The hills less travelled

Carn an Fhidhleir – 994m
An Sgarsoch – 1006m
Date: 17th July 2012
Distance: 25 miles
Ascent: 1,250m
Weather: Warm, dry and sunny
Two Feet Four Paws: Anne, Bill and Molly

These are two much maligned and overlooked hills which give a great feeling of space and freedom in proper big sky country. I enjoy visiting these hills but I really don’t enjoy getting to them. Cycling and I have never really got on, but these are hills where the bike comes into its own unless you enjoy having sore, aching feet. The alternative option of an overnight camp was even more unappealing than using the bike……….so biking it was.

Bill had never climbed these hills and after being bribed with the promise of a fish supper, he agreed to join us.

Bikes send Molly into a frenzy of excitement and for the first half an hour of each ride she runs around in circles barking madly and chasing the bikes.

The long cycle ahead, Molly in one of her calmer interludes.

We don’t cycle fast when she is with us as I think it is very cruel when dogs are made to run flat out to keep up with their owners, so we adopt a more sedate pace that doesn’t make for fast progress but is far more dog friendly.

Amazingly the hellish midge hot-spot at the Linn of Dee carpark was midge free and for the rest of the day there was a breeze which kept the little blighters at bay. We unloaded the bikes and set off and I excelled myself by falling off the bike before we had even left the carpark. By the time we reached White Bridge, Molly had settled down into her cycling rhythm and was happily trotting along next to us.

Arrival at White Bridge.

We took our first break at the Red House ruins, before starting the bone shaking ride along the Geldie Burn. I wasn’t enjoying it much and Bill was enjoying it even less, but the sun was shining and the hills were clear, which during the summer of 2012, was a rarity.

Still a long way to go.
The endless track to Geldie Lodge.

Geldie Lodge finally appeared, we were able to cross the river without getting our feet wet and we both breathed a massive sigh of relief………..we didn’t to cycle anywhere for a few hours.

Geldie Lodge.

We walked towards Carn an Fhidhleir first and it was a joy to get back into a walking rhythm along the track. The track was festooned with hundreds of grouse who noisily shot out of the heather making us jump and apart from the grouse and the sound of running water the silence in the area was incredible. From the end of the track we ploughed through the peat hags onto the slopes of Carn an Fhidhleir, eventually picking up a path.

Once onto the flat summit plateau the familiar Grampian hills came into view and the effort involved in getting here was forgotten as we became lost in the endless space and peacefulness.

The featureless summit of Carn an Fhidleir.

Route finding was aided by a large path which ran towards the squelchy, uninviting col between the two hills and we managed to plough through the bog at the bottom relatively unscathed. The summit of An Sgarsoch is an even better viewpoint than Carn an Fhidhleir and we lingered for a while enjoying the isolation.

An Sgarsoch summit (pretty similar to the previous one)!

We opted for a direct descent back to Geldie Lodge literally bouncing through the heather and grass back to the track where the excitable grouse were back in residence.

Bugger……….the bikes were still where we left them so it was just the small matter of the 8 mile bike ride back to the car.

Where’s the car?

Somehow l don’t think l will be able to persuade Bill to join me on my next visit.

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