The Lairig Ghru

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The Lairig Ghru

The Lairig Ghru - A walk to remember

One of our favourite walks in Scotland, the Lairig Ghru was once one of the main routes used for driving cattle and transporting goods through the Cairngorm mountains. This walk has everything, old Caledonian pine forests, stunning views and crystal clears waters. The sparkling waters of the Lui, Luibeg, Dee and Druidh travel with you as you journey along the route. The source of the mighty river Dee can be seen falling from its beginnings at the Wells of Dee beside the mighty Braeriach, down the falls and into Garbh Choire Dhàidh. The Garbh Choire being Scotland’s most remote Choire and up until the summer of 2018 held snow longer than any other snow area. 2017 and 2018 has sadly seen this snow melt consecutively for the first time in recorded history. These long lasting snow patches named Sphinx and Pinnacles can usually be spotted from Lairig Ghru, more info here.

As you walk a short while over the boulder field at the top of the Lairig the beautiful Pools of Dee appear. They are just small pools but the water is so pure and very transparent on a calm day. Brown trout minnows can sometimes be seen darting around or coming up for air. It’s worth stopping here for a moment to absorb your remote surroundings.

 The Pools of Dee

The Pools of Dee

The Lairig also has some human history to share. There’s the sad story of Clach nan Taillear, the beginnings of Corrour and Bob Scott’s bothies, Sinclair memorial hut and the old archeological settlements along the route.

 Corrour Bothy

Corrour Bothy

It’s a challenging walk and not one to be taken lightly, a degree of fitness is required and some long walks prior is a good idea, especially if your breaking in new boots! Snow can accumulate here well into late spring. The walk reaches an altitude of 835m at the high point where you will find a boulder field and the wonderous Pools of Dee. From Linn o’ Dee to Coylumbridge you’ll travel 32km!

The surrounding mountains on both sides of the Lairig Ghru tower above you creating a ‘V’ shaped gap, with the massive Ben Macdui on one side, Braeriach on the other. The pass gives a rich variety of woodland and mountain scenery. It had a wide variety of mountain flora too. It truly is the best mountain pass in Scotland.

We run guided walks throughout the summer months with return transport included. contact us to discuss and have a look at our events.

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Cause and Effects of littering?

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Cause and Effects of littering?

Cause and effects of littering?

A long time ago in a former job I once spent a week on a really good root cause analysis course. After the course I put some of the learning into practice and went on to lead some pretty significant RCAs, helping to solve and prevent problems that had reasonably large consequences.

How do you solve the litter problem? I did a blog on this a couple of years ago but thought I’d refresh the issue after spending yesterday cleaning up Bennachie for the Real3Peaks Challenge. Some of the problems are accidental, some are just lacking understanding but unfortunately some are just deliberate selfishness.
If you were to complete a full RCA on an issue like this the “caused by” chart would be huge and go deep into society.

 The Bennachie team

The Bennachie team

Millions of pounds is spent each your on cleaning up litter, perhaps not enough on education? I do believe if we spent more money on the right messages the problem would reduce. We need to make the issue more personal to everyone, not to just people like myself that love and care for wild places. Can you imagine what the mess would be like if nobody cared? Time / money spent cleaning up is waste too. Time / money that could be put to better things.

The full report on Bennachie can be read below. The Real3Peaks Challenge Facebook page has reports from other areas too.

One thing you can do to help is just pick up something every day. Litter attracts litter. Leave no trace. Take only pictures, leave only footprints….

Thanks

Garry.

 Lots of plastic :(

Lots of plastic :(

Bennachie report

A beautiful calm day for our walk up Mither Tap and Oxen Craig (the higher hill..) today.
Huge thanks to all those who volunteered and to those who could make the original day but not today, hopefully see you next year.
In the end we had an excellent team of 10, myself, Sarah, Emma, Sam, Helen, Keira, Rory, Iain, Lachlan (Cairn Terrier) and Luna (woof). We split into two groups, one departing from the back o’ Bennachie carpark up to Oxen Craig and the other from Rowan Tree car park up Mither Tap, then back down to visitor centre car park.
A wide variety of items totalling 15.4km (possibly underestimated, dubious weighing method..) was picked up, including......Cans, plastic bottles, glass, foam, crisp bags, sweetie papers, 3x BBQs (2 at the top of Oxen Craig), golf tee, condom packet, 2 air fresheners...Orange peels, banana skins, apple cores, chewing gum, poo bags (some on trees), a mitten, wipes, cigarette ends, Costa Coffee cups, yogurt pots, plant pot, bottle of pee (possibly..), Macdonalds cup, pink highlighter, pot of bubbles and odd socks!
Bennachie is a beautiful hill in Aberdeenshire and is regularly cleaned and looked after by volunteers and rangers. Huge thanks to The Bennachie Visitor Centre, Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service, Forestry Commission Scotland and Bailies of Bennachie for the excellent work they do. Thanks to Recycling and Waste Aberdeenshire for the loan of the litter sticks and support.
Thanks,
Garry


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Landscape and wildlife photography - venues, cameras and the know-how!

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Landscape and wildlife photography - venues, cameras and the know-how!

I sometimes take two cameras into the hills with me, I suppose if you count my emergency phone then three! My wee Canon EOS-M has interchangeable lenses which is great for some wildlife pics and I also have an adapter that means it can take almost any lens. It’s a great little camera but my one regret is it has no viewfinder eyepiece, so looking at the screen on bright days is useless. The newer version has a viewfinder, I can’t justify it though! The 200mm lens is good enough for my wildlife shots as I’m usually close enough anyway and with the other group kit I take in my bag, this camera and lens is heavy enough for me! 

 Ptarmigan 200mm lens  

Ptarmigan 200mm lens  

I’ve also found out the Canon can also be used to carry water and still be used after it dries out. OK, this is not recommended but did happen to me during a guided tour of the coliseum, me being guided for a change and completely forgetting to look after my kit! (We bailed after 20mins of torrential rain and cold wind..) 

 Views from Sgòr Mòr 

Views from Sgòr Mòr 

Frustratingly landscape photos are sometimes better on my IPhone which is fine as it makes it so quick and easy to share. I must take hundreds of photos so I guess I’m getting better at framing the shot and knowing what works. My Canon is good in low light conditions or for night shots, the phone is just not up to the task. I’ve been lucky to snap Aurora shots and weather ones too. 

 Hopeman beach storms

Hopeman beach storms

 Aurora in my garden

Aurora in my garden

My shots are mostly luck though....don’t ask me to explain an ISO or F number...but I could probably give enough advice to get you going! Luckily I have some friends that pass on tips and they will be joining me for a photography workshop next month as we head to the loch of Lochnagar for some landscape and hopefully wildlife photography. The #IGERSAberdeen team will be on hand to give advice and explain correctly how to take those perfect shots. I’ll be in the background with my IPhone taking snaps and trying to look as though I know what I’m doing! I will be able to point out the interesting features though and take them to an amazing place. If you’d like to join this walk get in touch, you can reserve a place here.  

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