Day 1 – Sat 15th
The trip started with a very, very early train from York! We arrived in Aviemore about 3ish, and to our utter amazement it was SUNNY, so of course the best thing to do was to have ice cream!
We handed the local police our route card and set off along a road with the mountains looming in the distance. It wasn’t long before we turned off to follow a path through a small wood alongside a river (passing a nice campsite).
After a about 2 ½ hours we reached a suitable spot to pitch the tent for the night on some almost comfortable heather. The evening was spent relaxing and having competitions on who could spend the longest up the tree which over hung the camp. After many bacon pitas and some water from a mountain stream it was time to rest for the next days high altitude walk to Ben Macdui.
Day 2 – Sun 16th
After we had dragged Dan out of the tent we set off up the Lairig Ghru path expecting to be the only ones up there so early in the morning. We were a bit surprised to meet a coach-load of people coming along the path from Cairngorm. Ben lead the way up to our first summit, Lurcher’s Crag (1053m).
The walk continued across the tops, eventually ending up at the summit of Ben Macdui(1309m), the highest peak in the area. We were walking at over 1000m for most of the afternoon, before deciding to head down to the valley by a (some might say suicidal) scramble over rocks and heather. This took us to a small bothy, our camp for night 2.
We made our self at home, which was very difficult considering that there were only 2 chairs (and one of those only had 3 legs) and a fire place. Straight away Ben attempted a fire, but there was only heather at hand, so we had a very rapid fire that lasted not more than a minute before it had burned out. However the damage was done, we had attracted two walkers who had, lets say, left it a little late to get back to their car. So they were given survival bags, and all our roll mats.
Day 3 – Monday 17th June 2002
We awoke in the morning to find a small donation which we immediately put towards our whiskey fund!
Morning activities included egg muffins, and shortly after, Dan was spotted disappearing into the bog with just a spade and toilet roll (please spare a thought for the wildlife in that area). Unfortunately there was only one spade! When it came to taking down the tent we found that the frog which hid under the tent had somehow managed to avoid being squished overnight!
So after a lazy start to the day we felt impelled to tackle Devil’s Point(1004m), an intimidating buttress that loomed above the bothy. Leaving the bags behind, and with Dan in the lead, we soon lost the path to find ourselves attacking a steep scramble. Half way up we met some friendly deer, and spent some time admiring their beauty.
On top, we found fine weather; beautiful sunshine, blue skies, and 100mph winds! The panorama was breathtaking; Cairngorm, and Ben Macdui to the north, and the Grampians to the south. Ben found that he could lean 45o into the wind before it momentarily dropped, and he fell on his face. Jumping straight in the air carried you over a metre with the wind! When we tired of the wind, we headed for the surviving snow slopes for an improvised ski lesson led by Steve.
After many tumbles, we returned to the bothy to regain our backpacks which, despite the lost of much food, were still quite heavy. We applied sun cream and set off on a steady plod along the Lairig Ghru. En route, Ben and Steve tried to construct a dry stone wall, whilst Dan, realising how bad it looked, sensibly kept a safe distance. We soon arrived back at Camp 1.
A rest in our favourite tree and a short snooze in the heather (sun bathing in woolly hats was a new experience), saw us fit to cook a dinner of noodles and squeezy cheese. The high winds forced us to retire to the tent for an early night without pudding!
Day 4 – Tuesday 18th June 2002
We headed back into Aviemore, following the path that we took on day 1. As we dropped altitude into the forest we admired the fine views, and looked back at the mountains that had been our home for the last few days.
The shops of Aviemore provided the opportunity for us to marvel at the at some expensive gear, and wonder where our boots would take us next (in Dan’s case, a good cobblers). On the way home we stopped at Pitlochery, where we bought the whisky that was to provide the inspiration for this report! We bought some food and sat in a small park, when in true Scottish style it began to rain!
Arriving back in York at 9.30ish, it seemed right to call in at The Maltings for a couple of beers to complete the trip.