I set off from Dunkeld on a cloudy morning after overnight snow. All went well at first. Pleasant tracks took me up to Mill Dam. But after that, the high road to Loch Ordie (pictured-bottom) presented a minor challenge. The surface of mud, covered by several inches of fresh wet snow, was to blame.
Loss of traction resulted in the sort of 'balling-up' normally experienced with crampons. The mudguards balled up frequently, resulting in very slow progress - riding, pushing and carrying the bike - to the path that leads to Lochan na Beinne and Deuchary Hill. Abandoning the bike for an hour or so, I set off up the hill, immediately regretting having forgotten my snow shoes!
The summit of Deuchary Hill (pictured-top) would be a pleasant spot on a summer's day, but today's icy easterly made for just a few quick snaps and an appreciative glance at the views, before hastening down to a sheltered spot for a cuppa, where I'd seen red deer scrabbling in the snow (they are very literate!) and buzzards mewing overhead.
Back at the bike after my 4km hike, with fresh energy for the pedals, it didn't take long to reach Lochordie Lodge. Balling-up was no longer a problem after this, but the scenic track around Loch Ordie made for challenging riding due to deep pools of water and wide tracts of deep mud. It was hard at times to maintain momentum. Life became much easier after another cuppa, with aerial crisps (they blew away) by the bridge at the north end of the loch. Deuchary Hill looked far more distant than it actually was (2.5km).
Good tracks now led past Raor Lodge and towards Mill Dam, before which I took the south westerly Atholl Forest track, turning NW then south for a final lovely fast and rough descent back to the Hilton in Dunkeld.
An excellent 28km, four hour excursion in fine weather. Great fun!
Next: A Plod With Reg - you can't beat one of those! The bike will stay at home.
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