David managed (was strongly encouraged) to take last minute leave this week, so as the children were in the middle of their Tatty Holidays, we thought it was an ideal opportunity to pop down to visit his family in Fife. His dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and is quite poorly, so it’s good to visit from time to time as they can’t travel up here so easily. An added incentive was that his middle sister was away for the weekend and happy to loan us their house so we could enjoy several short visits over a few days, making for a more leisurely weekend.
When we returned, we hoped the weather would be good enough to do some walking, but perhaps not as much as I would have liked. I would have loved to visit Glen Affric this time of year and take a stroll around the loch, but it’s a long journey from here for a day out, so to warm up our legs on a low level walk, David and I stayed local for a walk on Wednesday around Romach Hill and the loch there that we’ve done before. It was a pleasant enough day, not too cold, but with an unexpected snow shower! A total of 13.5 km, 315 m ascent and 3 hrs 32 mins, so a reasonably quick sprint and nothing remarkable, except none of the children could be bothered to get up and join us!
Yesterday, we attempted our third assault on Bynack More. Again, I thought we were being a little ambitious. It’s a walk that David and I could do very comfortably and even with the start of winter in the hills, I wouldn’t have been too worried. We could easily have set off at 8 am to make an early start in the hills. The problem was, this was supposed to be a family walk…
Needless to say, we didn’t set off from Glenmore Lodge until nearly 10.30 am, so it was fairly clear from the beginning we weren’t going to achieve our preferred goal. We should have made for a different venue given we didn’t make the early start we’d wanted, but we merrily made our way towards Ryvoan Bothy before turning off for Bynack Stables and stopping at the bridge for lunch.
It was not a bad day at the start, bright, a light breeze although chilly at times. There was low cloud around and snow on the hill tops with the risk of some precipitation and this was all going to be taken into account.
We passed several people out and about, this is always a busy, popular area. Lots of people seem to mountain bike out to the foot of the hills and then make their way on foot to the summit and back. There was a chap and a couple out with their dogs, a large group of men and a second group of a father and three teenagers, all equipped for winter camping and a couple with their two children. Our children all carry a small rucksack with food, water, waterproofs and a few extra layers. I took the opportunity to try out my Exos to carry a few bits for them, given the conditions. I like them to carry their own gear, but not so much that it puts them off. The young family we saw had no kit with them except a small rucksack carried by the father. Maybe I tend to be over-equipped.
There were plenty of red grouse seen along the way and the resident herd of reindeer were seen in the distance. On way up the path, Conall suffered a clothing malfunction. The popper on his waistband un-popped and wouldn’t stay popped, thus allowing the zip to unzip and the trousers to fall down. Not good. Luckily, in my rather well equipped first aid kit, I have a couple of safety pins that were used to effectively resolve the issue. Still heading up
We didn’t make it all the way up the hill.
We reached a point where the boys both stated they’d had enough. I was pretty sure we weren’t going to make it off the hill before the weather became more moist and I’m never in favour of cajoling the children much to continue as it becomes painful and miserable for all. I think maybe David, Ciara and I have the determination and the boys aren’t really fussed.
We turned back.
Around 11.62 km, 275m ascent and 4 hrs 18 mins.
Today, poor TTS is spending a miserable day in the city, waiting for the car to be MOTd and serviced.
So, who would be Mrs Grumpy? Well, it was me, briefly, yesterday, when our walk had a different sort of outcome from that intended, especially as this was our third attempt. I don’t want this hill to become some kind of nemesis, I have visions of just ‘having’ to pop up it as I pass by on my route, if I’m lucky enough to get on the Challenge next year.
All in all though, it was a nice couple of walks and I now know that my new Exos is indeed comfy and stays on my hips where it should be, one of my main objectives. My Paramo was also comfy and effective, but I still haven’t tried it out in torrential rain. I’d like the confidence of knowing it can cope, just in case I have to deal with conditions similar to this year’s Challenge again.