I’d been busy with work over the past few weeks so hadn’t had much of an opportunity to get out cycling or walking recently, but with the first snow of the winter falling on the hills that was all the excuse I needed, so I headed north towards Blair Atholl. I parked at the car park at Old Bridge of Tilt, just to the north of the village.
The ground was covered in icy snow that had obviously been lying since last night, so I slithered my way out of the car park on my bike, cycling up towards Old Blair for the view south over Glen Garry. I then cycled back down to Old Bridge of Tilt and up the minor road towards Tirnie, turning off at Kincraigie with the intention of taking the track up Glen Tilt.
However, when I got to the gate at Kincraigie it was looking pretty wild further up Glen Tilt, so I turned around and retraced my route to Fenderbridge, crossing the Fender Burn and turning up the south side of Glen Fender. After an initial steep climb the road flattens out a bit, and rounding a corner I saw what looked like a standing stone. Getting closer showed that it was in fact a much more recent memorial. Soon after the road passes by the two lochs both named Loch Moraig, and on the smaller one closer to the road a group of swans were floating on the cold, clear water.
The surfaced road ends here, splitting into two rough tracks – one heading north to the farm of Monzie and the other an estate track heading east. I took the second of these tracks and was soon climbing through thick snow, struggling to stay on my bike as my thick summer tyres struggled to find any grip on the slippery surface. The track here skirts around the bottom of Carn Liath (the rocky grey hill) which wasn’t living up to its name today, completely covered in smooth, white snow.
Not long after the track splits in two, where I stopped to eat a late lunch, and as I did a blizzard started blowing so I got down out of the wind and snow and ate my sandwiches as it passed. It didn’t last too long, so I set off back the way I’d come in light snow, not realising that the track actually ended at Allt Girnaig only another kilometre further on from where I’d stopped. Going downhill in the snow was so much easier than trying to climb uphill in it, slithering and sliding my way back down to the road. It felt like it had taken hours to cycle up from Old Bridge of Tilt since it was uphill all the way, but it took a fraction of the time to cycle back down, the wind and snow whistling past as I went.
Back at the car I disassembled my bike and warmed up with some most welcome soup, then slipped and slid out of the car park and drove down to the Garry Bridge and along Strathtummel to Queen’s View, hoping to take photo of Schiehallion with the sun setting beyond it, but unfortunately I was just too late and had to settle for a less spectacular picture before heading south for home.