Cairngorms - Nov. 2003

I helped move a friend up to Glasgow in November 2003 and decided to take a week off work. I needed to get away from it all. And that's exactly what I did.

I hired a car and drove to Braemar and from there the final 6 miles to Linn of Dee. From there I walked up Glens Lui and Derry up to Loch Etchachan. I had left Braemar mid-afternoon and the days are short here at this time of the year. So the first night I camped in the old Caledonian forest just beyond Derry Lodge.

The next morning I continued up Glen Derry, past the Hutchison Memorial Hut (very civilised) and on up to Britain's highest lake/loch - Loch Etchachan. I arrived at about 2pm but by the time I'd pitched my tent there was only time to walk up to the ridge towards Ben MacDui (Britain's second highest peak) and not enough time to safely reach the summit and get back before nightfall.

I awoke to a heavy frost. Loch Etchachan was still liquid but many of the smaller tarns had frozen. Ben MacDui was in thick mist. I packed the tent away, was buzzed by an army Chinnook helicopter on an exercise, and then headed over to see Loch Avon (or Loch A'an) from above - a most beautiful sight. Coming back for my rucksack, I descended and walked out back to the car (four hours).

I had been here once before with Peter in August 1997, when we were pestered by midges in the evenings - there were none here in these low temperatures. But amazingly this was my first overnighter alone. And I really enjoyed it. It was just what I needed - a break from work and a break from the world.

Back in Glasgow on the Saturday, we caught the bus to Strathblane to explore an old volcanic plug.

The Old Caledonian Forest Glen Derry The Path To Loch Etchachan The Hutchison Memorial Hut
My tent by Loch Etchachan in the evening - Cairngorm behind My tent - Ben MacDui in mist behind View from inside my tent first thing in the morning My tent in the morning with frost
Looking down on the head of Loch Avon (Loch A'an) Looking down on Loch Avon (Loch A'an) Derry Burn A solitary dead tree