Day 41 Thurs 09-06-2005
Inverey to Aviemore
Up early! I breakfasted with Alan, then started walking around 6:30; I had a big day ahead! I was going to follow the Lairig Ghru pass through the Cairngorms between the second, third and fourth highest peaks in the British Isles: Ben Macdui, Cairn Toul and Braeriach. I would also be passing the reassuringly named Devils Point, and the Cairn Gorm. At the highest point, I would be 2756 feet up, and keeping my fingers crossed for good weather.
It was a gentle start, and I watched a herd of red deer a couple of hundred yards away - who were watching me watching them. Ben Macdui was to my right, and I walked west then north around it's massive bulk. I met a walker, who was looking to "bag" three Munros, and as I walked on I could see him scrambling up the steep flanks of the mountain, a tiny dot getting harder to spot by the moment.
The weather held, and I reached the highest part of Lairig Ghru around noon. The path was relatively easy to follow, but at several places there were rocks and boulders strewn across the valley floor. Easy to walk over, until you missed your footing - which, thankfully, I didn't. The rocks looked as if they had just fallen from above, but must have been there for hundreds of years.
As I started the descent, I could see deciduous forest below, and lower country stretching for miles. I often preferred climbing to going down, from the point of view of causing less serious injuries if I slipped, but again, the way was relatively easy. I left the snow covered peaks behind, and met a couple lunching by a stream. They had set off from Aviemore, going in the opposite direction to me. They were planning to spend the night in the bothy (hut) at the top of the pass, rather than reach Inverey by night. What a nice, relaxed, schedule!
The route took me through scenic forest, and the last mile or two along road to Aviemore, where I found the Youth Hostel around 3:30. It was a big hostel, and I got booked in and did some washing. Later, I wandered along to the centre of Aviemore, and got a microwave meal and a couple of beers at Tescos.
Back at the hostel, I chatted to my room mate, Peter. Peter was a keen cyclist, a Brummie on a few days walking holiday in the Cairngorms. Peter had suffered a serious head injury while cycling when the Tour de France visited the UK back in 1994. He had been unconscious for weeks, and had no memory of the accident itself. Not expected to recover fully, he proved the doctors wrong, and has a great attitude to life, making the most of every day.
In the kitchen, while nuking my meal in the microwave, I met Jean and John, from the Manchester area. John made me ashamed of my catering arrangements, as he put together a delicious meal, of at least three courses. Jean and John were cycling Lejog! It was really good to chat, and compare notes about our routes and adventures.