Day 5’s short 4.9 km route down to the railway station. It consisted of 57 mtrs ascent and 308 mtrs descent!
Day 5 was the spare day. As such I only had 5km to do.
I couldn’t believe how smoothly this walk had gone. Everything had pretty much gone according to plan, which for me is unheard of!
The last day of a walk is always an odd one. It’s a mixture of excitement knowing that it has been completed and that I would soon be home, tinged by the sadness of having to leave such beautiful country side behind.
As usual, the photos will tell the story…
I awake to find more deer nearby. Once they spot me emerging from the tent, they soon disappear over the ridge-line!
The weather in the morning consists of a light drizzle. It appears that most of the rain fell in the night. That’s not bad. Practically every day of this walk has had reasonable weather, with the main rain falling at night! My kind of weather!
Today’s breakfast is ham and eggs. This was supposed to be yesterday’s breakfast, but I liked the muesli so much that this one got pushed back to the last day. It’s not a bad breakfast, but it is not as good as the muesli and unlike the muesli it tended to repeat a lot!
As is usual, I leave my camp spot in pristine condition!
I’m now headed down the hill to intercept the main track running to Blair Atholl.
As I descend I spot another deer! I don’t think I remember a journey where I have seen so many deer!
A picturesque rock! In the background one can see poorer weather moving in!
I soon spot the stream and the track running alongside it.
This is the view to the south east – the direction of my intended travel.
The track is well made. Progress from here on in was very rapid. I’m surprised that I have reached day 5 and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with my feet! Nary a blister in sight! The new Salomon 4d’s have most certainly proved their worth on this walk.
I soon spot the edge of the Whim Plantation that I must travel through. There is a bridge ahead, but my plan is to take the next one across the stream.
The forest walk is very relaxing. I’m surprised there is no one around given my proximity to Blair Atholl.
Up ahead I spot the turn off to the right for the bridge crossing that I need!
I’m now on the other side of the stream hand-railing it to the south east.
Down below I spot a fallen tree and imagine using it as a crude bridge!
Eventually my travels take me to a road by Old Blair. I know that I will need to cross over through the gate up ahead.
Once I go through the gate I discover that this whole closed off area is used as an educational area to teach people about the forest. Unfortunately for me my map is out of date and doesn’t show where this trail goes. I decide to try to head back toward the stream whilst remaining on the trails. This way I could hand-rail it back to Blair Atholl.
Here is an example of one of the educational plaques located in this section of the forest. I had time on my side, so I stopped off to read them!
I soon get to the stream, which now means that I know exactly where I am going, as I am now on a trail that appears on the map!
The journey southward is very pleasant. I know that I will be headed into Blair Castle’s grounds pretty soon, which will add a little complexity to the run-of-the-mill navigation experienced so far.
I soon catch glimpses of the Castle and very impressive it is too. The whole area has many tracks and attractions for visitors to the castle, so I’m careful to make sure that I stay headed the right way!
I’m now deep in the grounds of the castle and much to my surprise there is still no one around. Maybe this place is seasonal only and it is simply not open yet?
I am now on the main road leading out of the castle’s estates.
I soon run into this sign. It quite clearly shows that pedestrians should still keep going directly ahead. I decide to go that way, despite the sign’s main message saying that the ‘Main Gates Closed’.
The first tangible sign (quite literally 🙂 ) that I have arrived in Blair Atholl!
Up ahead, the gates look shut and from this vantage point there doesn’t appear to be any other exit. I decide to continue on toward the gates in the hope that an exit will materialise!
With some relief a small side exit becomes apparent as one gets closer to the gates. At least I won’t have to turn around now!
I’m now walking down the path to Blair Atholl’s main road. This is the road I had walked on day 1!
I’m now on the main road headed southwest toward the railway station. Memories start flooding back of my day 1 walk along this road and how that seemed such a long time ago!
I soon get to the iconic Atholl Arms Hotel. I know that the railway station is only just around the corner! Nearly there!
Woooot! The railway station! 🙂
Up ahead are the two platforms for Blair Atholl. What is not very obvious is which one I should be on. I decide to use common sense and use the one that I didn’t arrive on!
At the station entrance is this rather charming sculpture!
It turns out that I’m quite early. I now have around 2 hours to wait for the next train. So I spend them admiring the local scenery and going through the photos and videos of this most excellent walk!
That’s it for my first walk to Scotland and to the Cairngorms. The whole place has left a deep impression on me. It combines the wilderness of Dartmoor with the mountains of Wales – a perfect combination. I will be back! 🙂
The stars of the show! I cannot say enough good things about the Salomon 4ds! They made a huge difference to the walk!
Before I go I should probably mention that for me, the kit that exceeded all my expectations was the Salomon 4d boots.
I was expecting them to make a small difference, but in reality they really had a big impact on the hike.
Hill climbing was many orders of magnitude easier compared to the twice-as-heavy Scarpa boots. I found that I reached my planned end points for each day with plenty of energy to spare and the ability to walk a lot further.
With the Scarpa’s I found that I was walking shorter distances and being completely tired out and fatigued by the end of each day.
I had thought that the achilles heel of the Salamons would be their ability to keep water out, but this proved to be completely unfounded.
But for me, the most startling thing about them is that I did a 5 day walk with no protective plasters and ended up with feet that were in just as good a condition as they were when I started the walk! Unbelievable and something that has never happened when wearing the Scarpas – even with protective plasters.
The only bad thing I can say about the Salomons is about their bright green colour, but I’m sure a few muddy walks will take the edge off that! 🙂
The Scarpa Activ-SL’s are now retired from general hill walking. They will now only be used for my lunch time 3.5km training walks where their heavy weight is actually an advantage 🙂
That’s it from the Cairngorms walk. All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed it and fully intend to be back before the end of the year.