Finally got some settled weather to cycle thru the Lairig Ghru earlier this week, I have been wanting to do it all winter. The high pressure we have had over the past week meant that the sun shone and the temps went up to almost double figures!!
I had looked into the pass about 2 weeks ago while ski touring to Ben Macdui and there had been plenty of cover then, looked rideable all the way through from the lip of Lurcher’s Gully. The warm weather meant that most of the coverage had gone lower down, so the initial trek past the Rothiemurchus lodge was through horrendous bog, any one who has been there will know what I mean >:(, fortunately just past the junction with the path for Braeriach, the snow firmed up a bit and was for the most part quite rideable. I was using quite chunky tyres (HuskerDus) and have to say that the rolling resistance was pretty harsh, even on the flat it was almost easier to walk, given the conditions I think my Surly Endos would have had more than enough grip, with a lot less effort required.
I may have to rethink the tyre choice for what I want the bike for…..
As I set off a little late I was at the top of the pass at around dusk, with amazing light as the sun caught the rim of the glen, and once the temp dropped the snow firmed up really well making for pretty good going up to the Pools of Dee.
Once over the high point it was (mainly) downhill all the way to the bothy, however as I got lower down the snow softened as this side of the glen is a fair bit lower than the other, also there was a lot of heather showing, which warms up in the sun, making the snow pack even softer, and the snow packs pretty patchy. So navigating around these “islands” of firm snow, while avoiding being drawn to the burn and probable/possible dunking required a little faith and some use of the “force”! especially given the fact that it was dark by this time.
Snow-bi one kenobi if you like…
Though I knew where the bothy was (I have been here several times) and I had my map etc, actually finding it in the dark was still a bit of a challenge. Amazing how well camouflaged these things are.
Arriving at the bothy around 19.30 there was one other guy in there, actually in his bag already. He wasn’t sleeping, just in his bag as it was pretty cold, and was “bored”!!
A meal, brew and a chat saw me ready for sleep by around 21.00!!! a quick visit outside before getting in my bag was met with an awesome sky, incredibly clear(and cold). no Aroura though, shame as that would have been the icing on the cake.
The following day dawned sunny and bright once again, not a breath of wind or cloud in the sky. I enjoyed my morning coffee sat on a chair with the Glen spread out in both directions, with the bulk of Ben Macdui as a remarkable backdrop. Out of the wind the sun was quite warm so I had breakfast out here too. Mark set of to climb Cairn Toul and the ridge of Sgor an Lochan Uaine-Braeriach via Coire Odhar, which looked pretty steep and corniced from my vantage point.
I kept an eye on the Coire as I made my way up the Glen back to the Pools of Dee but never saw him in the top bowl, as I was climbing away from the glen bottom I could no longer see back to the bothy path so was not sure if he had decided on another route.
A pretty quick descent to the junction with Braeriach and it was back to the slog out to the lodge, of course this time I knew how painful it was gonna be. I had toyed with the idea of dropping down to Piccadilly but it was quite a way further and the slog through the peat was in fact less than a km from this junction with the Laraig Ghru path!! so I figured I should just man(person?)up and get the job done.
All in all great trip, which I really fancy trying again when/if we get more snow, preferably as a round trip back thru Glen Derry. Anyone game??