Day 3’s walk of 17km with 1199 mtrs ascent and 819 mtrs descent. (Click for bigger map)
Day 3 was a hill and ridge walk that would broadly follow the County border Westward.
I really enjoyed this day. There were many hills to climb and unlike the previous days I finally had that tangible sense of being in a wilderness.
The walk was only spoilt by the finding of a memorial to a Mr Ian McNeilage that upset me a little – I think it was the moving poem that accompanied his picture. I put the memorial back where I found it, despite having deep reservations as to whether it should be there at all.
I tried doing some internet research on him when I got back, but there isn’t much there about his life or the way that he met his untimely demise.
In terms of plan adherence, the day pretty much ran like clockwork. The only modification required was to head a little further Westward at the end of the day to secure a water source.
Anyways I will let a hand full of pictures from my Facebook journal tell the story….
All bleary eyed as I wake up on the morning of day 3. I’m quite lucky as the rain of the night seems to have stopped!
On the hill to the East I’m greeted by a herd of deer moving Southward. I think my exit from the tent startled them!
Getting the breakfast unbagged and ready for use! It consists of muesli, a bakewell tart, some cheese and a cup of coffee to wash it all down with!
To the South across Tilt Tarn I spot the deer herd heading Westward.
All packed up and ready to go. As usual the ground is left how I found it. I reiterate this in every day’s written journal as it is an important ethos that everyone should adopt when out in the wilderness!
I’m now headed Westward toward the hills of Coire an Loch. The intent is to get to the top of the ridge line and then hang a left toward the hilltop of Coire na Creige at 771 mtrs. However, before I can get to the ridge I have to negotiate various bogs and deep muddy gullies.
The ascent has started, this is a quick look-back to Tilt Tarn and my earlier camp spot.
The hills here are completely covered in heather, but it is very easy to walk on. In fact it adds a nice spring to one’s step. The only downside is that it occasionally threatens to trip one up when the boots get caught up.
As I head upwards the Tarn starts to fall away below me. The views are just awesome. There is a real feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere up here!
As I climb up I sight along the ridge line in the direction that today’s walk will take me. Most of this walk will follow a County border Westward whilst sticking to the ridge-lines and hilltops.
I reach the top of the ridge where I am greeted by this view to the West!
I have made it to the top of the ridge-line. This is the view to the South-South-West along the ridges that I intend to walk on.
I’m now headed toward Coire na Creige which is the other hilltop directly ahead. There seems to be some sort of trail here that is not marked on the map. It is headed in the right direction so I follow it!
The trail soon peters out into nothing. Visibility is good though, so it is a simple case of assessing the terrain for bogs and such like and then walking the chosen route right up the hill directly ahead.
The ascent of Coire na Creige has now started. The ground is quite boggy in places, but the Salomon boots in combination with my gaiters manage to keep my feet and trouser bottoms dry.
Here I’m looking to the North East back toward Tilt Tarn as I ascend Coire na Creige. It already looks a fair ways off!
Wooot!!! Up ahead is the cairn marking the top of Coire na Creige at 771 mtrs elevation! This particular cairn comes complete with stunning scenery! 🙂
I now turn Westward to follow the ridge line. The intent is to climb an unmarked hilltop at 791 mtrs then proceed to Braigh Coire Caochan nan Laogh at 795 mtrs elevation.
The going is very good which allows for a fairly rapid pace.
I soon make it to the cairn on the top of a unmarked hill at 791 mtrs.
The view from the cairn to the South. Once again it’s just stunning!
The next destination is that hill top directly ahead – Braigh Coire Caochan nan Laogh at 795 mtrs.
Before setting off I decide to stop, munch on snacks and just enjoy the view. As an aside, I always leave the rucksack on. The only time it ever comes off is to take equipment out or to put it back in.
As I head South Westward the terrain becomes more challenging with bogs and muddy gullies like this one.
Eventually I make it to the cairn marking the top of Braigh Coire Caochan nan Laogh at 795 mtrs.
The intent is to head Northwards to some rocky outcrops up ahead and then from there head Westward to Carn Greannach. The winds on the ridge are relatively high and had been blisteringly cold. I had tried to avoid putting on the gloves as I prefer the tactile feedback of my hands without them. But in the end they had to go on!
This is a look Southward behind me toward the cairn at Braigh Coire Caochan nan Laogh. The snowy mountains make the perfect backdrop.
The rocky outcrops to the North remind me of Dartmoor’s Tors. The bogs I’m crossing add further to the illusion!
I get to the rocky outcrops, but they are not quite as impressive as they seemed. From here I will need to start heading Westward toward Carn Greannach at 882 mtrs elevation.
Up ahead is the hilltop of Carn Greannach. But to get there I have to descend down off of Braigh Coire Caochan nan Laogh. At the bottom is a handy water supply which I’m going to have to take advantage of when I get there.
The ascent of Carn Greannach has started!
As I near the top things start to get more rocky under foot.
I make it on to the rigde-line where I start to get a great view Westward.
I soon get to the cairn marking the top of Carn Greannach at 882 mtrs elevation. This is the view Westward toward Sron na Macranaich.
To the South are more mountains. It’s great being in a place that which ever direction one chooses to look, there is only wilderness as far as the eye can see! 🙂
I have now started heading Northward to make my ascent on An Sgarsoch at 1006 mtrs elevation. This is the view back to the South toward the cairn at Carn Greannach.
It’s a nice easy walk Northwards. My route will take me up to the unmarked hill directly in front, then I will hang a left on and up the ridge-line up toward An Sgarsoch.
I’m now ascending an intermediary hill at 954 mtrs elevation Northward. Once up there is should be an easy stroll to the top of An Sgarsoch!
I get to the top of the unmarked intermediary hill where the views of the surrounding mountains to the South are just awesome.
I get to the top of the ridge-line to the North. I’m guessing this cairn marks the top of the intermediary hill.
There’s my destination – the top of An Sgarsoch at 1006 mtrs elevation. This will be the highest point that I will get to today.
The climb up An Sgarsoch is very easy from this direction as I only have around 50 odd metres to climb.
I soon get eyes on the massive cairn structure marking the top of An Sgarsoch – nearly there!!!
The top of An Sgarsoch at 1006 mtrs!!! Finally made it! 🙂
When I reach the cairn I find that it has a seat in it. The cairn is well designed as the prevailing winds are from the South in the direction viewed in this photo. This means that when one is sat on the seat, one is completely protected!!! So much so, that I choose that this will be a stop off point to eat lunch.
However, before I settle down to eat, I spot a plasticised piece of paper placed into the cairn. Naturally, being curious I fish it out to take a look…
The piece of paper is a poetic tribute to a Mr Ian McNeilage. Reading it upsets me a little. I begin to wonder whether leaving such artefacts up on mountain tops should be allowed. I don’t know about other hikers, but I go into the wilds to recharge, to be away from the troubles of the modern world. But finding this brought me rudely back to earth. I sympathise with this family’s loss, but have to question the wisdom of leaving notes like this for other unsuspecting people to find. In the end I roll it back up and carefully put it back where I found it.
It seems that the friends of Mr Ian McNeilage went to a lot of trouble to place his memorial. Not only did they have to climb a 1006 mtr mountain, but the one they picked is surrounded by other mountains and is in the middle of nowhere as shown by the map of Scotland above which highlights where the Mountain of An Sgarsoch is.
After my meal, the compass is fished out to show me the way Westward toward Carn Ealar at 994 mtrs elevation.
This will be my descent path Westward. Up ahead are the Mountains of Carn Ealar. I’m taking careful note of the slope angle and where the snow fields lie, as I will need to pick a viable route that will take me between the snow, but one that is not dangerously steep.
When I reach the bottom I am confronted with more muddy gullies. These seem to be a feature of the landscape up here in the Cairngorms.
This is the view Northward after I have negotiated the main mud gullies.
The climb up to Carn Ealar is now on!!!
The climb is relatively steep, but luckily the ground is fairly firm with good going.
This is the view Southward as I continue my climb – pure wilderness!
Things start to ease up in the slope department! Up ahead is the top of an unmarked hill at 906 mtrs elevation.
I’m now at the cairn of the unmarked hill marking its top at 906 mtrs. All I need to do is follow the ridge-line Northwestward up to the top of Carn Ealar at 994 mtrs elevation.
The view Northwest to the top of Carn Ealar.
There are small patches of snow up here, but all of it is easily avoided!
This is the view to the South East toward the unmarked hill at 906 mtrs. I decide to stop off for snacks before the final climb of the day up to Carn Ealar.
On with the final climb!!!
Another selfie! I’m obliged to take these to convince some of my work colleagues that this particular geek does go out to explore the wilds!
Nearly there! Both in terms of reaching the top of Carn Ealar and reaching the planned end point for today’s walk.
There is the cairn marking the top!!!
The top of Carn Ealar at 994 mtrs elevation. Not sure why the picture is at such an angle! As with most of the hill tops I visited today, the 360 degree views were outstanding.
I check my compass for the next leg, but can’t quite believe what it is telling me. My gut feels like I’m doubling back on myself, so I recheck the dialled in bearing, but it all seems fine. I have learnt a long time ago to take what the compass says over any of my gut feelings! I think what caught me out is that I had found myself facing Northwards at the cairn, which resulted in a 90 degree turn to the West, even though my body felt like it was already pointed Westward. Have I ever mentioned that I have a poor sense of direction? 😉
Up ahead the scenery broadly correlates with the map which is reassuring. Down below should be a large pond where I intend to make camp for the day.
The winds then start to pick up. Above me the clouds are turning very grey. It’s about to rain…
I get to the ‘large pond’ but apart from some snow, it is completely dry. To make things worse, this whole area is unsheltered. Pitching a tent here would be difficult, even if there was water here. In the end I decide to head West up and over Meall Tionail. The plan is to use Meall Tionail na Glais Feith to the South as a windshield. The map also indicates that water can be found to the West, so the decision was a no brainer.
Here I’m looking Westward – just need to climb over this hill. I hope I can find a good camp spot on the other side!
As I climb the hill I spot Meall Tionail na Glais to the South. I’m hoping this will provide some wind protection for the tent. By now it has been raining steadily for the last 10 minutes or so – I’m glad that I will soon be in a tent!
Wooot!!!! Water!!!! And as a bonus the mud gullies look like they will provide additional wind protection.
The Akto tent goes up. One can tell the strain it is under from the winds which are travelling from right to left. The right hand end of the tent is being strained taught under the onslaught, whilst the left hand side is billowing out a little. I’m a little worried as the ground here is very soft and wonder if the pegs will stay in…
The first task as usual is to get the water for camp. This water source produces incredibly clear water which is quite a change from the brownish water I had been drinking up until now.
The view toward Meal Tionail na Glais Feith to the South which in theory should be providing me with some wind protection, but it sure doesn’t feel like it!
The view out of the tent! Not too much to see, but the prevailing winds limited my options with regard to orientation. I needed the porch to be into the wind so that it would keep my stove away from the inevitable gusts.
All unpacked and ready for my evening meal!
First up for the main meal is a Mountain House lasagne flavoured pasta with beef. This tasted very good and was most welcome after today’s walk.
I knew that tomorrow’s walk was the longest one planned for this trip. So for this meal I would also be having a pudding to add extra reserves of energy. In this case it was a Mountain House apple and custard mix – very nice!
I’m now all fed. The weather looks like it is about to turn bad again, so I decide to turn in for an early night. As with the previous two nights, this one would be a night of heavy rain.
The final camp spot of day 3. The water feature just to the North of the ‘856’ marker was supposed to be the original camp spot but the water feature was simply not there! This resulted in a further walk Westward to get access to water and provide shelter from the high winds of the day. (Click for a larger version)
Day 3’s encampment is probably the most remote place that I have ever camped and was something that I was acutely aware of. I knew that I had a lot of walking to do the following day if I was to place myself within 5 km of Blair Atholl.
Tune in next week to see if I make it! 🙂