Muir Cottage, Inverey – 28th/29th August 2015

The Club’s August meet took place from the base of Muir Cottage, by Inverey on the Linn of Dee road, west of Braemar. The hut is an extended cottage with superb facilities including several sleeping quarters, showers and a spacious kitchen. It is also superbly situated for forays into the Eastern Cairngorms.

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Twelve members and one guest attended. Unfortunately Chris Wilson who was due to attend with his wife Pauline had to withdraw due to a medical issue – the best wishes of all club members go out to Chris and we hope to see him out on the hills again very soon.

Donna Fraser, wife of James and Mum to Logan and Blair stepped in at the eleventh hour. Although not a regular hillwalker she took the opportunity to enjoy the social side of the weekend including a nice cycle run on Saturday having exercised her talent as a chanteuse on Friday night.

Members attending:

Jim Aire, Raymond Evenden, Blair Fraser, James Fraser, Logan Fraser, George Henderson (Friday), Susan Henderson (Friday), Rowena Hepple, Paul McGrandles, Ian Pollock, Norrie Shand and Alastair Shaw.

Guest: Donna Fraser.

On Friday morning Norrie met up with George and Susan at Spittal of Glenshee. George and Susan planned to walk over Glas Tulaichean, Carn an Righ, Beinn Iutharn and Carn Bhac over to Inverey. Norrie’s job after climbing Glas Tulaichean was to head up in the car to Muir Cottage with all the “essentials” for the Friday night.

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The four set off in reasonable conditions along the bulldozed track in Glen Lochsie up past the ruined Glenlochsie Lodge. Going was easy, despite a couple of burn crossings and in quick time the summit of Glas Tulaichean was attained. Norrie then waved goodbye to George and Susan, trying hard to disguise his envy as the pair headed off on the long trek north.

George and Susan made excellent time as usual, taking time to visit a demoted Top on Carn Bhac before heading out on the Linn of Dee road just as Jim and Paul were driving past to the hut, saving them a few hundred yards of tarmac walking. By this time Norrie had managed to achieve his two most important tasks by getting the wood burning stove going and the ciders chilled.

In due course, the others arrived. Suppers and refreshment were taken in generous portion and as the evening progressed, Logan, Norrie and (semi-reluctantly) Raymond aired the guitars and belted out a few songs ably assisted by Donna who performed harmony on quite a few of the songs – including those that she did not know. The conviviality ensured that nobody was going to get to bed very early and a prompt start on the Saturday morning became more and more unlikely.

Everyone had had the good sense to take mountain bikes with them to speed the journeys along the excellent tracks into the Eastern Cairngorms. Rowena and Ally were heading for their last Cairngorm Munro of Beinn Mheadhoin with a possible return trip over Derry Cairngorm. Ian decided to join the clan Fraser for a walk over Carn a Mhaim and on to Ben Macdui, again with a return over Derry Cairngorm. Jim, Norrie and Paul elected to head for the giants of Beinn a Bhuird and Ben Avon.

Raymond decided to give the mountains a miss on the Saturday and settled for a run and a bike run with Donna having earlier dropped off George and Susan at the Spittal so that they could head off for their appointment with the Slovakian Tatras.

Raymond, being an experienced cyclist ensured of course that they wouldn’t go thirsty on their ride.

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The route for Jim, Norrie and Paul began at the Linn of Quoich where a wonderful track headed north up the glen – despite it having been washed away by a change in the river’s course at one point. The bikes were left at the foot of the Dubh Ghleann where a great reconstructed path heads up the south west ridge of Beinn a Bhuird up onto the summit plateau.

Unfortunately, as they reached the plateau the weather took a turn for the worse with rain and high winds making an appearance. However, their navigational skills – or luck – took them across the featureless terrain to the North Top summit.

With the wind rattling around them a descent was made north then west, the mist rising once or twice to give views over to the awesome Dubh Lochan sitting below Beinn a Bhuird’s great cliffs. None of the party were keen to head up to Ben Avon in these conditions and with the time wearing on. A long walk followed back to pick up the bikes, eventually on a glorious track through a remnant of the Caledonian forest with the heather blooming in the late afternoon sunshine which had by now appeared.

Just prior to that though, Jim Aire decided to attempt his own version of the Soldier’s Leap across the Quoich Water. With no redcoats up his bahoochie though, the commitment wasn’t there and with a great splash he gained entry into the exclusive “Jim the Swim” club.

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To add insult to his injury Jim missed the turn-off on the cycle back down the glen – putting himself leader in clubhouse as far as the wooden compass was concerned. The award was later confirmed as no else admitted to any navigational errors.

Ian and the Frasers cycled out from the hut up to Derry Lodge before striking out up the slopes of Carn a Mhaim in reasonable conditions but the mist descended before they could reach the summit. Undaunted they then struck north for the great plateau of Ben Macdui, Scotland’s second highest mountain although once again the mist ensured that the fantastic views from the top would need to wait for another day.

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The quicksilver quartet then scooted down the western slopes of Macdui with a glance over Loch Etchachan to Beinn Mheadhoin where Rowena and Ally were hopefully skipping along to its summit. A final pull up the north ridge of Derry Cairngorm saw them reach their final Munro of the day and before too long they were back at their bikes and cycling their merry way back to Muir.

In the meantime Rowena and Ally, who had completed all the Cairngorm Munros except Beinn Mheadhoin also set of on their bikes from Muir up to Derry Lodge. This mountain is very awkwardly placed for an easy ascent so a cycle up to the Lodge and a trek up Glen Derry is probably as good a way as any to tackle it.

The summit plateau is dotted with massive granite tors and the pair were rewarded with the best conditions of all the groups when they finally scrambled up to the summit. The wind was still blowing an almighty hoolie though and thoughts about a return over Derry Cairngorm were soon discarded as they settled for the long trek back along Glen Derry and the cycle back to the hut.

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The conditions were far from perfect on the day but all three groups appeared to enjoy their outings – especially the excellent walking/cycling paths in through the great Cairngorm glens.

The evening passed in traditional style with copious intake of food and drink followed by a spirited rendition of a few old favourite songs. Nobody was prepared to succumb to sleep before midnight and win the dubious McGrandles Cup. The excitement of the “Scotland the Game” quiz presented in turn by Bamber Shand and Rowena Robinson ensured that everyone was still awake well after midnight and that the cup would be carried over until the next meet in the CIC Hut below Ben Nevis.

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