Day 3, Dulnain bothy no. 3 to Aviemore (16km)
Although it rained overnight, I had a good sleep. By the time I answered a call of nature, it had stopped raining. I decided that rather than have breakfast in the bothy, I would have it in the tent. I really like breakfasting in a tent. After finishing, I packed my gear and went into the bothy. Alan and Andy were having breakfast and had started a fire. Any thought of leaving early was erased by the pitter patter of rain, so we waited until the fire had nearly burnt out.
Eventually, there was no delaying the moment, so we donned waterproofs and out we went. While it wasn’t raining hard, it was enough to be annoying. I followed Andy on a little diversion to the bridge, while Alan took a more direct route.
We walked through another area of burnt juniper bushes. The breeze was light and there were a few midges about, fortunately not biting. We sauntered along, sometimes on the bluff and sometimes on the valley floor.
After about an hour we reached the Red Bothy. The cloud was low towards Caggan, but the rain had stopped. We decided to have an early lunch before taking the Burma Road to Aviemore.
View from Red Bothy towards Caggan
After an hour or so, it was time to gird loins and head for Aviemore. I noted that there are plenty of places to camp should I wish to do so when I do the Challenge next month.
Looking back to the Red Bothy
A little way up the Burma Road we were treated to a very moody view down the Dulnain, north eastwards. Unfortunately it was difficult to capture it effectively on the iPhone.
Now the Burma Road stretched before us and all we had to do was to plod upwards. The Burma Road gets some bad press as a being a bit boring, but I quite enjoyed it.
Higher up, it became a bit drizzly and cold so I put my overtrousers back on.
At the top of the pass we sat down for a rest. The limitations of the camera and the poor light meant it was difficult to take any decent pictures.
From here, it was downhill all the way. Hurrah! Even descending a few hundred feet, it was noticeably warmer. I took a photo of the tree that, according to Alan, appears in just about ever Challenge account that covers this route.
It wasn’t long before we were at the bottom and back in civilisation.
To get to Aviemore, we had a rather grim walk along the B9152. After a bit of a trudge, we reached the youth hostel, which was our accommodation for the night. In truth, the hostel was a bit of a disappointment, particularly the room, which was a bit shabby and not very well designed.
Having been unable to get a table at the nearby pub, we went to the fish and chip shop instead and had a rather good meal. Alan rounded it off in traditional Scottish style with deep fried Mars bar. Standards have to be maintained!
The advantage of the youth hostel is that it is near the station, so we didn’t have to get up too early. The train journey was only notable for an altercation between a rather large elderly lady and Alan over the temperature of the carriage, when he requested that the ticket inspector turn on the air conditioning.
There was a rather nice surprise at Berwick, where gourmand Challenger, Humphrey Weightman delivered a bag of cheese, quiche and meetballs to Mr Sloman. The cheese was saved for the infamous daunder, but the quiche and meatballs were gratefully consumed.
All in all, it was very pleasant little trip and a good introduction to the delights of the Monadhliath. From the small bit that I’ve seen, it’s ideal backpacking country with a lot of good places to camp. If you’ve not been, I suggest you make an effort to see it before it’s spoilt by the proposed wind farm developments. It’s a real shame that this splendid part of the country is so under-appreciated.