Petestack Blog

24 December 2014

Last of the Monadh Ruadh

Filed under: Cycling,Walking — admin @ 6:32 pm

This blog needs a ‘walking’ category. Can’t remember why I didn’t set one up in the first place (maybe I just thought I didn’t walk much?), but sometimes things get posted as ‘climbing’ or ‘running’ that are really more ‘walking’, so I just made a new category for them and hereby launch it with yesterday’s first ‘boots, axe and crampons’ (the last carried but not used) trip of the winter…

Now Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor are two awkwardly-placed big hills (my final Monadh Ruadh/Cairngorms Munros) I was keen to get before any prolonged winter snows spoiled my chances of cycling in from Linn of Dee, and yesterday’s benevolent weather and SAIS forecasts were pretty well screaming ‘take the chance while you can’. So I was up at 4am and on my way within the hour to be leaving Linn of Dee at first light for a circuit which, being somewhat more ambitious than that described by Cameron McNeish as ‘a major undertaking’ in winter and ‘a long way for the short days of November’, was clearly just the ticket for 23 December ‘daylight’ with a good three hours of driving at either end!


Abandoning the bike at an almost random point on the single track above White Bridge where I was starting to carry it over more icy snow than riding it, I headed up over the former Munro of Carn Cloich-mhuilinn (sadly demoted to Top, although I’d agree it’s a ‘Top’, when Munro himself had been saving it for last) and still showery/cloudy Beinn Bhrotain to start opening up the most fabulously-lit views over Glen Geusachan to Bod an Deamhain and Ben Macdui as I descended to the bealach before Monadh Mor. But the chilly wind bit my fingers so hard as I dug out my camera for the first time that I simply had to replace my gloves, forget the photos, keep moving and hope I’d get the same chance on my way back. But I didn’t, so you’re not going to see them after more misty plodding over Monadh Mor and the deleted Top of Leth-chreag (where I had to cover two cairned and ring-contoured possibilities after neglecting to mark it on the map I took) led to a descent that looked attractive at the time but has to be slower than just repeating Beinn Bhrotain! And here I was glad of my axe (wouldn’t have considered it without!) to hack a few steps down the steepest top part and safeguard my continued descent down the easier-angled but icier continuation below before a long, long, boggy plod back to the bike with three indifferent photos in fading light along the way. And that’s it really… made the bike while I could still see, but needed the bike light for the ride out where I might have got away without had I taken the quicker (?) return option. But no real regrets there when I’d come prepared and the changing perspectives down Glen Geusachan were worth seeing. Of course walking’s so much slower than running or even part-running, but it was definitely a ‘boots’ trip and you’ll rarely see me running far in boots…

There are 18 Munros, 31 Tops and 22 Deletions now coloured in on my Cairngorms map, which is what you get for doing everything! And the new GPS does exactly the job I bought it for. :-)

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