THERE can be few more dramatic views in the Cairngorms than that from the summit of Sgor Gaoith.
You’re standing on the edge of a precipice, with cliffs plunging hundreds of feet down to Loch Einich. It’s as well not to venture too close to the edge, especially in windy weather.
And today was just like that. The wind was one of those that goes through you, not round you, and it was bitterly cold, even with the sun shining.
Things were a lot more pleasant in the shelter of Glen Feshie where I started my walk. I parked next to the Invereshie and Inshriach nature reserve sign alongside the glider field, being careful not to cause any obstruction.
Heading north-east on the forestry track, the only sound in the early morning was the “bicycle-pump” song of great tits in the pines. Passing one track junction I turned right at the next and followed the track to its end. A path then leads to a footbridge over the Allt a Mharcaidh and continues diagonally south-east through the trees, climbing gradually around the base of Creag Follais.
After a kilometre, zigzags head up the hill. Here I took another path straight on. Though marked on the map, it’s easy to miss and not well used by walkers. It traverses the side of Creag Dubh and I could see my first main objective ahead – Sgoran Dubh Mor.
Partway along the path I came across a solar-powered, camouflaged device (right) for monitoring snow patches on the hills at the head of the glen. And there are wildlife monitoring devices among the trees too.
Sgor Gaoith, a Munro, is the high point on a ridge stretching all the way from Creag Dubh and the Argyll Stone in the north to another Munro – Carn Ban Mor – in the south.
Once up there you can choose your route and just how far you want to go, enjoying expansive views all the time.
I left the path and began working my way through heather to the bealach under Clach Choutsaich. It was tough going but I knew once I got there the ridge path would make life a lot easier.
There was a downside, though, because now I had no protection from the freezing wind, which had turned any remnant snow patches rock hard.
I pressed on over an unnamed top at 803 metres then started climbing again up to Sgoran Dubh Beag and, beyond it, Sgoran Dubh Mor. Finding shelter behind the cairn, in the lee of the wind, I downed hot coffee and a sandwich.
A couple of walkers who’d come up from Auchlean in Glen Feshie had already been over Sgor Gaoith. They stopped to chat and I pointed out a couple of potential descent routes before they headed off.
Travel between Sgoran Dubh Mor and Sgor Gaoith is easy – probably why the former is not classed as a Munro, despite its height. The drop to Loch Einich was as impressive as ever. It really is a marvel of natural engineering.
But I wasn’t for hanging around in the cold so I backtracked to the bealach between the two high hills then detoured west over Meall Buidhe, aiming for the start of a path just beyond it. On the way up I came across a couple of ptarmigan, crouching low against the wind and staying on the snow for camouflage.
The path after Meall Buidhe can be a little hard to find. Once on it you contour round Geal-Charn and descend a slope above the Allt nan Cuileach, crossing it lower down to join a track leading back to the bridge spanning the Allt a Mharcaidh.
From there I retraced my steps along the outward tracks back to the glider field.