24th to 26th January 2020 - Mar Lodge basecamp, Braemar
Chris Re and David T (daytripper) cycled up to Beinn a’Bhuird on the Friday, putting the bikes to good use. Folk arrived in dribs and drabs through the evening and there was a sadly shortlived babybel-collander lacrosse game in the kitchen.
On Saturday I trotted to Derry Lodge and called in at Bob Scott’s to say hi to some overnighters and their Border terrier. I think I was overtaken by the first wave of cyclists whilst I was inside the hut: Martha, Chris Re and Emma C headed on up through the granny pines beyond the Lodge and ditched the bikes there to climb Beinn Bhreac and Beinn a Chaorainn where they had stupendous views across to sunny Beinn Mheadhoin and Bynack More. Tempting as it was to head across to bag another hill they opted to return down to the glen and after exploring the Linn of Dee on their bikes, they went for tea and cakes in Braemar.
Meanwhile, I was joined by Duncan, Helen and Tim and the 4 of us carried out our planned circuit of Carn a’Mhaim, Ben MacDui and Derry Cairngorm. An easy start which turned interesting above 1200m or so as everything was covered in a veneer of ice! Microspikes on, compass out and we found our way to Sputan Coire Dearg from which point we were sideswiped by strong southwesterly winds. We didn’t get chance to stop til well after 3pm and we were all a little pooped after the outing!
Allan, Kate, Pauline and Gillian went for a long walk along Glen Lui and up Beinn Bhreac; they had an excellent picnic lunch beside a stream while sitting on some of the damage caused by Storm Frank. There are rumours that this party subsequently strayed into enemy territory: a sawmill surrounded by “keep out” signs and CCTV. In any case, they returned just as it was getting dark and were very keen for their tea.
In now-traditional EMC style there was a communal meal (for Burns night) on Saturday night with haggis, neeps and tatties. Duncan gave the address to the haggis; I attempted my own (Yorkshire) slant on another of Burns’ poems and there was good chat over cheese, biscuits and whisky long into the night.
Sunday was a little drizzly first thing. I walked from base camp along to Glen Quoich and went up the Corbett Carn na Drochaide via the Crag of the Cat (no cats were seen). I bumped into EMC member Susan J at the summit and saw no-one else on the entire trip!
Emma, Chris and Martha set off up to Derry Lodge again, this time to ascend Carn a Mhaim and despite the tantalising view of the ridge leading across to Ben Macdui they came back down by the outward route and saw Mike and Fiona who weren’t on the meet but who had been biking and hiking in the area.
Helen, Duncan and Tim took the bikes for a spin from the A93 along to Loch Callater and up to both Carn an Tuirc and Carn of Cleish. The descent must have been SO MUCH FUN!!
Kate, Gillian and Allan S went up the Graham Mealna Letter, or Duchay Hill, having delayed the start with shopping in Braemar and coffee in the Glen Shee Ski Centre to start the walk in dry weather. Three EMC's, from the meet, went up and four EMC's came down! By luck Alex W joined the group on the summit having done the Corbett nearby.
I had optimistically taken my skis up north with me; I needn’t have bothered as I don’t think the temperatures dropped below about 8 degrees the whole weekend and there were only a few small snow patches to be seen! Winter, we’re still waiting…?