Mountain Memories – Reunion Dook – Creag Mhor

I’d looked at the forecast on the day before the 2010 MRT reunion in Newtonmore and it seemed to be clearing later in the day, so I took a leisurely drive over the Lecht and breakfasted at the cafe in Glenmore, with the objective of doing Creag Mhor above the Fords of Avon. After the obligatory bacon roll and coffee, I parked up just beyond Glenmore Lodge and readied my bike. The track to Bynack Stables (the stables are not there anymore) after the Ryvoan turnoff is pretty rough to start with, so I pushed my bike up most of it. At the end of the track, I hid my padlocked bike in the heather and headed off up the Lairig an Laoigh path. Soon I came across big white bags of stanes that looked as if they had been deposited by chopper along the line of the path. Anyway, the path was being revamped by a digger which was parked half way up. At the top of the rise, the path was in a real mess as everyone took a wider and wider berth around the boggy bits until it was about 30m wide in parts. I’m sure it will be a braw path by now. Anyway, as I passed the Bynack More fork in the path, I met a couple coming down. As I paused to have a news with them, it dawned on me that in my plan to get to a clagless summit, I’d probably left it too late starting, to get back in daylight. However, I plodded on into the mirk at the head of the Caiplich water and up the other side to get a sight of my hill. The clag was trying to clear, but only for a few minutes, so I headed off up and arrived at the top of Creag Mhor in a bit of clag mixed with a flurry of snow. Didn’t stop long at the top and headed off down straight away to make the best of the fading light. I was a bit concerned that I didn’t miss the path at the head of the Caiplich basin on the way back, as a route down the waters of Caiplich takes you to Tomintoul, about 18k away, so took a quick bearing to keep me on the shorter route home. It started to get really dark as I crested the high ground past Bynack More, but the muckle great white stane sacks appeared through the gloom, giving me a comforting guide back to my bike at Bynack stables. Mounted on my trusty steed, I headed off down the track back to Glenmore lodge. However, the headlight on my bike kept being jolted round the handlebars so that it pointed up into my eyes after a few dunts. After a few failed attempts to tighten it up, I switched it off and relied on my head torch. About half way to the Ryvoan junction, I came to this muckle great dub on the track which I elected to power through. Only problem was that I hit a rock in the middle of the dub and couped off the bike into the muddy pool. By the time I’d got up out of the dub and picked the bike up, my fleece had soaked up a vast amount of water so that I weighed about 10kg more than it did prior to falling in the dub. However, I didn’t hang around – a) I was awfy cold now and b) I’d visions of the Glenmore Lodge folk coming out to look for me as I’d left a route map and ETA on the dash of my car which had now expired.

I rattled my way down the track to Glenmore to find that on arriving back at the car, no-one was in the least bit concerned about my late return – in fact there was nobody there. So with a bit of effort, I loaded my bike on to the high rack and drove down to Newtonmore with the heater going full blast, to check in to the Highlander and the best hot shower ever – followed by the odd dram afterwards with some old KMRT salts ensconced at the bar! A great start to the weekend.

Fords of Avon refuge, below Creag Mhor