Saturday 22 October 2011

Eastern Cairngorms Backpack - Day 1: Linn of Dee to Upper Glen Quoich

Distance 21.5km; Ascent 960m; with Colin

We had decided on a round of the eastern peaks of the Cairngorms for our backpack and set off walking from Linn of Dee at 9am. It was dry as we headed north through the forest to reach the bridge over the Lui Water.

Lui Water
Once on the far side of the river, we followed the river NW for around a kilometre, with good views upriver towards Carn a'Mhaim and Derry Cairngorm. Shortly before a stream, we took a small path on the right ascending up and through the interesting narrow gap through the hills below Clais Fhearnaig.  We passed a couple of small lochans, before descending down into Glen Quoich, where we stopped for a snack whilst around 20 mountain bikers passed us. Soon we reached the confluence and had to cross the NW fork of the river, which was just about manageable without getting wet feet.

River crossing in Glen Quoich
Almost immediately after crossing the river we reached a track junction and took the right hand fork. We soon entered a pleasant area of Caledonian pine forest and after approx 1.5km we reached a ford over the Quoich Water, which looked tricky to cross. We opted to stay on the north bank, following a smaller path, and hoped that there would be a better crossing point further upstream.

It was nice to be walking amongst the trees and to hear the wind in their branches. After almost 2km we left the last of the trees behind and followed the path down to where it crossed the river. Although it didn't look to be too tricky to wade here, we would clearly have got wet feet so we detoured upstream looking for alternative crossing points. After a few hundred metres we were able to cross where the river had separated into two channels around a small island.

Quoich Water
Once across the river we rejoined the path at a corner and took the opportunity to have lunch whilst we were out of the wind. There was a good view up upper Glen Quoich and we could pick up roughly where The Sneck was, which was where we were thinking of camping.  After following some boggy vehicle tracks for getting on for a kilometre, I spotted the main path off to our right. By now the forecast light rain had started, but once we were on the good path we made swift progress up the glen. By the time we reached the large erratic of Clach à Chlèirich the wind had picked up and continued to gain in strength over the next 2km to The Sneck.

Colin at Clach à Chlèirich
It was misty and extremely windy at The Sneck and after a quick look to the north we concluded that camping here wouldn't be very pleasant!  We ascended east from The Sneck in very strong winds to reach the plateau of Ben Avon. After passing over a subsidiary lump, we reached the summit tor of Ben Avon (Munro) at around 3:30pm. It wasn't entirely clear which one of the many sections of tor constituted the highest point in the mist, so we scrambled up the three highest looking ones and concluded that one of them must have been the true summit!

On one of the summit tors of Ben Avon
We retraced our steps back to The Sneck, now walking almost into the wind. We decided that one of the two coires on the east side of Beinn a'Bhùird might offer us some shelter so we retraced our steps back towards Clach à Chlèirich. However we didn't end up having to go that far as after around a kilometre we found a slightly more sheltered flat area that seemed good for the night. So we set up the tent here at around 5pm and had a dinner of couscous, pepper and chorizo, followed by vanilla pudding and whisky.

Camp in upper Glen Quoich


  1. Hi Alistair, you were close to my Day 10 of this year's TGOC. It looks like you chose a good route to suit the conditions. It was a bit breezy when I was up there in May, but I did get some views.

  2. Yes we must have covered some of the same ground as you did in May, although having looked at your photos I can say with certainty that you definitely had better views!

    Now I'm back at home, I've added a map of the route we actually took and updated the photos with better quality versions (I had to keep the image file sizes low when emailing from my phone, which seems to have resulted in poor images)

  3. Thanks Alistair - the pictures are now better. I understand the problem - I generally only try to load one or two photos from the 'phone, and re-do them later. I've not got around to doing that for this year's Challenge, but your trip stimulated me into doing one day's photos as a starter. I did plot your route correctly on Anquet btw.
    Now back to sorting Turkish photos for our talk to Stockport Walking Group on Wednesday (8pm, Hazel Grove Civic Centre - it would be good to see you if you can make it).

  4. Thanks for the invite Martin; I'm free on Wednesday evening so I certainly intend to make it (especially as it's only a short hop up the A6 on the 192).