day for going high, and I was close enough to bag Bynack More with only a pretty minor detour from my route. If I'd known that there was a wonderful spot where I could have pitched short if I needed to, I wouldn't have hesitated. But I didn't discover that until later. And of course, you can be sure that if I plan another crossing route that aims to go up there, the weather will force me down onto my FWA; whereas if I go for it some time when I'm not on the Challenge, it's going to be a full day's outing rather than simply a 2 hour detour. So why didn't I just do it when I had the chance? Stupid, stupid, STUPID.

Except, actually, no. It wasn't stupid at all. It was sensible. It was the right decision. And let's face it, I hadn't been making very many right decisions so far this crossing!

I had to pick my way a bit through the peat of Coire Odhar to get to Carn Dubh; but once I got there, the ridge walk was glorious (although, in retrospect, I shouldn't have doen it in shorts; and by the time I reached my camp site my legs were somewhat more sun burned than was wise). Heading due east from Carn Dubh to hill 748, I noted that the Glasath valley offered soem truly spectacular camping spots; but I was pressing on further. Hill 742, Monadh nan Eun, the wonderful ridge that is Little Drum Loin and Little Garvoun. I then dropped down to find a nice sheltered place to pitch at about NJ 135082. I put up the tent, cooked and enjoyed a lovely evening meal, and then ever so gingerly slid my bright red legs into my sleeping bag ...

No comments:

Post a Comment