Cairngorm wander

The cafe on the hill!

The cafe on the hill!

I had a very good few days at the studio at the end of last week and got back to working on the two large canvases again. The original one that I’d thought finished a few months ago, needs a few things doing to it and so I took the bold step! Still some work to do yet, but I’m feeling happier about it now. I’ve also done more on the second big piece and parts of this are starting to come together now. It’s going to be interesting getting back into the studio later this morning to see them, as I’ve been off for the past three days.

Our route ahead ...from the summit of Cairn Gorm

Our route ahead …from the summit of Cairn Gorm

The reason for this lazy absence? Well, of course, of course, we went walking again! Only for one day of actual walking, but we decided to make the most of this latest patch of fine weather and travel north to the Cairngorms ….taking our new little tent with us again. Prior to Wednesday I’d never done any proper walking in the cairngorms. It was just too far away and although we’d considered it for our two weeks holiday in May, we’ve never actually got there then……we both like having the sea near and so we always go to the North West instead! I’d been on three courses at Glenmore Lodge since 2001 and on these we’d been taken into the big Northern corries and at the end of our winter skills course we’d climbed briefly up onto the plateau …….but this trip was to be our first real outing in these hills.

Wow!

Wow!

We couldn’t really have asked for a finer day for this first little Cairngorm adventure…..there wasn’t a cloud in the sky when we left the campsite at Glenmore at 07.00 and it stayed that way for the rest of the day. We didn’t really have any proper plans as to what we were going to do or where we were going to go, except that we’d walk the main path up to the summit of Cairn Gorm and then take it from there. Not perhaps the best thing to do, but I really wasn’t sure quite how difficult the walking would be up there. The map showed lots of rock and boulders and I wasn’t sure whether the paths marked would be easy to follow or whether it would be very slow progress through acres of boulders. Best then to leave it fluid ……we kind of figured that the view from the top of Cairn Gorm should give us a fairly good idea. I’d thought that if things were very rough and slow we could perhaps make our way over to get a view over Loch Avon before making our way back to the car. If however, things looked reasonably good, we could have a go at getting over to Ben Macdui for a much longer day.

The more challenging route to the plateau ...not for me!

The more challenging route to the plateau …not for me!

The main start point for Cairn Gorm is so high that it doesn’t really take too long to get up to the summit. Not of course, if you don’t succumb to the call of tea and coffee at the cafe at the top of the Cairngorm railway as you pass! We of course just had to stop for refreshment, especially as we arrived there just five minutes before they were due to open. And very nice it was too ….and very civilized, sat there in the cool looking out over Scotland from this high perch on the mountain. Very quickly though, the coffee was finished and we were once again back out in the hot sun and heading up the final slopes on an almost cobbled path to the summit.

At the summit of Ben Macdui

At the summit of Ben Macdui

Wow …..what a view and what a great sculptural cairn! Art on a hill! These hills are high and on a day like this the sense of space all around is strong. More to the point, Ben Macdui looked a long way away but the paths in this popular region looked clear and big and with it still being mid morning, we decided to give it a go.

Well of course, I could ramble on for hours about, the fine views into the spectacular northern corries, of the wonderful little loch perched high on the plateau reflecting the deep blue of the sky and of the boulders and grey dusty approach to Ben Macdui ….but perhaps best just to add a couple of photos and to suggest, if you haven’t already visited this incredible place ….to do so. As we sat amidst the boulders on the flat summit of Ben Macdui at just over 1300m, the views were some of the biggest I’d seen ….so many hills and mountains, such a big area of wild spectacular country …and nearly all of it new to us…..we’ll be back …..despite the boulders!

On the descent

On the descent

It’s an interesting thought though that prior to my first visit to Glenmore Lodge back in 2001 to do the Summer mountain skills course for visually impaired, I’d been very nervous about walking in the hills with my limited sight. That week at Glenmore Lodge gave me so much confidence. I almost certainly wouldn’t be doing all that I do now if it wasn’t for that course and so it was very very good to be back and putting some of there teaching to good use in their local hills.

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