Back in Glen Gairn to reach Leabaidh an Daimh Bhuidhe (see title for translation), the summit of Ben Avon. The sky was cloudless as I cycled up the glen, turning south before Loch Builg, then leaving the bike where the track goes uphill. I walked along the Gairn, then crossed the bridge and followed the path for a mile or so before turning up Allt an Eas Mhoir. The path was narrow but OK. I left it after the stream coming in from the west and went over the ridge and up to the very impressive tor. It was quite warm by the time I got up and the views across the hills were spectacular. You could hardly believe it was November. Near the summit there were lots of ptarmigan, more than fifty I counted, all very smart in their winter feathers, but unfortunately for them, very conspicuous against the grass and rocks. Apart from these, I also saw a few mountain hares, a lot of red deer, two golden eagles, several buzzards, a flock of ravens, three kestrels, a red kite, plus dipper, wheatear, meadow pipit, skylark, song thrush, blackbird, redwing, fieldfare and flocks of pink footed geese. A fantastic day out, possibly the best of the year so far.
Two more points in the Dinnet area. The snow is starting to go so access is getting easier. The boardwalk is a great place for dragonflies, but not in February! Easiest access is from the little car park on the way to the Vat. I went up the Vat burn to get to the upper part. No wildlife at all!
Another visit to the Linn o’ Dee car park to cycle up past White Bridge to reach Chest of Dee. I left the bike there and carried on up the glen for about a mile before branching off to the right to climb Sgor Mor. The sun emerged and the cloud cleared most of the hills as I reached the summit. There was no path out of the glen but it was easy enough going. It was very windy on the summit, but great views again of several of the bigger Cairngorm hills. It got very warm as I cycled back down the glen. Birds included red grouse, meadow pipit, great spotted woodpecker, goldcrest, bullfinch and redwings.
An early (and chilly) start on Sunday to the Linn of Dee, where I struggled to find a parking place. Then off on the bike in bright sun up to White Bridge and down to Bynack Lodge, the burns so low that I was able to cross without wet feet. I stayed on the bike beyond there until the track narrowed, then headed along to the watershed and up the steep but shortish Sron a’ Bhoididh. Stags were roaring all up and down the glen as I retraced my steps and up the other side to Coire na Creige, past Loch Tilt. Half way up I crested a ridge and there was a golden eagle. Spectacular! Great views on the summit, but I didn’t hang about too long as time was getting on. I returned by following the loch edge and going west of the hill with the cairn, which was a short cut, and back to the Linn. I saw jay, raven, red grouse, buzzard, golden eagle and lots of red deer.
A busy morning at home meant a late start up Glen Callater. I decided to head for the furthest point first, cycling up past the loch and continuing on foot to reach Tolmount. Jock’s Road doesn’t amount to much once on the higher ground, and it was hard going in high temperatures. The views at the summit were absolutely spectacular, with a completely cloudless sky. I may never get a view of the Cairngorms like it again. I had considered trying to do Corrie Kander as well, but there was shooting going on there. In the heat, I was quite pleased. I spotted buzzard, red grouse, ptarmigan and meadow pipit.
I made a return trip to Glenmuick to ascend The Stuic, which I missed on my last visit due to very poor visibility. No such problems this time with beautiful sunny conditions. I cycled to the Glas Allt along the loch and climbed from there, cutting through the last valley to the west to emerge at the corrie, leaving a gentle climb to the summit. I returned the same way, after a leisurely lunch admiring the views. I saw greylag geese, pied wagtail, chaffinch. goldcrest, red grouse, ptarmigan and raven.
To Glen Tanar to get to Tom Giubhais. I couldn’t find the start of the track on the map by the Allachy burn, so I crawled over the little ruined bridge and stumbled up through the bracken and heather until I came upon the track on my right, which gave me an easy approach to the summit. There I found a cairn made of five stones! The sun came out briefly while I was there. Only a few grouse, a couple of meadow pipits and a goldcrest appeared.
Back up Glen Gairn to reach the Upper bit. I cycled as far as the bridge beside where the Bealach track heads uphill, but found it wrecked, so I just waded through the river. Three quarters of an hour took me up to the rocky section on a narrow path, with several groups of old buildings, presumably summer shielings, visible. With the breeze dropping, the midges started to get a bit fierce, so I didn’t hang about long before retracing my steps. I spotted nineteen buzzards on my way up the glen, plus several ravens, wheatear, meadow pipit, swallow, dipper and snipe.
On the bike to the side of Clachan Yell before ascending Little Cockcairn on foot. The weather started off fine but clouded over rapidly, and by the time I reached the summit it was raining heavily, so I didn’t hang about. Let down by the forecast again. Managed to spot buzzard, kestrel, peregrine falcon, grey heron, red grouse, stonechat, goldcrest, wren, blackbird, swallow, coal tit, blue tit and treecreeper.