Tuesday, July 29, 2014

165-168. Cairn Toul (4), Sgor an Lochan Uaine (5), Monadh Mor (40), Beinn Bhrotain (19). 27/07/2014

We were up super early to avoid feeding time at the zoo. We had finished our porridge and were out the door by 7.15am. We hiked to the top of Cairn Toul and Sgor an Lochan Uaine whilst they were still shrouded in mist and enjoyed some light rain between the two. I say enjoyed - I believe Chris enjoyed it less without his waterproof trousers. We were able to get some idea of the vast deep corrie to the north which separates these two from Braeriach, although Chris remarked that it may be best not to be able to see all the way to the bottom.
The two big ones from the top of the Lairig Ghru the previous day

We headed cross-country to the south in gradually clearing conditions to Monadh Mor, which although the smallest of the four, is still well over 1100m. There was some discussion as to where the top was, but we visited all the cairns to be sure and then made our way over easy ground to Beinn Bhrotain, which was by then completely cloud-free. We reached this before midday, metaphorically patted ourselves on the back, had some trailmix (the almond/sunblush raisin/pineapple blend) and headed for the gully between the last two hills to take us back to the valley and the bothy. This gully was steep at first, before becoming a traditionally Scottish, heather-clad, heavily contoured, energy-sapping trudge. We got there in the end and did see an adder on the way, which was pretty exciting.
Beinn Bhrotain from Monadh Mor

After a decent rest in the bothy, where we somehow managed to lose the cap to one of our waterbottles, we decided to continue with our original plan of heading out to Blair Atholl, despite being a bit behind schedule. We loaded ourselves up with our packs and began with the pretty easy yomp down to White Bridge (which avid readers will remember is actually red). Then we encountered a small problem - the footbridge marked on the map leading south from White Bridge was no longer in existence. And we were beset by midge. These situations lead to hasty decisions, but fording the river seemed like our best course of action. Unfortunately at least one of Chris' feet entered the river up to the knee, which was to cause him some discomfort for the rest of the day. Still we were across largely unscathed and just had to climb high enough to avoid the worst of the midgies. It was hard going with full packs and took us a good hour to climb to the safety of 800m. Here we did find a beautiful campsite on soft ground with a breeze, although we were perhaps a little too tired to fully appreciate it. There were virtually no midgies in the evening, so we were able to cook our couscous outside before enjoying a much better night's sleep in blissful solitude.


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