Saturday, 25 April 2015

TGOC 2014 - Day 10: Braemar to Gelder Shiel

Sunday 18th May 2014

A mainly low level afternoon heading east from Braemar 

Distance: 16.5km; Ascent: 530m; Warm and dry; Solo

I had a restful morning in Braemar this morning as I was in no great hurry to reach Gelder Shiel.  Some of the morning was taken up by performing an improvised repair to my tent's flysheet :(.  After a good lunch of fish & chips for lunch in The Old Bakery, I picked up a few supplies and set off walking in shorts and t-shirt at around 2:30pm.  Many of the other challengers I'd chatted to this morning were heading for Loch Callater, but I quite fancied going a different way from my previous three crossings.  Therefore I headed into the woods to the east of town on this warm afternoon, heading for the nearby hill of Creag Choinnich.

Clunie Water in Braemar
In the Creag Choinnich woods
Around half an hour after leaving Braemar, I reached the summit of Creag Choinnich (HuMP, Highland Five).  There were excellent views from up here considering its somewhat modest height.  Beinn a'Bhuird and Ben Avon could be made out to the NNW and Morrone to the SW, as well as good views down to Braemar and up Glen Dee.

Summit of Creag Choinnich
Beinn a'Bhuird and Ben Avon from Creag Choinnich
Braemar and Glen Dee from Creag Choinnich
Glen Clunie and Morrone from Creag Choinnich
After admiring the views, I set about my descent with the intention of cutting down to the Queen's Drive.  However my pathless route of descent was not particularly pleasant, with minor crags to avoid and forest to pick a route through down to the path.  In hindsight, it would probably have been better to reverse my ascent route!  However I soon reached a better path, which led me to the Queen's Drive.

Joining the Queen's Drive
The Lion's Face
I headed along the track below the crag known as The Lion's Face, before dropping down towards the road.  However to reach the road, I had to cross a old rickety stile!

A somewhat dilapidated stile!
Stile crossing completed without incident, I headed ESE along the A93 for a couple of kilometres to reach Invercauld Bridge, where I left the road to follow an estate road on the south side of the river.  I stopped for a break at the old Bridge of Dee a short distance away from Invercauld Bridge.

The River Dee at Bridge of Dee
Bridge of Dee
From here I followed a succession of vehicle tracks through the pleasant Ballochbuie Forest, past Connachat Cottage to reach open country.

Log pile in Ballochbuie Forest
The Garbh Allt
In Ballochbuie Forest
I left the woods at around quarter to seven and continued my now evening walk along a vehicle track across the windy moorland.  Approximately half and hour later I crossed the Gelder Burn, from where there were good views up to Lochnagar.

Looking NW towards Beinn a'Bhuird and Ben Avon
Looking up the Gelder Burn towards Lochnagar
At about half past seven I finally reached Gelder Shiel, where it was beginning to get a bit windy.  There were already plenty of challengers here and I spotted around fifteen tents nearby.  There weren't many pitching options left that provided a degree of shelter from the wind!  I settled on a spot next to Laura and Louise and soon had my tent pitched.  I wandered round chatting to other challengers and found Russ, Markus and Philipp were also here.  However the weather soon put pay to any more socialising as it started to rain.  I retreated into my tent for dinner and a good night's sleep in preparation for a long day tomorrow.

My pitch at Gelder Shiel

More tents at Gelder Shiel

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