Saturday 6 August 2011

Sgor Gaoith to Beinn Bhrotain

With my wife and her sister away in Tenerife with our Grandchildren I took the opportunity to go to Glenmore Lodge.

I left my car here and set off to walk the Feshie Hills and onwards.

A short way up the track in to Gleann Einich I set off to Cadha Mor. This is the start of a near 7k rollercoaster to Sgor Gaoith. It rained for most of the morning and visabilty was mixed, but mainly poor.

About 1k from Sgor Gaoith the weather started to clear.

From here to Mullach Clach a' Bhlair it was clear. There is no problem navigating up here; just follow the track to the slight rise that is Mullach Clach a' Bhlair.

I have always wanted to camp near Loch nan Cnapan. As the evening was still, I pitched on the rise above Allt Sgairnich, from where I got my light brown water. (My camera is still suffering from the TGO Challenge - so blurred vision).

My meal was with company. Midges. I sat away from my tent with midge net and gloves on and heated water for tomato soup and midges before my main course of a Mountain House Salmon thingy with midges. Tastey! I walked around to keep moving from my un-welcome company.

Then, after eating, the breeeze started and my company disappeared. My night in my Akto was comfortable and midge free. I took my Akto in preference to the Trailstar and bug bivy to give me more room inside the inner - away from the vampires. More later.

Next morning the breeze continued and I was able to pack up in comfort before setting off for Monadh Mor. The weather was good and visability excellent. The Devil's Point to Braeiach skyline was superb. Ben Macdui was clear and the day continued to be a Munro spotter's dream. Ben Avon was clear in the distance and even Lochnagar was clearly visable.

On to Beinn Bhrotain before a rough bash down to Glen Dee and on to Corrour bothy. Here, I pitched outside in preference to being in the bothy. It was still. Midges like I have never seen before materialised. I had soup and my  excellent MX3 meal inside the bothy. Then I decided to get inside my tent and listen to my Ipod - and have a little whisky. I was joined inside by a few vampires after having walked through the curtain of them. I spent time killing as many as I could. Then I realised that they were everwhere on the inner tent - outside. I relaxed. I had killed all those I could see were clearly inside. I lay for hours, on top of my sleeping bag, listening to music and sipping whisky.

To say that I have never seen so many midges - ever - is a measure of how many there were: inside the outer tent, outside the outer tent, over the gear in the vestibule, everwhere. And, I didn't realise that in vast numbers you can hear them!!

Problem. How do I have a pee? I waited until it was late - and getting dark. I unzipped the bottom of the inner tent and ........... well lets say I remained inside the inner tent while managing to have a pee outside of it. Too much detail!

I slept fairly comfortably, thinking I had got away with keeping the vampires outside the inner tent. My lower legs, unknown to me were a picnic table.

Next morning I woke up and needed a pee. There were, by now black patches all over the inner and outer tent. There was no choice but to get dressed - with windshirt, headnet and gloves etc. Out through a moving curtain of black and a dash away from the tent........

The poor guy who was sleeping in the bothy was woken up at 0730. I had to get inside to heat my water for coffee. Breakfast bars were consumed in reasonable comfort.

Then I had to pack up.

The combination of headnet, windshirt, gloves and trousers etc work fairly well. Trouble is windshirts ride up as you bend over and the sleeves too ride up away from gloves. You can tell this by the little red dots in these areas - many.

The hills were covered in low cloud. My trip across the Moine Bhealaidh between Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a' Chaorainn would have to wait for a clearer day.

Rain set in as I went up the Lairig Ghru but stopped as I went across the Chalamain Gap and back to Glenmore Lodge. The tops were covered with dirty dark clouds.

There are clumps of black inside and outside my tent as it sits outside in the garden.

This is the last time I ever go into Scotland in August, even though the trip I did was in itself fantastic.


  1. They really are hateful little bar stewards. I find myself bushing my face and hair with my hands as I type this... shuddering....
    Stick to May and October, Gordon for the Highlands.

  2. Did Gorms once in August. Hell in a tent. I still shudder at the memories of the little bastards. I used a mozzie coil a few times on other trips. Seems to work. Smoke the bastards out. On the plus side you got some hills in. So not so bad.

  3. Hi Gordon,
    They are one of the main reasons why I prefer the fairways in the summer months!
    Despite that, I broke my own rules and had 4 days of wall to wall sunshine in Knoydart in late July, with the wee buggers only spoiling one night and one morning.
    It was perversely satisfying to lie in the bug bivy watching the pests going mad with frustration on the outside.
    The pee problem? Hold it in until most of them have gone, in my case about 11pm, then a quick dash outside. My walking buddy, a 7 or 8 times official Challenger plus 3 or 4 unofficial ones when he didn't get in, had to go a bit earlier and subsequently scratched for an hour or more afterwords.
    Ah, the joys.

  4. Hi Eddie, I too was breaking my own rules - it's more the heat than the midges that I don't like. Although this trip was so very bad for the flying vampires!
    A couple of years ago in mid-September, I experienced a 2 hour snowstorm near Glenshee, so nor long before the conditions are more favourable.
    My next trip is going to be in October, backpacking from Glenfinnen.

  5. Hi Gordon,
    I hope that you will enjoy your Glenfinnan trip.
    I went in from there to Inverie via the Mam Unndalain in late July in very bad conditions!!
    No wind, no clouds and 23 - 24 degrees each lunchtime. Very bad hill walking weather!!
    I suspect that you can look forward something different.
    I will soon be joining your band of "choosing not to work" and will be scouring the weather forecasts for the next high pressure zone, then I am off!
    I am really looking forward to that.

  6. Hi Eddie,

    I wish I was closer to the likes of Knoydart etc. Knoydart is one of my favourite areas.
    As it is, I try to balance out trips to Scotland with family commitments.
    Still, I don't do too badly.
    I hope you enjoy the freedom of not working - and that there are plenty of high pressure zones!
    I've just sent off my application for the 2012 TGOC.
    Now I have the fun of planning a route - hopefully taking in lots of Munros. My track record with Munros on the TGO needs to be much improved. Still, the weather can't be as bad as it was this year - can it?