The forecast again was so unlike winter but a few pals wanted a wander in the Cairngorms we did not think we would go far as the rain was forecast. I drove down myself as I wanted some flexibility, the snow was gone from the Dava Moor, the roads were black after the weekends snow. How fickle is the Scottish winter but the views were great a the morning light hit the hills that looked so bare for January. I love the drive and take the back road through Nethy Bridge when the roads are clear.We met at the Squirrel cafe at Glenmore with no time for a coffee and then of to the Cairngorm car park which was so quite for mid January and there was only a few cars about. Glenmore Lodge the OutdoorCentre were there and they would have the Corries to themselves today. We set off it was mild and I shed a lot of clothes on the way up it was spring like when walking but it was hard to believe how black the cliffs of Corrie an Lochan were. They should be full of climbers and “stick men and women” (ice climber) enjoying the snow and ice, not today, mid January and the corrie is empty. The ground was not frozen but there was a bit of ice in the Corrie and the Lochans were part frozen but it was as bare as I can remember in my years of mountaineering. We met a group of three coming down one was in shorts and yet there was a keen wind on the ridge, it may be warm but shorts? It is still a stunning place to be and once on the ridge proper the view of the Larig Gru are impressive. Most people stay by the normal path for views of the Corrie but I enjoy moving along the ridge and loving the views all the way to Devils Point and the incredible wildness of the Pools of Dee. I always wander this way it is a special place and there was a bit of snow about in this side of the hill. We had a break here and enjoyed this place the huge corries on Braeraich are so massive and they still held snow as did the Pools of Dee in the Larig Gru and the light was incredible. In every season this is a joy to be here and it is not far off the path that heads to MacDui most miss it on the quest for the summits? How many times have I been here over the last 40 years and each time is so different. It is a place to savour or for a high camp on a summer’s night? We went onto the plateau and were amazed how snow – less it was and we met no one. The gully’s were bare with only a little snow about. There was so much loose rock about at the top of the cliffs and the ground was not frozen a strange conditions for January. We had a good wander along and met only two other small groups. It was clear and we could see a few groups in the Corrie on a snow skills course but the weather was great and there was no Cairngorm wind! I had a good wander and look down the cliffs and a slow walk along the ridge. The boys and the dogs were ahead talking about the Oil industry and aircraft ? These boys and their toys?
We were soon at 1141 the spot height before descent to the empty ski resort. We wandered off and though a short walk I enjoyed it and headed straight home as the sun was out over Loch Morlich. The boys I would imagine headed into Aviemore but I took the back road to Grantown.I was stiff after my drive back to sunny Burghead and the knees were so sore and creaky old age even after a short walk but well worth the effort. A bath some tea and an early night, it was worth it but what a strange winter? Lots of snow at the weekend and now its gone? The body is sore the ageing process you feel even on the hill now and when you get out of the car you are like an old man but is worth it. Just to get out and see the hills, the changing light and those wild mountains, well worth it.