Bynack & Feshie

Bynack More and Feshie Hills, 3 & 5 January'19

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. Two days of winter hillwalking in the northern Cairngorms bagging Bynack More, Sgor Gaoith and Mullach Clach a'Bhlair Steven was leading.

Bynack More and Feshie Hills

What better way to kick the New Year off than heading up into the mountains for some hillwalking. Fresh crisp air, some Munro summits and good company, all in abundance over the first few days of January.

Day 1 - Bynack More

It's January 3rd, forecast is looking good and we (Doug, Jane, James and myself) drove out in the morning twilight from Aviemore to the end of the public road at Glenmore where we met up with Arthur. Kit sorted (I'd been out on Cairngorm yesterday and decided we didn't need to bother with crampons or axes, but would need decent footwear), we headed out east along the fine track towards Ryvoan. A quick stop on the way at the weird Green Lochan (where someone was camping, brrr), then up to the spot where the Bynack Stable used to stand, where we stopped for a quick bit of refreshment ready for some uphill hiking.

Now on a fine and well constructed path, we hiked up the broad north-east shoulder of Bynack More in sunshine most of the way. Some of the juniper bushes still had berries, ah the smell of G&T ! Higher up, frost and spindrift lay on the ground, frozen hard, tho there wasn't much in the way of actual snow. We stuck to the crest all of the way to the summit, and in good time - hi-5's all round.

Arthur had a wee shifty around the summit and found us a well sheltered spot for lunch - he chose well, we were in sunshine with a wonderful vast panaorama laid out in front of us. We watched as other people came and went - from the style of some of the jackets around, it looked like a mountain rescue team were out for a hike and navigation practice.

Rather than re-trace our steps, everyone was keen for more, we headed for Bynack Beg next, taking a scenic route, aiming southwards initially. Now well away from boot traffic, the terrain underfoot was a delight - stunted heather with a soft coating of frost made for easy work as we descended. After another hi-5 on the summit of this minor peak, we rejoined the path to return back to Bynack Stable. The sun was beginning to set as we turned onto the Glenmore path creating glorious colours on the trees and distant hills.

Day 2 - Sgor Gaoith and Mullach Clach a'Bhlair

The Western Cairngorms comprises of a vast plateau with a few peaks above beautiful Gleann Einich and Glen Feshie. Navigation can be tricky away from paths, particularly in winter white-out conditions.

I was here with Roger, Mark and Johnston to aim up onto this plateau with the intention of bagging the two Munros Sgor Gaoith and Mullach Cleach a'Bhlair. We met at the end of the public road on the eastern side of Glen Feshie, got gear sorted (today we took ice-axes) and headed up the Moine Mor path. Forecast for today, though not as good as the last few days, hinted that we should climb out of the cloud and get some great views.

Uphill on the path, we entered the mist at around 900m, the ground now covered white - visibility was poor ! But we were hopeful for the promised sun. With some careful navigation, a shortcut saved us some time and we were quickly over the minor summit of Carn Ban and up onto the summit of Sgor Gaoith, wind now up a bit and no views, the mist stubbornly clinged on. The wind and moisture had created some weird and stunning patterns on the rocks.

About-turning, we were met by some people who'd stuck to the path onto the plateau (we'd overtaken them with our shortcut), we then retraced our steps to Carn Ban, the cloud above hinted it might, just might, clear (it didn't). Onto the Moine Mor path, decision time - would we follow the path and track, or would we bee-line south again doing a shortcut to save time - we opted for the latter. So with map out and nose to the compass, we hiked southwards. The ground was frozen solid, which meant what was normally a bit of a bog-fest requiring lots of zig-zagging, became a more direct route. The track which crosses the plateau was met and we could relax, map and compass returning to my jacket pocket.

Still no sign of cloud lifting as we followed the track towards Mullach Clach a'Bhlair. A short detour off the track and the tiny summit cairn was found. I suspect we were the only people up here today as, unlike Sgor Gaoith, there were no fresh footprints. Some photos taken to prove we'd been here, then we began our return journey.

We opted to take the most direct route, following the track back for around 1km, then descending north-west. At around 850m, we got under the cloud and began to get views, not great views, but at least we could see something other than white ! Over Meall nan Sleac (time for a bit of refreshment), a bit of heather-hopping got us down to the Allt Garbhlach, from where Johnston found a faint path to return us to Auchlean.

Beware - a side note

When we arrived at Auchlean for the Feshie hike, there were a couple of cars that had been broken into. Theives had simply thrown a rock through the car windows and then rumaged around to find stuff worth stealing. This is the first time I've seen anything like this in 30 years of hiking in Scotland, but it's a reminder to always remove all valuables before heading off.

More photos by Steven are here on Flickr.

More photos of thhe Feshie day by Johnston Orr are here on Flickr.

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