Country diary: reward awaits the hiker who makes it here

Country diary: reward awaits the hiker who makes it here

Glen Feshie, Cairngorms national park: This almost unreachable spot is quietly thriving with flowers rarely seen in these mountains

There is no path leading into Coire Garbhlach. From a distance it looks impenetrable, a steep-sided cutting that twists and turns deep into the flank of the Feshie hills. Even from its base in the wide glen, you can only glimpse the outer ramparts, its inner folds hidden and rarely explored. Garbhlach means “rough” and the old stalker’s trail that once wound through it has long since been rerouted to a Land Rover track over the hill.

To penetrate, we have to pick our way up the stony streambed or push through thick heather on the slopes. But the slog is worth it. Chiselled down by glaciers, the rock here has its origins 700m years back in the Dalradian sediments at the bottom of the Iapetus Ocean. Mostly schists, it is much older and more crumbly than the granite that covers most of the Cairngorms, and the combination of its soils and the relative shelter fosters a more varied range of flora than is usual for these mountains.

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