28th to 30th October 2005 - Mill Cottage
Ten club members and two new members attended the weekend at Mill cottage.
This MCofS club hut is very well appointed, and its situation in a secluded
woodland setting near Kincraig has made the venue a popular choice over the
years. With half the Party having mountain bikes with them, clearly the
aspirations were there to reach remote summits, but the mountain forecast
was not brilliant, OK for Saturday, and very wet on Sunday. The other notable
weather feature was the high ambient temperatures, and with the prevailing
fresh southerly wind, freezing levels were well above the high tops. Despite
the unseasonable warmth we still had the coal and wood burning stove going
well, for comfort value as much as necessity.
Saturday morning looked promising, with sunny spells and broken cloud
over the hills that looked like it might disperse during the day.
Unfortunately this was not to be, with the Munros and Corbetts experiencing
lowering cloud bases accompanied firstly by drizzle then more substantial
rain. Cyclists Alan, Anne and Kenny decided to bike into Glen Einich from
Coylumbridge before ascending Braeriach. Bikeless author also bound for
Braeriach jogged in the 9k to the start of the ascent line and beat the
bikes. The top was reached easily enough but an anxious time was spent
correcting navigational errors before descent by another route to Glen
Einich. The cyclists spent 15 minutes at the wind becalmed summit cairn and
then chose the northerly descent via Sron Riach almost to the site of the
dismantled Sinclair hut before cutting across heather moorland to their
bikes. I arrived at the road end precisely 20 seconds prior to Kenny. How is
that for timing? Kenny enthused about the 30 minute brakeless freewheel out.
Alison W drew new boys Charlie and Richard F under her matriarchal wing,
and provided exemplary navigational instruction and practical advice on a
traverse of the Glen Feshie ridge (all in cloud) from Sgurr Gaoith to Mullach
Clach a' Bhlair. This is not easy with poor visibility, but plateau compass
bearings were good (unlike mine) and new tops were ticked by all. Alison,
despite several previous visits to Glen Feshie still awaits a view from the
summits. Just hang in there Alison, one day you will be up on the Feshie
ridge, looking over the vast wilderness plateau of the Moine Mor and the
backcloth of the Braeriach to Cairn Toul high tops, with only the plaintive
call of the golden plover breaking the silence! The destructive presence of
bulldozed vehicle tracks through parts of The Great Moss for seasonal
stalking present alternate sadness of our insensitivity to unnecessary
exploitation of our wonderful and fragile natural heritage, but occasionally
sighs of relief on poor visibility days when such intrusions underpin
navigational confirmation of precise location.
The other bike Party Bill C, Eileen, and Alison C were further west
enjoying the pleasant ride south along the west bank of the River Feshie
before striking up to the summit of the Corbett Leathad an Taobhain. No
navigational problems were encountered here as a track and path leads all
the way to the summit. Still no views from the top however. Owen headed up
to near Aviemore for the Corbett Geal Charn Mor, whereas Bill B travelled
further west along loch Laggan to tackle the twin Grahams Binnein Shios and
Binnein Shuas. The eye is drawn to these prominent hills on the drive towards
Spean Bridge and is the scenic view from fictional Glen Bogle in the ham TV
Scottish Highland soap 'Monarch of the Glen.'
With all the Party safely gathered in at t'Mill the evening was spent in
characteristic EMC boozy style, although perhaps a few feathers were ruffled
by a mild rebuke of another's way of cooking potatoes. Talking of feathers
and fur, 'Roadkill' Bill B once again revealed his propensity for tarmac
cookery, saying that he had a winter's worth of pheasant and rabbit in his
freezer and anything else scraped from the asphalt. . Later for tea he had
something strange looking, accompanied by fava beans and a nice Chianti
fffffffff. Apparently there really is a road kill cookbook!
With the onset of winter time and a gentle rain already falling the
general consensus seemed to be in favour of an early return home on Sunday
morning, except for Owen who was staying up north for the following week.
Cyclists were looking at various undemanding low level routes to stretch the
legs and the circuit of Loch an Eilean was mentioned. No such prevarication
from Alison W however. With a talk across the Pond to prepare she had little
time left to don her power shoulders, split her infinitives and incentivise
her adjectives in order to wow the Americans. Having dropped the hut key off
to the Custodian in Kingussie I was glad that my only leg stretch was as far
as the car foot pedals. The rain on the A9 was monsoon like at times.