December Day Trip (Christmas Outing) to the Ochils

I was warned.  The last time the Club went to Sheriffmuir, away back in 1998, it snowed.  A wee bit, depending on who tells the tale.  But whatever the depth of snow, the coach did not make it up the road to the Inn.  So Club members had to shorten their visit and walk to Dunblane, with only mulled wine in flasks and mince pies wrapped in foil to help them on their way.  But hey, snow can’t strike twice.  Oh yes it can.  Oh no it can’t.... Oh dear....

We set off from Cathcart, and a bit like a comedy snowball, growing in size as it rolls down a snowy slope, our initial group of 30 merry-makers became 33 when we collected the Andersons and then 34 when we picked up Willie before heading towards Stirling and the Ochils.  Driving east, the weather was just looking promising when we were hit by heavy sleet, and news came through of snow in Dunblane.  Happily, the sleet had been replaced by sunshine by the time we stopped at Corrieri’s Cafe for a warm welcome, a hot drink, and a breakfast buttie.  Our metaphoric snowball of 34 became 46 when we were joined by more friends and family, some of whom were to leave their cars near the cafe and accompany us on the bus for the short journey to Blairlogie.  The others, with the youngest of the children, planned to meet up with us again at the Sheriffmuir Inn.

Download a map of the area?

At Blairlogie, booted and gloved up, we waved goodbye to Irene, Arlene, Harris and Ginevra (who stayed on the coach for a lift to the Inn), and split into two groups.  23 opted for the climb of Dumyat and the promise of 360o views, while the remaining 13 chose the gentler option of walking around the hill and meeting the residents of Dumyat Farm.  We all set off in bright sunshine and clear skies, which continued until the Dumyat climbers reached the peak and the low levellers had got round its base.

On the ascent of Dumyat  On the snowy summit of Dumyat  Lunch at last en route to the Sheriffmuir Inn  Low level lunch

We had just been saying how gorgeous it all was when the odd flake of snow drifted past.  Then the sky darkened and the weather started to deteriorate.  It got to the point where faces were being nipped by sharp, six-sided snowflakes, lips were frozen and snow was piling up on clothes and hats.  This left the forgetful amongst us at risk of mini avalanches following any sudden head movement.  If you were brave enough to look up, all you could see was the blackest of skies ahead.  The group on Dumyat were faced with very slippy conditions underfoot and were forced to navigate their way down.  The low levellers at least had a track of sorts to follow.  But then, the sun pierced the clouds, the snow felt a little less cold, and sensation of sorts returned to lips.  By the time the low levellers had found the last bit of woodland not to have been chopped down since the OS Explorer map was printed, and paused for a late lunch, the sun was shining and the snow had stopped.  This happened to be where the track meets the Sheriffmuir road, so it was decided to follow it the rest of the way to the Inn.

Susan had tried to contact James and David for news of the Dumyat group, but without success.  However, as we walked along the road, they started to catch up and we all enjoyed walking in a winter wonderland, complete with white landscapes and trees topped with freshly fallen snow.  And the prospect of mince pies and mulled wine to follow.  Awww....

And then Irene called.  Our driver, William, had been trying to get in touch.  He had had a hairy time getting the coach and its passengers to the Inn earlier in the day.  He was now getting concerned about the condition of the roads and, understandably, was not keen to attempt them in the dark.  As sunset was due around quarter to four, our merry-making would have to be shortened.  History was repeating itself.  Sort of.

Arriving at the Inn, the snowball of 46 became a final total of 50 when we were joined by a quartet of Moffatts.  Sunday lunch service had been busier than expected, so our group was moved to the bar area, where mulled wine and mince pies were soon making the rounds.  Santa didn’t waste any time arriving either, and just as well, with 50 presents to dish out and lots of kisses to receive.  He was more than ably helped by his beautiful elf, Diane, making a sparkling return to the role.

Santa at work  Santa at work  Presents received  Santa and 'is elf  Heather Walker's magnificent Gingerbread House  Back on the bus ....

Once Santa had delivered presents to the children, Bob got started on his raffle prize draw to raise money for Mountain Rescue .. and collected a magnificent 104.  A big thank you to Bob, to those who donated prizes and everyone who bought tickets.  Sadly (?) there wasn’t time for singing, and more sadly there wasn’t time for fish ‘n’ chips.  So farewells were said and those travelling by bus headed off.

The bus made it slowly and safely back to Dunblane and having dropped off folk at their cars at Causewayhead, made the return journey to Glasgow.  Quiz entries were marked on the bus, with First Prize going to Andy, and Second Prize going to Bob.  Congratulations to both.  If anyone would like to try the quiz, or just find out the answers, click below ...

Christmas Quiz

Back at Cathcart, the remaining merry-makers melted into the night, the bus drove off and the Christmas outing was over for another year.

Heather Walker

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