Another last minute flourish of emails resulted in another drive out to Chapeltown of Glenlivet on yet another glorious day to meet the Other L for an attack on Tom Trumper. Who could resist a hill with such a fabulous name?
I was a little late, again, held up by slow traffic (not that I was speeding along in the icy conditions) and the low sun. The views of first Ben Wyvis and later the Cairngorms with their fresh dusting of snow was spectacular, especially the Cairngorms, whose tops were poking through a cloak of white, fluffy, cotton wool clouds. I was soon parking up beside The Van at East Auchavaich. We set off with a wonderful view of the hills this time, the frost sparkling in the blazing sunshine.
As we passed the distillery we were overwhelmed by the fumes emitting from the chimneys, we were engulfed by a very potent whisky fragrance . As we staggered on we had difficulty continuing a coherent conversation. As we turned off to take the Lecht Mine path, we found a small field of rather impressive rams. As I took photographs of them, they rather unnervingly started moving towards us, possibly looking to be fed. Not wanting to become lunch, we moved on.
The next place of interest was the College of Scalan, a once forbidden Catholic Seminary. Laura knows more of the history of this secretive place. From there, we entered the Clash of Scalan, an area of ruins and juniper. Lots and lots of juniper. and it was spikey.
At the ruins there was, as is the norm on the Glenlivet estate, a waymark directing us, but it wasn’t going in the expected direction, so we chose to ignore it and continue along the stream where the path was shown on our maps. All four of them. Two of which are quite up to date. (At least one of the others was probably not…)
We continued up the Clash until we met a fence with gate. However, the gate was not going to be easily opened and there was no stile. This is again unusual for this particular estate and we were briefly puzzled but also determined to follow our route. Laura is understandably still a little careful of doing anything with too much risk, so after a little assessment (we tried the gate, discussed climbing up the steep hill to find a better crossing) I tried the wire fence for height. I could just about straddle it without too much indignity or discomfort so we decided Laura could too. And she did.
Trouble was, once over, we were faced with quite a vast area of overgrown heather and juniper. Where had the path disappeared to? No matter, we knew it followed the course of the stream, so long as we didn’t stray too far from that, we couldn’t go far wrong. After some tripping and prickling and stream hopping, we found a bit of a path through the heather higher up the slope. Probably a sheep or deer trod, but clear enough and going the right way. A short while later, we were faced with another fence*, but this time, it seemed to follow the route of the path uphill that we were looking for. Ahead, up the hill a way, we could see what looked like another, well constructed track heading to the top of Tom Trumper, so we followed the fence up hill to meet it and soon found ourselves surveying the hills around us where the cairn should be.
There was a slight, but chilly breeze at the top, so we wanted to drop down the eastern side to find a bit of shelter and eat lunch. We were chatting, of course, discussing our best route of descent and the next time we looked up, out of nowhere had appeared a Ronhill clad chap. Where had he come from? We deduced he had been hiding in a grouse butt, ready to pop out and take a pair of unsuspecting hill walkers by surprise. It worked, but we didn’t let on and waved cheerily as he passed us on his way to the cairn which isn’t at the top. We surveyed five butts before we found one with enough shelter, a nice seat for us both, no remains of dead animals nearby that we were both happy with. We’re both a bit fussy. Ron Hill made his way down. Then up again at a pace. Then down. Then back up. Then down. It got a bit repetitive and we got bored after a while.
Having lunched, we made our way gingerly downhill to a corner of two fences and found two stiles, one leading ahead, the other to a path leading down to the ruins. Ah, that’s where that waymark was pointing to! Still, we’d had a lovely adventure sticking to the path on the map. There was also some livestock in that field, which isn’t our strong point, so we continued on downhill.
There was livestock in this field too, mostly sheep which trotted away from us. There were cattle too, but mainly further away. As I’d decided we could take a diagonal route across the field, I didn’t point out the cattle closer to us too soon, so I could persuade Laura they were happily lying down, chewing the cud and not interested in the slightest in a pair of lady hill walkers. It amuses me that I can be so brave with someone who needs the extra encouragement, bearing in mind my own fear of cattle. At the corner, we had another fence to negotiate. This time a slightly wobbly gate affair that again, could not easily be untied (as it wasn’t strictly speaking the right of way) so I supported the gate whilst Laura carefully climbed it and then she returned the complement as I niftily negotiated the obstacle.
There was some slight concern as we passed the distillery again that we might fail a breath test should we be stopped, but decided to run the risk and venture into Tomintoul for a return visit to the Fire Station Tea Rooms for coffee and cake. Cake!!
Roughly 5.3 miles, 801 ft total ascent and rather sedate 1.5 average mph.
Another brilliant day out with gorgeous weather and exceptional company. Having enjoyed more than our average amount of walks together this year, I wonder if this might be the last before winter really sets in? A good one to end with and there are plenty more in the planning.
* At this point, my camera batteries ran out, so I had to take some photographs on my mobile. I have yet to retrieve all of them as that battery went flat after I’d transferred the icicle photograph. Bear with…