Sunday, 7 May 2017

An Unexpected Munro

As we walked with the boys to shooting early Friday evening, David asked if I’d like to do Meall a’ Bhuachaille the next day. Well yes! My favourite little hill, but I would have liked more warning, I had a birthday cake to bake. That saw me baking a Chocolate Fruit Mince Brownie at 21:00 on Friday night, in order to be prepared for Saturday.

We were up at a reasonable time yesterday as David planned to take Conall to work for 09:00 and we would the leave for the drive to Glenmore soon after. Bags were packed, kit and boots thrown in to the car and we were off by about 09;15. We’d driven through Grantown on Spey before David casually mentioned that if Meall a’ Bhuachaille went well, we could do Ben Macdui today (Sunday). I thought about this for a minute or two, “I think we should do Ben Macdui today.” David did not question this, “It’s up to you!” was all he said. So after a comfort stop and picking up lunch supplies in Aviemore, we made our way to the ski car park at Cairngorm. “Sure?” said David, “Yes!” said I, and we were off.

I’ve been up the first part of the path twice before, both times heading for Cairn Gorm, but the first time we abandoned as there was too much snow for my liking as we had three of the children with us, much younger at the time, and I thought it unwise. This time I found the climb much easier and good progress was made. We passed the herd of reindeer, but didn’t stop for photographs with the tourists, we’ve seen them before. We had a photograph stop further on and a first lunch stop before we made it up onto the plateau.


Meall a’ Bhuachaille, where had planned to be!


Looking towards Cairn Lochan


Crossing the first patch of snow before we got to the plateau

There was a moment before first lunch that it had briefly crossed my mind we had not seen anyone David knew yet, but there was time. Just after first lunch, instead of the usual “Morning!” or “Afternoon!”, David greeted a man approaching us with “Hi Chris!”. There he was, someone David knew. bound to happen. I took a couple of photographs while they chatted.


Looking north, across and along Lairig Ghru


Looking across to Braeriach

We chatted for a few minutes, then continued on our way, up and over to the plateau and the gentle stroll across boulders and snow and boulders and snow…and boulders and snow. We had seen a half a dozen folk or so as we’d climbed up, once on the plateau we could see hoards of folk that had presumably come across from Cairn Gorm, possibly from the funicular. We joined the end of the caterpillar making our way up to the summit, chatting briefly with a few folk we passed (I know, me passing folk on the way up!!) Once there, we politely queued to take photographs, a kind lady offered to take ours, but I declined. I don’t know where I think a stranger is going to run to with my camera… Obligatory selfie was taken, David took a few of me, then I took one of David (I don’t faff, click done!) then we vacated the trig for others to enjoy as we popped behind a handy wall to shelter for second lunch. It actually was quite sheltered too, which was a change! I took a few photographs of the views, then change my power stretch fleece and wind shirt for my Paramo Velez. I know I’m not working so hard on the way off a hill, and there would be a stiff chilled breeze in our faces on the way across the plateau as it had been at our backs on the way up, so the Velez to me was perfect.


I look quite happy to be there!




On top of the world










…more views


Busy summit

And off we went again.

There actually seemed to be far more snow and boulder fields on the way back and so many more cairns than I remembered, when I checked our track on Viewranger later, we had indeed taken a slightly different line off the summit, but it really didn’t matter, the going down always takes far less time than the going up, we really only paused for the odd mitt or water faff. And painkillers part way down, my right knee was beginning to whinge.

What an absolutely fabulous day out!! Loved it. And I think we can safely say I am healed.

Roughly 10.2 miles and 2,673 ft total ascent 6 hours and 14 mins including pauses and rests.

Will I walk today? …I promised to do David’s ironing, soooo…

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

An Easy Stroll on a Lovely Day

It’s such lovely weather at the moment, so it was no hardship to go for a longer stroll. Going passed the quarry it was good to see dozens of sand martins swooping and chattering around a good many nest holes. I continued along my usual route through woodland and around the loch before taking the track behind the Big House before taking the track straight ahead.




A different view of the loch


Another different view of the loch


Through the trees


Jurassic Lane, not going that way today


Onwards track


Blue skies



After passing by the pheasant pens I took the right hand track over the ford and up the little hill. There was a moment of disquiet when I could hear chainsaws working nearby and I was concerned I would get up to the High Road and not be able to continue, but it became clear they were working in the small copse below, so I was able to continue as planned.

As I walked along the High Road, I became aware of a tractor, trundling towards me. I took evasive action and headed for the undergrowth. Shortly after this had passed me, another came trundling along. I have only seen one other vehicle on this track, so was a little miffed to find myself heading for the undergrowth again, but the driver was one I see regularly around the estate and he gave me a big wave and a cheery smile. As I wondered further along, it occurred to me the next 100m section of track had no escape should another tractor happen along, but none did and I continued on across the bridge and then down the little quiet green lane to bring me out just before the farm yard. At this point, I rejoined my usual track to cross the little bridge, go behind the cottages and then up passed the nest site to check on the birds – they’re still there, which is good.


Continuing through the trees


Through the trees some more


And a little more


Big blue skies!


Trying out my boots at a ‘ford’ (we all know a proper ford is boots off up to your knees in water!)


Yup, we’re good


Roughly centre pic you can see the green lane I’m headed for


Over the bridge


Moss and ivy on the bridge


Cows in the distance


Dead tree


Another dead tree


Just above centre you can see the track I came down


Altyre Burn


Green Lane


Little hills in the distance




Mossy tree trunk


The sand martins on my way back

As I approached my usual turn off, I was disappointed to see a dog walker take me track and I didn’t want to walk behind them, so I took an unintended longer route and went up through the woods and on to the Dava Way to come out the Dallas Dhu Distillery. From there, I briefly joined the road before nipping into the woods to come back to the quarry and the road home.

The furthest I’ve walked to date, post surgery, albeit without a pack, roughly 10.1 miles and 615 ft and on an utterly beautiful day.