Cairngorms, part four

26 Sep

Saturday. Tarf Water to Corrour bothy. Eighteen miles walked.

Feeling very well rested, I set out at a quarter to eight into a dry day blessed with more sunshine than cloud. Dry even as I forded the burn again in the opposite direction to when i’d hurt my feet on Thursday; socks off, insoles out of boots, trousers off, boots back on with gaiters over the top. Not a drop worked its way into my boots, thankfully. Having wet feet right at the start of an eighteen mike walk would have been a definite morale wrecker. The level had dropped in the burn, a welcome confirmation that the rain had been slacking off over the past day or so.

The scenery becomes less bleak, more picturesque, on the descent towards Tarf Falls. Tarf Falls is quite the beauty spot. It has formed where the river drops steeply to the level of Glen Tilt. Higher upstream, the first sign of the coming spectacle is the pale rock showing through the peat hags down by the river and catching the sun well.


The falls themselves are quite a sight


The river Tilt meanders away southwards in the direction of Blair Atholl, many miles away. Later that day I met three fellow backpackers who had been awoken from their sleep down there on the flats by a lone bagpiper walking up the glen. How bizarre

Later that afternoon, in a patch of sunshine, I swam in the Chest of Dee, a suite of falls in sight of the higher mountains of the Cairngorms

There were people here and there (at last!), passing by, mainly sixth-formers hiking as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award. Luckily none passed as I had my swim and impromptu wash in the river. For the next hour, the combination of purple flowering heather and some sort of clumping grass with golden tips and fresh green new growth, made a lovely complement to one another

Here’s where I ended up at the end of the day: Corrour bothy. It sits beneath Devil’s Point, whose great slabs of dark, wet granite look huge from this perspective until you realise that the big Cairngorm peaks rise behind it, another thousand feet higher.

Sadly this bothy has been in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. Users had been leaving their excrement unburied and in close proximity to the hut. The estate and the association that provides upkeep of these basic mountain shelters decided to build a septic tank, attached to the hut itself. Unfortunately the smell of piss was percolating through to the wall into the sleeping area, so much so that I woke up at four in the morning with a strong urge to get out of there and get in the Body Bag instead. It has to be said though, it was a great evening, in the main. By the time the sun had set there were eight of us in the hut and another twenty campers outside. A party of marine biologists and a statistician had brought a bottle of red and two bottles of good whisky with them and were sharing them around. Two of them would kindly give me a lift down into Aviemore the following afternoon before driving down to Fife. I rose late the following day.


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