Monday, 13 October 2014

Loch Einich - Cairngorm Mountains

Our family holiday took us to the Highland town of Aviemore this year, situated within the Cairngorms National Park, the town is a very popular for skiing & other winter sports, also very popular for hill walking in the Cairngorm mountains, there is so much outdoor activities to do here that you can't fail to have a great time.
For me I had two cycle trails planned that I wanted to tick off my list, firstly 'Loch Einich' & secondly 'The Burma Road'. With so much planned to cram into our week the weather put paid to me completing both trails due torrential rain & flooding so I only managed the one trip, the Loch Einich route & it was an amazing epic journey.
'''Hello Aviemore'''

 My route can be seen in the above picture from Aviemore in the bottom left up through the ancient Scot's pine forests & then higher above the tree line into the mountains to Loch Einich in the top right
The Cairngorms National Park covers an area of 1,748 square miles & is Scotland's biggest & highest mountain range.

So popping into the local bike shop 'Bothy Bikes' I armed myself with one of their local maps covering this trail & headed off along the national cycle network route 7 towards the Old Logging Way.

After the 2 days of HEAVY rain there was a fair bit of flooding around the area & the mighty river Spey was well & truly in spate, not so good for the salmon fishing that it is famed for.

 I love these old industrial age riveted bridges & this one with it's cool manufacturers plaque.

 I did consider to bring my fly fishing gear with me but glad I didn't as the Rothiemurchus trout fishery was a wash out with the flooding, I don't think there will be many trout left in the ponds now as the photo above shows that even the fishery car park & shop are under water.

 Now onto the well looked after track of the old logging way I headed for the Rothiemurchas camp site to start the trail proper away from civilisation.

 A sign to take note off with a Red Deer cull in progress & not to daunder off the designated path. The culls are important for the eco-system for many reasons, man exterminated the deer's natural predators wolves & bears so they have to maintain a healthy controlled herd by taking out the weak old & injured deer, which also protects the plant life that the deer feed on too.
 Passing through Rothiemurchas camp site I noticed this cool tent with a wood burning stove, not a very lightweight tent for the bike though.

Typically my route of choice along Gleann Einich was like riding through a burn with all the flood water running down it which made for a hard cycle. 

 Beautiful dramatic views all around.
 For all the Gin drinkers there are juniper bushes everywhere.

 There are many trails to enjoy, but onwards & upwards for me to Loch Einich.
Flooding everywhere & at this point I wondered if I would be able to complete my mission as I knew that I had a lot of fords to cross.

 Stopping for a bite to eat & drink it was nice to sit in these surroundings amongst the Scot's pines looking over to the mountains & listening to the nature around me.

A route choice of the lower path following the river or the higher path with lofty views, but my path had to be the lower as a sign requested that bikes keep to the lower path to protect the surface of the higher route to the right.

 Beautiful smells along the trail with the autumnal rotting of the vegetation & further ahead I could hear the rumbling roar of the river.

The river 'Am Beanaidh' looked really violent with the amount of water flowing down it & the deafening noise.

 I couldn't help but keep stopping to admire my surroundings, nature at it's wildest best.

Continuing along the track soaking up the scenery & the snow has already started to cover the highest mountains.

 The start of many water crossing that lay ahead, even the deer stalker's Land Rover was parked up rather than risking driving through the fast flowing water.

Feeling very small surrounded by the mountains.

 The water crossings were cold & the current was quite hard to wade through.

Along the tracks edge at some points were ditches to catch the rain & melt water, and as you can see the peat & sphagnum moss was saturated with water.

 Again I could hear a distant rumble of water cascading down off the mountains slopes.

 Rivers of water cutting through the rocky slopes.

An unusual sight coming across this rowing boat & a sign that Loch Einich must be near by.

 Stunning mountain landscapes closing in around me.

More water to cross as it tumbles down the mountainside to join into the river Am Beanaidh which originates from Loch Einich.

 And here it is Loch Einich a secluded mountain loch surrounded by the mountains Sgoran Dubh Mor, Sgor Gaoith, Carn Ban Mor, Carn Na Criche & behind Scotland's third highest munro Braeriach.

The loch had crystal clear water & if it was summer I would not of hesitated to strip bollock naked & jump in for a dook, but as it is October & freezing cold water I thought better of it & will save this swim for another day.

 An absolutely stunning place pure & unspoilt & I had the place all to myself, so after I spent a bit of time admiring & filling my belly I about turned to head back.

With the low sun now behind me I was hoping to see some Red Deer herds on the mountain slopes, but unfortunately I never saw any although it would be easy to miss them in this huge landscape !

 I couldn't help myself from looking back to where I'd came from, I was in pure awe of the scenery around me.

Back over the freezing cold water crossings & a good excuse to look around again.

 From this side you can clearly see the Land Rover track crossing the river but when it's swollen like this the Land Rover would of been swept down stream without a doubt.

Milk & sugar anyone ? 
The water was clear & tainted with the peat which looked like tea.

Following the rumbling river & a clear indication that I was dropping in altitude as I entered back into the tree zone.

 The flooded footpaths made for a hard cycle as the path felt very loose & washed out under the tyres.

Beautiful Scot's pine tree's & it was very noticeable that these were the only species of tree to be seen around me.

 More deer stalkers vehicles parked up on the way back, but I still saw no deer.

 Spotting a track cut into the hills far in the distance I stopped to get my OS map from my backpack to discover that it was the 'Burma Road' track that I could see. Now that's a hill climb & I now know why that route is part of the mountain bikers bucket list for Scotland !
Next year for sure.
A hiker up ahead wading through the flooded pathway but they were sensible & took their socks & boots off...Why didn't I think of that !!

 Back to the cross roads I passed en route to Loch Einich but this time I would take the trail passing Loch an Eilein. 
The bottom picture you can see the ski runs & funicular railway climbing up on the slopes of the Cairngorm mountain, the mountain of which the national park is named after.

 Even this way I had flooded fords to cross. I did notice at various points that there are loads of huge rocks & boulders showing scars of when glaciers scraped over the top of them.

On the right track back to Aviemore.

The peaceful Loch an Eilein where I foolishly never done my homework as it wasn't until after I got back to the holiday house I remembered that there is a small island in the loch with a castle built on it which people often swim out to, so that's another reason that I need to come back next year during the hot summer months though.

A old but cool house marked on the map as Forest cottage nestled amongst the tree's above the shores of Loch an Eilein & it even has an outside toilet.

 Would love a swim in here.

 A canoeist paddling through the tranquil waters of the loch.

 Turning right at Milton cottage & back along the woodland trails of the Rothiemurchas forest where I spotted this huge fungi protruding from a dead birch tree. The tree's really are stunning here Scot's pine & birches everywhere & the birches are looking at their best showing off their autumn colours.
A short journey back along the national cycle network route 7 & I was soon back to my holiday home feeling euphoric & very pleased with the day I had on the bike cycling this beautiful part of Scotland where I only scratched the surface of the mountain biking trails that are here, so with that in mind after Christmas I will be booking a holiday back here & definitely during the summer when the weather is more dependable & nights are longer so I can do another couple of routes the 'Burma Road' & maybe the 'Lairig Ghru' glacial route & maybe even a wild camp along the Lairig Ghru :-/ but Loch Einich for a swim I will be doing for sure.

I hope you enjoyed the ride & thanks for reading.