Friday 31st January – Monday 3rd February 2020
Friday – This weekend saw us entertaining!
Two of our EBC/Mt Elbrus friends are joining us for the weekend from sunny Worthing in England. It was now our time to showcase some of our much loved and rugged Scotland.
We were taking them up North to the Cairngorms, firstly because it is so beautiful and secondly just with the time frame of things it was manageable.
The weather was looking pretty bleak but dressed for the occasion (they had been warned) all should be fine….its Scotland after all!
Firstly though and not that we needed any inspiration but Friday night saw us heading to Ben Fogle’s show ‘Tales From The Wilderness’. Ben Fogle could be described as a modern day explorer. He’s crossed Antartica, conquered Everest, ran deserts and rowed across the Atlantic Ocean to name but a few.
He shared many of his wilderness experiences with us which were both uplifting and exciting. He also gave an honest account of his many failings or what he classed as failings as a child/young person growing up and how he tried to overcome many of these…resilience as I would call it!
I enjoy Ben Fogle’s TV show ‘New Lives in the Wild’ whereby he meets people who have given up the rat race for a simple life, it always has my mind going into overload as I think “how can I create my own life in the wild” – tonight hearing him talk my mind is at it again!!
Saturday – We were up and away sharp as we wanted to reach Aviemore as early as possible to get straight out on the hills. On arriving in Aviemore we headed for the sugar bowl car park which sits on the road which takes you up to the Cairngorm Ski Resort. We parked the car, dressed ourselves appropriately in full waterproofs and off we went.
‘Guide Andy’ proceeded to inform us that we were doing a “pretty easy 2-3 hour walk today which would involve a slight incline but nothing too heavy, the heavy stuff could wait until tomorrow. So in my head I’m thinking, “nice, a relatively easy relaxing stroll”.
Three hours later I had climbed over a massive boulder field (Chalamain Gap) and we had summitted Lurchers Crag, a Munro at 1053m (3456ft)!
This had not been Andy’s original plan but his excuse was “since we’re here we may aswell”!!
It had been a nice hike in actually, we had undertaken it relatively fast, it was cold with snow but the air was fresh. We had followed a pretty nice well laid path most of the way to the gap. Once at the gap it was just a case of picking your way over and through the boulderfield.
I always enjoy this part as you are so focussed you actually forget your going uphill.
Once through the Chalamain Gap we got a split second of a view down the Lairig Ghru.
From here our options were “we can climb up there” (Andy pointing to a hill on our right) or “we can go a slightly longer walk” (Andy pointing leftish to another hill). As we had got here pretty quicky we all agreed a slightly longer walk would be nice…SLIGHTLY LONGER we had said I may add.
After going up, up and up I began to think “slightly longer, is he for real, this looks like we are heading up a full blown mountain”. We were soon on top of the full blown mountain, in a blizzard with no visibility with Andy congratualting us on completing our Munro (this one was a third time for me)!
Impressed I was not as I had not worn my appropriate boots for up here (I had wore my old faithful salomons, the ones with a hole in them !
It was freezing cold at the top, possibly -4/-6 so we headed straight off, well I say straight off but we actually had a ‘wee dram of whiskey’ from our hip flask to toast our accomplishments and warm up the soul!
The route down was straight forward.
Typically, just as we neared the bottom the sky began to open up suddenly and all around us we saw the beautiful mountains and stunning views, previous to this we had saw nothing!
Tonights dinner was Balmoral Chicken (chicken breast stuffed with haggis and wrapped in bacon) watered down with Irn Bru of course.
Sunday – Sunday’s mountain weather forecast was telling us that we were going to be hit with a huge dumping of snow, conditions at the top of the mountains would be poor visibility/whiteouts.
We decided that we would still go out walking of course but keep to lower grounds so we headed for the magical green fairy loch of Lochan Uaine.
This is a very beautiful walk amongst ancient Caledonian pines.
Once at the Loch, I told the story of the Glenmore fairies and how they washed their clothing in the water, causing the water to appear its wonderful greenish tinge.
Today we saw no fairies as the Loch was frozen over.
From here we visitied the Ryvoan bothy, retraced some of our footsteps and headed over the Ryvoan pass which is a gentle climb but provides good views of Loch Morlich and Cairngorm.
We then walked around Loch Morlich, a freshwater loch which boasts having the highest beach in the UK!
Loch Morlich enjoys one of the finest settings of any loch in the country.
It is surrounded by forests and fringed by beaches with the stunning backdrop of snow-clad peaks of the northern Cairngorms. Its beautiful.
Eventually it was time for a well deserved coffee so we headed to The Pine Martin a warm and welcoming lovely small alpine style bar and café.
Our weekend in The Highlands had came to an end but already more adventures had been planned!
Monday – As luck would have it we had surprisingly come across an advertisement which said Levison Wood was undertaking a talk in Perth.
Levison Wood a former British Army Officer but now turned Explorer is another inspiration of mine and I had been to see him in 2018.
He’s best known for his extended walking expeditions in Africa, Asia and Central America.
Lucky for us there were tickets left. So off we went on Monday evening to Perth Concert Hall to hear Levison Woods motivational stories of adventure.
It was also an unexpected pleasure to see Levison receive an Honorary Fellowship from The Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
Now that was one weekend I enjoyed!