It is grand to have a wee Corbett on the doorstep and Ben Rinnes at 814 metres is the nearest hill to my house in Burghead it is also the North East most Northerly Corbett. An isolated hill near Dufftown whisky country it has great views of the Moray Firth and the Cairngorms. The views on a good day and the hill though a short walk can be a fun few hours out. The Friends of Ben Rinnes help look after this hill and the path at the top steepens and to me there is always a change of view near the Cairngorm summit tors. It is a great introduction to winter mountaineering and a traverse of the whole ridge is a grand day. I love this mountain and I am lucky to climb it regularly.
It was time to get out on the hills after a great day on Ben Wyvis earlier on. I had also been writing on this blog about the Cairngorm tragedy in 1971 where there was a tragic loss of young lives. I needed to get out on the hills and yesterday John,Derek,Babs and I decided to meet below my local Corbett Ben Rinnes! The forecast was superb with another big freeze and clear skies! It was planned to meet below Ben Rinnes at 0900 and I had a leisurely drive of about an hour through whisky country and icy roads.We all met at the main car park and were hoping to climb our local hill by a different way leaving my car here and driving Bab’ s to Tomachar and go from there. We were amazed as the track we were planning to walk up was frozen solid ice was everywhere ! We set of in the wonderful weather and the views of the Distilleries and the hills outstanding! There was plenty of room to park the car but the big lay by was solid ice !
It was an easy decision after about 10 minutes to put on the crampons! That was a bit of fun some effort needed by us all but made life so much easier as we wandered up the frozen track where the ground was “hard as iron”
It is good to get the crampons on and walk on them again as it takes a few minutes to get used to them! Care must be taken as the 12 points can be dangerous but it would have been pretty awful without them! You walk like a cowboy and exaggerate the stride taking care not to catch the points in your legs! It is so worth getting them out and checking they fit. We passed an old ruin not far from the road people lived and worked here and then walked through the forestry where the shade from the trees mean that it will freeze here all day. Further on was a bothy used by the estate and the track had been used recently and that would have been interesting in the icy track!By now we were in the sun out of the forestry. The track wound its way up the hill and was a different way up and we took it easy taking so many photos of this winter wonderland, we met no one apart from one walker.
It was near the top I met John a young forestry / carpenter on his way down, we had a chat. He like me was enthralled by the weather and views. The white hares were all over this side of the hill and we watched them dash about also some deer and he told me of life down South with its pace of life and busy roads. How lucky we were to be here today. It was great to meet a young man who clearly loves these wild places and its wildlife and I never take my days on the hill lightly or for granted.I love this area and the massive fields its rolling hills and distillery’s the peace and solitude and the magic local hills that we all love. Corriehabbie hill another lovely Corbett stands out only a few miles away and then the Cairngorms huge and white in the sunshine.
There was little wind and I soon took my top off and enjoyed the track where the ice was now replaced by good snow ice and the summit rocks stood out. This is wonderful country and all the way the track was crossed by the hares tracks in the snow.
We were soon on the ridge and the snow was heavy going for about a kilometre to the rocky summit. How stunning it was no wind at all and only one set of tracks and lots of animal trails on the virgin snow. The summit has a battered trig point but also some Cairngorm granite outcrops that makes this hill near the summit look like one of the Cairngorm giants. I took my crampons off in the snow and enjoyed the last pull to the top. the plan was to walk off the normal way and collect my car but my keys were in Bab’s car in my jacket I felt a bit of an idiot again but they were all okay about descending the same way.How privileged were we to be in this place what a day and how good to be feeling fitter but even a short day hurts a bit as you get older. We had lunch and a hot drink Ginger tea and a ham roll and I was needing it and sat and enjoyed the views. There was one other walker later on came to the summit apart from that we were on our own in the sun and winter wonderland.
After a long stop we cut off down the ridge on the virgin snow and were soon on the path and it was a great wander and chat down, more photos and the sun was incredible. I put my crampons on later after a wee slip and then it was down into the forestry and the frozen ground all the way with the sun in our eyes as we headed home.We marvelled at the changing light, the colours and the weather, the joy of being out on a specail place with friends. There was no rush and time at our age to take it all in and we were soon at the car and then of to get mine and home.
What a sky on the way home nature giving us the end to a perfect day and Ben Rinnes in a red/ orange hew majestic. Get the gear off, sort out and dry the crampons and then a soak in the bath and an early night. I am a bit stiff today and another great forecast today but will take it easy today?
What a great day and people ask why do we go on the hills in winter? It is worth the effort early start, cold hands, for a day like this ?
Get out there and enjoy the winter. It was minus 10 last night.
It is “Black Friday” according to the media, get a life and get out and enjoy the weather who cares what a crazy world we live in?