M126 | 1006 m. | 3301 ft.
Translation: The place of the sharp rocks
Pronuncation: an skaarsoch

Whoever invented the bicycle probably did not have the idea in mind of getting into remote mountain country more quickly than on foot. And Land Rover tracks did not exist then either since Land Rovers are even younger than the bicycle. These thoughts did – I admit – not occur to us when we left the Linn of Dee parking and cycled on the Land Rover track towards White Bridge one sunny but breezy morning in May 2013. With the wind blowing in our faces progress was a little slower than we had hoped for. Nonetheless we ticked of mile after mile in a steady fashion. Soon Glen Geldie was reached and we turned off to the right. The track only climbs in a moderate way and apart from one or two short steepish sections the going was very good on firm dirt and gravel.

Then the ford over the Geldie Burn came into view. We decided to leave the cycles on the left bank of the river, crossed the Geldie Burn using stepping stones and walked the 500 m or so to the ruins of Geldie Lodge. From there a very well-maintained track though empty land with alternating stretches of grass and heather formed the next leg of the hike. Where the path ends at the Allt a’Chaorainn the more or less trackless continuation through high heather began. The terrain rose gently at first then more steeply towards Carn an Fhidhleir’s north ridge. It started to snow and in the really strong wind this felt quite wintry. Then the shower was over and we gained the crest of the broad ridge of the Fiddler’s hill. The summit was not too far off, about a kilometre or so.

At the summit we paused for a very short while only since conditions were not really cosy at all: Strong wind chill, sleet and beckoning clouds. So on we went following the ridge in a southerly direction until the beallach between point 906m and An Sgarsoch’s west ridge was below us on the left-hand side. We took a break and then dropped down towards the beallach which was not too boggy – thank God! Once the peat hags were behind us the going up An Sgarsoch’s west ridge became quite pleasant underfoot. Higher up even a path developed which soon led us to the summit cairn of this second Munro of the day.

There the cairn offered more protection from the wind and some sunshine even added a cheerful note to this well-deserved rest. We were joined by two English baggers who had done the same tour as us. We chatted a bit and exchanged stories about where we had been this week and what we had seen. Quite a nice talk on an otherwise very lonely day in the Cairngorms. Then we shouldered our rucksacks again and walked down the hillside due north. About a hundred metres below the summit we discovered a wide and long snow field which made the descent in the direction of Sgarsoch Beag very easy indeed. We skirted Sgarsoch Beag on its east flank and headed towards the track which we reached in due time about a kilometre or two west of Geldie Lodge.

When we reached out bikes on the other side of the Geldie Burn our English mountain companions who had left their bikes at the same spot as us just headed of for the Linn of Dee. The return leg of the bicycle ride featured downhill racing at high speed. Thanks to the great quality of our bikes we made it back to the end of Glen Geldie in maybe 30 minutes. On the way we overtook the Englishmen who were riding on trekking bikes which could not be raced in the same ruthless way as our mountain ponies. After about 50 minutes we reached the Linn of Dee parking, peeled off our dirty rain gear, cleaned our faces wiping off the dirt of the Land Rover track, stuffed the bikes and the rucksacks into the back of our car and left for our house in Braemar. A nice warm shower and a cup of tea afterwards being on our minds.

An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidleir are two remote hills which made for a good long outing in the lonely hinterland of the Cairngorms. This was an interesting tour accomplished in typical Cairngorm fashion. 50% bike, 50% hike. Nice!

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Total distance: 42434 m
Max elevation: 1046 m
Min elevation: 372 m
Total climbing: 1324 m
Total descent: -1307 m
Total time: 07:51:06

Description These two very remote hills stand in one of the wildest and most inaccessible parts of the Highlands, more or less at the centre of the headwaters of the rivers Feshie, Geldie and Tarf. They are both smooth, gently sloping hills, with much rough heather and peaty ground on their lower slopes, but excellent walking on mossy turf on the upper parts. As regards access, these hills can be climbed by long expeditions which will take a full day, or possibly even two, by three possible routes: up Glen Feshie to the headwaters of the River Feshie, up the River Dee and its tributary the Geldie Burn, or up Glen Tilt and across the Tarf Water. The use of a bicycle on these routes is invaluable on the long approaches. On the Glen Tilt route, it is possible to cycle to Forest Lodge, then walk over to the Tarf bothy, from where it is still a long walk round the two hills by their southern ridges. The route by the Dee and the Geldie Burn gives rough cycling past the ruins of Geldie Lodge, but the track beyond there goes quite far up the northern side of An Sgarsoch and gives the nearest approach to these two hills that can be cycled.