Eleven DHC-ers turned up at the comfortable bunkhouse on the Friday with a wet and windy weekend being forecast for the final weekend trip of 2017. Plans changed as food was cooked and refreshments taken and we ended the evening with four groups set for the Saturday.
The Fara : Anna, Gillie, Alan & Sandy
Anna surprised herself and her companions by being ready to cross the railway at Dalwhinnie by 8.45. We made our way along the road to Ben Alder lodge and the theme of day was wildlife. The roar of the stags accompanied us all day long and we were also afforded good sightings of large herds on the higher slopes. The trees were in their full autumn colours as we walked past the impressive but overly grand lodges of the estate.
We left the road at the main lodge and climbed up the gentle slopes of short grass to gain the southern end of the long Fara ridge. Here we stood and watched an eagle soaring high overhead with a group of stags below. As we gained height along the ridge the weather closed in behind us with the expanse of Loch Ericht looking dark down below.
We continued over several tops (including a small detour due to coming off the wrong spur at 901m) and came across a pair of ptarmigan that were in mid colour change. The final long ridge of the summit was in clag and rain and with little shelter we did not hinder long before descending directly and steeply eastwards to find the fire break between the larch and pine forests.
The descent was not pleasant but took us back to roadside not far from the railway crossing. The Fara may be a Corbett but at 911m and a route choice of over 20km it gave a full hill day with the bonus of nature at its best.
Beinn Mholach : Jane, Ali & Graham R
Bikes took this group quickly from the start at Dalnaspidal along by Loch Garry. The bikes were left at the end of the loch and the group crossed the Allt Shallain by the new bridge and climbed to the summit. They were less than 20km from 'The Fara group' but had less rain and had visibility on the top. On the return Ali ended her day by climbing Meall na Leitreach on the east side of Glen Garry while Graham headed back to Aberdeen.
Carn an Fhreiceadain + Geal charn Mor : Susan, Ruth & Steve
These three set off with the stated intention of climbing only Fhreiceadain but I think we all knew that Ruth and Susan were not going to be satisfied with a half day walk. They were followed round the hill by keepers in their landrovers and after getting back to Kingussie golf club drove a few more miles north to climb Geal charn Mor. This hill had a secret stash of tray bakes which prevented Steve from mutiny and rebellion.
Geal Charn (Laggan) : Bob
Bob was our sole Munro bagger of the weekend and not only climbed the hill but then cycled back to Newtonmore and was still back first. Bob also heard stags all day and had a dry if breezy day.
Saturday evening was spent in the Glen hotel with all of us trying to find a short day given the worsening weather forecast. I had been hoping to climb the two Corbetts at Loch Dun but as it is a long day with two steep climbs I left them for another day and went to sample the tray bakes at Geal charn Mor. The weather was good on the main track but pretty miserable on the hill.
Ali set off for the Sow of Atholl but on getting there and not seeing the hill she headed further east and climbed Beinn Vuirich by cycling in from Straloch, a wise decision.
Susan, Ruth & Steve had coffee and cake in Aviemore before climbing a Corbett in Glen Tromie while Anna, Gillie and Alan had a good clear day on Fhreiceadain.
Bob climbed the Munro, Mullach Clach a Bhlair, in Glen Feshie while Jane enjoyed a shorter walk in the same glen.
So the weather did cause us to change some plans but did not stop us enjoying a couple of days on the hill.