Sunday 17 February 2013

In Glen Feshie: Cairngorms In Winter

Walking Up Glen Feshie

For the latest Cairngorms in Winter filming trip Terry Abraham and I were joined by three of our Kickstarter supporters for an overnight trip in Glen Feshie. I met John, Phil and Paul in the Mountain Café in Aviemore for a quick coffee before we set off for Glen Feshie and a meeting with Terry at the Ruigh Aiteachan bothy. The weather was warm for February with low clouds on the tops and a continuing thaw.

My Camp In Glen Feshie

The paths in the glen were wet with mud and the last slushy snow. The side streams were less full than I expected though and we were able to cross on stones with no more than splashes of water getting into our boots. The River Feshie was its usual impressive self, rushing down the glen in its ever-changing course. Soon the first big old pines appeared and the wild character of the upper glen began to establish itself. This is one of the few places in the Highlands that really has the same feel as wilderness forest areas in places like the High Sierra or the Rocky Mountains. 

Terry Relaxing In Camp

Once we’d met up with Terry we decided to continue on up the glen, revelling in the wildness as we walked the narrow paths that cross the steep landslip prone slopes that run down into the river. The last ancient pinewoods lie in a narrow section of the glen where it is hemmed in by the steep rocky slopes of Creag na Gaibhre and Creag na Caillich. Here we camped, our five tents scattered amongst the big trees. There was little wind and the temperature was above freezing. Before dusk we wandered a little further up the glen watching the river and the trees and the crags. Then we sat under an old pine and chatted about the Cairngorms in Winter film and the outdoors in all its aspects. There was no wind and the temperature was around 5ºC so there was no need to retreat early to our tents. As we sat there the clouds cleared, a crescent moon hung in the sky and the stars shone bright with the constellation of Orion and the planet Jupiter standing out.

Stream Crossing

By dawn the clouds had returned. The night had been warm - the low was only +1.5ºC - with just enough of a breeze to prevent condensation forming in the tents. We packed slowly, in between more talking, hot drinks and photographs, then set off back down the glen, finding less snow and more slush and mud underfoot as the thaw continued. Just briefly in the afternoon there was a hint of a clearance with patches of blue sky and touches of sunlight on the snowy hills.

View Up Coire Fhearnagan To Carn Ban Mor

Back at the car park with a couple of hours of daylight left we decided to wander up the hills a little way. The path to Carn Ban Mor led through the regenerating forest to the boggy moorland above the trees. With no time for the high tops, which were anyway still cloud-capped, we left the path and headed for a lower top overlooking Glen Feshie. The going through heather, tussocks and slushy snow was quite tough. A little cairn decorated the 600 metre summit and there was a good view up Glen Feshie and across Strathspey to the Monadh Liath hills. There was a touch of winter up here too with a strong cold wind that saw hats and gloves and jackets appear. We descended directly down to the road, passing through a lovely old forest on the flanks of Creag Leathan. The two little pools in the narrow notch to the east of that summit were still frozen.

John, Phil and Paul

The trip over we headed for Aviemore and a celebratory drink in the Cairngorm Hotel (coffee in my case as I was driving home afterwards). Thanks to Phil, Paul, John and Terry for a good two days. We made some progress on the film and in a few days I’ll be joining Terry again for more filming.


  1. What a cracking weekend we had Chris. Your pictures and blog capture it to a T.
    Many thanks to you and Terry for your hospitality and time in making this a memorable weekend for me, Phil and John.
    Best of luck with the remaining filming and lok forward to meeting up again at the "Premier".

    Btw..My daughter recons I look like ET in that last

  2. It's great to see you're all still hard at it.
    Upper Glen Feshie is a jewel in the Highlands.