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Saturday, 7 June 2014

The 2014 Challenge, day 9: Dalwhinnie to Ruigh-aiteachean (14)

I dropped down to the dam and crossed to the East bank of the Tromie, pausing at the little control hut to change my socks and have a bit of a glug. Then I set out again, following the cut-off path to the Allt Bhran as I had in 2013. The cut-off path was as boggy as I remembered it, but passable. However, on arriving at the Allt Bhran I was in for a little bit of a shock: they weren't drawing any water off at the weir, and a dry-shod crossing immediately below the weir was not going to be possible. This, I thought, was worth remembering. It only adds a couple of kilometres to go down to the bridge and then back up the Allt Bhran; and the paths are much more substantial, so it will not add all that much time.

Not being in the mood for a cold-plunge crossing, I turned right and headed upstream in search of a good crossing point. Eventually I found one (Goretex boots have the advantage that you can accept a certain amount of feet-dunking, and still class it as a dry-shod crossing), and gained the path along the North bank. Progress on this was good, and at 4 pm I arrived at the confluence of the Allt Coire Bhran and Allt na Cuilce. There was a tent already pitched here. I thought it a little early in the day to be stopping and wondered if the occupier was alright, so I stopped for a word. It turned out to be Mark Storey, and he was fine. Just making an early stop, that was all. Fair enough - but not for me. It was raining (not heavily, but definitely raining), and as readers of this blog will probably have gathered by now, I am not one for stopping mid-afternoon in order to pitch my tent in the rain!

And so I carried on. Mark and I had discussed the route from here at Dalwhinnie. He said that he never takes the track above the woods, because there's a lot of unnecessary height gain (and I have to agree with him there: it's a tough old track!). Rather, he follows the Allt na Cuilce up, and then angles across the open hillside to meet the track just East of the second block of woodland. I decided to give his route a try, and I have to say I do tend to agree with him that it is the better option. The final stretch across the open hillside is a bit of a penance; but it's only a few hundred metres, and so it wasn't long before I was on the track.

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