Present: Peter & Marion, Richard H., Arthur McC., Mark , Michael G., Cerian, Robin (& Albert who joined us later in the day).
Being in an out of the way corner some five miles from Nethy Bridge at the end of an obscure single-track road you might expect Dorback Lodge to be a quiet sort of a place. Unfortunately our arrival coincided with the morning rush hour, comprising a gritter, three excitable ponies, and more Land Rovers than I have ever seen before on one shooting estate (6, 7, 8? – I lost count after a while).
Happily all this traffic was heading in the opposite direction and we were soon striding out on virgin snow under blue skies along an easy landrover track which led us straight to a comfortable and commodious shooting hut (at 570M) perfectly placed for lunch, though our arrival wasn’t welcomed by the local mountain hare community who were using it as a meeting place and promptly ran off in all directions (aside from the one who hid underneath the floor all the time we were there). Good conditions prevailed until we approached the subdsidiary top Geal Charn Beag (759M) after which things became a bit – well, obscure – white sky, white ground, white everything. At least most of the peat hags were frozen over.
It has to be acknowledged that the subsequent trudge across the gently ascending plateau to the small cairn adorning the 821M summit – minus the panoramic views of the Northern Cairngorms promised by the clear morning weather – wasn’t the finest part of the day, though Richard and Arthur did a fine job keeping the party on track. Shortly after this two things happened – one, it stared to get dark; and two, the party began to fragment.
Cerian raced on ahead to fulfil a social engagement, followed soon after by Mark, who’d forgotten his headtorch and was concerned about facing the night walk without it. The remainder holed up for a while in yet another shooting bothy before the cold inside drove them back out into the even colder gathering night for the strung–out trek back to the vehicles, to be warmly welcomed by Albert, who’d arrived late but had enjoyed a stroll to the lunch hut and back again.
One mystery of the hills remains: Cerian had entrusted Albert with a bag of jelly babies to afford the latecomers much-needed sustenance, once they had fought their way over fallen trees (well, one anyway) and forded raging torrents (OK, a smallish river) to regain civilization, but when they got there – no jelly babies to be seen. Did he eat them all himself?