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  1. #1
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    Feb 2004

    Following rivers to the sea: part 1

    With a couple of days to spend riding, an overnighter long overdue and some mixed weather a route presented itself that would follow some of the most well known and beautiful rivers in the southern Cairngorm area.

    The train delivered me to Pitlochry on Thursday afternoon and despite some anxiety regarding how much and what sort of precipitation I would encounter, I was happy to start pedaling alongside the River Tummel, past Loch Faskally and the gorgeous singletrack at Killiecrankie.

    The sun still had some warmth as I turned north at Blair Atholl to follow the River Tilt and I enjoyed the light on the hills enclosing the ever deepening glen as I climbed towards the waterfall where the River Tarf joins the Tilt.

    Unfortunately, my luck with the weather was beginning to erode and some very cold rain had me head down and shivering.

    It soon passed and the sublime track through upper Glen Tilt, which has been improved to drain some of the peat bog and offer a clearer, more ridable line, was awesome as the sun began to dip towards the horizon.

    I was still anxious about crossing the Geldie Burn, but had noted how low the Tilt was and I hoped that it would not offer a significant barrier. Past the ruin of Bynack Lodge, I found the fording of the smaller Bynack Burn to be rideable and on reaching the Geldie, was stoked to find it also rideable. I have crossed this river a number of times and I have never seen it as low - even in mid summer. Incredible.

    With barely damp toes, my concern for a very cold night were lessened slightly. The rain was holding off and the forecast for possible snow seemed remote though the predicted overnight high winds were clearly beginning to drive cloud over the Cairngorm Plateau at a significant clip.

    Fortune was with me and the wind offered a helping hand as I sped along side the River Dee, through Mar Lodge and then into the regenerated Caledonian pine forest just east of Braemar.

    The sun finally dropped fully behind the mountains and with it the temperature plummeted. My tent and sleeping kit set up was swift, with me shivering in my puff jacket. A warm meal and a couple of beers saw me asleep with a great days ride behind me.

    Tomorrow would be some known and some unknown as I aimed to reach the sea on the east coast.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2006

  3. #3
    This place needs an enema
    Reputation: mikesee's Avatar
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    Aug 2003


    How is it that one can live in Scotland as long as you have and still fear (or even notice?) rain?!

    That'd be like me checking the local forecast and wondering if I should apply sunscreen. In both cases, it's just a given, right?!

    "River Tilt" made me giggle. Can't even say exactly why.

    Unless you didn't snap pics of the "gorge", the sign seemed a little overblown.

  4. #4
    Reputation: Flying_Scotsman's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    How is it that one can live in Scotland as long as you have and still fear (or even notice?) rain?!
    Us Scots don't tend to notice it on the way down out the sky, it's when it bounces off the ground and splashes you in the face that you know its proper rain.... that stuff gets you twice!

    Useless Fact, my Uncle worked on the project to renovate Mar Lodge; a roofer left his blow lamp running whilst eating lunch when they were just about finishing it off, it practically burnt it to the ground. They were back the next week and started all over again!

    Nice write-up, look forward to part 2.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
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    Feb 2004
    @Flying_Scotsman interesting story! its a pretty crazy building - i was tempted to peer in the window and see if i could see all the deer horns, but didnt.

    @Mikesee - yes - i really ought to be less of a wuss about the rain! i think repeated soakings may have shrunk my....cojones!
    the gorge bit is hidden from easy photos by a bank of trees on the edge. you can see it as you walk/ride along, but my point and shoot and my skills were not up to the task!

  6. #6
    This place needs an enema
    Reputation: mikesee's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Wasn't calling you out! You went (and often do) when the forecast looked as it did. I typically wouldn't/won't, at least until it's frozen instead of pissing!

  7. #7
    Ambassador of Chub
    Reputation: Smithhammer's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
    Great trip report again, dRjOn. Thanks for taking us along - I really love seeing that country, so different from where I live. Keep 'em coming!
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

  8. #8
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
    Reputation: MendonCycleSmith's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Thanks, really appreciate your posts. Gorgeous country, as always.

    Yeah, River Tilt got me too, not sure why either....
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

    - FrostyStruthers

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