Bynack Lodge and Sgor Morhike, mountain bike

The previous day’s efforts up Beinn Iutharn Mhor, followed by a late evening at Muir Cottage with club colleagues meant that Sunday required an activity without major effort with a later start. Myself and another would head west on bikes and maybe have a hike up a smaller hill.

Linn o’Dee
Crisp autumn morning following the Dee upstream

We passed the Allt Nan Leum Easain (burn of the leaping waterfalls) a stream gully I’ve long meant to have a scrambly explore up, and today would have been a fabulous opportunity with it’s sheltered cove of trees all glowing autumnally. My companion today though was not a stravaiger and it was too early in the day to deviate on a random whim, one must pick a moment to cajole for the unexpected offshoot.

I ponder that most hill people are not true explorers; there needs to be a plan, a route and an accepted categorisable target, and the ephemeral joys of snow sculptures, autumn waterfalls, summer gorges, miles from any such tick-points does not enter the thoughts, because they have ‘conquered’ nothing if they have been nowhere. I subscribe to the Nan Shepard outlook though, to know the mountain you need to look at what’s within the nowheres within their favourite seasons.

For the next few minutes of riding I kept looking back over the shoulder, a gorgeous ribbon of adventure receding. Psht.

Allt Nan Leum Easain escapes the leaping of waterfalls for another day
Carn Mor above seasonal larch

Reaching White Bridge a glance across to Coire an t-Sneachda of Beinn Bhrotain, visited back in March at peak sneachda, showed it was beginning to gather it’s first tendrils of winter.

A quick visit to the Red House bothy. The last time here, it was just about finished and was one big open space; now it had an entrance landing and a main and bunk (8) room. The MBA have really done a cracking job here. I hope to perhaps do a ski overnighter here in winter.

Red House bothy
Skylight mouse

We’d passed the ford over The Geldie Burn and had earlier discussed that after recent rain it’d likely be too high to easily cross, but looking south the ruins of Bynack lodge larch’s glimmered orange tempting me onward. Now was the time to cajole for an offshoot, and persuaded a careful step across with the boots only just not topping over

Across the Geldie Burn

There are another 2 fords in quick succession, across the Bynack burn (wide but shallow) and the Allt an t-Seillich (narrow, deeper but has some big rocks to step across). The old lodge was reached with dry feet and was a good spot for lunch and a wander through the ruins. It must have been an impressive outpost in it’s day with a number of outbuildings, a courtyard, game larders. There’s a couple of photos of it intact here amongst others.

Some additional time was spent collecting litter: you’d think in such a remote place that folk passing through would take whatever they already carried for some distance; but no – a lot of packaging and plastic bottles stuffed in between rocks.

Bynack Lodge
Wandering through Bynack Lodge ruins
Orange and white
Cables holding up a wall
Now a rough frame, this would have been a lovely window view

We’d dawdled enough here, time to go and ascend a hill. Ben Macdui looked lovely in it’s snow-cap but we’d need to aim lower as the day dragged on. Sgor Mor was decided as an easy target with a great view.

Ben Macdui distant zoom

The passage earlier across the Bynack burn on foot had shown it mostly shallow and of benign non-wheel-snagging rock grade; a successful ride through with no stalling but minor wet legs ensued.

We dragged the bikes past the Chest of Dee, found the going lumpy, swapped to the higher track which wasn’t much better so ditched them and headed off on foot through bog and tufty heather.

Chest of Dee
Carn Cloich-Mhuilinn with it’s slabs and outcrops to the west

As we navigated expecting to cross the stream we came across a land-slip, perhaps instigated by recent storms. I poked about a bit in the rubble and the bare face looking for anything long buried and revealed afresh to daylight, finding nothing of note.

Land slip on the burn
Looking back past Red house, Bynack Lodge, Beinn a Ghlo distant
Lochnagar zoomed

It’s only a short haul and we soon were amongst the slabs and ridges of rock near the top. It was a popular choice today with various parties descending / ascending / sitting. I guess it has good ‘bang for the buck’ from Linn o’Dee, providing a panorama of the inner Cairngorms without the tramp to reach up close.

Almost the top
Cairngorms panorama
Zoom Devil’s Point and Cairn Toul
Ben Macdui behind Carn a Mhaim
Sron Riach and Coire Sputan Dearg
Rock pool and shelter
Sgor Mor top

After glugging the remnants of hot chocolate from the flask, we tramped back downwards aiming for a small pool as a marker.

Navigational pool

Collecting the bikes was easy: we’d marked them on a phone nav app to save a hunt through the heather (made that mistake before). We took the higher path back to White Bridge, a boggy and muddy skitter. Once on the landrover track though we steamed back to Muir swiftly. We’d done just enough to not tire ourselves out too much with the drive back to Aberdeen once we packed up at Muir.

Lowest waterfall on the burn: light now gone
Sunset approaching at Linn o’Dee

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