Manny Gorman led our bike-hike from Linn of Dee to Geldie Lodge ruins and the Munros behind. Here's his take on the day...
After a quick meeting at Braemar to pick up a bike for the long cycle into Geldie Lodge ruin, Susan, Sheena, Andrew, Isobel and I reconvened at our starting point, Linn of Dee. The forecast was for a dry and calm morning, followed by a very windy and wet afternoon, so we were pleased to leave bang-on scheduled 9am. The initial 8 miles were a mixture of sensations for old biking hands having fun, and those getting reacquainted with 2 wheels and sore bottoms, but we finally splooshed across the double river crossing to the prominent old Geldie ruins, with chilly feet. So far so good!
After a quick snack to recharge our batteries, we enjoyed a relaxed stroll out on the well formed stalkers path to the Allt a’ Chaorainn at the foot of our first big climb, onto the broad ridge of Hill of The Fiddler. Sadly the clouds had rolled in and stuck firmly to the summits, but encouragingly did not appear to be lowering any further. We took it easy on the long steep plod up the east face and were all relieved to gain the shorter grass and mosses higher up before following the obvious trod to the summit, but now facing into a biting wind. Isobel and Andrew were striding out strongly and Susan not far behind, with Sheena and me following behind. We all regrouped at the windy summit with a smile for our photos before pressing on down the other side, eventually gaining welcome shelter at the peat-haggy coll for a good break and a big feed. Along the way we spotted several pairs of nervous Ptarmigan, trying to sneak away from their spring nests near the path.
Even though we were now well down on schedule, everyone was still game for attacking the second hill, all appreciating the remoteness of the hills and keen not to have to come back in for a single top! The group stayed steady up the last 1000ft climb back into the clag, and were relieved that the bad weather had not materialised entirely as forecast, but were still glad to find the large stone summit cairn to briefly hide out the wind for our celebratory photo shots. We had to press on down the heathery north slopes skirting around wee Scarsoch Bheag to regain the stalkers path back to old Geldie Lodge. Our long tramp back was cheered up considerably with an hour of unexpected sunshine through the black shower clouds, shining on a herd of red deer by the Geldie Burn and highlighting beautifully the confluence of the Feshie/Geldie waters. It was with weary legs that we took a final pause in the old ruins lean-to shed for a last bite to eat, before plunging into the cold river crossings again and the thankfully wind-assisted ride back to Linn of Dee.
Our near 12 hour day had certainly taken its toll on a few weary feet, legs and bottoms but all showed great determination to continue and complete two of the most awkward Munros on the list. Well done to everyone! After changing we all retreated the Braemar chippy where at least some calories were replaced!
It was a pleasure to walk with such a sociable group and I hope to meet some again for future walks in our fabulous mountains.