Those attending this year’s spring meet were treated to the usual mix of weather with warm spring-like weather on Friday, full-on winter conditions on Saturday and then simply alpine perfection on Sunday. Monday saw the return of winter with gales, blizzards and road closures as attendees beat a hasty retreat to get over the Glenshee road before the snow gates were closed.
Members began to arrive during the afternoon and evening of Friday 22nd April with those attempting lower hills being treated to warm spring sunshine, birdsong, new-born lambs and spring flowers whilst the Munros were still holding large amounts of snow. Anne Butler drove for 3 hours from Aviemore to climb the rather uninspiring Graham, Hill of Wirren. After travelling overnight from Yorkshire and a brief sleep in the car Mark Gibson climbed the three Glen Isla Grahams of Mount Blair, Badandun Hill and Duchray Hill in less than four hours. Colin Walter hit the high tops again climbing Carn a’ Mhaim, Derry Cairngorm, Ben Macdui and all its Tops. Ann White broke her drive north to climb the Corbett CreagnanGobhar whilst Eleanore Hunter climbedMorrone just above the bunkhouse. Stewart Logan was still busy HuMPing with SgorMor and CreagChoinnich climbed. Alex Thomson, who will not admit to bagging Grahams, drove to Linn of Dee to climb the “Marilyn”CreagBhalg. After travelling north on the overnight sleeper to Aviemore, Oliver and Catherine Bartrum climbed the Corbett GealCharn-mor before travelling over the Lecht in their somewhat underpowered hire car! Long after dark Alan Brook arrived looking none the worse for his long journey over MonadhMor and Beinn Bhrotain. With Anne, Bill and Molly and Oliver and Catherine enjoying the ‘luxury’ log cabins on site other members unpacked in the somewhat snug surroundings of Braemar Lodge bunkhouse.
The forecasts for Saturday indicated a return to winter conditions on the hill with strong winds, blizzards, whiteouts and a high wind-chill and indeed snow was falling in the car park whilst members were loading their cars. Not deterred by the two hour drive, Anne, Bill and Molly travelled over the Cairn o’ Mount to Glen Mark to climb Hunt Hill. Also on the lower hills Mark travelled into new territory to climb Mona Gowan, Geallaig Hill and Ladylea Hill. With several unclimbed HuMPs in the area Stewart tackled CarnnaSgliat and CreagnaLeachda. David Batty and John Green drove to Loch Muick to climb Conachraig. En-route from CarnBhac Maggie Kift and Colin enjoyed 30 minutes of step cutting on their way to Beinn IutharnMhor where Maggie returned to the glen for the long cycle out and Colin continued over Mam nanCarn, Beinn IutharnBheag and An Socach. Oliver and Catherine climbed the two Corbetts of CarnLaith and Culardoch, ensuring that they visited the newly re-surveyed summit of the former. Iain Robertson was beaten back by the weather at the foot of Beinn IutharnMhor as was Eleanore who turned back midway up Carn a’ Mhaim. An energetic Ann White went on a trail run from Linn of Dee to Corrour Bothy via White Bridge, returning through Glen Luibeg past Derry Lodge. Alan treated himself to a ‘rest’ day with an ascent of Little Cairngorm and Derry Cairngorm. Battling through the snow on his bike Alex managed to climb An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidleir.
During the evening the communal meal was held in a very busy Braemar Lodge Hotel where several very hearty and traditional courses were enjoyed by all.
After treating us harshly the previous day, Sunday saw the weather gods looking favourably upon us with alpine conditions enjoyed on the summits. A large group returned to Loch Muick where David, John, Maggie, Oliver and Catherine climbed a combination of Munros, Tops and Corbetts with Lochnagar, Meikle Pap, Meall Coire naSaobhaidhe and Conachraig all receiving ascents (see article on page 10 by John Green). After their disappointments of the previous day Iain and Eleanore enjoyed views and fantastic weather on SgorMor from Linn of Dee. Still not tired from the day before Ann White ran over Conachraig, down to Loch Muick by Glas Allt falls and then returned to her car over Sandy Hillock, Dog Hillock and the Capel road. Mark boosted his Graham tally climbing Pressendye and The Buck. Continuing the theme of the weekend Stewart climbed the HuMPsMeallan t-Slugain, CreagLoisgte and Craig Leek. Anne, Bill and Molly chose a low level day exploring the area below Lochnagar from Invercauld via Ballochbuie Forest, Garbh Allt falls, GelderShiel bothy and Glen Gelder. More energetic days were undertaken by Alex Thomson, who climbed Devil’s Point, Colin, who tackled Beinn Bhrotain and MonadhMor with the aid of his bike, and once again, the last home for the day, Alan Brook who climbed An Sgarsoch and Carn an Fhidleir entirely on foot!
During the evening David, John, Alex and Stewart returned back to the bunkhouse very quickly having discovered the real ale pub they were hoping to dine in was closed on Sundays and they had to make do with a selection of tinned and packet fare instead.
The evening gathering round the dining table saw plans being formed for Monday and then rapidly reassessed once the reality of the dismal weather forecast had sunk in.
On Monday we woke to an icy wind and rapidly settling snowfall so most decided to do the sensible thing and leave quickly before the road conditions deteriorated even more. Not needing to return to Aviemore until the evening for their sleeper train, Oliver and Catherine visited Balmoral and enjoyed a tour around the castle and its gardens. Anne and Molly climbed MeallAlvie, a small Marilyn at Invercauld, where they were well sheltered from the elements in the woods before tackling the buttock clenching journey back over a very snowy Lecht to Aviemore. Mark decided to bag one more hill before his return to Yorkshire and experienced full-on winter on the walk to Cook’s Cairn.
Once again this was another highly enjoyable and successful meet and a sociable and very active weekend was had by all. So if you have never been to a meet come along and join us for the next one.