Laura and I had intended a get together and a little stroll on Saturday, but as the week drew on, it became obvious that the weather forecast was a little discouraging. By Friday teatime, as snow was falling both here and there and probably heavier in between, the call had to be made and the walk postponed. As it turned out, the snow gates at Tomintoul and Cockbridge were indeed closed on Saturday morning when I would have been setting off, so it was just as well the decision had been made. With any luck, we should have our get together on Thursday this week, although this will mean an earlier than is natural rise from my bed so that I can have the car. Oh well, a small price for much pleasure.
I also had a walk planned with TTS yesterday, a gentle stroll around Loch Affric to enjoy the autumn colours. The forecast again as a bit grim, a deluge all morning but perhaps brightening up mid afternoon. Knowing how accurate these forecasts are, sometimes, and knowing the route was simple, we decided to pop over that way regardless, armed with lunch and waterproofs. Just as we were preparing to leave, Aedan received a phone call from his weekend employer, could he provide sickness cover and work over lunch. As there are no local Sunday buses he would have to cycle, but to make this easier, we left a little later than planned so that we could be good parents and drop him off with his bike and he would only have to cycle home. Bless.
By the time we reached the car park, it was lunch time, so we were forced to snaffle our sandwiches before powdering our noses in the smart new facilities then donning our waterproofs. The rain was not as bad as I’d expected, but it was wet enough. It did however brighten up and more or less stop raining by the time we reached half way, with this just the odd sprinkle of light rain from time to time.
We last did this walk in May 2010, when we didn’t make the draw for the Challenge, so we knew the path is better on the southern shore of the loch and that there is a tricky crossing to make.
We had a lovely walk, even with the damp start. There certainly was plenty of autumn colour, even if it was wet and grey. We did eventually see some deer high above us on the sky line and we could just hear some stags roaring, although that was tricky above the tremendous thundering of the water coming off the hills and the rumbling of David’s tummy. (Anyone would think I was starving the poor chap!)
Back to that ‘tremendous thundering of water’, we were right about the tricky crossing to be made. It was more so this time! The Allt Coulavie, which provides the wonderful Sputan Ban waterfalls was in full spate. When we arrived, the chances of teetering across the rocks and keeping our feet dry were nil and to be honest, I find this method more nerve wrecking, trying to keep dry and not fall in whilst balancing on knife edged, slippery rocks. So, after a little discussion, we decided we’d come too far to turn back and wouldn’t have much further to go with wet feet, we’d wade. Eeek!
Apparently, I’ve done more of this than David and I tend to be so reliant on his superior knowledge and experience. I must stop this.
I hadn’t come prepared with my wading sandals and I didn’t want to risk stubbing a toe or worse on hidden rocks, so we opted to just take the plunge. The current was strong, but I’d chosen a point where there was less white water, the rocks were obviously causing less turbulence and were likely to be less problematic. The water stayed below my knees, which was better than the thigh deep monster I had to cross last year! Having successfully reached the other side, (“Confidently done!”) we each found a perch to remove boots and socks and squeeze out as much water as possible. Not much as it happened, I know I certainly had water squelching around my toes as we made our way to the car, but at least it was warm, a nice surprise!
It was getting dark as we returned to the car, the path was lit by moonlight, but not so dark to need to get our head torches out. I was able to don dry trousers, socks and a jumper, but I hadn’t let TTS bring his spare trousers ( he needs new ones) so he could only change his socks and boots.
I have to say, an easy day out but really good fun!