Extract from our blog found at: http://verdesadventuretherapy.blogspot.com/
Day two of the Drumochter adventure started, naturally enough, with some fantastic bacon butties and a coffee. The Balsporran Cottages are not only an ideal base for the surrounding Munros but a lovely venue for walking, fishing or any other highland pursuit.
Weather forecast wise, day two was allegedly the best day of the three and I planned to do the two Munros on the other side of the road, A' Bhuidheanach Beag and Carn na Caim .
As usual, the forecast was only slightly out and none of the surrounding hills were visible under the low cloud and torrential rain that had been hitting us since early morning.
So much for the best of the three days!
However, in a superb reversal of a typical Verdes Adventure Therapy (our club) plan, I merely switched activities around and decided to go to Aviemore on a therapy session before tackling the aforementioned Munros. 30 minutes later I was in the Cairngorms activity capital and flicking through waterproofs, books and other outdoor gear. The weather in Aviemore was ok; fine drizzle and light winds.
Maybe things were looking up.
I raced back down the pass to Balsporran to get started but the closer I got the lower the cloud and the heavier the rain. You could see it as you drove down the pass; a huge blanket of grey suspended over the Drumochter Munros.
I parked up and went in to get changed and in the 10m dash from car to building managed to get soaked through.
I got into all my gear and set off with the rain bouncing off road, wondering why I was bothering. The wind was in my face all the way to the spot height above the A9 and I had been advised by Phil from the B+B to pause and have a look down onto the road from this point – 'spectacular' he called it.
I couldn't not do it, as he would definitely ask at dinner, so with the wind gusting at my back and propelling me forward to the precipice, I struggled to keep on the right side of oblivion, hanging well back from the edge.
But once there – what a view down onto the passing vehicles.
Nice on a sunny day, bloody frightening with the wind threatening to push me over the sheer drop.
Photo taken, I again had to revert to compass and pacing to negotiate the swamp that took me to the ridgeline. I followed this up in very low visibility to the next spot height, where I made a turn that took me to the summit. Again, a fence line acted as a catching feature and led me to the summit.
At the top I realised just how cold it was. The wind was gusting strongly and the rain hadn’t let up since the cottages. To save a bit of time, I took a bearing on my next point and took the direct Verdes route, straight down the hillside between two ‘streams’. Whilst the navigation was unerring, the endpoint did turn out to be a 150m wide quagmire of peat bog and it took me 45 mins to pick a way across, inadvertently coming off bearing as I did so.
If ever the 'Battle of the Somme Reenactment Society' need a venue, this place is it.
Nightmare. Ankle deep in goo, 10m visibility and the bloody wind and rain still wouldn’t let up. I can see why people panic in this kind of crap. It’s thoroughly unpleasant. Still, the path couldn’t be far away and with a bit of common sense and my trusty walking poles, I once again found the track.
By this time I was cold but feeling quite strong, so I put on a bit of pace to get things moving again. I was soon at the quarry and on my way to the second summit of the day which, all of a sudden, I could see.
Was the cloud actually lifting?
Indeed it was, although it was still only a few metres above the summits. This provided a rather bizarre vista with sunshine being visible a few miles away, under the thick cap of grey cloud above my location.
As I approached the second summit, the cloud cleared further and by the time I had returned to the quarry the sun had come out, the wind had dropped and opportunities for taking photos were aplenty.
Typical. The bloody forecast was only about 12 hours late.
Worse was to come. Now I could see where the track was actually taking me and as I descended, the path was taking me further and further away from the cottages, leaving me with a monster road walk to get back in by now what was a baking sun.
With sunburnt face I arrived back at the cottages where some other visitors had arrived. As I explained about the crap weather earlier in the day, I could sense they thought I was lying, so I quickly shut up and went for a shower.
A good day on the hill and definitely one to remember over a hot coffee.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.