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Ben Macdui 70 years on

Ben Macdui 70 years on


Postby rohan » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:23 am

Munros included on this walk: Ben Macdui

Date walked: 21/09/1943

Time taken: 61303 hours

Distance: 33.3 km

Ascent: 1474m

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Please note the time for this walk is 613032 hours i.e. 69 years 11months 1 week give or take a few days... Walkhighlands doesn't allow for recording in years and only a five figure number of hours!

In the beginning….1st - 16th September 1943 a young research chemist (E) and young doctor (J), sisters, had a holiday in Glengairn nr Ballatar. A log (diary) was kept and became a source of interest for the chemist’s children who grew up with tales of their mother’s encounter with the Long Man of Ben Macdui. Roll on to August 2013 and E’s daughter (me) has decided to retrace her mother’s steps. The diary covered a 2 week holiday and is a good read about the preparations, their mode of transport (train and bike) their daily explorations, their reading material (Hamlet 3d and the Merchant of Venice 9d from Bissets in Aberdeen), encounters with the King, Queen and the 2 princesses, rationing and the weather. Their big aim was to climb Ben Macdui via Glen Derry, the Shelter Stone and Loch Avon, not the most direct route and various plans were thwarted by the weather (no MWIS then) and a bout of sickness which struck down first one then the other of the sisters. What follows is a report that includes extracts from the log of that walk ( at the end of their holiday) plus a trip this year which attempted to follow in their footsteps. As yet no photos of their walk have been unearthed so the photos included here are of the modern era although some have been given the Photoshop treatment to give a “period” feel. I start with the first day as they travel out to Glengairn.
“Glengairn Holiday. SEPT 1ST -16TH 1943
Wearily on Tuesday night- the last of August- we dropped into bed rather dreading the prospect of starting early next morning for Glengairn but the early start was not made, & we were content to make the 10.5 train in a much more leisurely fashion. We looked rather comic setting off with J in slacks an my burberry & riding Andrew’s bicycle which was strange for her, and me rather proud of my new windproof but all manner of ungainly things including my sleeping bag tied on the back of my bicycle, & rather badly tied on so that they continually slipped sideways and backwards”
……………………………………..

“ We lunched in Ballater [soup thro’ to coffee – a last fling] and bought bread, arranged for meat and groceries to be sent up with the weekly van”

Fast forward to August 2013. Dr Beeching’s cuts did for the Aberdeen-Ballater line so I was going to cycle to Braemar from home along the South Deeside road, however a fellow WH user pointed me in the direction of the Aberdeen-Braemar bus which advertises that it takes bikes….. which it does….sometimes….. My days off coincided with forecast of good weather and my plan was to cycle the 69 miles from home to Lynn of Dee on Monday, camp, climb on the Tuesday, cycle home on the Wednesday, back to work 4.30 p.m. on Thursday. Monday was lovely but with a strong westerly the thought of cycling into it did not appeal and I persuaded myself that I had a whole month to recreate this journey. By Tuesday I was kicking myself and this was the day I found out about the bus. There was the small matter of cycling up and over the 16 miles (puppy stuff) to the North Deeside before the latest bus I felt comfortable catching i.e. one that gave me time in Braemar to buy the food for the walk before cycling up to Lynn of Dee and pitching the tent before the wind dropped and the midges came out. This was fine but I had so many wee things to do that the hours which had seemed plentiful at 08.00 am had vanished into thin air by 13.00 my deadline for leaving. 13.15 saw me setting off from the cottage E & J bought together in 1944 and where I am currently living. It is straight out and up a steep hill, then a further mile uphill ‘til I passed the church where my parents married in 1946.
The most hazardous part of the whole trip was not walking alone in the remote reaches of the Cairngorms or the weather but crossing the A90. This was well before rush hour but the traffic and vehicles turning onto the southbound carriage way every time there was a big enough gap for me to cross meant that I was stuck there as the seconds then minutes passed. It did not help to see the black burn marks of melted tar from the fatal accident the week before. After 5 minutes I started to fume, cursing the car obsessed society we now live in and thinking of my mum and her sister happily gadding about on their bicycles. Finally a gap and I was on my way, a few miles later passing the home of Rog, whose first wife until her untimely death in a cycling accident was my cousin Ally, J’s daughter. I popped in but discovered that if I wanted to catch the 14.34 at Crathes I would have to make tracks…” Sorry Rog” I said as he told me I had another 2 ½ miles of uphill cycle before down to the S.Deeside and a total of 10 to Crathes Castle gates. Actually I could have stayed a tad longer as I had totally forgotten that I could cross the Dee at Drumoak and I was there in a blink (well, after the uphill bit) and had a pleasant wait in warm sunshine for the bus. £17.10 return ticket purchased with bike and bags stowed in the luggage hold I sat back and watched as we passed bits of the old Aberdeen- Ballater line now a cycle-footpath but one section at Crathes as it would have been in1943. I don’t how much the rail ticket cost in 1943 but it would have been shillings rather than pounds no doubt.
Image
IMG_0673 by Seal54, on Flickr
Railway line at Crathes.

Image
IMG_0691 by Seal54, on Flickr
Ballater Station today

The railway station at Ballater will not have altered much except in function and all the cars parked outside but passing it I did feel a twinge of guilt that I was not getting off the bus, cycling out to Brae- na-loin, where they had stayed for their holiday and then up over the Crathie Hill. I justified this by the fact that I had started the trip with a short cycle ride. Then I was disembarking right opposite the Co-op in Braemar. Malt bread, sliced cheese bought plus a couple of cold bottles of Crabbies. All stowed away in my panniers, nothing strapped on – according to Wikipedia, the first pannier for bicycles was patented in 1884 but the modern pannier really came into existence in the 1970s. The term pannier derives from the French for bread basket. Like much of my equipment the modern form makes life a lot easier than in 1943, from waterproof clothing to efficient, lightweight cycles with panniers. A pizza at the Hungry Highlander (other eateries are available) was my final fling.

After most of their holiday over with plenty of other interesting tales the sisters finally planned to set off for Ben Macdui on Tuesday September 14th but
“Woke about 2 a.m. to hear rain – torrential rain thudding on the roof of the caravan. It continued intermittently until 9 a.m. causing us once again to postpone our start for Ben Macdhui (sic). The burn is a raging torrent”
It looked like the holiday would finish without their top objective achieved. After mending a puncture on E’s bike they decided on other plans to visit Auntie Jessie at Birse.
“Not much enthusiasm – thoughts of us both on Ben Macdui- Couldn’t bear the thought of returning without having attempted the ascent. We kept saying that it was impossible – not believing the holiday would end on such a note”………
…..” To our amazement at midday the rain did stop & the sky began to clear – even the sun came out & with its appearance J. said in grim tones “Edna – we are setting off to Inverey tonight – and if the weather is good, tomorrow we will climb Ben Macdhui”
There started a “gay bustle” to prepare for the trip with knapsacks packed and a bathe in the burn where due to the spate they had to hang on to the boulders then finally…
“With relish at 5 pm we ate our [home-made-Ed] apple dumpling shouldered our burdens & away……. Off up the Crathie Hill we started – overtaken near the top by a shooting brake containing the Queen, the Princesses & various other people. We could see them looking back at us until the brake topped the last rise”


2013 Braemar to Linn of Dee is an easy ride. There I speculated as to which house has belonged to Mrs M.

1943 “ Prospecting for a bed in Inverey was dismal indeed, each cottage sending us on to the next until we came to Miss Scott’s , the last cottage in Inverey & she advised us to go to Mrs Macfarlane at Linn of Dee saying we would be sure to get a bed there.”
Sure enough they were successful at Mrs M’s and it seemed to be an excellent refuge with a number of other “lodgers” including 3 Canadian soldiers , a rather wet medical student who had walked in from “somewhere” and “various Macfarlane in-laws.” After an evening of toffees and delicious food “by candlelight we made our way up to a real bed & sank to into it luxuriously”

2013 Both houses now at the Linn of Dee looked empty of people, no lights or cars. Holiday homes apparently. The light was fading and the wind had dropped as I turned the bike onto the Derry Lodge track. Thoughts of cycling up to Derry Lodge in the evening faded as a tempting, flat, tent-sized grass patch appeared within seconds of leaving the road. It turned out to be pretty stony but I was ok with this and set the alarm for an early start. Not quite the luxury J & E experienced but I slept well enough, occasionally waking to hear the rain on the tent, setting the alarm for an early start at 07.00.
1943 “Wednesday. Sept. [15th-ed]
“After a colossal breakfast of wheat-a-bix, bacon & egg, cheese oatcakes-bread country butter, tea ¬- we set off rather late (9.30). Our companion of the night before was setting off for the Lairig Ghru so we gave him a lift to Derry Lodge. J & I on my bike, he on Andrew’s. We parted at Derry Lodge at 10.00 a.m. – he set off up the Lairig & we up Glen Derry travelling light only the small knapsack containing a few sandwiches, a bottle of cider & a bottle of beer, the maps & the book – J. had both mack’s an extra cardigan & the Prismatic compass.”
Image
_MG_7247 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
Crossing the Dee
Image
_MG_7248 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
Derry Lodge

2013 They ate well despite rationing probably as a result of proper local sourcing of food in those days. I on the other hand decided that I would forgo breakfast (it would have been instant porridge… I hear them turning in their graves!) because of the massed ranks of midges determined to breakfast on me. I took 50 minutes to reach Derry Lodge on my bike, already trailing the much younger and fitter sisters and weighed down by a healthier option of water, more food (I had breakfast of belvita as I walked) spare clothes, digital SLR plus 2 lenses, waterproofs. They were afforded magnificent views in Glen Derry but spoke of low mist, I had low cloud (down to about 400 m) rather than mist but it was dry and I felt that there was a good possibility of the cloud lifting.

Image

_MG_7249 by Seal54, on Flickr

Image
_MG_7263 by Seal54, on Flickr
The Caledonian Forest, Glen Derry

1943 “The waters of the Derry flowed down clear and deep beside the path – sorely tempting us to bathe but having started late we could not stop to yield to temptation –(although J several times found it necessary to wade into deep pools to remove the peat bogs from her legs!) . We branched off up Coire Etchachan – the opening is well marked and can be seen very soon after leaving Derry Lodge”

2013 Here I disagree with my mother (not for the first time) even when I was younger, fitter and faster I would not have described Corrie Etchachan as very soon after leaving Derry Lodge and I again took much longer than the sisters taking time and advantage of low light levels to take long exposure shots of the Allt Coire an Fhir Bhogha. The midges taking advantage of me.
Image
_MG_7257 by Seal54, on Flickr
Allt Coire an Fhir Bhogha
Image
_MG_7259 by Seal54, on Flickr
Allt Coire an Fhir Bhogha

I had passed numerous clumps of bright orange tents that I figured belonged to groups of DOEs and I met a group crossing the Glass Alt Mor. So I had already seen many more walkers than J&E. but I was the only one heading up Coire Etchachan and to my delight as I climbed the cloud climbed with me. I stopped in the Hutchison memorial hut, another change from 1943, beautifully looked after and edited out of the following photo.

Image
_MG_7285 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
Coire Etchachan without The Hutchison Memorial Hut

Image
_MG_7286 by Seal54, on Flickr
Its back!



1943 “The path up to Loch Etchachan was steep and the going very hot – looking behind tho’ all the tops were in mist we had a distant &lovely view of Lochnagar – a momentary clearing of the mist showed us a vast almost level plateau eastwards between Beinn a Chaorainn and Bhreac with Beinn à Bhuird appearing behind”

Image
_MG_7294 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
Lochnagar (zoomed)

Image
_MG_7289 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
The level plateau, Beinn à Bhuird behind, Lochnagar in the far distance
2013 I found the walk up to Loch Etchachan much shorter than I remembered. Perhaps my mother had also in her mind confused timings of the walk along the Derry with the climb up to Loch Etchachan.
1943 “Pushing up the last steep bit of path we came upon the lonely waters of Loch Etchachan ¬¬– Beautiful indeed altho’ the mist was sweeping down from the heights [Macdui!- Ed] on the West. Without spending too much time we crossed the Dee-Spey watershed. Through the “wide level basin” (we knew the book by heart) “

Image
_MG_7301 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
The Lonely waters of Loch Etchachan (mist sweeping down from the heights!)

2013 I didn’t hang around too long here either. I had a previous breath-taking stop at a frozen Loch Etchachan after an exhilarating ski down from the top of Ben Macdoo, the last 100 metres on fairly steep ice. It had been absolutely perfect conditions that day. Today it was a different and very much fitting my mother’s description. I do not know the book she is referring to. (NB I found the book in 2017, it was none other than than the 1938 edition of the SMC guide to The Cairngorms by Sir Hugh Alexander). My parents had all manner of hill-walking books filling their shelves but mostly dating from the 60’s onwards. I did stumble across a camera that had been left (dropped?) on the shores of Loch E. It was wet through but later I was able to retrieve the photos from the memory card and discovered that it had been last used on 27/07/2013. For anyone recognising this I handed it in to the lost property at Queen Street Police Station in Aberdeen – Braemar not being staffed when I went by the next morning.... Back to 1943
“…. – we looked to Cairngorm & then suddenly with breathe taking beauty, Loch Avon lay 600’ below us. Even as we stood far above it the waters appeared clear & blue with the white shingle beach on the west. We were exultant. In that moment our holiday was a glorious success. Even the summit of Ben Macdhui had never rivalled in our ambitions the desire to see Loch Avon.”
2013 I had seen Loch Avon from various view points over the years as I stravaiged through the Cairngorms but never from this point. Despite my mother's eulogies I was unprepared though for what I saw.
Image
_MG_7314 by Seal54, on Flickr
Rainbow over Avon.

Image
_MG_7317 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
Loch Avon

Breathe taking indeed and here more than anywhere else on my walk I felt the sisters with me. Not that I am a believer in the after-life but I am sure whatever was left of their molecules and atoms had found its way back to this point. I didn’t want to descend, not because of the prospect of the descent then re-ascent but because it was such a special moment. I savoured it until the rainbow faded and then descended to find the Shelter Stone, not as easily as the sisters.
1943 “The beauty of the scene is indescribable. The crags of Cairn Etchachan, Shelter Stone Crag, Castle Gates Gully – the white slashes made on the grey granite by the cascading streams of the Grabh Uisage & the Feith Burn. The slopes and summit of Cairn Gorm - .we made our way thro’ the fallen boulders to the Shelter Stone & entering wrote our names in the log book there…”
Image
Cairngorm Panorama1 by Seal54, on Flickr
The slopes and summit of Cairn Gorm
click here for full size
http://flickr.com/gp/16526248@N02/1j25TV

2013 I thought I would have no problems finding the Shelter Stone, I had seen enough photos and it was marked on the map. This was not to be as many of the other massive boulders amongst the tumble of rocks have been made into shelters. Eventually I found one that was more or less in the right place (on the elbow of the main path down) complete with an orange bivvy bag in place but I wasn’t convinced that it looked the same as the pictures. I should have brought a photo with me or even a grid ref would have been helpful. I was slightly disappointed but reassured myself that I would be back with my granddaughter to camp on the shores of Loch Avon, telling her tales of my mother’s exploits. She would find the Shelter Stone. The sisters had gone down to the shores of Loch Avon but did not swim that day. I could see a tent and 2 people camping on the shores and I decided to leave them to savour their solitude. I was now dreading the re-ascent of 559 metres to the summit of Ben Macdui.
1943 “ We climbed up the side of the Garbh Uisage – for us it was both difficult & exciting – at one point crossing the stream itself we were drenched by the dashing spray with pleasant effect as we were hot from the climb. We started from the Shelter Stone at 1.30 p.m.& reached the level plateau above the falls in about an hour..”
Image
_MG_7332 by Seal54, on Flickr
The sisters route in black (roughly) Mine in red.

2013 I took an hour to reach the falls but stopped and spent some time on photos of the falls.

Image
_MG_7338 by Seal54, on Flickr
Falls Garbh Uisge
Image
_MG_7339 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
And again


Image
_MG_7342 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
Falls (again) Long exposure, spray on lens.

There is a faint path up to the plateau but this didn’t take me up the more exhilarating route the sisters took. I was hot but without the wind they had was going too slowly to avoid attack by midges. The weather by now was excellent sunny with blue sky. If I had been picky I would have liked a slight breeze for the cooling effect and midge deterrent. I may have picked up a breeze if I had taken the route right next to the Garbh Uisge but I wimped out of the "difficult & exciting". The views to the east were spectacular with the various crags standing guard high above the beautiful loch, their lower slopes morphing into graceful lines down to the shore.
Image
_MG_7336 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
Looking East over Loch Avon

Image
_MG_7344 by Seal54, on Flickr
Pinnacle Ridge, Shelter Stone Crag, Stacan Dubha, Beinn Mheadhoin

1943 “…..for some time it had appeared as if the mist would blow away ¬– the summit of Cairngorm was in sunshine. As long as that remained in sunshine towering above us, we felt that the mist on the top of Ben Macdui could not hold too many terrors – but approaching the Lochans in this eastern basin suddenly Cairngorm itself was cut out by mist….. & tho’ we were only a little way beyond the lochan it was with difficulty we got a compass bearing on them”
It was cold and they put on their mackintoshes and debated what they should do. They were clearly uncertain but set off on a bearing to the summit.
“……& to our amazement ahead of us we saw the shadowy figure of a man passing – walking in the calculated direction of the summit. He quickly disappeared into the mist but we decided that he was either the ‘long man of Ben Macdhui’ or on the path to the summit – trusting the latter we hastily set of to the place where we had seen him & there sure enough we came upon a path marked by cairns.” Even now the sisters debated the wisdom of going on or returning to Glen Derry.
“We turned towards the summit & at 3 o’clock we reached the summit cairn there to find our shadowy figure who was none other than the man who had signed the Shelter Stone log the day before us. [N.B. we have filled in the wrong date i.e. 16th for 15th.]
Image
_MG_7347 copy by Seal54, on Flickr
One of the many stone structures at the summit

Image
_MG_7346 summit by Seal54, on Flickr
The Trig Point.

2013 Although I had experienced better weather than the sisters from Loch Etchachan to the plateau above Garbh Uisge, black clouds were gathering, the wind rising and the tops which had been clear were being blotted out. I hoped that this would be a passing heavy shower and once by, the cloud would lift. It was not to be, there was only a momentary reprieve on the way to the summit. Visibility though remained reasonable, nothing like the shut in feeling the sisters had and I made my way over the 1295m top to the summit with only a quick check with the map and compass. It didn’t seem to take me that long to get to the summit, ok I had to stop to put on a fleece and jacket but somehow I took 2 hours from the waterfalls. There was no long man lurking in any of the stone piles but the wind was blowing a hoolie and although the clouds shifted around giving momentary glimpses of Cairn Toul and Braeriach conditions weren't conduicive for hanging around. I couldn’t quite believe the way the weather was following roughly what the sisters had experienced. Like them the high point of the walk had been the view of Loch Avon. I didn't "need" to go to the summit but they would have been disappointed if they hadn't made it there that day. I know that my mother would have been back to Ben Macdui with my father and I hope she was rewarded with views from the summit on subsequent occasions.
1943 “There seemed no possibility of the mist lifting altho the wind was very strong & after some conversation & a study of the viewfinder we decided to descend. Our original ideas had been to come down either via the Tailleurs burn & into the Lairig Ghru or walk over the tops to Carn à Maim (sic), on the advice of the stranger we gave up on both of these plans & accepted his offer to guide us down by the shortest & easiest route to the Luibeg. At a tremendous pace we set off across the loose boulders of granite, both J and I found it necessary to run to keep up with him. His first effort was to bring us to the head of a very steep corrie, the mist rolling away & a little beyond our footing revealed almost perpendicular sides – as he silently surveyed it I wished we had stuck to the cairns for I had lost all sense of direction & had not the remotest idea of where we were ….” They concluded that they were still on the correct side of the mountain due to the wind direction and therefore not in danger of going over the cliffs of Choire & Lochan Uaine. They kept more to the left and continued to descend 200-300 feet and then I find the next statement a bit strange ..
“ …..we came on to the slopes of the spur which runs between the Derry and Luibeg & in another 10 minutes were below the mist.” I think she must mean Sròn Riach but she appears to have forgotten Derry Cairngorm and its southern ridge. The Sròn would have been the quickest way to the Luibeg and she goes on to write
“The ridge between Ben Macdhui & Carn à Mhaim stood out clearly on our right, we could see Cairn Toul & the Devil’s Point, the magnificent slopes at the entrance to the Lairig Ghru, the dark & lonely Glen Luibeg called familiarly the ‘Dark Glen’& lower slopes of Derry Cairngorm. The grandeur and desolation held us some time before we could go on descending the steep hillside.”
2013. As I wasn’t that definite of their route down I decided the easiest way would be to head for the cliffs above Lochan Uaine then turn left and down to the path over Sròn Riach. This held no fears for me. I think that the corrie with the “perpendicular sides” was a little to the North of Tailleur’s burn and the mist exaggerated the depth and steepness of this. I was relying on my own route finding abilities and had none of the problems of descent as they found with their “guide”. Later my mother says “We found later it was a mistake to come down where we did, the descent was extremely steep & difficult”. Now a path exists over Sròn Riach and where they had experienced boulders followed by “heather deceptively covering up deep holes between the boulders” I only had to contend with a slightly wet , in places boggy path. They were rewarded however with finding a clump of white heather.
Image
_MG_7348 by Seal54, on Flickr
Coming down out of the mist over Sròn Riach

Image
_MG_7350 by Seal54, on Flickr
Looking back up Glen Luibeg to Sròn Riach

1943 “We were back to our bikes at Derry Lodge by 6 o’clock having said good bye to the stranger at the Keeper’s lodge we were grateful for his guidance – we drank the beer & cider (only because we had carried it so far & could well have done without both it & the food) before cycling down to the Linn of Dee. The Macfarlanes were quite surprised we had achieved our object but they had a grand tea ready for us in their octagonal kitchen & then we set off back to Brae-na-Loin. We both changed into dry socks brought for the purpose & were new beings – oh the delight of it-. Off at 7.30 pm we were in Braemar by 8 not even walking the Long Man Hill – in fact we did not walk at all until the famous Crathie Hill was reached – and even here we managed to cycle more of it than we have ever done before, thanks to the magnificent wind on our backs. Our only light was from the dynamo on Janey’s bicycle…..” ….. “ we put our bikes away in the barn & went straight in to tell the Leslie’s of our safe return, the time was 9.30 p.m. exactly 12 hours since we set off for Derry Lodge.”

2013 Tardy me was back at the tent by 8 p.m. The rain had not let up since the summit of Macdui so I decided to turn in, finishing off the day with malt bread and cheese, pudding of chocolate and all washed down with a Crabbie’s. Some of my slowness was caused by beta blockers which as I write have been consigned to history as my hyperthyroid is now being controlled by other medication. Again I was looking to an early start in the morning in order to catch the 8.30 bus back to Drumoak. At the back of my mind was the niggling thought that this might be a double decker school bus with no luggage hold for the bike (it was and therefore I could have stayed in bed and caught the l0.00). However this wasn’t to the forefront of my mind. I was very happy to have achieved this long standing ambition to retrace my mother’s steps. This particular walk of my mother and her sister had featured so much through my life. Although she kept many other hill walking logs throughout our childhood E had told us stories of meeting the Long Man of Ben Macdui, of his rapid pace with E &J running after him ending in a sudden stop just preventing a plunge over the edge of a huge drop. It obviously was a very significant walk for her and only a couple of years later she was married, the family started coming in 1946 and with an insulin dependent diabetic as a husband, 5 children and a full time job, her hillwalking days were much curtailed. We grew up, left home and she spent a few happy years with my father as members of the Cairngorm Club climbing her beloved Scottish Hills. As a cruel twist she was back in the Cairngorms on a CC meet in 1979 when she developed Polymyalgia Rheumatica and by the time she had recovered she was showing the first signs of Alzheimer’s. Again the 1943 log became important as she could no longer read and we would enjoy reading it to her. For some time she would remember and smile at the various significant points in the log until the disease advanced too much. At the end of the log E talks about the tremendous feeling and excitement they felt having achieved their objective but also of reliving the feeling of being at the top of a gigantic rocky corrie. As they tried to sleep ….
“We could still hear the wind – We began to wonder if we were safe in bed inside in the caravan or if we were out on Ben Macdhui lost in the mist. It was a curious paradoxical reaction which found us fearful for our ascent up the Garbh Uisage, fearful for our descent in the mist. Creepy!” They then realised that they had left the prismatic compass at the Linn of Dee. I had no such fears after my walk but I now have years of hillwalking experience behind me. I have climbed more hills than my mother and although these 2 sisters were competent in navigation, were comfortable being outdoors they did not have that many ascents behind them in 1943 and along with the awe with which the mountains struck them there is also a flavour of slight doubt in their own ability in this log making them even more happy with their achievement. The log is a wonderful read. With only one spelling mistake, (Maim instead of Mhaim), written in ink with virtually no crossings out it is also a feat in itself.
Last edited by rohan on Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby bootsandpaddles » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:51 am

Amazing! What an adventure for both generations of walkers.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby riverlodge » Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:45 am

fantastic read - congratulations too on completing such a multi year trek.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby tweedledog » Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:25 pm

A lovely read - thanks for it.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby rohan » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:15 pm

Great stuff! Hope there is more to come.
Thank-you, my Mum was a great writer and also composed poetry. I'll use the long winter evenings to research some more of her routes to see if there is more "gold" As I said in my TR this log was quite special due to the impact it made on my mother and her telling us about it - usually as we hung around the cooker as she cooked a batch of pancakes.

Amazing! What an adventure for both generations of walkers.

It would have been great to have one of my sisters along but that wasn't possible. I look forward to taking my granddaughter (nickname Elemental) who is a definite chip off my mum, along one day.

fantastic read - congratulations too on completing such a multi year trek

It was a joy to do , thank-you.

A lovely read - thanks for it.

Thank-you, all credit to my mum!
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby Tinto63 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:34 pm

That's a great report Rohan. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby peterraikman » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:40 pm

Well done, R. Great reading both tales.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby dogplodder » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:41 pm

Found this a moving read. Your mother's style is wonderful and I identify with you as my dad also had Alzheimer's but loved to be reminded of his early exploits.

What a treasure to you this log is and a great idea to follow the same route. :clap:
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby rohan » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:14 pm

Great stuff! Hope there is more to come.

I have just caught up with the fact that it was you,, RTC that encouraged me to publish more of my mother's diary. Thank-you as it finally spurred me on to do the trip as the 70th annivesary approached.

That's a great report Rohan. Thanks for sharing.


Thanks for reading!

Well done, R. Great reading both tales

Thank- you. NB If you are who I think you are you would have easily got my posting in "Where's the Picture - Scotland" but someone has beaten you to it!

Found this a moving read. Your mother's style is wonderful and I identify with you as my dad also had Alzheimer's but loved to be reminded of his early exploits.

What a treasure to you this log is and a great idea to follow the same route

Yes my mother had a way with words. I am sorry about your dad, it is a cruel disease. Her diary which relates the start of PMR in 1979 also contains other, later, writings and towards the end her hand writing changes, becoming more spaced out and larger as the Alzheimer's is beginning. I find that quite upsetting even now.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby Collaciotach » Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:04 pm

Superb :clap: :clap:
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby laconic surf » Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:01 am

Brilliant :clap: How wonderful to follow in your mother and aunt's footsteps.
A real snapshot from history and a reminder that there were gentler pursuits going on in 1943 :lol: Co-incidentally I have a type of postcard my grandfather sent dated 15th september 1943. The day before he had invaded Kos with the parachute regiment and was enjoying a day's recuperation time :wink:
Thanks for sharing
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby BoyVertiginous » Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:50 am

Thanks for sharing this glimpse into the past...great stuff.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby footslogger » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:26 am

I have been visiting this site as a guest and more recently (2010) as a member and found your report to be one of the most moving, fascinating and wonderful reports I have had the privilege of reading. Thank you for sharing it with me.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby Hill-loving lady » Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:37 am

What a truly moving read - both accounts of the walk.

You must feel very inspired by your mother's writings, and I simply love the fact that you are retracing her footsteps, taking photographs from the same vantage points . It is also heartening to see that this area at least is escaping too much change.

Having the privilege of being the mother of two young people in their early twenties now, I simply adore getting them out into the hills, spending quality time together wild-camping and sharing incredible places with them. I hope they too are inspired, and will share our wild places with their own families in the future.

Thank you for sharing.
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Re: Ben Macdui 70 years on

Postby rohan » Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:17 pm

Superb


I'm glad that you liked it.

Co-incidentally I have a type of postcard my grandfather sent dated 15th september 1943. The day before he had invaded Kos with the parachute regiment and was enjoying a day's recuperation time

"Lest we forget", I hope your grandfather survived runscathed and was able to enjoy peaceful times. Yes there was very little reference to the war, just mention of rationing. I suspect the war was so much part of daily life that didn't require special attention. My mother was in a chemistry lab when a bomb was dropped near by and was still picking out tiny shards of glass from under her skin years on.

Thanks for sharing this glimpse into the past...great stuff


Thank-you for reading.

I have been visiting this site as a guest and more recently (2010) as a member and found your report to be one of the most moving, fascinating and wonderful reports I have had the privilege of reading. Thank you for sharing it with me.[/quote

You make me feel honoured, thank-you for taking the time to read it.

Having the privilege of being the mother of two young people in their early twenties now, I simply adore getting them out into the hills, spending quality time together wild-camping and sharing incredible places with them. I hope they too are inspired, and will share our wild places with their own families in the future.


They must be of a similar age to the sisters. I do not know how J & E got into hillwalking. Their father was a sea captain and taught them how to sail, something that became very important to my aunt who was an exceptional sailor but I don't know whether it was fellow students who got them walking. I am currently trying to find this out. Margaret Gibb is mentioned in the diary. She did medicine with my aunt and was a GP in Aberdeen (and was our GP for many years) and whose family ( I think ) came from Glengairn. My own children weren't interested but my granddaughter loves being out in the "wilds" .
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