The evening of Friday 11th October saw us heading to Uath Lochan in the Inshriach Forest, Cairngorm, after first attending the presentation by the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award Group David had assessed at the beginning of September. The presentation was very good, one of the best we've seen (not The best, they were by our groups) but we had a really exciting weekend ahead of us, our first van meet with Ellie! We were due to meet Mick, Gayle and Bertie in a car park deep in the forest.
I had a quick panic just as we arrived at the entrance to the car park, what if there were many vans there? What if (to my shame) I didn't recognise Bertie?! Oh, the horror. Luckily, there were no other vehicles when we arrived, so that made it easy to find our friends. Plus, the step was out, so even before I saw Mick peeking out of the curtains at his new noisy neighbours arriving, I knew we had arrived before they had given up on us and gone to bed.
We were immediately welcomed into Bertie, ushered in to seats and had a blanket tucked around our knees. We had steaming mugs of peppermint tea pushed in to our hands and the conversation flowed.
Mick and Gayle are well known to retire at a reasonable time, so I was very aware I should not keep them up too late, but it wasn't until we were getting Ellie's bed sorted on returning to her that I realised the clock I'd been checking in Bertie was still showing European time. Whoops! Still, it was plenty late enough and meant we stood a reasonable chance of not being horrendously late in the morning.
Another vehicle arrived shortly after we went to bed, they obviously intended to stay.
We weren't too late getting up in the morning, coffee and a chocolate pastry twist was had in bed before getting up proper, having more coffee and porridge/breakfast bar then we went next door. When offered more coffee and croissant, we didn't say no, so we it was a while later before sandwiches and crisps were put in to daysacs and we headed off for a walk. It was only a short walk to bag a nearby trig, but as Gayle had done more planning than me, she was made Walk Leader and we followed here everywhere. Fortunately, there were very few extra steps taken in the wrong direction either time.
Gayle and I took the lead and raced up the hill, not a big hill, but we both soon warmed up and contemplated removing an outer layer. I preferred to slow down a little so I could breathe more easily, but in reality, we neither peeled a layer nor slowed down, we just continued, engrossed in our conversation. This also means that, although we were aware of our surroundings and enjoying them, I didn't stop to take many photographs at all.
We had been walking through fairly open forestry and some clear fell, but eventually the track entered the trees and we found the Vanessa trig in a small clearing with some convenient rocks on which to park ourselves and enjoy our sandwiches, supplemented with Jaffa Cakes from Gayle, my fave!
A cyclist and his dog passed through the clearing just as we were setting off again. We headed downhill on a steep, muddy, winding track. David and Mick heard another cyclist approaching from behind, we all stepped well off the track to let them pass and were all watching as he fell off his bike, claiming to be paying too much attention to us rather than where he was going. We all stifled our laughter.
We were soon back on familiar ground and retraced our steps around the loch to return to Bertie and Ellie, waiting patiently for us in what was now a very busy car park. We spent some time sorting Ellie and dressing for dinner before stepping over to Bertie where we once again enjoyed a very social evening and also a delicious curry, prepared by Gayle's own fair hand as we sat and chatted.
Approximately 5.48 miles and 781 feet total ascent
View to Uath Lochan
We planned to run together in the morning, I had a 50 minute run to do as part of my current running plan and it fitted in nicely to give a morning activity we could all take part in and still chat. So after another really lovely evening, we parted company in order to get some sleep and leave at a half decent time in the morning. As we sorted the bed, I asked David why we had left quite so early as we had, only for him to realise he had been fooled by the same clock I had been the night before. Oh well, we should now be rested enough.
In the morning, it appeared the car park had been busier overnight than the previous night, there were two cars and a VW van. The van was packed up and left early. We were away shortly after Bertie and before 9am. WE met Bertie again in the car park at Kingussie and after a small about of faffing and a visit to the public toilets, we set off for a gentle run along the cycle path to Newtonmore and back. It was without doubt one of the most enjoyable runs I've ever had. It was the first time in over fourteen years that I have run with anyone other than David or Ciara and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I would most definitely run with Gayle again!
Leaving Uath Lochan heading for Kingussie
On returning to Ellie and Bertie, we spent a little time powdering noses and changing into casual clothes before again nipping across to Bertie, this time to be offered coffee and bacon butties. I mean, who could refuse!
It was soon time to go our separate ways, we headed home and Bertie headed a little further south. We had a superb weekend and are really looking forward to many more van meets with Bertie, Mick and Gayle, thank you all!