Once again the Annual Dinner was held on 27th October at the Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey. Winter had arrived early with the hills plastered in snow and woodland paths covered in ice. This didn’t deter 77 members and their guests who gathered for the evening.
The pre-dinner lecture, entitled ‘Scotland’s Sub-Arctic Landscape’ was given by Norman McNab. We were treated to a lavishly illustrated presentation with photographs from all regions of the Highlands and Islands. Norman had collected them from his numerous winter expeditions over many years. Camping overnight in winter conditions had enabled him to take breath-taking images at dawn, dusk and even midnight.
During the evening those attending voted on the entries for the annual photographic competition which is now in its 6th year. This year there were 4 new categories: Colours, A Roof Over My Head, My Favourite Place and The Start of Winter. 54 photos were judged with Mike Gill taking the overall winner’s slot for his photo of the Sound of Sleat. Other category winners were Glen Breaden, Oliver Bartrum and our President, David Batty.
The President’s Reception was held in the bar prior to the meal with wine, orange juice and Bucks Fizz and lively conversation. We were then called into the dining room where David Batty welcomed guests. An excellent four course dinner was enjoyed by all.
After the meal David introduced Iain Robertson, who shared ‘Reminiscences’ of a lifetime of hill walking with the audience in a most amusing after dinner speech. He also touched on hill lists and left us with a thought: would it not be interesting to judge hills aesthetically rather than just numerically. That could be an interesting future publication! The results of the Photographic Competition were then announced and prizes presented to the winners before we adjourned to the bar.
After taking advantage of the extra hour in bed 26 people, accompanied by 4 hyperactive dogs, made the short drive to Boat of Garten for the President’s Walk. This year David Batty had planned a low-level walk through the pine and birch woods to Aviemore alongside the steam railway followed by a return along the Speyside Way. The autumn colours, bright sunshine, snow covered hills and a special appearance from the steam train ensured that a refreshing and enjoyable walk was had by all.