In July of this year I rode a 3 day tour around the Cairngorm Massif, and though the weather was good I do remember the midges being a bit of a nightmare on the first night.
So with a midmorning start I was on the road around 10.30. Weather was pretty good with just a little bit of a breeze, just enough to keep the midges at bay. The trip started with a ride through the Rothiemurchus Estate, around Loch Morlich; through to Loch an Eilein then down the track through to Feshiebridge via Inshriach and Drake’s bothy.
A great section of singletrack and a great start to the trip, pretty technical on a rigid/loaded bike with a few stream crossings thrown in for good measure. From Feshiebridge there is a short section of road that takes you through to Drumguish and then on to Glen Tromie.
The plan for the first day was to ride this glen and camp at the far end, just a short ride to pick up the A9 cycleway for day2. Initial riding through the glen is blacktop of varying condition, not the greatest riding but plenty of opportunity to take in the views. Eventually the road passes a Lodge and gives way to a landrover track for a few Km.
A friend of mine recounted to me a few years ago how while walking up here in the glen he was approached by a Ghillie or Gamekeeper in a 4×4, stalking with clients was my friends guess. When asked/challenged as to what he was doing in the Glen he replied that he was looking for photo ops( said friend being a very good landscape photog), He was informed that he needed to permission to do so from the Lodge back at the start of the glen, apparently the Ghillie/Gamekeeper was quite insistent, not quite aggressive, but only just!!
So I was keeping half an eye out just in case as I passed said Lodge, oddly as I rode past there was no one around but as I was a couple of hundred meters past I heard some shouting and 2 guys waving trying to get my attention, I glanced over my shoulder but carried on, the riding was pretty tech for a few hundred meters including a couple of stream to negotiate so I was mainly concentrating on that, though I was half expecting the sound of a quadbike/ argocat on the chase!!
No chase and I happily rode on, in fairness the guys may well have been just waving “HI” or maybe asking if I wanted to stop for a brew…. I just felt that carrying on apparently obliviously was the better option!!
From here the riding is on tracks and eventualy some singletrack. After a few Km you come to the Dam on Loch an t-Seilich, a quick snack stop and a chance to take a few pics.
Then on up the track to join Domingo’s road, a lovely bit of track that sweeps it’s way round to Loch Bhrodiann via a small river crossing. pretty shallow but maybe 15-20mtrs wide, imagine it could be a bit of a handful when its in spate.
As I headed up the trail after the crossing I came across a guy coming the other way, as he approached we said “hi” etc and had a bit of a chat, he was coming from the other side and wifey was due pick them up at the other end, them? I thought. A few minutes later another rider came round the bend, it was his daughter, maybe 15-18(hard to tell when you get to my age!) Now the day wasn’t that cold, but neither was it a warm summer day, and though he was well equipped and dressed, she was wearing a pair of (on trend?) cut away shorts and a crop top, and that was it save a pair of running shoes. They were a ways from the other side and it was around 18.30 already, no rucsac or spare clothes that I could see…… any how, onwards as I am now thinking about the campsite I have in mind, and I have a few km to go, including some singletrack along a loch that looked quite interesting, I had seen a few pics on a blog I came across and it looked quite narrow and tricky, especially if I was to run out of good light. It didn’t dissapoint either, with just a couple of short portages along very narrow trail with a long drop into the lochan. I am always a little conservative with a loaded bike, especially if I am well away from the road etc.
I made the far side of the loch in good time, a great descent from the end of the loch took me over a small bridge and past an old lodge that sat at the confluence of 2 rivers. The trail disappeared meaning I had to cross one of the rivers, pretty deep but not too fast fortunately, to a track I could see on the other side, but within a hundred metres or so the track went over a ford back to the other side with the lodge on it!!! don’t you hate it when that happens? The ford was quite a mess, quite a lot of it having been washed away.
Climbing up the bank I rode on a little and passed the lodge, I making my way along a very narrow trail on the edge of the river bank, which was pretty undercut from the recent
A few Km down the track was where I had planned to camp, as it was next to water and open enough that it I hoped it would have enough of a breeze to keep the midges down. I had made better time than I had expected and still had a couple of hours of daylight,the end of the track was only maybe half an hour down the trail and I was still feeling pretty good. As the midges weren’t as bad as I was expecting I decided to continue on and find a camp site at the far end.
I camped in a dip by the river just before to woods, this would mean that I had a short downhill ride to the road in the morning. So the tent went up and I got some water, sorted my stove and got a brew on while getting my food ready. The spot I had found was right next to the river, sound of running water always makes me sleep, but there was no wind at all, not a problem as the midges weren’t out anyway.
About 30 minutes later they were out in droves!! having managed to cook some food I was forced to get inside the tent inner to eat my meal, and that was it for the night really, prisoner in my tent I was unable to make any more brews and so got my head down for an early night, asleep by about 21.30-22.00.
First day done.