Batteries, Bothies and Big, Big Beasties!
Cap’n Jack had forgotten to charge his camera battery before today’s walk and was now paying the price. The one remaining bar left on the battery display faded out and changed to “no chance mate”. As he muttered about lost opportunities, this being the first time he’d seen a frozen lochan, I sensed the toys were about to be chucked out of the pram. By the time we reached the summit the toys would be first burned at the stake, then sacrificed to a lesser God before any further chucking out was done. But that is for later.
We strolled along the Abernethy forest path towards Ryvoan bothy…well the Fatdog and I strolled and Cap’n Jack stomped. I have mixed feelings about this superb path. It is a glorious path, an absolute joy to walk along, but there is just the suggestion of the path and its surroundings (nr An Lochain Uain ) being a wee bit too neat and manicured, as if we were in a suburban park not the Cairngorm wilderness. Thankfully my expectations of the gingerbread house and fishing gnome were not met and we passed into marginally wilder terrain near Ryvoan Bothy.
We had thought of having lunch at the bothy but it was busy. Just as we passed the back door one of the occupants popped out and…sort of stood there. He was friendly enough saying hello with a smile but I’m not entirely sure about his motives. Was it to say “Hello, come in, don’t worry there’s loads of space.” or was it a subliminal barrier to entry? By standing in the door frame was he endeavouring to welcome us in or suggest that we bugger off? We didn’t hang around to find out and took the path from the bothy up the lower slopes of Meall a Bhuachaille…the subliminal message had worked. Cap’n Jack’s little storm cloud turned a darker shade of grey.
As is the case with most hill walks the view improved as we climbed. To the south the lochan complex between Ryvoan bothy and Abernethy Forest became clearly visible and Bynack More (not in photograph) popped its head above the nearby hills to the south.
A bit more ascent and we had a decent panorama taking in the north face of the Cairngorm Plateau. Although the day was mild the breeze was beginning to pick up and the chill beginning to nip exposed fingers. On went the gloves and the 3rd layer. We had only about a hundred metres of ascent left to do.
As we rounded the shoulder onto the summit we could see in the distance the stone shelter and something else. At this range the something was indistinct but a few minutes later I realised what we were looking at. It was the Cairngorm Reindeer herd.
The Cap’n didn’t know whether to be happy or sad but erred on the generally huffy side for effect. Lunch at the summit was going to be a no-no. I wasn’t sure how the herd would react to the Fatdog and how the Fatdog would react to the herd. We were talking about two of the Scottish mountains major competitors in the rucksack pillaging stakes. Things could get very nasty.
Mr Grumpy took control of FD and swung away from the Reindeer as I strolled closer with the camera. I was surprised how many of the animals had only one antler. I suspected it was all to do with the difficulty in prising open flasks and tupperware containers. The placid beasts eyed us up then continued to munch contentedly on the hills bountiful supply of mosses and remains of miserly hillwalkers.
One animal took a liking to my rucksack and followed me off the summit. I stopped to put the camera back in the pack and like a shot it trotted forward as soon as the pack touched the ground. I picked up the pack…it stopped. I dropped the pack…forward it came. Yep…no different from the Fatdog.
By this time Cap’n Jack had turned his ire towards the poor sod who had stood in the bothy doorway, blaming him for all his woes and complaining that no doubt by now this demon from the darkest pits of Hell had caught up and was now happily photographing his (the Cap’ns) reindeer just to mock him. It was going to be a long walk out.
This was to be the last event of the day. We decided against following the ridge as the sky was turning grey in the west and the clouds were suggesting that rain was on the way. My legs had done reasonably well but had definitely had enough for one day, so we dropped into the bealach and from there took the path down Coire Chondlaith towards the The Queen’s Forest.
There had been a fair bit of recent felling and a quick count of tree rings made the trees some 50+ years old which suggested the forest was planted about the time of the current Queen’s coronation. We stopped for lunch at the “Lonesome Pine” bistro and polished off the rations before heading back for the car.
So ended a great day out on what was a very easy Corbett. With the day’s highlights of the pine forest and the reindeer it counts as one of our favourite trips. As for Cap’n Jack…I sent him photographs of the reindeer…just to rub it in!