Saturday 3 October 2020

Lovely autumn weather between the storms but the burns are in spate

Rothiemurchus Forest & the Lairig Ghru

After a day of rain yesterday was forecast to be dry and bright before a weekend of more rain. With the midges gone and the autumn colours developing a walk in the forest appealed with an ascent of one of the lower Cairngorm hills, Carn Eilrig, a superb viewpoint. Wet from the rain Rothiemurchus Forest glowed in the sunshine as I strolled along the path towards the Lairig Ghru pass looking down at the swollen Allt Druidh, which I was hoping to ford higher up.

The Allt Druidh

As the land rises the river cuts a deep gorge through the forest. Here the path climbs to run along the edge of the ravine. Ahead Creag an Leth-choin towers over the mouth of the Lairig Ghru. For the ascent of Carn Eilrig I left the path and descended steep rough slopes of heather and bracken to the river. The sound of the water grew to a deafening roar as I approached. I picked a slower-looking spot for a ford and stepped in. The river tugged at my legs, the stones in the river were slippery. Below me the water crashed over boulders, white and fast. One more step. I could see the river was deeper ahead. I backed off. A struggle along the bank in dense vegetation laced with little streams and patches of bog and I tried again. With the same result. This was not a day for Carn Eilrig, not by this route.

The Allt Druidh winding down from the Lairig Ghru

Turning away from the river I clambered back up the steep sides of the gorge to the path then continued up easier ground to Castle Hill, which sits opposite Carn Eilrig, the two rising above the edge of the forest to form a gateway to the Lairig Ghru. The trees are climbing higher though and there's a scattering of tiny pines and low junipers on Castle Hill. The wind was strong on the summit and I was glad I hadn't planned on higher hills. Down below Loch Morlich was a deep blue.

Loch Morlich

Steep slopes led back down into the forest and the path. Late afternoon and the light was changing, shadows deepening, colours richer. The walk out felt different to the walk in. A different direction, different light. This forest is marvellous. Always.

The top of the forest

Looking back Braeriach was gold in the low light, its corries dark above the shining forest.


Down in the forest birches caught the sun, the soft green tinged with the first yellow of autumn.

As I neared the end of my walk the sun was just about to set, casting long bright rays across the land, the sky orange, a peaceful fading of the light.

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