Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Newtonmore Walk. Cat Trail.Craig Dhubh.An Arctic Nightmare.

Club weekend up to Newtonmore saw us drive up on Friday night to The Cabin. Its the JMC OF S club hut (Edinburgh division) Very nice it is too. Its not far from Cluny's Castle and Cave. The estate owned for generations by the MacPherson's who have a long and distinguished career serving abroad with the British Army. This was one way open to clan chiefs and their men to gain back ancestral home lands confiscated or lost after the disastrous battle of Culloden and the break up of the clan system. The Macpherson/Clan Chattan family graveyard sits on the A86 with numerous clan chiefs headstones and most seem to have served with the army in India and elsewhere.
Fairly ironic that it was the 'recently dispossessed' fighting the 'just about to be dispossessed' in many cases.
The story of the remarkable Cluny is told in the above Link along with a brief history of the Clan.
Very cosy inside with a wood burning stove at one end and a fully equipped kitchen. An all male group this time which is quite unusual for us these days.

When we woke on Saturday morning it was to find the hills clagged in. Graeme dropped off Alex and Andy to do their Corbett of choice, the young fit members of our club went off Munro bagging or Ice climbing and I stayed in the cosy comfort of the hut then car as long as possible watching them all depart.

I was unceremoniously dumped out in this godforsaken spot however which was the last parking layby on the minor road up Glenballoch where Mike and Graeme intended doing a Munro. A Chailleach I think.
Having a five hour wait ahead of me in this below freezing hell hole I decided I might as well walk back to The Cabin (The fire, oh the warm fire. Stove of my dreams.) using the signposted right of way up Glen Banchor then over the Strath an Eilich.
I met a couple of locals from the farm walking their dogs.
'You'll never make it.' They informed me cheerfully. 'Its not pleasant up there once you leave road end.'
'Don't worry I'm used to tough terrain.' I replied confidently. 'I'm a mountaineer you know.'
An hour later they had the satisfaction of observing me walking back past the farm, soaked almost to the waist and covered in mud.
'Boggy up that way isn't it? The farmer asked.
'I've seen worse. I offered back. 'Just remembered I left something important in the car.'
This turned out to be my enthusiasm as I decided to walk down the minor road into Newtonmore instead to buy a paper  at the garage. Now that was mountaineering! All the weeks TV in one Saturday edition. Hard Core Entertainment.
In summer this right of way looks a splendid idea but in slushy winter conditions, with  thigh deep soft snow and no visible track to follow, the numerous river crossings and water filled  marshlands and ditches gave me the hump. Never in my puff have I walked across such unadulterated soggy crap.
Now...This was a much better idea. I would go Pussy Hunting in Newtonmore instead.
On the way down the tarmac ( Sweet tarmac I'll never leave you again!) another local dog walker had given me a much better idea to keep warm in this frozen sink hole of a place. A Pussy Trail!
It started with one....
Then another...

Then some more....
I found out that Newtonmore has roughly 100 of these hand decorated animals scattered around the town. There is a shop in the main street where you can buy a Cat Trail map and young kids and visitors alike can go off Hunting Some Prime Highland Pussy. What a marvellous tourist attraction I'm sure you'll agree.
In Ireland it was Muff Diving this week its Newtonmore Pussy. I visit all the hot spots. Surely perfect candidates for twin town status.
Of course when you have a great idea other animals want to join in as well.
Long Tailed Tits anyone?  Blue Tits I've seen when its cold. Great Tits I've seen on occasion. But Long Tailed Tits take the biscuit or on this example the Balls.
(I'm anticipating thousands of extra hits from porn site search engines for this post. I'll reach 100,000 visitors yet by fair means or foul. :0)
Young Fresh Bambi. Snapped from the Rear. Cottontail Female.

Anyway enough fun. Sunday was a better day so Alex and I decided to go up Creag Dhubh from Auchmore. This fine wee hill passes above Cluny's cave which is situated next to one of the scariest rock climbing Crags in Scotland. Creag Dubh.
This offers steep wall climbing on nasty sloping holds. Only climbed here once. King Bee VS 5a. 135 metres.450 feet. 4 pitches.
Great exposed route but once was enough as I found myself lacking in the Big Balls department here.  Inside this link have a look at the list of climbs on all the walls  here for a laugh. I was inspired by them when writing this post. This crag is notorious for its bold routes and bolder names. Photos at the bottom are good too. Use 'Click on all 57 photos' to view them.

The hill itself was lovely though and a good viewpoint overlooking the area.
Alex approaching his prize. The cairn awaits its fate with trepidation. Saddest wee cairn I've seen.
Post Coital Depression hits the bagger after giving the cairn A Good Seeing To.
Walking back to The Cabin without a backward glance.  Treat Them Mean, Keep Them Keen. Its the
mountaineers way.

After watching last nights excellent programme on Iraq. Ten years on, and finding out both it and Afghanistan don't appear to be much better off after 10 long years of hardship and conflict with possible civil war and terrorist threats still looming large around the corner I though immediately of this video. Cat Power. Rockets. Her lyrics are subtle and ambiguous at the best of times and can lend themselves to myriad interpretations which is why fans love to put their own spin on her songs.
Is this a good fit? You decide. Thought provoking stuff though.

A visual treat of a compilation road trip across America and Europe. Love the Racoon standing up on the highway in the middle of this. A unique artist that never fails to amaze, frustrate, embarrass ,excite and inspire her long suffering fans. One of her finest songs.
 Best watched full screen for some stunning landscapes.


Alistair said...

Now I must do the cat trail Bob! They look really cute. A nice middle age excuse for avoiding the hills

blueskyscotland said...

Bloody hell Alistair.
That was quick. I'm still editing it this end. You must have typed in Highland Pussy to get here so soon. :)

The Glebe Blog said...

Young, fresh, muff diving, female, pussy, tits, hardcore. Who'd ever have thought that you'd find all this in mountains and countryside. I'd keep it quiet Bob otherwise our trekking adventures will be swamped by virile young men on the make, and there'll be none left for those of us a little more senior.
Liked the Creag Dhubh climb, my dad climbed it back in 1943 just after I was born in Forres apparently.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim.
I was really just looking for an amusing way to string this set of photographs together but I've since found out why there is a cat trail in Newtonmore. Feel a bit guilty now.
Its the clan motto for the area.
'Touch not the cat but a glove'
I have changed the first link accordingly.
You seem to have moved around Scotland a fair bit Jim. Forres, Fife, Galloway.... All the distance I've moved in my life is from one side of Glasgow to the other.
Clan Housing Scheme, That's me :)

Carol said...

That cat trail's hilarious - we had a similar trail but with sheep here...

You got a superb photo of that deer - very jealous - I'm way too slow to catch things like that on camera.

Wasn't there a horrendous accident to some poor woman on that climb on Creag Dubh the other week?

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Yeah. In January this year an ice climber on 'Qui Qui' was hit by fifteen tonnes of ice as part of a frozen waterfall collapsed. She suffered a Broken back and head injuries.
Like I said its a scary place winter or summer but I do think snow and ice conditions are more variable and suspect now than they were 15 to 20 years ago. Its been a bad year for tricky ice and avalanches.
My wildlife tip is to always avoid looking directly at certain animals as you then trigger a flight response and no it was not a stuffed or tame one :)
A good zoom does help but this deer was only 12 feet away, couldn't miss it at that range.