Meall a Bhuachaille – Part 2

23 Feb

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.

Looking back towards the Ryvoan Pass from near the 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.

Ryvoan Bothy (no Fatdogs allowed!)

the lower slopes of Meall a Bhuachaille

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.

Lochan a Chait and Ryvoan Bothy with Abernethy Forest in the distance

My porter lags behind with the tea urn.

Cap'n Jack rues not charging his batteries as he looks down at an Lochan Uaine

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.

The summit shelter and indistinct figures

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.

With only 3 legs, 1 antler and no head...Percy the Reindeer reckoned finding a girlfriend might be harder than he had first thought.

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.

Prospective candidate for the post of trainee 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.

FD remains unimpressed with the competition while Cap'n Jack is just unimpressed full stop.

The Cairngorms from Meall a Bhuachaille

Heading down to the bealach with Loch Morlich still partly iced over

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.

Having finished lunch Cap’n Jack takes his teeth back out and puts them in his pack for safe keeping.

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!

The Fatdog grabs a stick and heads for home.


Posted by on February 23, 2009 in General Drivel


12 responses to “Meall a Bhuachaille – Part 2

  1. beatingthebounds

    February 24, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I must be prescient – as I started to read this post, I found myself musing: ‘I wonder whether he encountered the reindeer?’

    Me and my mate Uncle Fester were mugged by them on our way past Bynack Stable. At first we saw them from a great distance, but they made a beeline for us. When I took of my rucksack to take out my camera, one of them put its head straight in there. They followed us rather half-heartedly, and when we stopped tried to ransack our pockets, steal our woolly mittens etc. All rather surprising, since Uncle Fester is ordinarily a scrounger par excellence, and was discomforted by a taste of his own medicine.

    They struck me as slightly sad specimens, but I’m glad that they are still hanging on in there, harassing passing hikers in Yogi bear stylee.

  2. Andrew

    February 24, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    They just get better and better.
    Really strange seeing all the reindeer looking like that.
    I didnt realise that they were quite cheecky beggers at scrounging food.
    There used to be sheep on Mam Tor in the peak district that would home in on you the moment you sat down for lunch.
    Another classic tale and adventure.

  3. fatdogwalks

    February 24, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    They do look a wee bit sad Mark, especially the ones with only one antler. They are very tame. I know they have the reindeer house near the visitor centre and there are reindeer there for Christmas but I don’t know if it’s the same ones.

    They are pretty famous for scrounging, Andrew, but the best tales are from people who didn’t know they were there…when they find a whole herd charging towards them 😆 .

  4. Tessa Park

    February 25, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I wonder why several of those deer have only got one antler?

    Looks like a nice walk assuming you can get fed at some point!

  5. fatdogwalks

    February 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm


    I thoroughly recommend the pine forest walks(as opposed to commercial forest)- magical places. I hope to explore more of the forest in this area during the year. If it was this good in the winter, Spring and Autumn must be superb!

  6. Paul

    March 5, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I enjoyed that Ken, reminded me of when I was up there. We saw the reindeer in the distance and I tried creeping up to take a photo and nearly got trampled as they made their way around to meet me.
    Keep up the good work.

  7. fatdogwalks

    March 5, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Hi Paul, welcome to the site and many thanks for your kind comment 😀 .

    Those reindeer are pretty tame but I have to admit those big antlers are a wee bit intimidating. I don’t think creeping up on them is an option 😆 .

    Just had a wee look around your site – some really nice photos there. Will definitely be nipping back for a longer look.

  8. Paul

    March 6, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Thanks Ken,

    I know what you mean about the Antlers, I thought one was going to have my mates eye out!

  9. Paul

    March 6, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Ken, Tried embedding a link to a photo but didn’t work:
    Maybe this will be ok?

    Reindeer "eyeing up" Stephan

  10. fatdogwalks

    March 6, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Paul, thanks for the link – doubt if you can embed in these comment boxes – they seem pretty basic. I’ve still to read the manual 😳 !

    That’s a cracker of a photo – I assume the reindeer was being friendly and just wanted its antlers scratched 😀 .

    Had a look round your photostream – you certainly like the Cairngorms – some great photos. I’m off to put a link onto your site – hope you don’t mind?

  11. Paul

    March 9, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Mike, I’m sure he was being friendly, just wanted some attention.

    We met one of the girls from the reindeer centre the following day, apparently they must have been on walkabout, she said they usually try and keep them on the slopes of Cairngorm.

    Cairngorms are my closest hills so ideal for days out.
    But usually venture over to the west coast if the weekend weather looks good (so just occasionally).

    No problem about the link.


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