Sunday, 28 December 2008
Sue's been on night shift this week, so it was a quick swap of car keys for a warm bed and I was out of the door right on schedule - the church bells chimed 0830 just as a slammed the boot shut.
Quick roll and sausage + a pint of stove top espresso in the car and I'm in tip-top shape for the bitch of a climb from Old Bridge of Tilt up towards Loch Moraig. Lots of ginger squirrels, hares and some frisky bullocks to keep me company on the way up. A couple of hillwalkers are parking their car as I reach the end of the tarmac - it's the last I see of humankind for a few hours - all the trails belong to me.
Landrover track gives way to quad track and a crossing of the Allt Coire Lagain. I'd been bracing myself for wet feet, but the water is low enough to use some rocks to cross it. A quick portage to meet the path that comes up from Shinagag and I'm back on the bike. No. Wrong path. Another quick portage to meet the right path that comes up from Shinagag and I'm back on the bike.
Lots of singletrack and distant deer brings me to Daldhu where the big climb begins. The landrover track gets whiter and whiter as I gain altitude. By the time I top out at 700m there are patches of hard icy snow on the ground. Which is a bit of a bummer, as what should be an elbows-in plummet down the other side is a full on mince-fest. Is that good snow or bad snow? Still manage to go arse over tit despite slowing to a crawl at points. Icy landing hurt, they really do.
No sign of life at Fealar Lodge, but the devildogs still have a right good bark and I have a couple of nervous looks at the kennels just in case they've worked out how to pick the lock. Memories of my uncle's mental sheepdogs are still fresh enough - always one nice one that would be let in the house to have it's tummy tickled and one completely nuts one that you were sure would break in during the night and rip you to pieces. Perhaps that's how they played it with the sheep - good dog, bad dog.
From Fealar things get interesting again - the boggy stuff was well frozen, so it was lovely riding. Then time to meet my nemesis on the way down to cross the Allt Garbh Buidhe. Not a technical feature by any stretch, but the hillside drops away from the trail's left edge and a slip would put you in the water 30m+ down fairly rapidly. I'm determined to make it today, so I session it. OK, I chicken out three times and make it on my fourth go. I'm so elated I smack into a rock 10m down the trail and mash my genitals into the back of the saddle. Nice.
The Allt Garbh Buidhe crossing is a piece of cake. One slightly damp foot is a much better outcome than a previous trip when the burn was in spate and I "enjoyed" a waist deep wade.
Last of the nice stuff and I'm over the bridge at the Falls of Tarf and on towards the landrover track back to civilisation. Those that have ridden down Glen Tilt might have noticed two things - the river must be running up hill and there is *always* a headwind. Today is no different, despite the wind blowing from the SE. Slightly regret having dropped a couple of teeth off the front for my US trip, so it's seems like slow progress. Manage to overtake a couple of hill runners and dog walkers on the run in to the car park, so I must be race ready...
Back at the car in 4.5 hours. Big smiles, car park nekkidness and another sausage in a roll and I'm rolling for home.
more photos here.