This is my first report, so apologies if I've got anything wrong.
Having got the taste last year, my partner and I had been looking forward to getting back to Scotland to walk the remainder of the Scottish top 3 (in height, at least). We arrived in Aviemore on the Saturday, expecting to walk Braeriach via the Cairn Toul traverse on Sunday, and Ben Macdui on Tuesday. Being limited in the length of our stay we were there unfortunately meant having to make a decision very early on Sunday morning based on the weather, and we decided to switch the days, mainly due to wanting more pleasant weather for the longer walk.
After another couple of hours in bed we got up and caught the 9.20 bus to the ski centre, and started our ascent. Immediately the strength of the wind was slowing our pace. We are normally fairly quick walkers, and walking into the wind like this really made things hard. Hats and hoods were on, and we took our first break once we reached Allt Coire an t-Sneachda.
Just before we stopped the two groups that had been ahead of us turned back, but we resolved to push on. Not long after, and we were heading into the clag and the cairns across the plateau took on greater importance. The wind seemed to die down once we reached the plateau, although it was still unpleasant most of the way to the summit. There aren't many photos for this report due to the clag.
Soon we were approaching the summit, with some voices guiding our way to the trig point. Three chaps were leaving just as we arrived, so we had it to ourselves for some very limited photos. The viewfinder at the top certainly wasn't much use.
As we left the summit an older chap that had been behind us made it there, followed by a couple around our age. We overtook the three chaps on the way off of the summit, and resolved to stop in the first shelter that we had seen for lunch. Naturally we didn't know which one was going to be the first one we had seen, so we missed it, assuming there would be another one, and ended up taking lunch at Lochan Buidhe instead.
As we ate the three chaps appeared behind us, stopped on the path, were overtaken by the older gentleman, who then came back and pointed them over to the correct path that they were looking for. Very understandable given the clag. Once we had eaten we got back to it and made for Cairn Gorm. We overtook the elderly gentleman again, and then once we got to Stob Coire an t-Sneachda we were finally rewarded with some views!
Just at the point where the path to Loch Avon crossed our path I spotted a herd of reindeer. 'Look!' I shouted to Ms P, 'reindeer!' Due to the higher wind, and not having her glasses on, Ms P heard 'Look! Sheep!' and only gave them a cursory glance. It was only when we were going over my photos afterwards that she realised. I am now instructed to violently flag any wildlife so that she definitely sees it.
The ascent up Cairn Gorm was the steepest of the day, but was dealt with fairly easily. We climbed into the clag again, so no views again.
We didn't hang around, and soon hit the tourist path down. We weren't terribly keen on the stones underfoot, so came off of the path and walked to the side of it instead. We soon reached Ptarmigan Station, and decided to pause the clock and have a pint. It was a tad surreal, coming in off the mountain like that, and given the quality of staff service not something I think that I would do again.
While we were inside we saw the older gentleman go past us once again. We left, and immediately noticed that the wind had dramatically picked up. I saw afterwards that it had been over 60mph at times, which made coming down the hill surprisingly gnarly. There were a few times where footing was lost, but neither of us when fully head over turkey, which was a relief. We passed the older gentleman one final time as he dug himself in with his trekking poles - which look increasingly appealing to us now! As we got to the bottom there was a bit more shelter, and Ms P's momentum eventually had her either skipping or running down the last 400m or so. I kept up my trundling, and soon enough we were back at the bus stop feeling pretty good about our time and surviving the wind!
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