Mill Cottage is a wonderful bunkhouse situated in the woods at Feshiebridge. Being December it seemed to be dark most of the time, nonetheless, through the trees the River Feshie was occasionally visible.
Alistair started the weekend early with a quick nip up Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair where he met a couple from Cornwall who were having a year off to climb the munros. The BRB “it was OK”.
The weather forecast for Saturday threatened rain from about lunchtime, so there was an incentive (not necessarily actioned) to start early.
Evelyn Droege and Debbie Raymont started at “8:30am from Auchlean car park while it was vaguely dry and walked through a couple of rivers, one of which was a washed out chasm. Took a left up the landrover track up towards Mullach Clach a’ Bhlair, which we could see over the top into a spectacular Corie Garbhlach. Weather visibly worsening by 1pm so no views. Came back down and visited spectacular new refurbished Ruigh Aiteachain bothy and had another lunch within its beautiful stone walls. Home for tea by 2:30pm as really raining by then.”
Alistair and Darren Brown (guest) went up the Fiachaill ridge to the summit of Cainrgorm. “A good day out made better by free mince pies and mulled wine at the final café.”
Drummond Beatty, Fiona Duncan, Julie Partridge, Alan Duncan and Daniel Moysey all set off from Auchlean to climb Sgor Gaoith. “The clag was down before we got to the top so the classic view down to Loch Eanaich was veiled. We continued north to Sgorran Dubh Mor and hunkered down behind a boulder to shelter from the wind and rain. We were getting quite cold by the time Drummond arrived and took out his mince pie for one. We set off on a compass bearing along the north west ridge. The clag lifted, but the wind was getting up, as we continued along to Geal Charn. Walked back through the forest, past the gliding club, and then back to Mill Cottage just before dark.”
Colin Cowie cycled from Aviemore along the Speyside Way then west along General Wade’s military road, over the spectacular Sluggan Bridge and upstream along the banks of the River Dulnain. The high point is almost 700m, which is quite a slog unless you have an e-bike. However, it’s worth it because the descent to Lynwig is one of the best downhills in Scotland… Colin recons you will get >40mph (if you like speed).
Sunday dawned cold, wet and windy. There was very little talk of adventure and even less records in the BRB, so we can only assume that most folk did their mountaineering on Aviemore’s high street. There was an exception though, as recorded by Simon…
Simon got up at some unearthly hour, probably while the late night party was still going strong, wandered round a field in the dark picking up horse droppings then drove down to meet the rest of the paddling pensioners’ party. This consisted of Colin and Simon, (the potential swimmers), Dan, who hasn’t yet discovered the joys of retirement, as the rescue party and Drummond to photograph the mishaps. What could possibly go wrong?
Given their extremely brief caving trip in Assynt last month when they were beaten back by the flood waters, canoeing on the flooded Spey (it had risen 3′ [0.9m for those educated post-1970’s]) could have been seen as hope triumphing over experience. At least the floods meant they didn’t have to walk so far to the water’s edge. After the usual faffery they were off paddling into a brisk headwind, delayed only briefly trying to find a way through the trees.
After crossing Loch Insh they plunged into the flooded reed beds. This quickly became like a scene from the Africa Queen, with some discussion about who was taking the roles of Humphrey Bogart and Kathleen Hepburn. Rejoing the river they continued upstream, listening all the while for jungle drums, and after a first lunch-stop pulled the boats over the embankment and continued under sunshine and a rainbow through flooded fields and woods.
Eventually the grass got too long to paddle through so they headed for the nearest gate (!) to get back to the river. At this point they were joined by five marooned horses cantering along what was left of their small island. No, your humble author hasn’t been smoking something funny – it really was becoming quite a surreal day.
They continued upstream slowly, seeing a lot of swans and other waterfowl which were difficult to identify in the poor light. Eventually cold toes and fingers got the better of our hardy adventurers and having failed to find Kurtz they turned back, covering the miles at high speed with the current and wind pushing them along. A second lunch-stop at the Water-sports centre with tea and cake rounded off a memorable day.