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New Year Walk in the Pentlands

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I met up with James and Cornel and we drove to the Little Vantage car park, where we met David, Steven, Heidi, Hamish, Angela and Brian. Having got the boots on, we set off on the ‘Thieves Road’ path.

The frosty weather meant that the path was crisp and not boggy, although there were a few places that were. We were walking into the low sun which made looking ahead a bit hard. We eventually came to the junction where the path headed straight up the side of East Cairn Hill.

We were half way up when looking back discovered the walker following us was Willie. Having regrouped, we climbed up to the big cairn the middle of which was a shelter, where we stopped for a lunch break, supplemented by mince pies supplied by Steven.

Ascending to East Cairn Hill  East Cairn Hill shelter  East Cairn Hill summit

After that we followed the path to the summit where a photo was taken. We then followed the fence and path down to the Cauldstane Slap. Willie decided that he would walk back, and after a photo was taken, the rest started the ascent of West Cairn Hill.

On the way up, Hamish, Brian and Angela decided to go back to the car park. The rest eventually arrived at the summit where Christmas cake and a New Year drink was taken.

At Cauldstane Slap  On West Cairn Hill

We then returned to the Cauldstane Slap and followed the now more boggy path back to the car park. Willie was still there, so he got some Christmas cake to take home .. Steven and David took the remaining bits.

The weather was great and it was an enjoyable start to the walking year.

Bob MacDonald

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January Weekend to Newtonmore

For the January weekend outing we were again based at the comfortable Newtonmore Hostel. Five of us stayed in the hostel which has room for ten, and while we enjoyed the extra space and room to manoeuvre in the kitchen, it almost felt a bit too quiet! Three others chose the somewhat more luxurious local hotel accommodation.

Bob and Heidi picked me up after some delay due to traffic and we set off to Newtonmore. Passing over the Drumochter Pass it was clear that plenty of snow had fallen overnight and a very strong wind was blowing. We met new walking companion David at the hostel. The owners had given us permission to arrive early as we were planning an ascent of Creag Liath (Graham) from there. This plan was soon shelved due to the poor conditions and after a cup of tea, we drove to Loch an Eilein near Aviemore. We walked around the loch, stopping near the south-western end for lunch. We continued around the loch and then took the track towards Lochan Deo and turned south towards Gleann Eanaich.  We turned back at about NH925051 and reached the car park as the light was fading. It was quite sheltered amongst the trees and only a few short showers blew through.

Ay Loch an Eilein

Back at the hostel, Willie and Justin had arrived and settled in. Justin had left home early and climbed Meall Tairneachan (Corbett) near Aberfeldy.

In the evening we were also joined by Mark and Miriam in the Balavil Hotel, a short walk from the hostel along the main road, where we had reserved a table for dinner. After an excellent meal, we walked back to the hostel where we got the fire going in the stove and poured a few whiskies.

Justin climbed Meall na Leitreach (Corbett) from Dalnaspidal Lodge at the southern end of the Drumochter Pass.

Mark and Miriam climbed Creag Liath (Graham) above Glen Banchor, just NW of Newtonmore.

Bob, David and Cornel waited for the wind to calm a bit as forecast, and set off late morning from the hostel to climb Creag Dhubh via Biallaid. We followed the Creag Dubh hill race route (part of the Newtonmore Highland games) to the top of An Torr and then followed the ridge to the summit. The cloud base was high and we got spectacular views to Newtonmore and across the Spey valley.

On Creag Liath  On Creag Dhubh  On Creag Bheag  The Burns Supper

Willie and Heidi walked from the hostel, through Newtonmore, along the track past Ballachroan, followed the Curlew Trail for a bit then climbed through the heather to the two summits of Creag Bheag (both 487m). They stopped at the stone shelter near the NE summit for a break and to take in the views of the floods in the Spey valley. They then had a steep descent on a good path to Loch Gynack where they picked up the Curlew Trail again and followed it (mostly) back to the hostel. (GPS data : distance 14.1km, total time 4hr 24mins, walking time 3hrs 31mins.)

In the evening we all met at the hostel for the traditional club Burns supper. The menu included soup (Justin), haggis (Bob and Heidi), neeps and tatties (Miriam and Mark) and apple pie (Cornel).  Thanks to all the cooks and dish-washers, and especially Justin for the excellent address!

The weather was not particularly good, so Heidi, Bob and Cornel headed towards Glasgow. We stopped at the Hermitage and walked along the river to Rumbling Bridge and back. At Rumbling Bridge we met some kayakers carrying their kayaks down the steep slopes to launch into the very full Braan towards the Hermitage. We looked out for them as we walked back to the car, but did not spot them again. After our walk, we drove to Dunkeld where we had an excellent lunch at Palmerston’s coffee shop.

At the Hermitage  On Creag a'Mhadaidh  On Creag nam Bodach

David had planned an ascent of Creag Liath, but a wedding party at his hotel lasting into the early hours ensured that he did not get much sleep. With the weather being poor, David cut his losses and headed off to visit some relatives .. Mark and Miriam made an ascent of Creag a'Mhadaidh.

Starting from Ruthven Barracks, Willie had a circular moorland walk around Corry Ruthven on mainly good tracks and included a short ascent to the windy summit of Creag nam Bodach (491m). The forecast rain arrived for the last 10mins of the walk but he was safely in the car when the light rain turned into a deluge. (GPS data : distance 11.8km, total time 3hr 55mins, walking time 2hrs 55mins.)

At the time of writing, the future of the Newtonmore hostel is uncertain with the hostel and adjacent Craigellachie House still up for sale. However, we enjoyed our stay and despite the variable weather another great weekend in Newtonmore was had!

Cornel Brozio (and assistant Kevin)

Assistant Kevin

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