Ronnan Cottage Meet, March 2020

Report by Alie,

As the rest of the UK wandered blindly into the epicentre of a global pandemic, Michael, Steve, Jack, Alie, Colin, Dorota and Cat all loaded their cars and set off up the road for the long drive to the Scottish west coast for a weekend at Ronnan Cottage in the wonderful highlands, untroubled by closing borders and terrifying statistics. Little did we know it would be the last opportunity to get away and explore this beautiful country for a long time.
Now, I can’t speak for the others, but for Alie, Jack and Steve it was a pleasant and relatively easy drive up with a quick stop for Fish & Chips in Kingussie, and only one game of chicken with a deer/goat on the A832. Arriving at Ronnan Cottage by 11pm to find the fire nicely warmed up, and the drinks flowing. We settled in and began drawing up plans for the next day – Alie and Jack would take on the fortress-like Slioch, Michael would go for two nearby Corbetts, and Steve, Colin, Dorota and Cat would tackle Fuselage Gully to bag Beinn Eighe.
All parties were up and out early the next morning. The weather for the day looked mixed, with the best of it early on, storms on high ground and heavy rain later in the day.

Alie and Jack were first back at the cottage after a thoroughly enjoyable bag – a great mountain despite the long walk in, and there was only one very sketchy snowy ridge walk which in hindsight was probably a bad idea, but let’s skip past that... An hour later Michael arrived back, undeniably soggy, but in excellent spirits having also successfully bagged both Baosbheinn and Beinn an Eoin. Another hour passed and there was still no word from the other party.

Eventually a message came through that on the ascent they had split into two groups. The first group, who had chosen to hike rather than climb, was now back at the car waiting for the others.
Another hour later, and the final two had made it safely back to the car – phew – after an epic and successful adventure up Fuselage Gully.
By this point, Alie, Jack and Michael were several drinks in, and the fire was roaring. Michael also took advantage of the hot showers; a real luxury! Dinner (courtesy of Alie) was bubbling away and ready to go as soon as our intrepid associates walked through the door; which they soon did, looking a little weary and bedraggled, but certainly no worse for wear!
Mugs of tea, and a quick change, then time for dinner! French onion soup, Beouf Bourgignon with fresh greens, and Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding – just what you need after a cold, wet day in the mountains. No late night singing and attempting coordinated dancing this time...a whisky by the splendid fire, then bed.

The next day dawned a little brighter, and we were able to appreciate our stunning surroundings more on the drive home. Alie, Jack and Steve stopped off at Corrieshalloch Gorge for some tourism and a quick leg stretch, followed by lunch and a walk in Aviemore to break up the journey (oh the glorious days of eating-out and getting closer than two metres to perfect strangers!).
All in all a lovely weekend, and one that I am certainly all the more grateful for now. But the hills aren’t going anywhere, and will welcome us back as soon as it is safe once more.

Thanks must go to the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club for the use of such a wonderful little cottage – sea views, a warm fire, hot running water, and a superbly equipped kitchen! What more could you want?
Thanks as well to Steve and LMC for organising, and the other members of the club for the company and patter.