Cairngorms camp 2022camping, hike

July saw a Cairngorm Club summer camping trip, with 6 of us heading out from Linn o’Dee

Glen Lui

Swathes of purple heather greeted us as we headed off-track along the west bank of the Lui, with the intension of ascending Sgor Dubh by an uncommon way.

Along the west bank of the Lui
More purple: Devil’s bit scabious

After a pleasantly cool interlude through the woods, we emerged and rounded a nook below a small crag before it opened up above to great views

Grassy nook below a small unmapped crag
Looking north west from Sgor Dubh

There was a stiff breeze so next we headed for another rocky outcrop for a bit of lunch shelter

Useful outcrop just east of “744”

As we headed up Sgor Mor, the weather caught up with us

Incoming rain
Patchwork of cloud shadows
Devil’s Point nicely lit by a gap in the clouds
Beinn a Ghlo to the south west
A nice rocky foreground
Bog Asfodel in full bloom
Sgor Mor
Sgor Mor round pool
Heading down to the north
Next destination Carn a Mhaim

One of our party was an ecological scientist, and her knowledge illuminated some of the plant finds: I’d never considered that there were different species of sundew, once pointed out there were clear differences e.g. round ones and elongated ones

Elongated sundew – perhaps Drosera Anglica
Passing Creagan na Gabhar
Point underlaid by flowers
..and a rib of rocks
Past a few bog pools, after a dry summer this area was surprisingly easy going
A tiny remnant of snow high on Monadh Mor
Starting the steps up Carn a Mhaim. Stopping briefly to look down and east
Ben Macdui and Coire Sputan Dearg
A fav view looking down from the Carn a Mhaim ridge
The other side

I’d recalled there was some flat grassy terrain at the end of the ridge where it flattens out and there’s some small pools. This would need to be our camp spot: the wind was very strong, and if we committed to going on to the next part of the route (up over the boulder field to Ben Macui) we’d be running out of light without a certain spot to pitch.

Pools of Carn a Mhaim with Braeriach beyond
Devil’s Point

We moved slightly away from the pools, flatter and less tussocked/boggy but the soil was thin and difficult to get a deep peg; we collected some boulders to put on top to save them pulling out.

I’d done a test pitch the night before of a tent I’d selected but not used in a while: an MSR nook, a bit lighter and airier than some of my other options, and I’d rejected the Lanshan as too light for the forecast. I should have piad attention to some warning signs: I’d seen some seam sealing tape had perished and thought “it’d be alright”

After pitching and a few waves of rain had rippled past, I noticed some dripping, and then a few internal connection points which were glued to the outer ripped off, leaving my tent a bit of a sorry sight, and the inner sagging. I dug out my waterproof to lay over my sleeping bag.. it could be a tough night ahead

Cairn Toul and assembled tents

Fortunately it didn’t rain too hard and the night passed with minor water ingress, the sleeping bag has some damp spots, and the tent hadn’t disassembled further. Dawn was dreich, drizzly and now the tops were buried in cloud. One of the party’s waterproof jacket hadn’t fared well and had soaked through. We discussed the plan and decided to abandon heading up to ben Macdui and go back low to regroup and consider finding somewhere sheltered for the next night.

Heading down towards Allt Carn a Mhaim: spongy and boggy
The ridge above

Further down we found a scrape of a path then joined the Luibeg burn

Past Luibeg

We headed to Bob Scott’s bothy and considered where next. We decided to head over to Glen Slugain where there’s a sheltered nook. First we headed through Clais Fhearnaig with it’s thin lochan, and found some wild strawberries and saw a bird of prey swooping along the rocky sides

Clais Fhearnaig lochan
Profuse blaeberries on the slopes down the Quoich

Despite last night’s rain, the Quoich was sufficiently low to cross with dry feet; the prolonged dry spell meant it just soaked into the ground without raising the rivers

The first time I saw the blue tags on the pines of upper Glen Quoich a few years back they’d been on the tips but growth had now burst through; I wonder if they’d be best removed now.

Beinn a Bhuird
A spot just off the path after fording provides a nice loop view

Rather than heading directly to Slugain we hacked about exploring some side glens, I was interested to see if there were any good pitches but also see the ruin of a what had been a nice h owff that was destroyed by the estate.

Some rocky bits and grassy nooks. Some flattened areas and poop showed some deer shelter spots: probably quite ticky
In the foreground the remnants of the destroyed h owff. The wind rippled a tent pitched nearby
A steep path creeps up to the back

We popped past the not-very-secre t place and was disappointed to find stuff strewn about all over: unwashed pans, messy poorly-pitched cheap tents outside. These campers must have been still out and about; I hope they tidied up afterwards. I’d hoped to stay there the night but oh well.

At Slugain lodge ruin, a further cache of wild strawberries was found; tiny but sweet.

Down in the fairy glen there was a nice spot out of the main strength of a strong wind but still blustery enough to keep the midges at bay.

Camp Fairy Glen
Some precarious rocks above

Before going to bed I had a poke about the glen’s gnarled trees and rocky nooks, there’s a small waterfall hidden away, the stream directly after disappears underground

Slugain glen waterfall
A sign of coming autumn

Morning saw an upturn in the weather. 2 of our party were relatively new to camping/hiking long distances and had suffered a bit with heavy packs – also with the forecast for another day of wind, we thought we’d leave our tents pitched and do a lightweight loop around Ben Avon.

Breakfast porridge with a copious layer of blaeberries
Heading out past Slugain lodge

We took a long break at the Clach a Cleirich ford, enjoying the sun and sparking water of the falls.

Falls near Clach a Cleirich

We got overtaken by a father and young son, who despite his young age was tearing ahead to his impressive 100th+ munro.

Garbh Choire beyond the Sneck
Ben Avon ahead
Zooming in on Cairn Gorm: Cite Mhearad snow patch still surviving

After some lunch and tor clambering we headed off down, towards Allt an Eas Mhoir

Goodbye Ben Avon
Delicious skies after yesterday’s dreich spells

Colourful spots of bog fluorescing with rich carpets of mosses

Squishy and bright
A large yellow patch beside the burn that nobody dared walk through

The heat was building out of the wind, and the burn’s falls and pools became tempting

I’d have definitely have repeated my Glas Tulachean naked swim but for company. Coffee break was had at an old shieling on the glen floor as we exited from the path down the burn

Looking along upper Glen Gairn
Up above on Creag an Dail Bheag, we’re being watched
This had been a possible camp spot, with plenty flat terrain

We stopped to listen to repeated overhead screeching: what sounded like maybe raptor chicks being fed, but many pairs of eyes, mine augmented by a monocular, could see nothing, a well-hidden mystery

Looking back from Carn Eag Dubh
..and forward to the upper Quoich
Bog cotton and Beinn a Bhuird
Upper Quoich catching an evening ray or two
Heading back to fairy glen
A brief glow at sunset

The next morning, the wind had dropped and the fairy glen let loose with it’s most ferocious midge swarm, which had us in frenzy to pack up

Beastie lacking an antenna

Having escaped the swarm we headed quickly upwards to catch breeze, on to the side of Carn na Criche, where we recalled finding plentiful cloudberries on a previous August trip. We quartered the side, finding a reasonable haul amongst the grassier strips and shallow dips here.

Berry booty
Carn na Criche
Heading west, clouds rolling back from higher peaks

Creah Bhalg across Glen Quoich

We stopped at Linn of Quoich for a luxuriant break lounging on the warm flat rocks, the water sparkling and sun poking rays through the trees into the aquamarine depths. I had an extremely refreshing paddle and wash but the water was too chilling to stay in long.

Sparkling and splashing through rocky nooks
Glimmering in aquamarine pools

Pondering how to get a group photo from the correct height, rather than leaving the camera on the ground or recruiting a tourist, I stumbled on a new idea: taking my 2 walking poles + 1 other to make a tripod, I placed the top ends gathered together into an upside-down boot, which held them and provided a flat surface to leave the camera and use a timer.

Boot tripod worked a treat
A komorebi-bejewelled Quoich
Interesting fault line across the slabs

We still had to make it back to the Linn o’Dee so eventually we roused ourselves from luxuriating by the Quoich, for the final push. On the map what looked like an old track/fence up the east spur of Creag Bhalg quickly turned to deep heather and steep terrain, ducking through rocky outcrops

Contouring the east spur of Creag Bhalg
Rewarded with some views

Entering the tree line old pines clung to craglets

Mossy crags and nooks of east Creag Bhalg
A tree’s long fight with wind and gravity has been won for now

There are some masts and sheds at the prominence here, and beyond it’s service track provide far easier passage

Down an overgrown path we were once more on tarmac, the trip near an end

All that remained was a cafe stop at the bothy in Braemar to get some snack and drinks, and say our farewells to the Dutch contingent who had joined our adventure.

Rear of the Bothy, Braemar

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *