Walking Meet Cairngorms, November 2022

Cairngorm Walking Meet - November 2022


How about a meet without a hut in November! The original meet had to be moved due to a clash of dates with the club dinner, so instead of a hut we went for a walking meet in the Cairngorms. Three of us set of with the forecasts predicting intense winds over the weekend, although we had delayed our plans to avoid the worst of the weather. The objective being to stay in a bothy and a couple of Munros on the Sunday.

The group was Lisa (long distance hiker), Gavin (long time mountaineer, first time Lomonder) and Steve (the eternal optimist). There was good chat on the walk in and as we ascended into Glen Derry, and even spotted an Eagle flying overhead. On the final stint to the hut, the mist started to thicken until waterproofs were donned by the whole party. Approaching the location of the bothy the daylight was just running out the shape of the Hutchinson hut could be seen with a point of light from a lit candle lit standing in the window.

Opening the door to the bothy there were a couple of bikes in the vestibule and a friendly voice welcoming us in, the bikes belonged to two folks from Glasgow who had biked in a little before us. But the fire was burning away, and we were happy to be in the shelter. The bothy was small, but we were content all could fit in for the night. The others seemed happy to have a few more bodies to heat the hut and appreciated the firewood we had carried in. Clothes were dried, water was boiled, and meals were eaten.

A little later the door opened again and in walked George, a Londoner who had travelled up for a few days in the highlands. Whereas we had avoided the tops due to the weather higher up, George had come from Aviemore over the Cairngorm plateau and despite good kit was soaked to the skin. We let him sort his kit then sat him next to the fire where steam could be seen rising from his thermals as he dried out.

The mood through the evening was jovial and around 9:30 pm we decided to sleep, knowing there would need to be some organisation to fit all six of us comfortably. There was a narrow platform along one edge the two Glasgow folk slept on, and the other four tried to fit lengthways on the wooden floor. When that failed George moved under the very low bench at the end, realising his 6ft4 frame would not fit he came out and Steve took the under-bench space for the night.

The morning showed glimpses of bright sky through the window and heading outside the weather had cleared and was looking like a promising day. We packed up our equipment, wished the others successful trips as we headed into the hills. Out first aim for the day was Beinn Mheadoin: a mountain with several high torrs on the summit, where the true summit is reaching by scrambling the highest torr. Cairn Gorm could even be seen in the distance with the cloud hovering close overhead, scattered with patches of lying snow.

The second hill for the day, Derry Cairngorm, involved heading into the cloud with the traverse of an awkward boulder field and an increasing strength in the wind. The summit was reached while being buffeted by the wind so a swift decent was taken to escape the breeze. On the way down the clouds above us clear and we were rewarded with a Brocken spectre that just for a moment became incredible bright, the ghostly shadow surrounded by shining rings of colour.

The track down took us through Caledonian pine forest, leading on to the main path back towards the car park that was reached just before dark. We reflected on how lucky we'd been with the weather, clearing at summits and allowing us to stay mostly dry, just as raindrops appeared on the windscreen.