Loch Eanaich on the fatty

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You have climbed 92/282 munros.

A few weeks ago I discovered a mountain bike route to Loch Eanaich. Incidentally, some maps notably the 100K series planners call it Loch Einich, and so do the signposts. Whereas on the OS 50K and 25K maps it's Loch Eanaich.

Cairngorm and Lurchers Crag
Cairngorm and Lurchers Crag

Whatever. This route was described as about 18miles and graded as technical and fitness: moderate. Hmm, I wouldn't call my fitness moderate, just slow. So I thought it would be an interesting challenge. Being largely out and back I could always turn back if it looked too dodgy for me.

So on Tuesday the 11th July I headed down to Aviemore and went for a bike ride. A new frame bag arrived first thing and so after a quick fitting a spare tube and puncture repair kit was dropped in it. Just in case, it could be a long walk back to the van. I parked at the woodland car park in Inverdruie and after some faff set off up the Old Logging Track to Coylumbridge. Turning off the well graded and compacted Track, onto a less well maintained track initially alongside the campsite, I found the my way barred by a succession of gates. All unlocked, but I had to dismount for each one. Bit tedious.

It was a while before the interesting bits occurred, but the view as the woodland cleared a little lifted my spirits somewhat.

Track to Glen Eanaich and northern coires of Braeriach
Track to Glen Eanaich and northern coires of Braeriach

Strangely the wind was supposed to be from the north west, but heading predominantly south I had a head wind which made the ~300m of height to gain something of a struggle at times. Tree roots, and occasional puddles didn't help me much. Just after a water spash I took the recommended right onto a land rover track which climbed steeply. They weren't kidding. Nor about the descent the other side. I took it slow, at both ends. By now the forecast rain had started early. Suppose it was being helpful, to ease me into what would come just along the track a bit.

The thing with water-splashes, or burns crossing the track, is the way the water goes all over you. Mudguards help to cut it down a bit, maybe. I don't really have mudguards. You've got the picture.

To be fair, a burn crossing that is a bit longer was mentioned in passing. However, being tired and not really experienced whilst on a bike, I hadn't really got the hang of them. So I ended up a bit wet. I didn't fall in, only feet went in. I walked the bike out of the Beanaidh Beag. Ho hum. Positive side was really not caring it was still raining. I overtook a small group of walkers.

DD70 at Loch Eanaich
Fatbike at Loch Eanaich

Loch Eanaich stands in a glacial cirque, or corrie, below Sgor Gaoith to the west. And Braeriach to the east. The outfall heads north down Gleann Eanaich, and to the south the waterfalls of the Allt Loch nan Cnapan tumble into Coire Odhar.

My peace and quiet at the loch side was interrupted by the arrival of the walkers. Not that I could take exception to them being there, perhaps they too wanted to be in peaceful surroundings. They did however give me the excuse to pack away, and head back.

The rain had stopped and as I climbed away from the loch I looked back to take a few photos. Crossing the Beanaidh Beag was achieved with only new splashes of water in my shoes. The technique was to keep to the downstream side, easing into the water carefully, and then powering through as best as possible. I spotted the rocks that had scuppered my outward dry feet and bounced over them with a chuckle.

With a good tail wind, and mostly heading downhill I zipped along. Perhaps a little too fast at times. Skipping over rocks the size of your head isn't so wise when you don't really know what you are doing. I veered off the outward route to glimpse Loch an Eilein to follow the road to Milton Cottage where I turned onto a popular little track that passes the picturesque Lochan Mor. Little loch big, I think it means! Inverdurie was soon reached on the rest of the winding and muddy track.

The Beanaidh Beag crossing
The Beanaidh Beag crossing

All in all, a good ride out. It certainly challenged me. I notice that I was a lot more confident on the way back, with only a few exceptions. Even managed to jump the odd rock directly in my way. I'm learning. All good.

Tags: fatbike, outdoor, scotland Written 12/07/16 

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