How about some Munros?

One of Debbie’s characteristics that is so good is that if ever there is a discussion on anything she simply says lets do it. In September 2019 we planned a Long Distance Walk in Scotland, the East Highland Way. I will be honest I did not really look at the route till close to the departure and only then I realised it would be impossible. River crossings without bridges, steep climbs and some potentially rough terrain brought it home to me that this is ‘just not going to happen’.

Near Newtonmore

However that did not matter as Debbie had some filming at Uvie Farm which we were renting near Newtomore. I innocently thought this would involve some local walks which we could show off how impressive the terrain hopper (and Debbie) were. However the reality was somewhat different and we spent the morning (and the rest) acting as models for the owners (very impressive) highland cow activity centre. Every possible pose was filmed, including an unsuccessful attempt at combing the very docile cattle. It is fair to say we had cow fatique by mid afternoon.

The following few days were walking however and in a rash (probably drunk) moment I announced we were going to attempt to put Debbie (and Andy and Jane) on the Munros route. Once mentioned it had to be doe. On this trip we ended up doing two.

Eyeing up the high mountains

Carn na Caim  941m (3.088 feet)

Carn na Caim sits high to the east of Drumochter Pass near Dalwhinnie. If my memory served me right the track up was not too steep and the summit should be achievable. What I did not take into account of was the driving rain which never relented all day (contrary to the weather forecast). On arrival at the start we found we had forgotten the ramps to get the hopper off the van so a return trip to the farm was needed and it was nearly an hour later we headed up the wide track. So wide in fact that a couple in a car were heading down, now this is seriously not a track for a normal car, That is sat nav for you.

Our climb was without incident and before long we hit the plateau. This is a vast featureless area of frankly ,nothing, stretching many miles north, south and east. Mind you it could have been the The Taj Mahal for all we knew as our view was restricted to a few metres in every direction. The rain was relentless and even Jane had put her coat on. The route on the summit heads north for nearly 2 miles and although the track did run out a rusted fence led most of the way to the summit. I thoroughly enjoyed the navigation challenge.

Wet on Carn na Caim

The summit cairn consisted of little more than a small pile of stones but for everyone it was significant. The power of Debbie and the terrain hopper once again proving that with a strong will and some good technology most things are possible. Debbie is now climbing Munros. It was also good to get Andy and Jane up a Munro, hopefully both were suitably pleased with themselves. The return to the van followed the same route and was without incident, my only concern was Mist disappearing ahead in to the murk. She could have gone anywhere.

Cairngorm  1,309m (4,295 feet)

A couple of days later we took on another Munro. This one was Cairngorm and the weather promised some views at the summit (which is after all what it is all about). However breaking the 4,000 foot barrier was also a great incentive. Admittedly the height was a bit of a cheat with the car park being 2,000 feet up. The car park is at the foot of the large Cairngorm ski area. It is quite a little centre and has been the centre of some controversy with the closure of the Funicular to the restaurant close to the summit presently closed due to the company running it going bankrupt!

Cairngorm looking south

However everyone was very friendly as we headed up a wide track that criss crossed its way through the ski pistes and lifts of this excellent skiing area. I have actually skied there twice, the first time all I remember was how painfully cold it was. The terrain hopper was performing well and it was in good time that we reached the presently closed Ptarmigan restaurant. I must admit I am no fan of these high level restaurants that can be reached without walking up to them (see my reflections on a recent day on Snowdon).

However it did provide some interest and conversation before the best part of the day of remoteness and beauty. Not sure about what Debbie was thinking (but it bought some tears) but my mind drifted back 30 years to a ridiculous, April crossing in snow to and from Ben Macdui. On my own I abandoned my skiing mates and headed off. It is what the Munros do to you.

Cairngorm Weather Station

Myself, Debbie and Mist had explored the plateau before Andy and Jane staggered up to join us. I suspect they loved it too. It is a great achievement and once again shows what is accessible if you have the desire. We returned the same way and had a pleasant cup of coffee at the car park. The descent was enlightened by a young couple hammering down the track, running at a pace I have not seen on the mountain. Some amusement at the foot when it was clear the bloke had fallen with blood pouring from his face, He didn’t care and good on him I say.

Loch Etrachan & Ben Macdui