Aviemore to Water of Caiplich
Staying the night at the Cairngorm Hotel was a good move. Firstly, I managed to wash and dry base layers, fleece and socks. Secondly, I had a good cooked breakfast to set me up for the day. While the day dawned sunny, the weather forecast was suggesting rain in the afternoon, so boots, donned, I was off again.
The walk from Aviemore to Loch Morlich is along a cycle track which makes for fast progress, but isn’t very interesting. I’d done it last year, so it was quite familiar. Just before I reached Loch Morlich, unexpectedly, I met Emma, which was a lovely surprise. We quickly exchanged news. At the Squirrel Cafe we found Gordon and a few other Challengers. Instead of eating there, we went to the Information Centre Cafe for an early lunch.
On leaving the cafe, we bumped into Lee, Tony, Bob and Rose who were just arriving. After a quick chat, Emma and I made our way to Lochan Uaine and then towards Ryovan Bothy. At turnoff to Bynack More we parted as Emma was going further north and I was going to the famous Cheese & Wine party.
At the footbridge across the River Nethy the sky looked ominously dark. On with the waterproofs. As soon as I started to climb the flank of Bynack More, the rain began and the wind freshened. I had hoped it wouldn’t arrive until later, but that’s life!
My orignal route was to go to An Lurg and then cut down to the Water of Caiplich. However, the wind was so strong, that I though it better to go to Coire Odhar and follow the river down from there, figuring it might be a bit more sheltered. Fortunately, the rain let up a bit as I descended to the ford.
Once across the ford, which was a bit simpler than I thought, I just followed the river. That was easier said than done as diversions had to be made around steep banks and peat hags. However, it got a bit easier downstream, although I had to make some diversions to cross tributary streams. There were some breaks in the rain and clouds, but the wind remained strong and bitterly cold.
It took about two and a half hours to reach the Cheese & Wine venue. Despite the weather, it was a good walk. It was slow going in places, but you just have to exercise a bit of patience and remember to enjoy the surroundings. The wind was still bitterly cold, so it was a relief to get the tent up and shelter inside for a bit.
Not to be deterred by the cold, the Cheese & Winers gathered around a groundsheet cum table-cloth to consume food and drink. I was very glad of my PHD Minimus jacket and As Tucas Sestrals insulated trousers as it was perishing cold (but I remained toasty!). A good time was had by all (I think).