Day 4’s 22.1 km route with 1024 mtrs ascent and 1582 mtrs descent. (click for a larger version)
Day 4 provided another great day of walking. As with all the previous days, everything went according to plan. I don’t think I have ever done a walk where everything has gone to plan for so many days in a row.
So in some ways it was a bit of a first!
Maybe the reason for the plan adherence was the guilt I felt over the previous Lake District walk where practically none of it went to plan! 🙂
Anyways, I’ll stop my whitering and let the photos take you on a virtual journey of day 4:
It’s morning! The rains of the night have since dissipated. The weather for Day 4 is actually looking pretty good.
On with the breakfast. I was supposed to have the eggs and ham breakfast today, but given the success of the muesli on the previous days, I decided to switch. That way I would have the energy I would require for the up and coming walk.
The tent is now all packed up. This is the view southwest toward the peak Beinn Bhreac in the distance. This is where I will be ultimately heading!
The first task is to cross the bogs of Cnap a’ Choire Chreagaith as I head southwest.
A look back northeastward toward my campsite of the previous night.
As I head southwestward I’m really enjoying the views. The blue skies, a first for many days seems to brighten up the day too!
The compass tells me the ‘bump’ up ahead is the unmarked peak at 833 mtrs elevation southwest of Canap a’ Choire Chreagaich. I will need to head there then start a relatively steep descent to get to the base of Beinn Bhreac.
The view to the south is just amazing. Visiting the Cairngorms whilst there is still some snow about definitely has its charms!
This is the view immediately westward toward the Allt a’ Choire Chreagaich River.
I have reached the unmarked peak at 833 mtrs elevation and have started my descent down to Coire Creagach. The snow covered hills directly ahead is where I will be headed!
The descent starts to steepen up. On the way down I note that the snow on the hill opposite is easily avoided.
Nearly there! Down below I spot a nice patch of green grass. It looks like a great camp spot. A stream nearby, well sheltered and relatively flat. I take a note of this for future reference.
I’m now at the bottom. It’s just a case of heading eastward and upwards in parallel with the stream. The intent is to climb up between the two areas of snow.
The snow behind me has been hollowed out by the action of the stream running underneath it. I take a quick look and note that the ‘ice-cave’ is quite extensive – but alas too dangerous to pop in and take a look around!
The ascent up to the first smaller peak of Beinn Bhreac is a little steep and rough to begin with, but it soon starts to flatten out.
This is a look back northward toward the steep descent I made down from Cnap a’ Choire Chreagaich.
The initial steep part of the climb has flattened out which makes for easy going to the southwest.
The whole area is boggy and criss-crossed by numerous streamlets. Up ahead is the lower 845 peak of Beinn Bhreac. The plan is to climb that peak, then make the ascent up to the main peak from there.
The main ascent on Beinn Bhreac’s lower peak has started. It’s not too steep and the ground firms up and gets less boggy as I gain elevation – this results in a faster pace.
This is the view down behind me to the North. In some ways the Cairngorms are like Dartmoor on steroids. The same kind of wilderness, but everything is just a lot bigger!
On my way up I spot a Mountain Hare going about its business!
I can now see the actual top of the initial peak at 845 mtrs elevation.
And there it is the top of the lower northern most peak of Beinn Bhreac at 845 mtrs elevation. The views to the North are just stunning.
Up ahead to the southwest is the ‘proper’ peak of Beinn Bhreac at 912 mtrs – this is my next destination. The good visibility and well defined hills make navigation a breeze!
The way up is fairly boggy – but at least it means that finding water is not a problem!
This is the view southward as I continue my ascent.
The top of Beinn Bhreac soon beckons!
And there it is!!! The cairn marking the top of Beinn Bhreac at 912 mtrs elevation! Wooot! 🙂
The view to the North from the top of Beinn Bhreac.
To the southwest I spot the lower peak of Beinn Dearg at 1008 mtrs before it gets shrouded by cloud. This is my next climb. I take the opportunity to memorise the snow layout while the visibility is still clear. Avoiding the snow will make the ascent a lot safer.
This is the view to the southwest as I start my descent down Beinn Bhreac. The River down below is the Tarf Water. I know it should be more fordable the further west I go. With this in mind and looking at the lay of the land I pick my route downwards. The lower peak of Beinn Dearg is now hidden from view by cloud. I’m hoping the cloud will have dispersed by the time I get up there, otherwise there won’t be much to see!
Eventually I get to Tarf Water at the bottom and find this relatively easy fording point!
The new boots are so comfortable that I’m not using any protective plasters. This makes fording a lot less hassle. Whilst I dry my feet off and reboot, I decide to hang around awhile to munch on some snacks.
This is my idea of paradise. Completely alone, snacking out in the middle of the wilderness 🙂
I have now started the ascent up Beinn Dearg. As with other hills that I have encountered here, the lower slopes are criss crossed by relatively deep peat/bog scars, which does inhibit progress somewhat.
This is the view to the first ridge line on the way up to Beinn Dearg which is my first destination. The whole area is very boggy which slows up progress. Luckily for me the Salomon 4d boots are keeping the water at bay!
A close up of one of the peat/bog scars. These seem a common feature of the terrain around here. I’m guessing it is caused by water?
I clear the first ridge line where I am immediately presented with the view of the lower northern most peak of Beinn Dearg.
As with the other hills I have climbed the ascent is marked by small streamlets like this one. I’m all for them as they provide access to water during a climb – the part of the walk where it is most needed!
I start to reach the snow line of the first peak. I decide to navigate around the snow and head up between the gap on the left.
I feel like that I’m adding quite a lot of extra distance to get around the snow, but in reality it doesn’t add much at all.
Here I’m just hand-railing around the snow. The intent is go around the upper snow slopes by heading off to the left and then upward.
How many hares do you spot? When I took the picture I only saw one of them….
Another Mountain Hare out enjoying the snow.
This is the upper snow field as I’m hand railing around it. I note that the ground is starting to get covered in a lot of boulders.
The view northward in the rough direction that I have hiked from. Mountains as far as the eye can see!
I soon reach the boulder field. Traversing it is very hard work.
The main boulder field falls away behind me. The slope and going here makes walking a breeze. Getting to the top of Beinn Dearg’s lower peak is now in reach!
I reach the top of Beinn Dearg’s lower peak. To the north is the main peak at 1008 mtrs. I feel that I have cracked the hardest part of this particular ascent, so I’m feeling particularly jubilant!
There is no way around the snow on the way up, but it isn’t that deep or that slippery, so it is not a problem.
I soon pick up the trail that heads up to the peak – or so the map says. It is literally plain sailing from here on in!
The views from up here are just superb. It is a shame I cannot post video on this blog at the moment, as these static pictures don’t adequately portray the grandeur of the scenery.
The peak of Beinn Dearg is now almost in my grasp!
There is the cairn marking the top. But where is the trig point?
I find the trig point embedded within the cairn. So here I am posing at the top of Beinn Dearg at 1008 mtrs elevation! Getting to the top of a mountain never grows old – there is always a big feeling of elation!
It is quite windy up here. These hollow cairns make great shelter areas.
The view southeast toward my next destination. In the distance one can see rain falling – this is an ominous sign, especially as the winds are blowing from the South. It is just a matter of time before the rains get here.
This is the view a little more the southeast. This time looking down the Gleann Diridh valley. The hill on the right is Beinn a’ Chait my next destination.
The view directly eastward – it’s just awesome!
I now clamber over the rocks and start heading southwest to relocate the trail.
With Beinn Dearg behind me this is the route southward along its ridge-line. The plan is to follow this ridge-line then hang a left toward Beinn a’ Chait.
At the ridge-line’s southern most extremity is this cairn. I use this as the marker to start my turn south east toward Beinn a’ Chait.
I have now reorientated southeastward. Up ahead is Beinn a’ Chait. However, before I can get there I will need to make a descent into the valley that separates the two mountains.
The descent starts off relatively easy, but I can see that the bottom is riddled with streams, bogs and peat scars.
Avoiding the deep bogs involves a lot of jumping around…
I note that in some places there are really deep holes like this one. Looks like I will have to be careful with my footing…
Eventually I clear the boggy areas and start the main ascent up Beinn a’ Chait. The plan is to clamber onto its ridge-line to the north then follow it southward onto its peak.
I soon get on to the ridge-line and start heading southward.
As I head south I pick up this unmarked track – obviously the result of vehicle usage…
The track makes progress very swift. The peak of Beinn a’ Chait is now getting very near!
To my left to the east is a huge drop downwards to Gleann Diridh – note to self – ‘Don’t fall down!’
I’m now on the final ascent of the peak of Beinn a’ Chait at 899 mtrs elevation. The weather is now getting progressively worse. Looks like the rain front I spotted earlier is about to pass through…
I get to the peak which is marked by this modest cairn. It is now tipping down with high winds. The rain is almost horizontal which makes taking good pictures quite difficult. To the south I cannot see much due to the cloud accompanying this rain front.
The compass pops out again. I now turn through almost 90 degrees and start to head broadly westward. The plan is to descend off the mountain where I should intercept a track…
As I descend the weather seems to be clearing up!
Although the weather is clearing up locally I can already see another rain front to the south…
As I head westward and downward, the views are spectacular. But I note that there is nothing higher than me to the south – evidence that I’m starting to leave the wilderness…
I soon find the track I need! I decide to stop off for 15 minutes to eat, drink and admire the view!
I’m now following the track southeastward. Up ahead is the next hill that I will be climbing called Carn Dearg Mor at 657 mtrs elevation. The plan is to leave the track as it starts to veer away from the hill and just head to it cross-country.
The going cross country is very tough. The vegetation is knee high and the whole area is very boggy.
As per my traditional practices, I accidentally put my right foot into a particularly deep bog. This seems to be a feature of all my walks. Though this time I was prepared! The gaiters simply shrug it off leaving both my trousers and the boots bone dry. I never used to use gaiters, but these days I’m a big fan of them…
I soon get to the top of Carn Dearg Mor at 657 mtrs elevation. The view from its cairn is outstanding, but it is twinged with a hint of sadness as it is becoming even more obvious that I am now leaving the wilderness behind me In the far distance on the left are the mountains of Carn Liath that I climbed on day 1!
To the south I spot some deer….
To the south is Meall Reamhar, the next hill climb. This one is only at 565 mtrs elevation. However, before I can get there I have a small unmarked hillock of 591 mtrs to climb!
The going is slow as the terrain here is very tussocky and boggy. It very much reminds me of Dartmoor!
This is the hillock that I need to climb at 591 mtrs. I note that just like all the other hills in the area, its base is surrounded by deep peat scarring.
The weather has now moved in. But the rain doesn’t last long. I’m now ascending the 591 mtr hillock.
To the northeast I spot more deer. It seems that there are a lot of them in this area.
Up ahead is the top of the 591 mtr hillock. Getting there though is difficult as the terrain here is very boggy and scarred.
Up on the hillock I can spot a cairn, so I decide to head directly for it. My original plan had called for me to make camp in this area, but I decide to press on and get as close to Blair Atholl as is practical.
I make short work of getting to the cairn. In the distance to the south is the final hill of the walk – Meall Reamhar at 565 mtrs elevation.
*zoom on* At the base of Meall Reamhar I spot a massive deer herd heading westward. This is probably the biggest herd I have seen so far.
To the east the rains have started again resulting in this partial rainbow.
A zoomed in shot of Carn Liath to the east – the first mountain I climbed on day 1. It seems to be getting battered by a weather front. Conditions cannot be too pleasant up there right now…
The walk to Meall Reamhar is pretty straight forward. I can’t help but notice areas like this one that look like they have been on the receiving end of some fires. I wonder if these were part of land management or the result of an accident?
I soon get to the top of the ridge-line of Meall Reamhar at 565 mtrs elevation. To my right off picture I spot a cairn, so decide to pop off and investigate.
This is probably the oddest cairn I have ever seen! It seems to be made up of an upturned hat with rocks in it!
To the east I can see the lush green country side I had walked through on day 1. This brings some memories flooding back.
I’m now headed southwest. The plan is to get close to the River Burn to make camp.
As I head southwest I run into this final cairn. In some ways I’m saddened as I now know that the rest of the walk is now literally down hill. There are now no more hills to climb
Down below is the River Burn. I want to camp by it to get water, but on the other hand I’m put off by the fact that it would mean camping in the low ground right by a major track. Especially as I am now within 4 km of Blair Atholl. I decide to carry on heading downwards, but to also keep my eyes peeled for any suitable alternative spots.
In the end I spot this relatively flat piece of grass. It is perfect! It is high enough to keep me out of the way of other people and there is a tiny streamlet running down alongside it. I decide that this will be the final camp of the walk.
Up goes the Akto tent. This picture shows just how close I was to the water supply. A perfect camp spot for the final day!
The view out of the tent is just gorgeous – despite being relatively near to civilisation.
*Zoom On* Down below I spot an entrance to the Whim Plantn forest which is on the map. I now know my precise location. This makes me very happy as I know that I should be assured of catching the train tomorrow morning!
As with all of my walks – the final meal is always a Mountain House Chicken Curry – it was delicious! 🙂
As the evening wears on, I make myself some hot chocolate and sit on a rock nearby to tent supping it down and just taking in the surrounding scenery. One thing for sure, I will be sad to leave this place.
This is the view northwards up the valley from my tent. In the distance I could see the mountains and wished I had more time to explore them. I decide to turn in for an early night as the following day would require a relatively early start.
That marks the end of Day 4, the final full day.
There is always a feeling of contentment on the last night’s camp when one is so near to the destination. It was with happy thoughts and memories of the walk that I went to bed.
The next day would be a very short one onto the train ready for a long journey back to Bristol. Tune in next week for the final day.