Day 20 November 16
We left Ruigh itcheacan bothy Or Feshie Bothy in Glen Feshie into the wilds of Carn An – Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch and then hopefully Braemar. What a day when we woke up I was sure we would just pack up and head to Breamar along the heavily drifted path it was still a long way away but the decision was made. We had not done any Munros yesterday and the boys were after Carn An – Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch, these are very remote hills and as one of the guidebooks of the day stats this is one of the wildest and most inaccessible parts of the Highlands. From the bothy it was a sheltered walk past the great Scots pines and raging river, the trees were heavy with snow and as it got lighter they started shedding the snow. We were out the wind and on a great path but the wee rivers were fun to cross and we soon had wet feet again. It was very hard to leave the safety of the path and head out into the wilds I would gladly of headed home down the Glen, 3 hours would see us in Braemar but this was not to be. It was the two big Munros and they are situated in the headwaters of three great rivers, The Feshie, the Tarf and the Geldie. The clue is the headwaters and much of the ground away from the path is brutal walking especially in a winter storm and that is what we were in by 1000. We headed of the path and into the wilds navigation was critical as this is not an easy place. I had a hard day a few years before in the winter when we hit bad weather here before and it took all my effort to get off the hill safely. The ground was hard going deep snow and wind and constant changes in breaking the snow, even Jim and Terry were tired as we hit the ridge at last away from the deep peat hags. The summit was eventually gained and the map a basic inch to the mile meant we had a big drop to An Sgarsoch we nearly walked over a cornice that was interesting but we made the summit eventually. There was no way we would make Braemar that night but we had to get off the hill out the wind and into the Glen it was dark as we stumbled down to the Geldie burn. We had never done so many river crossings many covered in ice .My body was in bits but at last we reached the path. Jim fell in the river which was iced up and was frozen he was every worried about frostbite and he set a fast pace to Linn of Dee. The wind dropped and the stars came out it was bitterly cold and our wet clothes froze on us. Even the track was covered in drifted snow but we were down the last river was ahead with a bridge but where would we stay the night? Would it be in the forest in -10 we were too exhausted to make Braemar! It was now very dark and the snow had restarted.
We had already walked 35 k and 1323 metres in heavy snow and wild weather. .We had to get Jim into dry clothes and we had enough. I was sent to the Keepers House, the first house we hit at Linn Of Dee and asked if there was a barn or bothy we could spend the night in. His wife answered the door whilst the other two waited and I must have looked terrible state. It is terrible that I have lost names of the Keeper and his wife for this I apologise (can anyone help? ( as my Diary got soaked after this day and I cannot read it. We were taken in by his lovely wife and given egg and chips lots of tea and a huge dram, what a life saviour. The keeper said there was a bothy a few miles down the road that a young keeper was in and we were welcome to use it. He was amazes when we refused a lift and struggled into the night. He went ahead and by now it was late, what incredible kindness to us that I never forgot. He left us a small bottle of whisky and we arrived and got sorted out. The young lad was good company and stayed up and spoke to him, he was amazed at our tales and I promised to meet him in the summer and go on the hill with him. I had a great sleep but we were away at 0700 it was still dark we had another big day ahead and the weather was not going to change. The help we had been given at Linn of Dee was exceptional and I can never repay them.
I did go back a few months later after the walk and took some presents as thanks to the Keeper and his family for all their kindness, what a lifesaver. The young keeper and I never got our day on the hill. A few weeks later he was found near Landseer Falls near Feshie bothy dead of exposure after getting caught out in a big storm heading from Linn of Dee to Glen Feshie Lodge on Jan 11th 1978. I could not believe this when told that the hills could kill such a powerful young man.
Day 21 – Nov 17 – Linn of Dee – Carn Bhac – Braemar
It is amazing how you get used setting of in the dark and at least today we followed the road into the wilds and the then a rough track after helped a lot. The walking guide for these hills says navigation is not easy in this area with an abundance of peat hags and drifting snow and featureless ground, it was correct. Maybe that is why this hill is called the hill of the Peat Banks! I was glad to get to the summit, no views just white and again it was a real slog out back to Braemar, constant wind and weather breaking us down and the reserves were running low. My knee was very sore but the hill bag was lighter, we passed lots of deer running effortlessly over the ground and felt jealous. We reached Braemar eventually and the Fife Arms where we were staying in the cold bothy. I was so glad to get there after a real wild few days. It seemed like ages ago we were at Dalwhinnie, not once did the weather give us a break but we had 2 days left it was in the bag?
Distance 21 k and 972 metres another very hard day over peat hags filled with snow, we had seen no one on the hill for 10 days! After getting sorted and picking up the rations we called RAF Kinloss who told us that they were playing War Games, it was the Cold War and the Station was playing war. This was a real blow as we expected the RAF Kinloss Team to be out and meet us when we finished on Mount Keen at the weekend. We may not even get a lift back as it may go on over the weekend if the Station did not achieve the desired results. We were pretty down when a friend arrived at the pub it was our mate Sid Green who was on holiday and wanted a day on the hill. He had an epic drive from England and was keeping away from the Station. Sid was a breath of fresh air and it was great to have a chat with someone new and it would be different company on the hill tomorrow. It was a cold night in the bothy the temperature was very low in the old squash court and our gear was frozen in the morning. Two days to go was a bonus and only one day’s food to carry over the Lochnagar hills. The forecast was again wild, but we were used to it!