A short November walk taking in the hills south of the River Dee with grand views to the wintry Cairngorms
Date: 11th November 2012
Time: 7 hrs 30 mins
Hills: Carn Liath
Weather: Early sunshine giving way to cloudy but dry conditions. Very cold wind.
Route: View on OS Maps
Sunday morning dawned cold and clear in Aberdeen. A close conjunction of Venus and the waning Moon hung low in the eastern sky as I walked to the meeting point for the November Stocket hillwalk. There a gathering of Stockets was lacking only one thing: a coach. After a couple of phone calls the confusion was sorted out and twenty-five minutes later we were on a warm coach heading west down Deeside under beautiful morning skies. Pockets of frost and a low running river were both remarked on.
At Inverey we jumped off the coach, heading a short distance further down the road before turning onto a forest track just before Muir Cottage. The tall pines had dropped an orange carpet of pine needles and we followed the track which climbs quite steeply up the hillside. Blue skies were glimpsed above the trees and the oranges and reds of autumn were lit up by the sunshine. It was remarkably pleasant after the chilly start to the day.
Out of the forest the clear track turned into a boggy set of vehicle tracks through the heather. On the first summit we paused to regroup and then continued west slightly to find a place to stop and mark remembrance Sunday. The views had opened up by now with Ben Avon and Beinn a’ Bhuird snow-covered under brilliant blue skies and the central Cairngorms sitting under cloud.
At 11am we stopped to observe two minutes of silence, looking out over the Cairngorms as snow flurries swept up the Geldie and shrouded the Lairig Ghru.
The ridge provided easy walking; short clipped heather and a clear track at times. Though we were walking into the wind it wasn’t unpleasant and we made good progress along the ridge to Carn Liath, all of the time watching as the view into the Lairig Ghru developed. Finally we climbed the final gentle slope to the grey, bouldery summit of the day’s high point.
We enjoyed the blustery views out to Beinn a’ Ghlo in the south and then further west and north across the Tarf Munros to the meandering line of the Geldie and the high rolling hills of the Cairngorms.
The bitter wind didn’t encourage much hanging around on this exposed summit and so after a brief pause we headed south, descending to the bealach at the head of the Allt Cristie Beag.
We contoured around and onto the ridge leading to Buchaille Breage, hopping bogs and watching as a large herd of deer started to get wind of our scent. They streamed away north towards the Geldie as we approached. The view north continued to be outstanding with our position now giving us a clear view up the river Dee to the Devil’s Point standing guard before the Lairig Ghru.
From Buchaille Breag there were just another couple of heathery summits to cross and then we were standing at the final cairn of the day, looking south towards Beinn a’ Ghlo as a weak sun struggled to penetrate the clouds.
The descent was initially steep but then we picked up an easy grassy ramp that I had spotted on a previous visit to this area. We quickly got down to the stream which was easily forded without getting feet wet. It was then a short walk along the track to reach the ruins of Bynack Lodge and our lunch stop.
Suitably refreshed after sandwiches consumed whilst leaning against the ruined walls of the lodge we now headed north, first fording the Bynack Burn and then the more difficult Geldie Burn. Neither was particularly fast flowing but the water was up to knee high in places and very, very cold.
It was now the easy amble out, first to White Bridge and then along the northern bank of the Dee back to where the coach was waiting near the Linn. The sun sank lower and although there wasn’t much of a sunset the peace and quiet that descended over the glen certainly made for a pleasant end to the day.
After a pleasant pint in front of a roaring log fire at the Fife Arms in Braemar we were back on the coach for a quick drive back to Aberdeen.