Wednesday, 20 August 2014

TGOC 2014 - Day 7: Newtonmore to Ruigh Aiteachain

Thursday 15th May 2014 

A shorter low level day in Badenoch, linking the high peaks of the Monadhliath Mountains and the Cairngorms 

Distance: 22.5km; Ascent: 450m; Dry, overcast and windy; Partly with Laura & Louise

Today was meant to consist of a long low-level walk followed by an approach to a high camp at the north end of the ridge between Glen Feshie and Gleann Eanaich, with a further high camp planned tomorrow night somewhere in the vicinity of Beinn Bhrotain.  However the forecasted strong winds put pay to that plan, as I didn't fancy camping in high winds.  Therefore I switched to a mixture of my FWA and main route, with the intention of heading to Ruigh Aiteachain bothy today followed by a high-level route over to another valley camp in Glen Dee tomorrow.

This change in route meant that I now had a relatively easy low-level day ahead of me today to Ruigh Aiteachain in Glen Feshie, as there was little point trying to push on any further than there today since I planned to head up Mullach Clach a Bhlair tomorrow morning.  Therefore I had a leisurely first half of the morning in Newtonmore and sorted through my kit.  My micro spikes were waiting for me in Newtonmore and I decided to carry them through to Braemar as I'd heard that there was still plenty of snow up high (although in the end I didn't actually need them!).

Heading along the cycle path with views of the hills beyond Glen Feshie
Ali came to find me shortly before I left to see if I was heading to Ruigh Aiteachain today and if so could I please take Jamie's camera with me, which he had accidentally left behind in the hostel.  As I was indeed heading that way, I was happy to oblige; so after saying goodbye to David, Ali & Neil, I set off walking at around 10am.  My first stop was the post office, a short distance along the main street, to post a few things home.  Shortly afterwards I bumped into Chris and Tony again, so I chatted to them for a while before heading to the Coop to re-supply with food.  The tarmac cycle path provided pleasant enough off-road walking to Kingussie, where I stopped for a quick break in the Gynack Memorial Gardens.

Entering Kingussie
Gynack Memorial Gardens in Kingussie
Flowers and lichen in the woods near Ruthven
Around here I bumped into Laura & Louise, who were heading for the Cairngorm Club Footbridge today.  As this meant that we'd all be walking the same way for the next five or six kilometres, I decided to join them for the road walk to Ruthven Barracks followed by a pleasant wander along the first section of the Badenoch Way through the RSPB's Insh Marshes National Nature Reserve.  Even though this was longer than just following the road to Tromie Bridge, it made a very pleasant change from the road walking!

Ruthven Barracks
At Ruthven Barracks
Start of the Badenoch Way
Heading through the Insh Marshes Nature Reserve
The Insh Marshes
We passed a few other people out for a stroll as we followed the waymarked route through the woods to reach the River Tromie, with its impressive looking rapids, stopping on route for a spot of lunch.  Soon afterwards we reached Tromie Bridge, from where we headed up into Drumguish; this marked the parting of the ways as Laura & Louise continued straight on following the Badenoch Way, whilst I turned right and headed towards Glen Feshie, stopping for a second lunch quick break just before I entered the forest.

The Cairngorms from the Insh Marshes Nature Reserve
River Tromie near Tromie Bridge
River Tromie near Tromie Bridge
It was quite warm as I followed the tracks and paths through the woods, across footbridges and open country before entering the Glen Feshie woods.  Soon I reached the private road along the western edge of the glen, which I followed southwards for around a kilometre before stopping for a well earned break!  I dropped down to the river to cross by way of the bridge, where I found a fellow challenger camped on the east bank, who I stopped to chat with for a while.

Heading through the Inshriach Forest
Bridge over the Allt Mor
River Feshie ~500m south of Stonetoper
As it was now around 4pm and I still had phone signal, I quickly downloaded the updated MWIS forecast to help me decide on tomorrow's route - it looked a bit windy, but otherwise fine so my Munro bagging plan was probably going to be possible :-)  I continued southwards along a new looking path through the woods to reach a new looking land rover track, which led me all the way to Ruigh Aiteachain bothy.  This was slightly confusing as lots of these tracks seem to have appeared in the six years since I'd last been here on my first TGO Challenge back in 2008, which seemed a very long time ago now!

River Feshie near the confluence with the Allt Garbhlach
Makeshift Bridge over the Allt Garbhlach
Ruigh Aiteachain Bothy
I arrived at the bothy at around 5:30pm, and headed inside to find two or three challengers and a few other backpackers here for the night.  Peter and Jamie were amongst them, and Jamie was very happy to discover that I had brought his camera with me from Newtonmore today :-)  I stayed inside and chatted for a while before heading outside to look for somewhere to pitch.  About now Sue arrived after a long day in the hills between Glen Tromie and Glen Feshie; I chatted to her for a while and she decided to join me on my planned high-level route over to Glen Dee tomorrow - it would be nice to have some company for a change :-)

After pitching my tent on a pleasant spot near the river a couple of hundred metres away from the bothy, and cooking dinner, I headed back into the bothy to enjoy a wee dram whilst chatting to Jamie, Peter and a few other walkers.  I was quite surprised that there weren't many more challengers here this evening, as previously in 2008 I'm sure there were 10-15 of us on the Thursday evening - perhaps they had pushed on further up the glen?  Anyway, as tomorrow's walk would be quite long, with potentially 4 Munros to climb, I didn't stay up late and was soon heading back to my tent for a reasonably early night!

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