Hills: Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch
Date: Friday 8th June 2018
Company: Just myself
Distance: 41.9km, Ascent: 1165m
Time walking: 10Hrs 30Mins

For my work's pedometer challenge I set myself a personal goal of walking 1,000,000 steps within a 40 day period i.e. averaging 25,000 steps per day. Due to a few days of inclement weather during the challenge, I ended-up requiring a sizeable walk on Day 40 to meet my goal. Having walked all the Munros in the Cairngorms multiple times with the exception of Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch, their c.42km distance turned out to be ideal. I estimated the walk would get me over the 1,000,000 step mark by a few thousand steps.

My longest day walk prior to this was 40.5km - my final Corbett. All going well this would be my longest day walk ever.

I last ascended these hills in 2002 using Muir Cottage as my base. I recall meeting John Hinde in the cottage, a legend in his day for undertaking epic walks taking in dozens of Munros.

On Thursday evening I drove to the Linn of Dee where I parked-up for the night in my van. The van provided ideal accommodation to allow me to be up and off walking before 6a.m..

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken (then zoom in for more detail)

I opted not to carry my heavy DSLR instead carrying three litres of water. The MWIS forecast had suggested a warm sunny day. The reality was quite different in that it was overcast for much of the day. This was to my advantage as had it been much warmer I would have needed more water.

The initial walk from Linn of Dee to White Bridge was quite familiar as I had walked this track twice in the past five years for re-ascents of Sgor Mor, and Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain.

Walking from Linn of Dee towards White Bridge:

During the walk to White Bridge I was passed by two cyclists whom I met again and again during the walk as I overtook them on foot while they pushed their bikes over pebble-covered sections of track.

River Dee from White Bridge:

Beyond White Bridge was much less familiar as I had only walked this track once previously back in 2002.

Track beyond White Bridge:

The track is good all the way to Geldie Lodge and beyond allowing for fast progress. I was wearing a new pair of trail shoes and carrying my boots in the rucksack for the trackless terrain of Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch.

Ruin circa one mile beyond White Bridge:

During the walk-in I got fairly close to two Ospreys which alas I could not photograph owing to just having my phone camera. While the iPhone camera is fairly good for landscape photography, it is appalling for zoom shots. I have included the fact I saw two Ospreys at this point in the report even though it was not here I saw them. I suspect they were nesting nearby so I am not giving away any clues as to their location.

Following the Geldie Burn towards Geldie Lodge:

Following the Geldie Burn:

During the walk to Geldie Lodge I passed through a large fenced enclosure where thousands of new trees have been planted thanks to EU funding. It will be great to see this woodland in years to come - natural woodland, not Sitka Spruce.

Approaching area of newly planted trees:

Due to a recent spell of good weather the crossing of the Geldie burn, and various other smaller burns, were all straight-forward. I suspect the Geldie burn crossing could be 'interesting' when in spate.

Crossing the Geldie Burn:

The weather was now improving with blue skies and good views towards Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain. However to the west, the weather did not look so promising. I suspected the good weather would not last long.

View towards Beinn Bhrotain:

It was great to reach Geldie Lodge where I stopped for a quick drink before continuing on. There is an excellent quality footpath for several kilometres beyond Geldie Lodge. I decided to follow this footpath as far as its endpoint as marked on the map thus ascending Carn an Fhidhleir, the remotest of the two Munros, first.

Geldie Lodge:

Looking back to Geldie Lodge:

Apologies for the lack of photos between Geldie Lodge and the summit of Carn an Fhidhleir. I was carrying my iPhone in my fleece pocket but ended-up putting the fleece in my rucksack as it was too hot to wear. As I had no other pockets and wanted to use both poles my phone also ended-up in my rucksack.

On reaching the end of where the track is marked on the map, I stopped to put on some suncream, have a drink and change into my boots. I was glad I took my boots as the terrain beyond the footpath was not wonderful. If there was any kind of path or trail leading to Carn an Fhidhleir, I did not find it. Saying that, I took a fairly direct line towards the summit which was quite steep. I suspect most would take a gentler line of ascent.

On reaching the summit of Carn an Fhidhleir I put back on my fleece and took a number of photos.

At the summit of Carn an Fhidhleir:

From the summit of Carn an Fhidhleir I followed a path running along the county border which would eventually lead down towards the col between Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch. By now the weather was beginning to deteriorate with increasingly dark clouds overhead.

Following the county border:

I lost any trace of a path during the descent to the col but managed to pick up a reasonable path not long after the initial ascent of An Sgarsoch. I had now walked over 21km and was still feeling fresh.

Descent to col between Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch:

As I made my way up An Sgaroch, the skies got darker and darker. I suspected an incoming deluge.

Looking back to Carn an Fhidhleir:

Final ascent of An Sgarsoch:

Looking back to Carn an Fhidhleir:

As I approached the summit of An Sgarsoch I could see two other walkers at the summit. An Sgarsoch was their first hill and they had used bikes as far as Geldie Lodge. I suspected they would overtake me during my long walk out but as it happens they did not. I must have kept up a good pace.

At the summit of An Sgarsoch:

View from summit of An Sgarsoch:

At the summit of An Sgarsoch I had my first bite to eat of the day and drank around a litre of water.

At the summit of An Sgarsoch:

I was now in two minds whether to head back to pick up the footpath or instead go trackless and head back more directly towards Geldie Lodge. I opted for the latter as it looked ok on the map.

While at the summit there were a few spots of rain but no deluge.

Descent from An Sgarsoch towards Geldie Lodge:

The fairly direct descent back towards Geldie Lodge was good, however, the circa two to three kilometres of flat terrain beyond was not fantastic.

Looking back at descent from An Sgarsoch:

On reaching Geldie Lodge, I stopped for around twenty minutes changing back into my trainers. I had stupidly forgot to pack my gaiters along with my boots so my socks were now covered in bits of heather. This resulted in quite a bit of rubbing during the walkout and a nasty blister which I should have stopped to treat but did not. Doh!

Back at Geldie Lodge:

Boredom started to kick-in during the final eight kilometres back to Linn of Dee so I switched on the music app on my phone which helped pass the time.

View during long walk out:

After walking circa 41km, I was glad to see the bridge at the Linn of Dee come into view and to thereafter reach the van. I expected the walk to take 12 hours so was pleased with my time of 10.5 hours. Having accumulated >62,000 steps during the walk, I reached my 1,000,000 step goal during the final walk out to Linn of Dee.

Good to get two remote Munros done out of the way just in case I decide to attempt to complete a second round of Munros. This brings the total to 178 Round Two, so still a massive 104 to go. However with the Corbetts and Fionas now compleat this should be achieveable.