It was a dreich drive over across the Lecht from home the hills were bare with just the odd patch of snow and a bit windy. The road is pretty tight and I was glad it was daylight and felt sorry for the odd hare white as it darted over the hills not so camouflaged today! The were also plenty of Black grouse on the road and a few victims of road kill!
There were little views of Lochnagar covered in cloud and a break at Braemar to look in the climbing shop some great gear and worth supporting the local shops. It was then up to the ski resort a few cars and again little snow and the place looking desolate.
It was then down past the Devils elbow and to our accommodation at Blackwater outdoor Centre just beyond the ski Centre about 15 miles from Blairgowerie .It is the old school run by the Council-for Outdoor Education and hired out ideal for the Moray Mountaineers for New Year . It is an ideal base for the New Year and the rest of the time was spent moving in. There are nearly 20 out with us and they arrived from all over one group from Plymouth a journey from hell! We are out each month but the New year meet always fun as it is communal eating and we all bring food. It is incredible what we have and the evening meal was excellent Ray’s chilli and Fiona’s Lasagne rice, salad and pasta, great food and the way to live! Really communal living Lenin would be proud !
Everyone had arrived by 2100 and the fiddles and the drams were out some great choice of whisky I really enjoyed The Ileach Islay whisky a smoky peaty whisky and one to savour. We had two fiddles out as well and it was a good evening I left them just after midnight for an early night for me.
A dreich day on Mount Blair no views!
New Years Eve – The wind was up in the morning and the odd blast of rain confirmed by the weather forecast of high winds and heavy rain later in the afternoon. It was a leisurely start after breakfast as today’s plan was a short hill near the bothy. Mount Blair at 744 metres is well seen on a good day from Glenshee or Glen Isla. We drove the short distance and parked just past Cray and set off there were two others cars in the car park and a great path muddy at first allows easy walking. It was wet and windy and the top was in cloud. We met a group coming down they were away early and the summit is just an hour from the car. We arrived at the summit in the mist and rain with no views. There is a transmitter comes tower on the summit and a cairn and Trig point. There is even a suicides grave under the summit cairn? It was not the place to hang about the wind was about 30 mph and it was getting wetter so we did not hang about and were soon down at the car. I took a slip in the mud coming off and crashed on my back much to Ray laughter. It was a short drive back to the Bothy and most had low level walks due to the weather!
It was the traditional big communal meal later on with so much food a true feast with roast beef, chicken, nut roast so many vegetables and sweets then a huge cheese board for the 19 who sat down. We all went out for the New years night it was cold but dry and clear and we had sparklers !
I left them all about 0100 as I wanted a day out in the hill and therefore did not drink just one glass of port!
January 1st 2017
It was up early to a nearly deserted bothy all were asleep and no one wanted to come it back down to Glen Isla to climb a small Corbett hopefully before the weather came in . The short drive about 20 mins was fine but there was ice on the road and the odd snow shower coming in when I parked at Auchavan for the Corbett Monameach at 807 metres.
I had done this hill before in a big day from The Glen Shee Munro heading from the Glas Moal direction. Today it would be a quick hill and the car was parked in a heavy snow shower by the river. It was very cold so I had everything on and the snow was heavy at times. The track was icy on the way up and I made good time on the summit in just over an hour the last 10 mins in heavy snow and a strong wind. It would be hard going on the high hills and the short snow showers made life uncomfortable but I was well wrapped up.
No views at the top and no shelter but the light was great at times when the showers cleared. I saw some hinds and plenty of grouse and what snow that was about was like the ground frozen solid near the top it was a big change from yesterday’s muddy path.I did not hang about the weather was wild on the last 10 minutes to the top and I got blasted needing all my kit to stay warm. It was bad enough at times for googles on the hill today if I had been going further into the wind. There was no break in the weather no views and headed back down taking care on the icy ground by going off the path and into the heather. The wind was at my back now and blasting me along. I saw no one but a car arrived in the glen as a another storm came in again and they went away back down the Glen. It is great getting out on your own and what a way to start a New Year by a short but wild day in an area that I am not familiar with, My face was wind blasted as I drove back seeing no one, how many would have missed this short start to the day.
On the way back by the river I saw two traps on a bit of wood over the burn ! It must be awful for whatever they catch in these traps as it looked a painful way to trap to me ?
Any comments? –
Comment “All perfectly legal (unfortunately). Fenn traps set for ‘small ground vermin’, primarily stoats, the idea being that the stoat crosses the log to keep its wee feet dry triggering the trap as it crosses. The wire is supposed to keep birds of prey off but it usually disappears. You see a lot of these in the borders.”
It was good to be back down to the car and within 20 minutes I was back at the bothy in time for a late lunch ! The rest were out by now and the winter showers were getting heavy at times with the odd blast even low down of snow! It was time to sort the gear and dry the kit and then a shower and food. Most went local or an ascent of yesterdays hill Mount Blair. Two others had a long day on Glas Moal coming over to the tops in wild weather as the Glenshee A93 was shut from about 1600 they walked back to the bothy. Hardy pair and great to see they used the wind to there advantage as it was behind them and they like me never so a soul on the hill. They had a two hour walk in the dark even though I offered a lift from below the shut snow gates! A couple visited the bothy one who had been at the school that was our accommodation and we had a great chat about the history of this place. I was amazed when we were told all of the 15 that attended this all ended up at University what a result for a small school!
Another great meal followed using much of the spare food but what a feast for all that were left as a few had to go back. I had an early night as the drive back and the roads were going to be interesting.
In all a great weekend some variable weather and I will have to go back via the A9 today.
Sorry for not visiting my pals in the area but the weather was a bit iffy in the end and home beckons.
Happy New Year all.