Back in February 2016 the Club visited the Glen Clova hut owned by Dundee’s Carn Dearg Mountaineering Club. We had hoped at the time to be one of the first clubs to visit their brand spanking new hut, but unfortunately red tape got in the way of the new hut’s opening and our meet was held their old hut one hundred yards away. Nevertheless, a great weekend was enjoyed. This time round though we would definitely be spending the weekend in the relative luxury of the purpose-built accommodation which had been selected as the venue for the Club’s annual Burns supper meet.
Booking a hut at the top of a single-track road in the Angus glens at the end of January showed typical optimism that snow, whilst welcome on the hills, wouldn’t prevent us gaining access to the location. There was a little bit of low-lying snow and ice, but nobody’s vehicle ended up in a ditch and everyone made it to the hut intact.
Jim Aire, John Calder, Bill Dallas, Raymond Evenden, James Fraser, George Henderson, Susan Henderson, Jim Hughes, Alyn McNaughton, Alan Orr, Ian Pollock, Norrie Shand, Lorn Smith, Gerry Weir
Donna Fraser, Stuart McKay
Norrie was first to arrive and was just trying to get his head round the usual electricity/water intelligence tests (he barely scraped a pass) before George and Susan arrived.
With the weather continuing to be a bit unfriendly their Friday walk had been restricted to a visit to Reekie Linn waterfall in Glenisla followed by Creigh Hill above the Backwater reservoir. They finished at the impressive Airlie Monument (a memorial to the ninth Earl of Airlie who died in the Boer war) via the Scott Wilson Memorial Sculpture which commemorates Captain Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic) and his chief scientist, surgeon and artist Edward Wilson who both died on the ill-fated south polar expedition.
Raymond also managed a stroll up to the Airlie monument on Friday on his way north but everyone else was keeping their powder dry (not easy in that weather) for the Saturday.
During the course of the evening all the guests and members arrived armed with enough food and drink to ensure that if a heavy snowstorm did arrive, we wouldn’t have to call Mountain Rescue for at least a fortnight. Unfortunately, Bill Dallas – a member of the Braemar Mountain Rescue Team had been called out to aid a distressed walker in the Cairngorms and wouldn’t arrive at the hut until the Saturday morning.
The hut boasts excellent cooking facilities and an extensive dining/sitting area which soon warmed up nicely with George adopting his usual role as fire minder.
As the evening progressed Ian Pollock produced a roulette wheel which conveniently held 16 shot glasses. With the addition of a couple of bottles of malt and a bottle of Jägermeister, nothing could possibly go wrong. The rules of the game were flexible in the extreme but seemed to result in one person downing a shot every 30 seconds or so – with some being luckier/unluckier than others.
Later on, Gerry and Norrie let loose with a few songs as everyone else enjoyed the warm glow of the stove and the shots.
Later in the evening Jim was presented with a bonnie birthday cake to celebrate being the latest member eligible for free bus travel.
The weather on Saturday morning had improved not a jot and only five bravehearts decided to head up to the high tops.
Jim, Stuart, Donna, Ian, Alan and Norrie undertook a leg-stretcher through the forest tracks up to the magnificent Corrie Fee – a spectacular viewpoint in good weather but still gloriously atmospheric in the mist and rain. As the others returned from the entrance to the corrie for tattie peeling duties, Alan and Norrie continued up the track towards the impressive waterfalls of the Fee Burn tumbling down the rocky headwall.
George and Susan, having initially set off with the above group took a right turn along the track which heads north through the forest and runs alongside the South Esk river. Their tramp took them past the fantastically-named Glittering Skellies before they reached Loch Esk which sits at around 750 metres elevation.
Rather than head for the Munro tops, Lorn decided to go for a run. His route took him up Jock’s Road past the emergency shelter of Davie’s Bourach and up to the summit of Crow Craigies, which at 920 metres is an official Top of Tolmount – so much for keeping low!
Raymond, also nursing an injury took a stroll up around Loch Brandy which sits at an elevation of 650 metres in a scalloped corrie high above the Clova Hotel – very handily placed for a post walk refreshment.
In the meantime, the Fearless Five (not including the infiltrator in the photo below) consisting of John, Alyn, James. Jim and Gerry had taken a direct bearing for The Scorrie, an unrelenting steep ridge which rises above Winter Corrie (scarcely living up to is name) before leading up to the Munro summit and Trig Point of Driesh. The “Dreich” comparisons were well earned as they enjoyed a coorie-doon in the shelter cairn to take on some refreshment before heading east over the Kilbo Path to the Munro’s next door neighbour Mayar at 928 metres, slightly lower. From there they aimed north to the headwall of Corrie Fee where a steep descent down the well-made path took them down below the worst of the weather and an easy tramp back to the hut.
Bill had arrived during the morning – fortunately there was a happy end to his rescue call out the previous evening. In a mood for relaxation he merely ran the Glen Clova half marathon route – which coincidentally enabled him to fully rehydrate at the Clova Hotel before heading back up to the hut.
The early returnees had done a great job of preparing the tatties and neeps and setting the table. Donna was in charge – and for just this one time won the Bossiest Fraser award, but her organisational skills were definitely required to ensure everything would be ready at the right time.
Before the evening’s festivities could begin though, there was work to be done. The Club’s AGM took place at 5.25 pm and business was concluded at 6.04 pm. At a shade under 40 minutes, no records were broken but it was a decent effort!
A presentation was also made early in the evening to Bill by George – The No 1 in Dallas!
The meal as usual was a great team effort – James had sourced the haggis though he appeared to be under the impression that several squadrons from nearby RM Condor would also be dropping by for supper. George had procured enough tatties and neeps to ensure there would be seconds all round, Jim and Norrie had come armed with great pots of soup. Lorn produced several sacks of bread rolls and Gerry provided some excellent desserts as well as a fine bottle of malt for the toasts.
Raymond had done his usual great job as overall coordinator and his excellent programme of events was intended to keep everyone on track – which it more or less did.
Some of those present had gone to great efforts to brush up properly and the results were very impressive.
After the soup course, our guest Stuart paraded the haggis around the room to the (recorded) skirl of the pipes before Norrie did the traditional address – with everyone keeping well back from the whissling blade clapped in his walie nieve. Soon a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve were bent like drums – but that didn’t stop second helpings all round.
Finally Gerry’s crème brulee got the blowtorch treatment from himself and James as, amazingly, most of those attending found some room for dessert.
There followed a couple of Burns songs played by Norrie and Gerry before Jim gave a recitation of John Anderson my Jo – with more than a few frosty pows in evidence (James excepted). .Raymond followed up with My Heart’s in the Highlands before Jim gave a stirring rendition of Scots Wha Hae. There was then a few more songs from Norrie and Gerry before the highlight of the evening – the toast to the lassies and the response.
Jim Aire had been coaxed by Raymond into doing his first ever speech (he says). The lassies had never been toasted better as he gave an unorthodox but hilarious slant on the subject. The smile on everyone’s face was definitely a permanent one – a phrase that featured in Jim’s speech.
The response could have come from nobody else but Ms Alana Orr making a reappearance at our Burns Supper. There is absolutely no doubt that if Alana had been around in Robbie’s day he would have been moved to write the most romantic and lustful poem of his career. Perhaps –
“Fair fa’ yer bonnie high-heeled feet – yer muscly calves wid gar me greet
“In the hills wi’ you ma bonnie lassie – I’d soon come hame wi’ knees a’ grassy”
At this point there was a hidden track in the programme. Alyn, who had been raised in Burns country ran through the epic Tam O’ Shanter with Lorn in particular barely hiding his excitement as the tale unfolded.
James rounded off the formal part of the evening with a heartfelt thanks to all before a chaotic but energetic Auld Lang Syne closed proceedings.
The chaos continued for several hours afterwards with Jim and Stuart providing most of the musical background.
The next morning was wild and wintry and nobody had any intentions of venturing into the hills. Bill had gamely volunteered to do bacon and egg rolls for everyone – his Forces training finally coming useful at a meet. They went down very well indeed and following the usual well organised tidying up process everyone headed back home having retained some great memories of another 45 Degrees Burns Supper meet.