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Scotland - Day 3 : The lake

In the morning everything was foggy and frozen. It was only slightly less windy than the night before. We went to get water at a nearby stream which turned out to have frozen during the night. We also learned the 'ice frog' was actually a bird.

camping in cairngorms

In the morning everything was covered in ice

After a breakfast of dry granola we packed our equipment. Nic asked what time we would leave, to which we replied in around 10 minutes. Ten minutes later everyone was standing ready in the freezing cold, while Nic was still lying in his sleeping bag and asked 'have you guys already left your sleeping bags?'.


A bit later we could really get going. There was a waterfall running towards the lake, which was way too steep to follow it down. Instead, we walked uphill over some snow. From there we needed to go down a steep slope before reaching the path leading to the lake. Instead of walking over the snow, Bart and I sat down and sled downhill. Nic took out his matress and went down the hill head first. Unfortunately we didn't film it. After the descent we needed to climb again before making the final descend towards the lake. There were many loose rocks. 

Voor de afdaling naar het meer.

snow in the cairngorms
hiking in the cairngorms

View down the valley 

We needed to cross the river the waterfall ended up in, but it was flowing pretty fast. After half an hour we found a promising place to cross. We needed to jump across four rocks but eventually all made it to the other side without getting wet. Now we had to climb up on the other side of the valley. It was a lot less cold here, now we were out of the wind. The path uphill was again very narrow and eventually covered in snow. To motivate the rest I told them we were 'more or less' at the top but somehow they didn't believe me.

Lakes in the cairngorms


backpacking in cairngorms

Bram en Bart.

hiking in scotland
snowy mountains in the cairngorms

On top of the slope was a swampy plain. Near a stream I sank into the spongy ground up to my ankles. José still decided to follow me and got two wet socks as a reward. After this climb we would end up in a relatively flat valley, which the rest of course didn't believe. Bart and José started counting how often I said we were 'more or less' somewhere, so to tease them I stopped saying it all together. 

hiking in northern scotland

After descending into the valley the others had to admit that it was pretty level. There was a small stream and a shelter. It was still cold. Nic had sore ankles and a lot of blisters, which made it hard for him to keep up. 

shelters in the cairngorms

The shelter

We ate lunch in the shelter. There were some poems on the wall which inspired Nic to start writing one himself, it would be about the ice frog. Before we continued Nic needed to powder something. Apparently it was very normal to powder that body part in the USA. While doing it you were supposed to shout 'wachaa', otherwise it wouldn't work as well. 

When we left the cabin we were happy it had gotten warmer. The remainder of the day we walked through the valley. There was a path along a river and quite a few other hikers. After more than an hour we took a second break while lying in the sun. That morning it had been -5 degrees with a freezingly cold wind, now we were baking.

rivers in the cairngorms

Along the river

The path along the river ended at the park's rescue service. We studied the map again. We could either take a detour or follow my original route. Since Nic's feet were hurting more and more we decided to take the shortest route possible. That way we could be reasonably sure to get back to Aviemore in time to take the train, two days later.


We took a right turn and followed a large road along the river. The path kept getting smaller and eventually we needed to cross the river. There was a place to wade through, but we happen to notice a bridge 300 meters away that wasn't mentioned on our map. After scrambling through the bushes we managed to reach it.


On the other bank Nic needed to go to the 'bathroom'. Of course there weren't any, so he sat down behind a pine tree. Unfortunately for us it wasn't a very large tree and it wasn't very far away. He finished just in time to pull up his pants when two other hikers passed by. They were lucky not to be scarred for live. An hour ago I had said we would stop in 45 minutes, but because I wanted to make sure everyone would be really tired before reaching the train, I encouraged everyone to continue for another hour.

camping in cairngorms national park

Our camp for the night

Around 19:00 we found a nice place to sleep, next to a river. The ground was a bit swampy though. We again cooked our freeze dried meals. The stoves worked a lot better now it wasn't freezing. 

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