Nottingham Outdoor YHA Group

Event report

Braemar, Easter 2010

Easter Sunday, 4th April

After yesterday being a typical Scottish day, this was back to the sunshine and Alpine conditions of Friday. Karen, Gary, Mark, Tim and I set off to the high mountains to bag some Munros and enjoy the full on winter conditions. After our tales of high level ice and needing the crampons we had left in the car on Friday, we took all the gear we had.

Of course, in the clear, sunny conditions the snow was soft throughout our day's walk and no crampons or ice axes were required. Following a track from the Spittal Bridge car park filled deeply with snow our target, Cairn an Tuirc, was visible, looming above us. We climbed steadily through the valley before heading more steeply up to the summit plateau. Snow had obscured any sign of tracks so a cross country route was followed up a clear gap in the craggy mountain face. This required some safe step kicking across a few snow banks before the summit cairn was reached. We were joined there by a few skiers who had taken a cross country route on their skis and were to head off to tour more mountain summits. The view was breathtaking; wonderful sunshine and superb visibility. An expansive view into the main Cairngorm massif, clear views of the Glen Shee ski area and of Lochnagar to the east and Morrone to the west. A suitable time to break open the cream egg supplies and celebrate the day!!

We pulled ourselves away from the view to head east to Coire Loch Kander and then south to our next summit Cairn of Claise. (I only realised later that evening that we could have bagged two more summits for little extra effort; drat two more ticks missed!) This entailed travelling over the broad slopes of Claise that had now been turned into a huge snow bank filling the view in every direction. It felt every bit an arctic trek at this stage, with our footprints being the only disturbance in the snow. Another summit with again a superb 360 degrees view of snow capped mountains and more cross country skiers for company. Our descent took us over the ridge to Sron Na Gaoithe before dropping steeply back down to the valley and the cars; ploughing through fresh snow banks made this a more acceptable descent than it may have been usually. Our route had been 8 miles in length and we had been out for 6 hours, but what a truly wonderful winter mountain experience we had.

On returning to Braemar we thought it only right to celebrate with coffee and Easter muffins in the Taste Coffee House, before eating in the accommodating Moorfield Hotel, with dinner washed down by a few pints of Cairngorm Brewery's Trade Winds and a Highland Park and Lagavulin whiskey! The perfect end to a wonderful day.

Easter Monday, 5th April By Royal Appointment

We were very much back in Scotland today. It was windy and overcast with rain looking likely. Karen, Gary, Tim, Paul, Mark and me drove to Auchalleter car park to ascend the Corbett, Sron Dubh. The rest of the party headed home.

We were soon into the mist, picking our way steadily up a wide ridge with compass and map to hand. No summit views today and indeed we didn't linger before dropping on a bearing cross country into the valley and to Lochallater. Coming out of the mist and gaining a view was a welcome relief. The loch was half frozen and we rounded its head by the lodge and headed back along a wide track. The track was filled with very slushy, melting snow and made for somewhat wet feet.

In the distance we saw a Landrover approaching rather quickly and splashing snow everywhere. As it approached we moved aside and the driver waved his thanks. It was of course Prince Charles at the wheel and he had waved at us!! Thankfully the thoughts of gestures we may have made to this speeding motorist were kept to ourselves. Obviously heading for the lodge and with only one other companion in the car, we pondered on where his security may be. How welcoming for him to be able to escape in these hills, or were the heads of red deer dotted around the hillsides really deer or maybe a troop of squadies in disguise?

We dried out back in Braemar with more coffee and cakes and an evening meal again washed down with locally brewed beer and a sample of the extensive whiskey collection in the Braemar Lodge Hotel. A great weekend away.

PS: It has been suggested that after our acquaintance with HRH, we should write and invite him to be our honorary president. If so then maybe we could stay at his place up here next year. There could be a few spare rooms for us to doss down in.

Rob J

Design downloaded from free website templates.