Seeing the Scottish mountain ranges was a welcome relief after months of gentle rolling hills in England. Nevertheless, I didn’t manage to get out as much as I hope to, largely due to the cold & gloomy winter days. Went on a day walk with the local Ramblers club and spent most of the time hiking in the rain.
There were still some great day outs during my 2 months stay at Ardersier. Went on a Winter Skills clinic around the foothills of Cairngorm mountain with 4 other participants. Condensed version of a similar course I did last year at Plas y Brenin. This time round I had more snow to play around with. First part was familiarizing ourselves with the proper use of crampons and ice axe as we moved safely around the snow slopes. Best part was learning the different techniques of ice axe arrest – we had to throw ourselves down the snow slope from various positions and learn how to stop with the ice axe. Was wearing my old waterproofs – so didn’t mind going overboard with the speed.
(Posing for the camera with my full kit)
Managed to finally experience my first outdoor climb in UK after being here for over 1.5 years. My climbing guru for the day was Michael, friend of the farm. We were climbing the sandstone sea cliffs and outcrops in Cummingston, 30 miles east of Ardersier. Great place for bouldering, as the place was littered with different rock formations. Haven’t climbed for over 9months – so was not in the best form. Thankfully Michael was a patient man and we spent the day tackling several boulder problems and 2 higher climbs with Michael leading the way with nuts & cams.
(One of the huge boulder for climbing with the sea in the background)
(Me tackling a boulder problem)
Didn’t leave Scotland too disappointed as I managed to bag another Munro (collection of mountains in Scotland over 3,000 ft) just a day before I departed. Woke up to a glorious morning and knew it was a perfect day to get out into the mountains. It was a challenge getting to Aviemore, one of the gateways to Cairngorm National Park, since the public transport was limited on a Sunday. Finally reached the start of my walk up to Cairngorm at around 1.45pm, had to cheat by coming up the mountain halfway with the bus due to time constraint.
Was sad to learnt that the gusty winds of 30-40mph and snowy conditions towards the peak will make the journey quite challenging. Coming all this way, and not being able to reach the top was heartbreaking. Despite the negative news, I started the walk up and decided to push as far as I could go. The strong winds did slowed down my progress. Along with the fact that I have not been doing much rigorous exercise for the last 6months left me gasping for air towards the last stretch.
It was indeed my lucky day when I bumped into Michael, my climbing buddy, inside the restaurant+ski centre towards the top. He was there with some friends, and was about to leave to walk the last bit up to the final summit. Thank goodness he was there to lead the way, as the final section was covered with thick snow and slippery icy patches.
Standing at the summit of Cairngorm was magnificent. The stunning scenery with clear views of the mountain ranges stretching to the horizon and great outdoors everywhere made the painful journey up worthwhile. It is really tempting me to return in July to the farm for strawberry harvesting and opportunities to experience more of the Scottish wilderness.
(Enroute to the top of Cairngorm mountain – view of the mountain range around us)
(Michael & his friend posing on top of the peak marker at Cairngorm)