|Loch Einich and Braeriach from Sgor Gaoith|
In a week of mostly low cloud and dull weather I have outdoor blogger Martin Rye to thank for getting me out on the two sunniest days. I’d been in contact with Martin through Twitter (he’s @rye1966 and has a good blog) for quite a while and we have some friends such as Terry Abraham in common but we’d never met before. Martin was coming up from Norfolk for a three day walk through the Cairngorms from Blair Atholl to Aviemore and suggested we could meet up at his second camp on the Moine Mhor. This sounded a great idea and a good excuse for a night out (not that I need one) so I was happy to accept.
|The Allt Beanaidh|
Phone calls and office work delayed my departure until late afternoon, by which time early clouds had cleared, leaving hot sunshine for my initial walk through beautiful Rothiemurchus Forest. Ahead the hills were coming and going in drifting clouds. Below the track the Allt Beanaidh foamed and frothed, still full and fast with snowmelt. The ancient Scots pines glowed in the slanting sun.
Beyond the trees the boggy expanse of Gleann Einich faded away into shadow. By the time I reached Loch Einich I was under the clouds though behind me the sun still shone over the forest. This loch is in a grand, grim situation, filling the narrowing glen between steep ragged crags and splintered ribs and buttresses. There is no easy way onto the heights. Scanning the two paths that lead up onto the tops through binoculars I could see that the one on the flanks of Braeriach ran into a steep snowbank near the top. I wouldn’t be going that way. Instead I took the intermittent slanting line of Ross’s Path below the dark cliffs of Sgor Gaoith and then climbed a very steep grassy slope up to the slopes of Carn Ban Mor and the edge of the Moine Mhor plateau. Somewhere out there Martin should be camping.
|Camp in the morning as the mists begin to clear|
Martin had given me two grid references, one close to Tom Dubh, a rounded bump in the heart of the plateau, and one further north towards Gleann Einich. However despite, I thought, visiting both locations and criss-crossing the ground in between I could not find him. This is a complex area of knolls and hollows and I knew he could easily be hidden below a bank or round the back of a rise. I also knew his shelter was grey. There are myriads of grey boulders up here. From high points I surveyed the area with my binoculars, homing in on any distant rocks that just might have been tents. Nothing. Finally I headed for a flat area of high ground where I thought Martin should spot me the next day and made camp.
|Martin on the slopes of Sgor Gaoith|
Sure enough I’d only been awake a short while when a voice hailed me. Martin had been camped by a stream by Tom Dubh. Somehow I’d missed him. Clouds had blown in during the night but these were now dissipating and by the time we set off for Sgor Gaoith the sky was brightening. A fine walk along the whole of the long broad Sgorans ridge above Gleann Einich followed, with superb views down to Loch Einich and across to Braeriach, and much conversation. Where the ridge died away we cut down rough slopes back into the glen and the walk out through the forest. I was back at my car within 24 hours of leaving it, but as always those hours in the hills had been well worthwhile.
|Braeriach, the Moine Mhor and Sgor Gaoith from Sgoran Dubh Mor|