Wild moment: Chris Burfitt

Published: 30th May 2016

"An epic two day high altitude walk which rarely dipped below 900 metres and included an amazing wild camp in sub zero temperatures..."

On a sunny day in early May I parked up opposite the Glenshee ski centre, pulled on my rucksack and set off down the road to the Devil’s Elbow and struck out into the mountains.

Allt Coire a’Bhathaich was in spate, the heavy snows of the previous few days were melting fast, so I had to climb quite high before a splash through the stream and a short ascent to the ridge. Mountain hares shot away from me as I climbed, some still in their winter white, others in their new spring clothes.

Chris Burfitt Creag Leacach

Reaching the summit I watched a squall of snow scudding across the mountains to the south, rain clearly visible as it lashed down on Allt an Daimh.

Chris Burfitt Glas Maol

Following the amazing dry stone dyke along the summit ridge, the wind was at my back, and the snow swirled around as I headed up Glas Maol, the trappings of the ski area hidden under the snow. A lone set of tracks from another walker the only other evidence of human habitation, the distant cars on the road through the Cairnwell Pass my only reminder of civilisation.

Cairn of Claise and Carn an Tuirc were my next destinations, the summits clearly visible in the distance, drawing me towards them, draped in an icy grasp, and then finally for the day the long trek to Tom Buidhe and my camp for the night.

Chris Burfitt sunrise over Tolmount

What a cold night! But the reward of an amazing sunrise over Tolmount made it all worthwhile and a warming bowl of porridge soon had me back up to temperature and ready for another day’s walking. Forcing my way into frozen boots I packed up and set off for the stately heights of Tolmount, then continued along the ridge to Fafernie, the craggy summit of Cairn Bannoch and finally spectacular natural rock formations of Broad Cairn, with wonderful views down to Loch Muick and the light glistening on Eagles Rock.

Chris Burfitt Broad Cairn

Then the long walk out, enjoying the wonderful early spring sunshine, the mountain hares my constant companions. As I walked out into Allt a’Gharbh Choire a mountain hare in its winter coat appeared only metres away from me, sat stone still on the snow. And then, off it went! Its long back legs propelling it at an unbelievable speed, it soon disappeared and I was left alone again.

In two days I hadn’t seen another soul, a truly amazing wild experience in one of Britain’s most wonderful and wildest places.

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