Wintry Bivvy in Gleann an-Slugain

An intended forest walk and bivvy in Aberdeenshire was not to be after heavy snow on the road put paid to further progress as we approached the Huntly area, so a retreat back towards Braemar with a new plan was put in to action instead.

Leaving Keiloch and passing through the Invercauld Estate, we followed first tarmac, then forest tracks to Gleann an-Slugain. A plantation of trees low down in the glen gave us our first thought of setting up camp for the night but after finding a suitable site, we decided instead to press on with hours of daylight remaining and the hope of finding something further up the glen where it narrows.

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Gleann an-Slugain

Gleann an-Slugain

Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen

Arriving at the Fairy Glen, the highest and narrowest part of the Glen, we spied a couple of flat spots with trees which might come in useful for setting up the tarp. We continued on though, to the ruin of Slugain Lodge and dropped the bags for a lighter walk the remaining few hundred meters to the highest point where we took in views over to Beinn a’Bhuird.

Beinn a'Bhuird

Beinn a’Bhuird

Remains of Slugain Lodge

Remains of Slugain Lodge

Back at the ruin, we decided against using it as a bivvy spot and dropped back to the most ideal one we had seen on our approach, an idyllic, flat area next to a cascading burn and with a gnarled old tree which we could anchor one end of the tarp to.

Bivvy site

Bivvy site

Tarp up, sleeping bags out and lunch had and it was not long before our cessation of activity had us cooling down and thoughts were drawn to the assembled firebox. By now it was rapidly darkening too and we got to getting the heating on. First go though proved frustrating and a little disheartening, paper and twigs just would not get the wood going and it looked like we might be in for a cold night and worse still the prospect of carrying the wood back out in the morning. Never give up! We got the pen-knifes out and after twenty warming minutes, had whittled enough chippings to have a second, more fruitful go at the fire. Phew, it worked.

20 minutes effort

20 minutes effort

Ignition

Ignition

Dinner, whisky and chat, then to finish off our evening once the wood was all gone we had a short, late-night walk back up to the ruin and down again. Quite a surreal scene in torchlight.

We both had a mostly comfortable night under the tarp with spells of fine, powdery snow dusting our faces through the night just to remind us that it was winter and awoke to a much wintrier scene, what had been barely dusted with snow was now pretty much blanketed, a gorgeous scene to wake up to.

Morning!

Morning!

Beinn a'Bhuird

Beinn a’Bhuird

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One final walk up to the ruin and again beyond to our previous high point for a view of the changed scene above then back to pack up and leave for home. The tarp has already proven itself to be a useful bit of kit and really without it we’d have had a pretty long and uncomfortable night unless we could have found the elusive howff in the area which we did not manage to do.

View back down Fairy Glen and Gleann an-Slugain

View back down Fairy Glen and Gleann an-Slugain

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