The Eaghike

It’s been quite a while since I’d been to lower Glen Avon, so I joined Aberdeen Hillwalkers on a through route from Cock Bridge to Tomintoul, via a gully called The Eag.

We started off in murk along the good tracks heading west, soon passing the castle and then the dam. The grasslands here had a few lapwings with their distinctive cries audible.

Guardian of Cock Bridge
Corgarff Castle
Tootling lapwing
Sand Martin nests on an eroded glacial mound
Dam at Inchmore reservoir
Shooting bothy

At the foot of Craig Veann I departed the track, thinking to gain some height and get a good view of the Ben Avon, and for a bit of ascent exercise on what was a fairly flat day out.

Beginning ascent of Craig Veann, looking across to Ben Avon
Blaeberries snacking

I was paying attention around my feet, first to the plentiful blaeberries, then higher up some rocky bits, when a movement nearby had my head up.. an eagle first flapping, then soaring into the wind and circling to gain height overhead. There was no sign of a carcass so thankfully I’d not scared it off a kill. There was an odd wooden cubby hole nearby though, hopefully not something hidden for gamekeeping dark arts.

Rocky outcrop towards top
Eagle aloft
Nook amongst rocks
Hiding cubby hole about a foot high and 2 foot deep

The top had a good view to the northern corries of Ben Avon, an OS trig point and an electric fence with a handy crossing point. We headed down to rejoin the main group seen below at the entry to The Eag, and having rejoined began to wander through the gully.

Squiggly Feith Bhait below, soon becoming the River Don
North side Ben Avon
Creag Veann top trig point
Double fence allows humans to cross without a shock
Following the electric fence down
Useful sign for those tempted to sneak under/over

Now sheltered from the wind we took lunch, somebody went up to scramble about but soon came down: the slate strata were fragile and crumbled and flaked easily.

Into The Eag
Lunch spot. Loose slate above

After some grassy interludes, the path began to thread through more overgrown and deep heather, and the terrain more adventurous for a large group of walkers of differing capabilities.

A small stream joins the gully. barely visible ‘paths’ through deep heather
The gully gets deeper again and cuts into a short gorge
Along a slabby ledge
Stopped above a 5 foot waterfall and pool of unknown depth

There were a few deer track offshoots heading out of the gully, but no sign of the path on the map at this point. I was determined to stay in gully, but with the group following along behind had to eventually shoo them upwards as things got slabby and steeper. I was defeated soon enough by a waterfall that would have required a dunk into a pool of unknown depth, I had to head back up and out to now rejoin the tail end. There was a clear path along the rim of the gully here and then back down into the wider bottom where some forks joined the burns of Meur Cul na h-Eige (branch of the back of the hack), Luachaireach (rushy branch), an Loin (branch of the marsh). I took a nosey back upstream: another waterfall with rocky edges blocked progress, so there was a stretch of about 70m of gorge unexplored.

Heading back up to find a way out to the left
Rejoining the group and back down to the fork
Waterfall on Meur Cul na h-Eige

Heading downstream again, the path fizzled out, and easier progress was made hopping rocks in the main stream rather than thrunging through vegetation. Today’s low water made this possible: things would be a much different story a times of rain when this would likely be dangerous.

Rocky path at the edge of the stream
Scree funnels above
Reaching Glen Avon: what happens when there’s unlimited grazing animals on one side of the fence
Sron a Bhothain Mhoir: very obvious overgrazed and eroded slopes versus a more natural state of vegetation

A track was reached and shortly we were out of the gully and back on tarmac in Glen Avon, with it’s sparkling river and grassy meanders.

Glen Avon
Sparkly and wide

The heat would have been oppressive on the road back, but there’s trees lining the road.

Tarmac and hot, thankful for some tree cover
Crystal clear waters of the Avon

I took another excursion up a sidestream to see some waterfalls on the map, small but in a fenced-off area they were green and leafy glades. The 1st was easily found, the 2nd required some clambering and the 3rd above not reachable from below without a swim.

Across a fence to Muckle Fergie Burn. The protection has kept it a leafy glade
A lower waterfall, passed with a dodgy clamber on the right side
Muckle Fergie Burn, lower waterfall
Upstream and around the corner
A second waterfall has steep faces left and right, wade or swim required to go further while staying in the gully. A full explore of the stream gorge here would be a worthwhile venture, one for another day
Quite a few interesting plants along the riverbank

Back on the road, hammer put down to catch up with the group; a brief look at the not-very-exciting “viewpoint” and then into Tomintoul for an ice-cream while we waited for the coach to head off.

Remnants of old settlement
Older bridge at Gaulrigh. There’s another more conventional trussed bridge alongside just to the right
Queen Victoria viewpoint isn’t much, there’s far better view elsewhere in the glen
Plaque at viewpoint
Into Tomintoul

2 thoughts on “The Eag

  1. Hi There

    Thank you so much for this amazing blog!
    I stumbled upon it on Reddit some 3 years ago and have been reading it ever since.
    I love that you show us all these nice adventures and give interesting info about the landscape, history, wildlife etc.
    Also, your little trips off the beaten track leading to some hidden gems are just wonderful!
    I’ve come up with some of the same trips by myself, but for many I got inspired by you.
    It’s just so handy to have a selection of such varied trips (Devil’s Pulpit, Elsick Mounth, Lairig an Laoigh, Tarland etc.)

    Greeting and much appreciation from Switzerland

    • Hi Flo, glad you’ve enjoyed some of the posts and that it’s inspired some adventures of your own. I’ve not been to Switzerland (yet) but it’s also a beautiful country that I hope to get to some day.

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