Start/Finish: Inverey to Spittal o Glenshee
Terrain: 70% gravel/surfaced road, 30% Pathless
Transport: Hmmm, tricky. Bus to Spittal from Blairgowrie. Bus to Braemar from Aberdeen.
Route: Route Map/Profile
Day 2 of 2: Previous Day
A fine cross-country route from Braemar/Inverey to Spittal of Glenshee, some shameless Munro bagging involved (for the views, honest!)
If anyone remembers the first edition of that revolution-starting book, "The Munros", there was a particular page which had always grabbed my imagination, particularly back in the days when I liked to involve the bike as a means to get to less-travelled routes up hills. Its the page for An Socach I think, and it shows a scene of a nice flat-floored grassy glen enclosed by brown hills with a twin-rutted track winding without obsticle towards the great outdoors. I was 16 years old when I first acknowledged it as a place I wanted to pedal through, and to this day still hadn't been there.
|Looking back over Inverey to Deeside|
Being the last day of August the heather was in full spendour, much of Deeside splashed with purple. The track up Glen Ey gave easy progress from the car park and quickly we were enclosed by hills and leaving the domain of roads and cars behind. After nearly four gentle miles we crossed a wooden-slat bridge, turned a corner and the scene got even better. Now beneath the gable-end of Creag an Fhuathais, the grey sky submitted to a band of blue, the Ey Burn pacified into mirror-like pools breached occasionaly by trout jumping for flies, then the sun seemed to find us, there was not even a breeze, and my dad had found his slice of heaven.
"Why don't you run on to Spittal and I'll pick you up there?" he'd asked a few minutes earlier.
|My dad watches trout in the mirror-like Ey Burn|
I'm so grateful for this suggestion - within the first 500 yards of jogging up the track towards the ruined lodge at the head of the glen, my favourite tunes playing, the pace increased and I was pretty much bounding, excited by the prospect of a great journey ahead, God knows why running in these places brings so much pleasure, even in the drab conditions yesterday. I've never quite felt the same euphoria when walking or pedalling a bike but for some reason the act of running and also having the fitness to run up pathless hillsides mile after mile is for me just the best feeling. Especially when its a place far from the sight and noise of over-crowded places and traffic.
|The flat top of Carn Bhac (looking SW to Beinn a' Ghlo)|
After leaving my dad I only saw 2 couples up on the hills, and at a distance - never an encounter. As I toiled up the gentle screes beaneath Carn Bhac's final "lump", I half expected to rise into turbulent air and need to put a jacket on. Instead, it was calm, warm and sunny up by the cairn, and the visibility across Scotland, particularly Westwards, was magnificent. To the SW was Carn nan Gabhar - the nearest peak of Beinn a' Ghlo - looking shapely and prominent, and to the North the Cairngorms appeared more as a single solid Plateau rather than individual mountains. I'm so glad I came up here instead of cutting over watersheds directly to Glen Taitenaich - Munro bagging mentality has its moments.
A heavenly mile of easy running followed as I headed towards Beinn Lutharn Mhor. Then it got messy, because the col was large and riddled with peat hags, and by the time I'd weaved and contoured around these to reach the base of the Beinn, my legs had lost their zing. I took this as a cue to sit down amongst the heather, enjoy some water and cereal bars, soak up the sunshine for a few minutes whilst trying to pick my route up the fairly imposing wall of scree ahead of me. One thing was decided - I wouldn't be running up it!
|Looking back to Carn Bhac from B.L.Mhor|
|Loch nan Eun|
|Looking down Gleann Taitneach, the route off the hills to the Spittal|