One of the Last Great British Adventures…….
During mid August Ian, Nick and I headed to the Cairngorms ably assisted by my fiancé Anne Lumsden.
The sole purpose of this trip was to recce what we believed to be the more challenging legs of the land-based sections. We spent 3 days covering a variety of terrain, with day 1 involving an ascent of Cairngorm Mountain (1245m). We did this on mountain bikes and for Nick a specially made off-road hand bike. The day was mixed with weather but finally finished with amazing views and a very fast descent back down to the car park at Coire Cas.
This day proves that we can manage to get off the mountain at the end of the harder leg using STEEP land rover tracks and plenty of fun. Cairngorm is familiar with plenty of holidaymakers both in summer and winter, but lugging these bikes to the top certainly made some heads turn.
‘Cairngorm Mountain Ltd’ the ski lift and funicular railway operators have also offered their support in the Expedition, hopefully allowing our support and camera crew to the summit, via the train.
The second day involved yet again more mountain biking but also some serious walking. Starting at the Linn of Dee, we cycled on relatively good land rover tracks up to Derry Lodge before ditching these and getting onto our feet and stumps.
This day was all about getting an accurate time for us over rough terrain that is either too steep or narrow to ride. With Nick, using his ‘Stubbies’ and crutches, progress was always going to be slower, but Nick is a beast and easily smashed out the kilometres.
This is great news for us and although we never summited Ben MacDui (we had to return the same way) it means come the real adventure we can get over Ben MacDui and Cairngorm hopefully in a day albeit potentially a very long one, before riding down off the summit before dark.
Our final recce day reversed what will actually be the first day in the challenge come the real deal in the area. The road biking section will take us to Blair Atholl, where we plan to hop onto more off-road style bikes and approach the Cairngorms.
Our recce comprised of reversing this day but essentially we will cycle up Glen Tilt, up to the watershed, across this for 6km and then descend into Glen Dee. The watershed crossing was our concern; this section will need to be walked, as it is too narrow and steep for the hand bike. This section also involves several serious river crossings. Should the weather consist of heavy rain during the trip it will make this section epic and hard work.
I would like to say a massive thanks to everyone who helped out with this recce, whether it be by land access, cheers of support or general help and top tips it all helps and I massively look forward to going back to one of the Country’s true wildernesses during the final expedition.