Log 26 Feb 2010


Derek H, Allan, Fraser, Laurence, Noelle, and Derek McG arrived in that order, eventually, to encounter a whole new experience - too much snow!

Following delays, with the A9 being blocked for almost 48 hours, Derek, Allan, and Fraser arrived at 4pm to find that the track through the forest had not been ploughed.
So it was out with the shovel, dig a parking space for the car, and then start hiking with all the gear and food for the weekend.
The soft snow was knee high, sometimes waist high, and although a cross country skier had been through here, his track was almost as difficult to follow as was the soft snow each side.

Laurence arrived at 5 pm to find Fraser and Allan still "portaging" Allan's food parcels - it was like laying out food dumps for Scott’s Antarctic venture!
By 6pm we were all in a warm Mill Cottage, Derek having lit the coal burning stove.

With Noelle and Derek McG setting off at 7pm from Glasgow, it was after 10pm and dark by the time they reached Feshiebridge.
As it had taken Derek almost an hour to find the cottage in daylight, Laurence walked back up to the road, head torch on, slipping on the now refrozen surface, to guide them through the snow.
There was much hilarity, with bags, then bodies slipping and sliding and disappearing in the snow.
Eventually we all settled down to tales of yesteryear, some wine, cider, and malt whisky.
It was obvious on Saturday that snow conditions would be too dangerous to venture onto the hills, and with up to 1m on some roads around Aviemore, access was virtually impossible until ploughs had been.

Saturday/Sunday is well covered with Derek McG's report of snowfun for Noelle, Derek McG, Fraser, and Laurence. (See next page for their report).

Derek H and Allan set off on their bikes toward Achlean, but soon gave this up due to road conditions.
However not to be deterred they cycled to Rothiemurchus, Aviemore (where the Bridge Inn welcomed them), then back to Kincraig via the old A9. 
They eventually found refuge at the Loch Insh centre, before returning along the now cleared road to Feshiebridge.
They were relaxing in the cottage when they heard, and then felt, tremors, growing louder - they must have thought they were being avalanched, or a faraway Tsunami was descending on them - only to see a snowplough, feet away from the front door.
With the track cleared they were able to bring their car part way down and closer to the cottage.

Saturday evening was spent eating and drinking as much as possible – there being no point carrying any of that back up to the cars!


On Sunday Noelle, Fraser and Derek McG headed off to climb the Sow of Atholl, Derek H and Allan headed south taking their time, but managing to circumnavigate and then ascend Birnam Hill near Dunkeld. Laurence took the road to Rothiemurchus (mistake) en route to visit parents in Inverness.
After 10 minutes he came upon a head on shunt between a 4x4 and a small saloon, two distraught drivers (unhurt) and a farmer trying to dig them out.
So out came the shovel (shovel used more than an ice axe this weekend!) and after about half an hour managed to push the sorry saloon off the road.

Sufficient to say this was not a mountaineering weekend, but was a weekend that we have never experienced before, and perhaps may never do so again.
Most of all it was great fun, adults playing in the snow. Mill Cottage was a good venue, and available for future adventures.

Report by Laurence Archer

On Saturday the roads were very snowy, severely limiting access, after parking near the Gliding centre , Noelle, Laurence, Fraser and myself walked about ˝ mile before the snowplough had given up, a short attempt to carry on through knee deep snow showed the futility of this approach, so 'snow chairs' were constructed and some UV rays were absorbed.
We then returned to Mill Cottage, where lunch was prepared.

Beside the cottage we had noticed a wooden sculpture, this turned out to be part of the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail, http://www.frank-bruce.org.uk/  
We had an enjoyable time finding the exhibits, and wading between them.
We then went on search of libation, after a fruitless detour to Kincraig a pleasant pint was had at the Loch Insh Watersports Centre, where excellent views to the Monadhliath were had, followed by a return to Mill Cottage, where later in the evening, via satellite telephone and some special new tablets, we were called by 'Past President for Life', Mervyn French, who made us glad we were in Scotland, with tales of the fierce heat he is enduring.

On Sunday the cottage was swept and, after 14 round trips, emptied of Allan's food.  
After a fantastic rally cross type drive Allan attained the road despite the ice and snow, and after a change of underwear, was fit to drive home.

Noelle, Fraser and I set off south, in the vain hope of finding a decent hill which wasn't surrounded by deep snow. 
We settled on the Sow of Atholl from Dalnaspidal, which gave a pleasant climb in improving conditions, and interesting snow formations were observed, followed by meeting a biologist near the car who was a fount of knowledge about the fish and wildlife of the area.

Watched by large herds of hungry deer we headed south, stopping at the Moulin where Noelle enjoyed a refreshing pint of TEA!

Many thanks to Laurence for all his organisational efforts, and to the drivers for coping so well in the tricky road conditions.

This supplementary report by Derek McGaw is included because of the many changes the weather forced on us this week end.