We had planned an Autumn trip up to Scotland with the hope that we would get an Indian summer and enjoy some nice settled weather with some of autumnal colours.
Unfortunately this was not the case, so our plans were changed to head to the east because it had by far the best weather forecast for the whole of Scotland.
After much debating on the way up we elected to spend two nights out in the Cairngorms staying in Bothies, which are old buildings in remote valleys which were originally built by the estate, but are no longer used.
A change in the weather forecast yet again changed our plan, but somehow the weather forecast getting worse meant that we planned an extra night out…
Neither of us had been to Scotland in the autumn before, and the array of colours that were on show in the valleys were spectacular. Unfortunately in the mountains the was not quite the same display of colours.
Day 1 – Walk in to Corrour
After a disorganised morning packing our bags (which were far too small) we were eventually ready to set off. To make the most of being in civilisation, and so that we didn’t need to stop in the rain while we were walking we enjoyed a nice brunch in Braemar.
Soon after we started walking I was definitely regretting the decision to carry a tripod, 4kg of wood, 1L of red wine and 300ml of Whisky!
The walk into the bothy was fairly flat and very straightforward. We made surprisingly good time considering the weight of our packs. Unfortunately we didn’t make good enough time to miss the forecast rain, which arrived bang on time. After spending an hour walking in lots of rain and wind we eventually got sight of the bothy, and the rain started to reduce which was very welcomed.
Upon reaching the bothy we were pleased to find that we were the only people there, I was less pleased to find that in our disorganised state in the morning I had managed to carry in an extra evening meal for both of us!
While on the walk in I was cursing the wood, wine and whisky they were a very welcome addition for the evening. Getting the fire going without any kindling was a larger challenge than we had anticipated.
Day 2 – The Devil’s Point, Cairn Toul and Angel’s Peak
We knew the forecast was meant to improve throughout the morning, so we had a leisurely start to the day. After enjoying breakfast and doing some landscape photography we set off on our walk, and were actually worried that we might need suncream.
The initial ascent from the bothy was a great angle, as we gained height quickly but it didn’t feel like too much of a slog first thing in the morning.
The view up the Lairig Ghru as we were nearing the summit of the Devil’s Point was fantastic. As we reached the summit of the Devil’s Point we were greeted by a very atmospheric view to the south due to a passing storm. We also stated to appreciate that the day wasn’t going to be very warm, as there was a bitter wind and the air temperature was fairly cold.
We didn’t spend long on the Devil’s Point as it started to rain and the cloud came in. It started to clear as we approached the summit of the south top of Cairn Toul, unfortunately it was not going to stay clear.
On the walk up to Cairn Toul the weather properly closed in and it definitely felt more like winter than autumn. There was frozen grass on the ground, rime ice and the rain had turned to snow.
As we descended from Cairn Toul the weather started to clear again, and we were treated to some fantastic views looking south west.
We were soon at the final summit of the day on Angel’s Peak where we enjoyed our lunch as surprisingly there was not much wind on the summit.
On the return we were able to avoid Cairn Toul and stay out of the worst of the weather. As we were descending from the south top I made the most of having signal and found that the forecast for Sunday had seriously deteriorated, but the forecast for Saturday was looking beautiful.
Back at the bothy we decided to change our plans as we didn’t want to be out in the forecast 70mph wind and rain on Sunday. We decided to walk out the next day by climbing Carn A’Mhaim from the north, which meant we would get to traverse the mountain by it’s north ridge.
We don’t do much backpacking, and we had already realised that we had carried in far too much food for lunches. This combined with accidentally taking an extra dinner and cutting the trip short by a day meant that we had a silly amount of food which we had carried in and would have to carry out the next day.
We were joined by another person in the bothy that night, who unfortunately had a similar problem as he had also cut his trip short by a day due to the weather forecast.
I had hoped to make the most of the dark skies and take some photos at night of the stars, however unfortunately the cloud wasn’t playing ball as the evening was ever so slightly misty which was hiding all of the stars.
Day 3 – Carn A’Mhaim
After a huge breakfast which involved eating a double quantity of baked beans we set off up the Lairig Ghru. It was a beautiful but very cold morning, especially as we were walking up the shady side of the valley.
However this shade was soon appreciated as the ascent up to the start of the ridge was extremely steep. We were soon at the start of the ridge, and thankful that the rest of the ascent was gradual over 2km.
The views from the ridge were spectacular as we could see all the way up to the high point on the Lairig Ghru, out to the southern Caingorms and had an excellent panorama of a number of the northern Cairngorms peaks.
Unfortunately all good things have to end and we were at the summit where we enjoyed a much needed bite to eat, and took some photos before setting off on the descent.
Most of the height was lost very quickly, with the descent being fairly steep in places, but thankfully the path was excellent. It was freezing on the top of the hill in the wind, but we soon descended into another world as we dropped out of the wind and into the midday sun.
While we were descending we passed hordes of people climbing the mountain in a day from the Linn of Dee. We were very thankful that we had been able to enjoy the north ridge as going up from the south would have been a horrible slog.
All that was left was the 8km gently descending walk out down the valley. Despite the heavy bags we made good time on the walk out, but by the end there was definitely a strong desire to get back to the van so that we could take our boots off and enjoy a cup of tea.
Due to the weather still looking awful on Sunday we elected to drive back to Bristol so that we could sleep in our bed, and we enjoyed a nice walk on the mendips on Sunday. Much less impressive than Scotland, but still nice to be outside.