Carn Dearg MC Hut, Glen Clova – 19th/20th February, 2016

The Club’s February meet took us to the Carn Dearg MC Hut in Glen Clova. Excitement abounded as we had been informed last year that we would be one of the first Clubs to enjoy the newly-built ultra-modern hut that had been constructed just a short pitch from the old hut at the head of Glen Clova. Unfortunately, red tape prevented the new hut from being available to us but it gave those members who hadn’t previously stayed there a chance to enjoy a meet at this historic old venue before it is razed to the ground.

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Unfortunately, the February weather promised no better than what had been suffered in early winter. There were a few late call offs for various reasons and eight members eventually made it to the hut.

Members attending:

Jim Aire, Bill Dallas (Saturday only), Raymond Evenden, George Henderson, Susan Henderson, Paul McGrandles, Alan Orr and Norrie Shand.

Despite the poor weather on Friday, George and Susan set off in the morning with the intention of ascending the Corbett of Mount Battock in neighbouring Glen Esk. Undaunted (initially at least) by the conditions they battled their way up to the summit where they suffered a bit of a battering from the wind and spindrift and took the first opportunity to drop down to a lower altitude and head back to their car.

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With the car heater on full blast, they soon zoomed around and were the first to arrive at the hut where George got the wood-burner going immediately. By the time Norrie arrived 45 minutes later, Susan was still in full de-frost mode. Soon though she was sitting down and enjoying a fine supper of Cassoulet au Canard (economy version) and a glass of wine.

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A few hours later, Raymond, Paul, Jim and Alan arrived having stopped off at the Clova Hotel to put a few pounds into the local economy.

An evening of banter and libation ensued with the highlight being Alan’s virtuosi log-balancing performance.

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The conditions the next morning were not too promising. The weather was reasonable at hut level but it was clearly going to be demanding up at Munro height.

Undeterred, Jim, Raymond, Alan and Paul decided that were “going for it” and headed up the ridge of The Scorrie towards Driesh with the possibility of carrying on to Mayar if conditions weren’t too horrendous. They made good progress up the ridge – spotted by the others as they left the hut about an hour later and by and by they reached the snow-enveloped trig point at the summit of Driesh and promptly took advantage of a few minutes cosy and welcome respite in Raymond’s shelter.

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Paul and Raymond decided that enough was enough and announced that they would descend directly to the hut. The “Wee Man’s Union” of Jim and Alan however resolved to battle the wind and trek over the icy plateau to the twin summit of Mayar. So – like a scene from a budget version of “Snow White” the two pint-sized explorers swung their ice axes into action and marched hi-ho hi-ho across the snowy terrain where their excellent navigation took them directly to the summit of the second Munro before they too made their descent back to base.

With the excuse of a “Grade A pasting” the previous day, George and Susan declared that they would be giving the high tops a miss on the Saturday. Norrie, with the excuse of not needing an excuse was of the same mind. The decision was taken to head up over Jock’s Road with the possibility of reaching “Davy’s Bourach” at a height of around 725 metres on the road over to Glen Callater.

Initially, their walk was a pleasant one through a forest at an easy gradient. Soon though they were out on the open moor and ploughing through soft snow before finally reaching their destination – which but for the marker posts might be easily missed in the deep snow. This stone, turf and corrugated iron howff originally built in 1966 would not be many peoples’ idea of luxury overnight accommodation – but as an emergency shelter it has surely been an extremely welcome refuge for many battered and weary hillwalkers over the years.

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Bill had arrived at the hut after the others had all departed on their walks but soon he was kitted up and headed solo up Winter Corrie towards the summit of Driesh before descending back down the Scorrie ridge to meet the others back in the hut.

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With George and Susan completely down on their duck, they headed down to the Clova for an early supper while Paul, Raymond and Norrie did their best to get the hut heated up before the others returned.

Unfortunately, the hut’s running water was not working during the Club’s stay. The host club had thoughtfully left a good supply of bottled water for our use – but toilet flushing was accomplished with use of a plastic bucket filled from the nearby burn. Some particularly unwelcome visitors outstayed their welcome and had to be encouraged on their onward journey by some imaginative high-altitude waterboarding.

Later on the group were cosily sitting round the stove regaling each other with tales of past exploits – with Paul and Bill in particular engaged in a game of “Climbers Snap”.

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Norrie’s spirit wasn’t moving him though and the guitar stayed in its case – nevertheless there were several rounds of acapella songs from the Benromach-moistened throats of the group before one by one they drifted off to bed.

Before that, though Paul added to his reputation as the King of Sleep by once again winning the McGrandles Cup – several hours before the safety of midnight. With no wet feet or navigational mishaps on the trip, this was the only presentation of the meet.

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On Sunday morning, after a good tidy-up, the group headed back home – with the exception of Bill. With the opportunity to fit in another “quality winter day” he headed into Corrie Fee before ascending a snow-filled gully and heading NorthWest and descending back to the hut via Davy’s Bourach.

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It was perhaps not a classic meet, but nevertheless enjoyed by all who attended – with everyone looking forward to visit to the new Clova Hut in the not too distant future.

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