Tuesday 20 February 2024

A Stormy Cairngorms Camping Trip

Gleann Einich

At the end of last week my friend Tony Hobbs again came up from down south with his dog Lassie hoping to gain some snow skills, just as he had at the end of January.  Unfortunately this time there was even less snow and high winds prevented us reaching it. In fact the wind limited what we could do to a great extent.

Tony heading into sodden Gleann Einich

We began by walking into Gleann Einich where I hoped we might find a reasonably sheltered and dry site above the forest. It was not to be. The ground was mostly sodden from rain and snowmelt and the wind was relentless. After searching along the side of some big moraines that did keep some of the wind off and finding nowhere comfortable we retreated down into the forest and camped in a dip amongst some big pines, a fine forest site.

Shelter in the forest

We could maybe have camped somewhere bumpy, damp, and windswept higher up but there was no need when we knew dry sheltered sites lay not far away. I’ve spent far too many nights in high winds to want to do so if it isn’t necessary.

Morning view

The wind roared through the tops of the trees during the night but only the occasional gust reached ground level. Morning came with dark clouds racing across the sky. The night had been warm, with a low of only +8°C, and I’d been too hot in my -7 degree bag until I unzipped it and draped it over me as a quilt. My heavy storm resistant winter tent was overkill here too and I doubted I’d need the snow shovel, crampons, or ice axe I’d brought. This was supposed to be a winter trip. I’ve had colder weather in May.

Braeriach from Cadha Mor

The second day we decided on a day walk up the long ridge running along the west side of Gleann Einich. We didn’t get very far. Once we reached Cadha Mor on the north end of the ridge the full force of the west wind hit us. Not strong enough to knock you over but certainly enough to impede walking a little. Ahead the ridge disappeared into dark, angry clouds.

Rainbow over Loch an Eilein and Loch Gamhna

As we pushed on a heavy squall blasted over us, leaving bits of rainbow in its wake. The 848 metre summit of Creag Dhubh was the highpoint of the day. We sheltered behind the big rocky tor known as The Argyll Stone for a bit to eat and a rest out of the wind, which was much stronger here. Continuing along the ridge into the cloud wasn’t appealing. Descending west and making our way back to camp via Loch an Eilein was mooted but soon rejected as it meant heading into the wind.

The Argyll Stone

Instead we went east, down through heather and tussocks and boulders into Gleann Einich and then back to camp. We had never reached any snow.


Bursts of sunlight early the next morning suggested improving weather. It didn’t last and our final view of the mountains was of the clouds surging over Braeriach.

Final view of Braeriach

This was Tony’s fourth Cairngorms camping trip with me. There has been a great deal of wind and rain and he hasn’t reached a Munro yet or had much of a view high up. Maybe next time.

Loch Einich

Tony and Lassie on the descent, Bursts of sunshine in Glenmore

A spring with juniper on the descent

Braeriach almost emerges from the clouds


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