Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Adventures with Ellie - Eastern Cairngorms

David had decided that Ellie should return to the company that originally converted her for her annual service, so a plan was hatched to spend the day around Grangemouth whilst Ellie was fettled, then we could head off for a few days holiday, our first adventure with Ellie for longer than a weekend.
It felt really strange leaving Ellie parked in the car park as we stayed at the hotel, but we knew it was the best way to be organised and get Ellie to the garage early the next day. After a bit of research and a look at the maps, we dropped Ellie off and went for a walk. Our stroll took us through the industrial estate and in to the Helix Park. From there, we made our way to the Kelpies where we had coffee, then we continued our stroll, aimlessly wandering just to kill time before deciding to just go back to the garage. On arrival, we were told Ellie would be a while longer, so retraced our steps and had an uninspiring lunch at the cafe at the Helix Park as we passed through. We wandered off in a different direction for a while, before returning once more to the Helix, just to sit in relative shelter and wait. Eventually we got the call we were waiting for and went to collect Ellie. The it was off to find supplies for her fridge and cupboards before finally getting on our way and heading to Glen Clova.
We parked away from other vehicles but at the opposite end of the car park to the toilets. Entertainment was provided by two chaps who returned to their vehicle after a long day in the hills (I presume, it was late, but they weren't overly well equipped) to find they had a flat tyre. The driver and presumably the owner of the car worked very hard to change the wheel with very little help from his companion. They were lucky it was an older car that had a spare as they would have had a good walk to find a signal to ring for help! Anyway, we enjoyed it.

Approximately 8.03 km, 14.3 m total ascent (would be excellent running!)

 Small bench or tall David
 This installation looks like a racing bike seat to me...
 But not from the side


View to the front
View to the rear
Experimenting with different meals
We had a quiet night in the car park, despite there being a few other motorhomes and a tent. We had bought a ticket the night before and bought a new one in the morning, it was cheap and we were happy to do so. As we were leaving for our walk, we were approached by a young woman whilst her boyfriend hung back, asking if this was the start of the "green walk", pointing to her tourist map. We couldn't really help much with our OS map, but a quick look at the key on her map and a comparison with ours, I thought it probable it was. The took the path and soon a post with a green stripe appeared. It became apparent the couple were going the same way as us, towards the Corrie Fee, but we were in no hurry and pottered on behind them for quite a while. We caught up with them at the head of Corrie Fee where we spoke again briefly. The young lady asked where we were heading, "Mayar and Driesh" "Oh, we are too!" Oh, good.
Anyway, we were ready to push on and went ahead on the path towards the waterfall. The path climbs up alongside the waterfall, then turns away from it for a short while to get up through the crags and up to the plateau. It had turned cooler and a bit damp feeling as we'd climbed and as we reached the top we were in the clouds and we had to stop to add a layer and put on waterproofs. There was a vague path to follow that could easily have been lost in the poor visibility, but we had no problems at all and sooner than I expected we were at the summit of Mayar. With no views. We huddled behind the cairn, not me preferred option, in order to have a quick snack and a drink, then we were on our way again, heading slightly NE to avoid steep ground, then generally E to pick up the Kilbo path. As we hadn't seen the young couple by this time, we didn't think we would see them again and rather hoped they'd turned back. At the top of the Shank of Drumfollow path we headed off towards Driesh and again, we were there much sooner than I expected. I had not been looking forward to this part of the path as I was very aware of the drop to our left, but once I was actually on my way, it wasn't too bad. When we reached the trig point, we found a small group of three, I suspect grandfather, son and granddaughter. The teen looked somewhat weary and the grandfather thought they'd broken her by coming up via The Scorrie, a terribly steep and pathless route. They decided to descend via the Drumfollow path and give Mayar a miss this time, probably wisely. We told them about the young couple, and briefly discussed ill-equipped people heading into the hills.


The threesome left and we finished our lunch. We had reasonable views. Eventually we made our way on the return leg, back to the bealach. Here, we were surprised to see the young couple approaching us and stopped for a chat. The young lady wanted to know the quickest route down after they'd reached Driesh and they told us of their adventures. They had got totally lost on the way to Mayer and had only eventually made their way there when the clouds had cleared and given them a view of the highest point. Which explained why they had taken so long to catch us up again. If the clouds hadn't cleared, they could have wandered much further in the wrong direction and been completely lost. We left them with my passing shot, "Next time have a map and compass and the skills to use them." In my, I have none.
We left them to it and headed off down hill, along the Shank of Drumfollow and over the clear-felled hillside back to the car park. Actually, a really fun day on the hill and I managed a path I hadn't liked the look of and it was okay. I need to remember that.

 I did not like the look of that

Approximately 9.15 miles 2933 ft total ascent
We left the car park in search of another over night spot. I thought the car park at the start of the planned walk tomorrow might not be pleasant, surrounded by dark trees and maybe a bit dank, so we decided to take a look at the Cairn o' Mount view point car park. We had a nice drive along quiet roads with nice views, drove through Edzell which felt utterly bizarre, then off to Fettercairn before heading uphill to the view point. The car park was very spacious and had a turning point, but was a little sloped, however, we managed to park in a satisfactory position and started to get settled. It was a surprisingly busy little car park, there were many visitors throughout the evening, despite being in the cloud and even after night fell. They were either visiting an unseen cairn, a geocache point or a drugs drop. We didn't investigate. It was a tad breezy, but it didn't cause us any issues.

In the morning, we took our time to get sorted before moving slightly further north to park Ellie at the Glendye car park and set off for a walk to Clachnaben. I was right, it would have been fairly dark and dank had we parked here overnight and possibly, judging by the amount of cars already parked, quite busy in the morning, I was glad to have stopped where we did. We were slow getting on our way, not setting off until mid morning, we walked through pretty woodland before the moorland opened up ahead of us. The route is clear and well kept, passing Glendye Lodge before crossing Miller's Bog, not currently boggy, around the edge of woodland before heading up hill to the craggy top. There was a gentleman ahead of us all the way and we saw a few others, mainly going the opposite way to us, both as we headed up and down the hill. Most spoke. Some did not. The middle aged woman walking with her husband/partner, totally absorbed in here music/audio book got a real fright when we spoke to her, her companion chuckled.
We finally caught the gentleman ahead of us at he top. We spoke briefly, he was obviously very familiar with the hill and the ridge on which it sits, but I would guess is not currently well. We left him in peace as he rested and headed back to the crags (the trig is a little beyond) before heading off the hill. It was very breezy and quite cold, I was keen to get lower down. It was a busy little hill, but it does have nice views and interesting features. I'd like to do the whole ridge sometime.
Approximately 5.92 miles and 1740 ft total ascent.
 The view we didn't get the night before

 Like I need a trip hazard

Because we were away for long than usual, we needed to visit some facilities to perform a bit of admin. First, we called in to Aboyne to visit the Co-op and top up our fresh food supplies. Beer may have been involved. We then headed for Tarland, to make use of our Camping and Caravanning Club Site membership. What a terrific little site it is too! Possibly one of the nicest we have visited with Ellie so far. We had a jolly pleasant evening making use of the facilities, although I opted not to do any laundry as we didn't really need to.

After a pleasant stay, we left the next day and headed towards the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve, then the Pass of Ballater and on to Braenaloin, where we parked and had lunch before donning walking gear and preparing to tackle a little hill, Geallaig Hill, to do a little trig point bagging.
It's a steep little hill, all the way up, and as we climbed we entered the cloud base. The cloud was thick but swirled and broke occasionally to give us occasional glimpses of the views around us. As we neared the trig, we approached a vehicle parked by the track, presumably an estate vehicle. No idea what he was doing, just sitting. The trig was just beyond, surrounded by a large pile of stones which we had to clamber across to reach the trig. I may not have been at my most elegant, but I managed not to make a complete spectacle of myself. As it wasn't overly pleasant, we didn't hang around, by this time the vehicle had slowly moved off and we opted to make a circuit rather than an out and back which meant we followed the vehicle at a distance all the way down. We got a few more views as the cloud lifted slightly. We eventually passed the vehicle which had parked up again and then hit the road, which we then followed for about one and a half kilometres back to where Ellie was waiting for us.
I really enjoyed this little outing, approximately 6.01 miles and 1369 ft total ascent.
 Okay, so we're likely to get wet

 Geallaig Hill

 Well of course, the hill cleared after we had left it

Another Emperor Moth caterpillar, we have seen a lot of these on our travels this summer

We had decided to stay close by as we were probably heading to Ballater the next day for fresh supplies and then to Glen Muick, but I thought we would be early enough for our usual layby as noone else ever seemed to stop close by. I was not impressed to find a young chap parked there, obviously settling in for the night. I hope he had a really miserable night. We had to park in the next layby, not such a nice one. Miffed.
 Similar view, I suppose
It was a windy and damp night

The next day, we visited Co-op in Ballater for lunch supplies, before heading to the car park at Glen Muick which, despite the damp weather, was absolutely mobbed. No great surprise, but people park very badly and they have absolutely no idea how to treat public toilets with respect.
We headed off for our walk after making our lunch, making our way to the Spittal of Glenmuick, then to Allt-na-giubhsaich. There were many people, a lot of tourists (barely dressed for the cold, damp conditions) and a few outdoor enthusiasts. One German couple who obviously had mobility issues didn't bake it beyond the Ranger Station. We saw a threesome heading up the path from Allt-na-giubhsaich, I hoped they weren't heading up any big hills in the jeans they were wearing, the tiny daypack one of them was carrying would not have held much.
We walked briskly, it was easy going and quite chilly, we wanted to keep warm. We had to stop and don waterproofs and were glad we did as although it was brief, it was a very heavy shower. There were several people who perhaps wished they'd also had waterproofs. We continued on our way and decided to drop in to Glas-allt-Shiel bothy to eat our lunch in relatively dry surroundings, although I'm not a great fan of bothies. I knew the bothy was tucked away in a most unexpected place behind the house and was glad I'd read that little snippet somewhere otherwise I wouldn't have persisted looking for it! inside, we found a Volunteer Ranger, also sheltering whilst he enjoyed his lunch, taking a break from his litter picking duties. It's such a shame that this is necessary, but we expressed our gratitude. There were a few others that arrived as we were leaving. We popped round the back to make use of the bothy toilet, I collected the water from the river to flush. I was quite miffed to find I had failed to replace the hand gel in my day pack.
Off we went to continue the circuit of the loch. We still met many people, including some cyclists. There was a bridge at the head of the loch, but there was also some fording required. I pitied those with unsuitable footwear.
The path on this side of the loch was more varied and interesting, I enjoyed it, but was keen to return to Ellie so that we could go and reclaim our overnight spot.
Approximately 8.27 miles and 1249 ft total ascent

 Dragonfly, downed by the heavy rain

 Glas-allt-Shiel, with waterfall

We were able to nab our preferred layby to spend the last night of our short break.

After a good night, we had a leisurely start in the morning before setting off for a slow drive home. We drove over the Lecht and stopped at Tomintoul for an early lunch. Whilst there, a group of French vintage cars stopped by, freely peeing wherever they liked, rather than visiting the toilets in the village, less than a half mile away.
We were soon on our way again, but really trying to string out our time, so swung by the The Old Bridge of Livet for a cup of coffee.
After killing some time, we drove via Blacksboat and Dallas (the one in Moray) home. What a terrific little adventure, with some lovely hills!

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