Distance: 11 miles
Who with: JP
After an overnight dump of snow, the road from Aviemore to our starting point near Balachroick Youth Hostel was ‘interesting’ shall we say! The combination of JP’s driving style and a rear wheel drive Audi, just added to the fun…
However, after our first adventure before even putting our boots on, we were ready for the day. It was just coming light and the sky had a glorious warm red glow, which nearly took the edge off the cold start to the day, nearly.
So, we set off up the footpath which ran adjacent to the AlltRuadh River, starting gaining height pretty much straight away, with the path cutting through the wooded area, which along with the snowy conditions made the area look even more stunning – a winter wonderland!
After a little over a kilometre, we emerged from the trees, crossed a small ford and headed along a good path underneath Coire na Cloiche. There were multiple types of footprint crossing the path at various points, highlighting the hive of activity from the wildlife community. This good path continued gently, negotiating around Meall Tionail for another couple of kilometres from the first ford, before crossing the second stream, Allt a Chrom-alltain.
It was here we stopped for an early sip of coffee, before the long, relatively steep climb up towards Coire Ruadh. We instantly noticed the snow getting considerably deeperunderfoot, which along with the steep terrain, instantly slowed progress. We continued to slog, as we chatted, with our direction heading to the Col at 1012m, which sits between Can Ban Mor and our destination, Sgor Gaoith.
Literally, as we stepped onto a lesser gradient a hundred yards from the top of the Col, the mist descended….typical we thought! After we had taken a moment to ‘check our map’ (have a minute and catch our breath) which is obviously essential when the mist comes down (cough), we proceeded onwards. Heading North up the ridge, the snow was as you would expect much thicker now and so the going was pretty tough.
It was just over a kilometre to the top, but JP was getting hangry, and so believe it or not, we stopped for our lunch before we got to the summit. It was the best thing we could have done in all honesty, as in that twenty minutes the cloud lifted in glimpses and slowly over the proceeding ten minutes walking had completely vanished. Perfect timing!
Just as we reached the summit, where we spent a good 15 minutes soaking in the breath-taking views. Possibly the best views and conditions that I have had in Scotland, and literally 360 degrees of stunning scenery. We got a few photos, before we began our retreat following the same tracks.
We had only spoken to four people so far on our walk, but in the time that we loitered on the summit, we passed another few people who were enjoying the conditions.
As we continued, we chatted with each passing person, and everyone was friendly and happy to chat, a stark difference to when you meet people in a blizzard! It was an extremely relaxing decent in all honesty, and the skies stayed clear with the views remaining all the way back down into the valley. Unusually we had timed the day perfectly!
We headed back through the wooded area where we had set off from, in what seemed like no time, as time really does fly when you are chatting, albeit I was doing more listening…but that is often the case with JP.
We arrived back at the car, after what had been a most enjoyable walk, and one I would be happy to do again.