Braemar; 4 - 6 December 2009
Despite there having been snow and low temperatures earlier in the week the weather deteriorated to the usual Scottish fare of wind rain and low cloud by the weekend. Nonetheless Andy, Mark, Ian, Steve and John braved the elements and joined me for the trip based at the Rucksacks hostel in Braemar.
Climbing was clearly going to be out of the question so the prospect of Munro bashing raised its ugly head much to Andy’s dismay (he loves it really). Andy and Steve hatched a plot for a route taking in Derry Cairngorm and Ben MacDui from Linn of Dee, a long and challenging route in winter, and enticed Mark and Ian to join them. John and I opted for a slightly shorter route to Beinn Lutharn Mhor from Inverey. Both routes had long walk ins and demanded an early start given the short daylight hours at this time of year so duly fortified with porridge both parties were out and walking by 7.30, well before first light.
Light rain throughout most of the day and soft snow above 600m made progress hard work and a cloud base at 500m called for careful navigation on the summits where high winds added to the mix. Scotland at it’s best?
John and I achieved our target summit without drama and tired but happy arrived back to the car by 5.30 once again in darkness having covered in excess of 20 miles. Back at the hostel we had a welcome cuppa and awaited the return of the other team. Some time later Mark and Ian arrived, announcing, “We’re back but we’ve lost Andy and Steve”. Did I detect a certain amount of glee? Andy had sustained a groin strain (Andy’s excuse to skive off early?) and the two of them had set off down leaving Mark and Ian to complete their circuit, but they had arrived back to the car first. After leaving a note on the car they hitched a lift back to Braemar. There followed some discussion as to when and if assistance would need to be called in – most important as Andy was in charge of cooking the main course for dinner. Fortunately, Andy and Steve appeared a short while later explaining that in the mist they had descended in the wrong place and had to re-ascend to correct their error. This meant that we could now get on with the important business of the day – eating and drinking.
Sunday brought better weather, albeit still with low cloud and a wind that would increase as the day wore on but at least it was dry. The whole party (apart from Andy, who played the “I’m injured” card to skive off and read the Sunday papers) decided on an easy route to Glas Maol and Creag Leacach from the ski area at Glen Shee. This was a short four and a half hour route and after the previous day’s 10hr plus, was just about right before the drive south.
Thanks to those who came along and my apologies that I could not provide a repeat of last year’s amazing weather. I will try harder next time!