Saturday 14 December 2013

Off for Two Days on the Dales Way

Tomorrow morning I am setting off for a couple of days walking on the Dales Way up Wharfedale from Ilkley to Buckden.  The following Social Hiking map shows my planned route (in pink), which should get overlaid with my progress (in orange) assuming that that I have signal and/or my SPOT works properly!  Once I've finished walking, I'll be uploading blog posts for each day at some point in the next few weeks.

See map on Social Hiking site or full size in a new window

Monday 9 December 2013

Loch Morlich

Friday 4th October 2013 

A pleasant circular walk around Loch Morlich 

Distance: 6.5km; Ascent: negligible; Sunny; with Lynsey, Isabel and Olivia

It was our last full day in the Cairngorms and as the weather was nice we decided to head out for a bit of a family walk.  We set off from the beach car park shortly after 11:30am and wandered down to the beach before picking up the red waymarks of the Loch Morlich Trail.

Abhainn Ruigh-eunachan
Creagan Gorm & Meall a'Bhuachaille
Soon we crossed the Abhainn Ruigh-eunachan to reach the south shores of the loch with good views back over the water towards Creagan Gorm and Meall a'Bhuachaille.  A few hundred metres further on we stopped for a picnic lunch and to enjoy the autumn sunshine down by the loch.

Meall a'Bhuachaille
Continuing along a mixture of generally good paths and tracks we soon reached the western end of the loch, where we crossed the River Luineag just downstream of the loch.

Looking up the River Luineag towards Loch Morlich
Spider near Rothiemurchus estate entrance
Soon we joined the Old Logging Way on the north side of the road, which brought us back to our starting point and the nearby sunny sandy beach, surrounded by pleasant pine woods with views of the Cairngorm peaks.

Loch Morlich beach
Pinewoods at Loch Morlich beach
Looking into the northern coires from Loch Morlich beach
Pine tree on the sandy Loch Morlich beach

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Braeriach and the Rothiemurchus Pine Woods

Monday 30th September 2013 

A very windy walk up Braeriach from the Sugar Bowl before descending to the Rothiemurchus woods 

Distance: 26.5km; Ascent: 1300m; Windy, low cloud and sunshine; Solo

Braeriach is a mountain that I've been thinking about climbing for some years now but had never quite got around to it.  Whilst backpacking over Ben Macdui in August last year I got my first decent views of Braeriach's impressive SE facing coires and concluded that I definitely needed to investigate further!  Therefore given I was spending this week just about within walking distance of the summit I decided to spend today climbing it.

Looking into Coire Cas
I caught the 07:20 bus from outside Aviemore train station up towards the Cairngorm ski area, getting off at the Sugerbowl car park.  I followed a good path through the woods and down to cross the Allt Mor by way of a footbridge.  This ascended on the west side of the burn, past some reindeer, heading towards the obvious gash of the Chalamain Gap.  There were excellent views from this path into Coire Cas and back towards Meall a'Bhuachaille in the morning sunshine.

The path heading towards the Chalamain Gap
Looking back towards Meall a'Bhuachaille and the Pass of Ryvoan
Soon I reached the bottom of the NE side of the Chalamain Gap, where I stopped for a quick break to admire the views.  Continuing through the very bouldery ground of the gap itself, the view to the SW started to open up towards Sgor Gaoith.

In the Chalamain Gap
Sgor Gaoith from the Chalamain Gap
I now got my first glimpses of my planned hills for the day and annoyingly they were covered in cloud!   Nevertheless I continued along the path, descending into the Lairig Ghru where I stopped for another rest before beginning the main ascent of the day.  Whilst I was resting here another walker, Steve, passed me and he was also on his way up Braeriach - in fact he would be one of only three other hillwalkers I would encounter today.

Sron na Lairig from the north
In the Lairig Ghru
Soon after passing the memorial plaque to Angus Sinclair, I began ascending up the slopes on the west side of the Ghru on a good path.  Higher up the path looked to have been improved quite recently and soon my suspicions were confirmed by the two signs below.

Path work signs
There were excellent views from up here, including back across the Lairig Ghru towards Lurcher's Crag.  However straight ahead Sron na Lairig and Braeriach still looked to be covered in cloud.

Lurcher's Crag from Sron na Lairig
By now the wind was pretty strong, which made crossing the boulder fields quite interesting!  Around here I met a backpacker coming the other way, who told me that he'd spent a very windy night in his tent in the bealach below The Devil's Point.  I continued to ascend up into the mist and soon met up again with Steve where he had stopped for lunch.  After skirting round the east side of Sron na Lairig in the cloud, a view down into Glen Dee suddenly appeared for a few minutes - but it didn't last for long and soon I was surrounded by cloud again.

Carn a'Mhaim and the River Dee from Sron na Lairige
On the summit of Braeriach
A short ascent brought me to the extremely windy eastern ridge of Braeriach, where I met Steve again.  The wind was noticeably less strong ten metres or so away from the coire edge so we carefully continued westwards for a kilometre to reach the summit cairn of Braeriach (Munro, Marilyn), the third highest peak in the UK at around 12:30pm.  Surprisingly it wasn't actually that windy at the summit cairn itself - although a few metres south of the cairn there was a howling gale!

Summit cairn of Sron na Lairig
We didn't linger on the summit for very long and soon retraced our steps to the bealach, from where we ascended to the summit of Sron na Lairige (Munro Top).  Returning to the path we descended the north ridge and soon dropped out of the clouds to be greeted by the spectacular views northwards and across to Lurcher's Crag on the far side of the Lairig Ghru.

Descending Sron na Lairig in the sunshine
Looking across the Lairig Ghru towards Lurcher's Crag
There were also good views from the tops of the crags down into the impressive high pass of the Lairig Ghru itself.

Looking down into the Lairig Ghru from Sron na Lairige
Descending Sron na Lairig
Once back down in the Lairig Ghru I bade farewell to Steve, who was heading back through the Chalamain Gap whereas I was planning to descending through the Rothiemurchus forest to the road at Coylumbridge.  I followed the Lairig Ghru path NNW and after around 2km I reached the first trees.  There were excellent views of the forest ahead and the Monadhliath Mountains in the distance on the other side of Strathspey.

Looking across the Rothiemurchus forest towards the Monadhliath
It was quite warm in the afternoon sunshine - very different conditions to a couple of hours earlier on the summit of Braeriach!  There were good views back towards the Lairig Ghru, which seemed to where all the clouds in the sky today were gathering.

Looking back towards the Lairig Ghru from the edge of the Rothiemurchus pine woods
Entering the Rothiemurchus forest
Walking through the pine woods of Rothiemurchus was a delight on such a lovely afternoon, and I appeared to have them pretty much to myself!  I had walked this way previously on the 2009 TGO Challenge, but that was on a wet and grey day so it was nice to be back in better weather.  I continued along the good footpath to reach a junction.  Here I toyed with the idea of walking to Loch Morlich and catching the bus from there, but in the end I decided to stick with my original plan and walk to Coylumbridge (mainly because if I missed the bus, Aviemore would only be a few kilometres walk away).

Rothiemurchus forest
Allt Druidh
The path ran near to the Allt Druidh before crossing the burn at the Cairngorm Club Footbridge, which is now 101 years old.  Plaques on the side of the bridge give distances and times for walking through the Lairig Ghru.

Cairngorm Club Footbridge
Cairngorm Club Footbridge
Soon after crossing the bridge I forked right at a path junction and continued, initially through an area of denser woodland, to reach a car park and the campsite at Coylumbridge at around 5pm.  After wandering along the road for a few minutes, I gave up looking for a bus stop and just opted to flag it down outside the campsite, which luckily seemed to work!  It had been a good long walk of contrasts in the Cairngorms :-)

Track junction on the way to Coylumbridge
See also my Social Hiking live map from the walk.

Sunday 17 November 2013

An Afternoon Wander at Salford Quays

Sunday 17th November 2013 

A short canal side wander around Salford Quays 

Distance: 3.5km; Ascent: negligible; Cloudy

This afternoon I had an hour to kill at Salford Quays and as it was dry I decided to head out for a bit of a stroll. I walked past the new BBC buildings and over the new footbridge over the ship canal with good views of the Imperial War Museum North and The Lowry.

Imperial War Museum North
The Lowry
New BBC Buildings
I walked SE along the south bank of the canal past an interesting sculpture entitled "Silent Cargoes" dating from 1996.

Silent Cargoes
Silent Cargoes
Crossing back to the north bank at the road bridge, I wandered through the quays past a watersports centre to return to The Lowry after a pleasant hour's stroll.

Looking over to Clippers Quay
Looking down the ship canal

Sunday 3 November 2013

Loch an Eilein

Sunday 29th September 2013 

An afternoon wander around Loch an Eilein in the Rothiemurhus forest 

Distance: 6km; Ascent: negligible; Dry; with Lynsey, Isabel & Olivia

We had driven north to Aviemore yesterday, where we would be staying for our week's holiday in the Highlands.  The weather forecast was pretty good for today so we decided to go for a family afternoon walk in the Rothiemurchus pine forest.

Loch an Eilein
After lunch we set off from the car park to the north of Loch an Eilein for an anticlockwise circuit of the loch.  There were good views of the remains of the castle in the middle of the loch, as well as towards the Cairngorm peaks.

Loch an Eilein Castle
Looking across Loch an Eilein towards the Cairngorms
The pine woods made for a very pleasant walk, quite different from the regimented forests found elsewhere.  I had only walked in Rothiemurchus once before, on the approach to the Lairig Ghru on the 2009 TGO Challenge, so it was nice to be back!

Rothiemurchus woods
Isabel walked for much of the way so I was able to lighten the load on my back by using the pushchair to carry my rucksack!

Loch an Eilein
The hillside above this bit of the loch was covered in bracken, which appeared to be a gorgeous golden colour in the autumnal sunshine.

Autumnal bracken
At around 3pm we returned to the outflow of the loch after a most pleasant walk on reasonable paths.  It was still lovely and sunny so we stopped for an ice cream before returning to Aviemore.

Loch an Eilein

Thursday 10 October 2013

An Evening Stroll at Alderley Edge

Wednesday 25th September 2013

A torch lit wander around the woodlands at Alderley Edge 

Distance: 5km; Ascent: 150m; Mainly dry; with Martin, Sue, Andrew & Graham

This evening was the first of Martin's evening walks that I had been able to make for sometime (and you can read his somewhat more prompt report here).  After a quick pre-walk drink at The Drum and Monkey we set off walking soon after 7:30pm firstly along a minor road before heading into the woods.

The Wizard's Well?
We walked past The Wizard's Well and ascended to reach the edge at a rocky outcrop, with views over the twinkling orange lights below.  Continuing along the edge for a short while we soon passed near to the Armada Beacon before crossing the road and entering the woods on the far side.

Group photo courtesy of Martin
Whilst we took a brief break near the site of Hagg Cottages, Martin took the opportunity to snap the group photo above.  I attempted to take a few low light shots, but didn't have a lot of success - I've included the best few below!

In Alderley Edge woods
Heading back through the fields towards Alderley Edge town
A wander through fields brought us into the edge of town, where we continued along cobbled lanes to return to the pub at around 9pm after a pleasant evening walk - thanks Martin :-)