Sunday, 11 December 2011

Glen Quoich.Braemar Weekend.Day 1.

A change from the central belt this week.Although it went against my natural inclination for outdoor activity(Mission statement -stay warm and dry if possible,have fun and adventure,photograph and see things of interest on my travels) I joined Alex for our club,s monthly winter hut weekend trip,this time to Inverey.A small hamlet just west of Braemar.As a climbing club they had booked a climbing hut here on the eastern side of the Cairngorm mountains.The highest,windiest,coldest, most snow wrapped Plateau in the United Kingdom.Windchill can often reach minus-30 to minus- 50 degrees on the summits and wind speeds of 140 plus are also  fairly common in the winter months. Scotland being the country with most days of wind in Europe anyway.  Lucky me!
Fortunately the hut was a cracker with a large wood burning stove in the common room,several extra room heaters and a splendid kitchen.There was also a log store out back with a large supply of handy sized stove fodder to which we had the key.Myself and Alex went up from Glasgow around 10am on Friday..The forecast was for high winds and snow showers throughout the weekend.
There was only one problem.We had to do a hill! Damn! I knew there was a downside somewhere.
Alex had a Corbett in mind not far away.We drove round and surveyed the hallowed heights
Call me picky but  the sight of it (See above) didn,t exactly fire me with enthusiasm.There was a strong, bone chilling wind even down here at road level and it really didn,t appeal to someone who wasn,t counting Corbetts with the same verve as Alex.I got ready just the same.It would be dark in a few hours.
"You,re not going to enjoy this are you?" He asked.
"Nope!"  Honesty is always the best policy I believe.
"I don,t mind doing it on my own if you fancy something else instead."
I did.Glen Quoich.We were parked at the entrance and I eyeballed those  pine trees and sheltered banks like a hampster in a hailstone shower.I was a  heat seeking golden furry blur in  green gore-tex.
"Cheers.See Ya.Have a nice Day!"    I,m a desert animal me.Its my natural habitat-lurking in woods,sheltered meadows and gorges if its a freezing cold wind.Why suffer that when you don't have to is my motto.Why go up things when you just have to come down them again?
"I,d best be off then"  Even Alex didn,t appear too happy at this prospect but he started up the faint path anyway,knees bent into the teeth of the gale.Just as well. He,s bored in woods and sunny meadows.He likes it grim and tough. A challenge.......And it was :)
Even in the glen I was hunched up inside my gore-tex jacket like a tortoise trying to get further back into its shell,wishing I had a full set of thermal underwear on and another fleece or two.It was a raw day. The air temperature was only about -2 below but in the gusts of wind it probably dropped to -10 below if not more.I,ve been out in -20 below on a still day in deep snow and this felt colder. A lot colder.It seemed to suck heat from your body in a different way.These pictures look green.The reality was blue.
This is the Famous Punch Bowl in Glen Quoich.For some reason I thought it would be bigger.Still an interesting formation though caused by small rocks caught in a hollow over countless years swirling around and eventually carving out a deeper hole in the stone by water action.The Princess cottage is nearby.Once the playground for Queen Victoria,s Children and subsequent royal visits Now sadly boarded up but still part of the estate.
This is higher up the glen looking across at Morrone or Morven.It has two names , presumably as there is another hill in the vicinity called Morven. Its another Corbett,one we,ve both done though.I watched some  light spindrift whipping off the summit of this and thought of Alex struggling upwards across his own windswept  lofty lump.I had to smile. I was so happy I wasn,t counting Corbetts.Great decision all those years ago facing life after the Munro,s.
                                                 If its good- go high. If its crap- stay low.
If you follow this glen all the way it leads you onto the shoulders of Beinn A Bhuird.The highest summit in the Eastern Caringorms and home to the Garbh Choire.One of the remotest corries in the National park.Here lies Squareface a classic 320foot V Diff rock climb in an exposed and spectacular position near the summit of the mountain.Alex and I have both slogged into it at different times to climb this route during our days of  bagging classic rock. Its suitable for a mountain bike and a good track.Sadly we did it in the days before this labour saving device was around. I wasn,t planning on going that far today.There was only a few hours of daylight left and I was  happy with the more sheltered glen walk.

I was already looking forward to my dinner at the hut.We knew  in advance we would be the first to arrive.It takes a couple of hours with the stove on to actually get any heat in the place for the others arriving later on that evening after work.One of our group, Neil ,was already in the area though,having spent the previous night in a bothy with a boisterous group of Aberdonians to the west of Inverey.I arrived back at the car just ten minutes before Alex so that was good timing.
A warm night was spent in the hut, feeding meals,drink,nuts biscuits and logs into various open orifices at intervals.Oh and Alex bagged his new hill.Well done to him.
The other reason for doing different things of course is that we now both have contrasting and different posts.
See Scotland's Mountains when he gets his digits thawed out.
The hut at Inverey.It snowed again during the night.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bob. Is the club at Inverey the old Youth Hostel?

Glen Quoich along with Glen Derry are two of Scotlands finest in my opinion. I've had some of my finest wild camping trips in the upper reaches of both.

Looking forward to the rest of the weekends instalments while I sit at home with a stinking cold



blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy.
The youth hostel is only a stone,s throw away.We were staying at the
Muir of Inverey Hut which is owned by the Cairngorm Club from Aberdeen.The oldest climbing club in Scotland and one of the largest formed in 1887.
We can book it as a fellow mountaineering club though we are much smaller.I do go up a mountain
on the Sunday in case your wondering.It was a wild weekend for the summits though.

The Glebe Blog said...

Hi Bob, I like your comment-If its good, go high. If its crap, stay low.
We've climbed a few hills in the cloud and the only thing you get out of it is wet and weary.The challenge of some of Scotland's glens can be as arduous and perilous as any climb.(I'm still not fully recovered from my fall in Tonderghie Glen).

I like the Punchbowl, I think it's great to imagine how the earth was when something like that began forming.It's like a link with history.
Lovely looking accomodation.
Loved this post.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Jim.
Like you say I dont mind putting the effort in if there is some reward at the end of it.If its just a tick in some book somewhere that no longer excites me the way nature always does and you see far more wildlife down in the valleys.
Animals always know where the best grub and shelter lies. Me also:)