On the trip: Mike, Tash, Stu, Christian, Sam, Tom, Jack, Jonathan

 

We set off for Scotland on the last winter trip of the year, hoping it would turn out to be as good as the previous two, the Cairngorms before Christmas and Fort William two weeks before. We were heading for Glentully, just outside Pitlochry, suitably located to access the mountains along Loch Tay towards Killin. Our group of eight was a good mix of committee and Freshers, keen to use their new winter skills, and after a clear drive, the second car arrived just in time for last orders at the pub that was conveniently attached to the bunk house. Unfortunately, the bar was run by a group of rather scary, totally incomprehensible locals, who wanted to know “ARE YE GONNAE SMILE?” We retired to the sofas of the sitting room and then bed.

                We woke at the usual unpleasant winter trip time the next morning, and set off to climb Ben Lawers. The morning was glorious, a perfect pink light cast onto the white summit of the ridge. We were heading up the single track road to the car park, when Mike’s car, a sheet of ice and a ditch came together… After half an hour of revving, shoving and the novel use of the brand new club ice axes, we were finally on our way, the sweet smell of scorched clutch in our noses. Fortunately, a stiff breeze (read: Scottish gale) soon dispelled that, and made walking hard work as we headed up the valley. We then zig-zagged up the side of Beinn Ghlas and over the shoulder to the summit (tick!). The route was busy, but snowy all the way, and when the sun got high enough, we were walking in a sunshine that lit up the spindrift whistling past our feet. We were also joined by a Scottish woman whose friend had turned back. She accompanied us for the rest of the day, telling us about her ex’s predilections for alternative mountain photography…

                From Beinn Ghlas, we headed along the ridge to the summit of Ben Lawers. The slog to the summit was well worth it for the panoramic views, waves of mountains breaking into the distance. We snapped a few summit photos, then headed back along the ridge, where the wind had picked up, sending clouds of spindrift swirling around us. We finally made it back to Beinn Ghlas and back down to the cars, complete with the standard Ben Lairig survival bagging session. We headed back to the hostel, where Mike and Tash cooked dinner, whilst the responsible members of the club sat on the sofa and watched the rugby with a beer… The evening’s entertainment was provided by the usual source of beer and cards, with Irish Snap threatening our fingers, before we moved onto table football and Scrabble (hardcore…), where Stu won for the first time even without using the word “TITS”.

                On Sunday, we headed for Ben Vrackie, recommended as a suitable Sunday walk by our fellow hostellers, just to the north of Pitlochry. The path was wide and well-worn, as well as signposted, and there were even some benches for us to rest on. The hill got steeper past the lochan, and the wind picked up, so once we reached deeper snow, the route got more challenging. We reached the summit before 12, and enjoyed lunch just out of the reach of the buffeting wind, but still able to enjoy the slightly hazy views. We then enjoyed sliding back down, to the apparent disapproval of those still heading up… The bags came out, and we slithered back down to the path, and headed back to the car park. All packed and changed, we headed to Pitlochry, to fortify ourselves for the journey home. Help came in the form of Scottish pancakes/breakfasts/scones with masses of cream, and we collapsed into the cars for a rare Scottish drive in the light. We arrived back in York safe and sound, with some members of the party having enjoyed a Taylor Swift sing-a-long en route…

                All in all, it was an excellent winter trip, with cracking views on Saturday in particular, much fun had by all, and the prospect of another top trip in two weeks time. Photos to come!

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