Thursday 6 February 2020

Glen Feshie: First Camp of 2020

Having spent most of January with an appallingly awful cold that left me unfit and lacking in energy early in February I finally managed to pack a rucksack and wander down Glen Feshie for the first wild camp of the year. Rain pounded down most of the day but by the time I set off in the afternoon it was easing and had faded away before I was far down the glen. Rain or not the old forest, the new forest, and the wild river lifted my spirits as always. The magnificent ancient pines, the glorious youngsters - pines, birch, rowan, willow, juniper and more - never fail to entrance.

I called in at the bothy where I knew a group of TGO Challengers were headed (Carl Mynott, Andrew Walker, Sally Phillips, and Keith Willer), Carl having invited me along. I wasn't planning on staying in the bothy - I wanted to camp and I didn't think my coughing and spluttering would be fair on others - so after a mug of coffee I headed up the glen to find a site. Later in the evening I returned to the bothy for a longer chat. By then there were another half dozen or so people there. 

I found a good site beside the fang-like stump of a long dead pine. At least, the stump was dead, branches that had partly split off were still green, growing along the ground rather than up to the sky. After all the rain the ground was sodden and the air damp. At dusk the temperature started to fall and a heavy dew appeared on the tent, soon to freeze. Stars and a bright half-moon appeared. The air was still and crisp and I stood for hours just watching the sky and the darkening forest. Orion stood out in the sparkling blackness.

By dawn the temperature was -6c. Clouds were beginning to cover the sky. There would be no sunrise. The frost lingered, the temperature barely rising above freezing. Mugs of hot chocolate and a pot of muesli porridge kept me warm.

The bothy folk were planning on an ascent of Mullach Clach a'Bhlair. I was tempted but didn't feel really up to it. Instead I spent a few hours ambling round the glen, content just to be here. The many old channels of the River Feshie, which changes its course regularly as it winds across the broad glen floor, were filled with cracked ice. The river itself was flowing too fast to have more than touches of ice along its banks.

By the time I wandered back down the glen clouds were covering the hill tops and sheets of snow and sleet were rushing down the glen, turning the landscape hazy and ethereal. 

The river roared fast and clear and powerful, with signs of erosion everywhere. The path along the glen has changed many times in the years I've been coming here. 

A few hours later I was in a cafe in Aviemore watching snow falling on the pavements. It had been a short trip but a good one. 


  1. Sorry to hear about your monster cold Chris,glad that you're out in the hills again,all the best from Mark & Helen xx

  2. Hi Chris.

    Looking for a new winter rucksack to replace my ageing Mountain Technology 60l. Which on do you recommend.



  3. Hi Andy, the last few winters I've mostly used the Gregory Paragon 68 - I reviewed it three years ago - I also like the Lightwave Wildtrek 70, which is a simpler design. I reviewed that seven years ago -

    Best wishes,