5 day summary:
- 10 'Munros'
After having spent a week in Fort Williams last year, I was determined to go back to Scotland in the near future. From Fort Williams, I had hiked Ben Nevis, the highest peak on the British isles. I had also been on peak #7, #8, #9, and when I learned that peaks #2 through #6 were (conveniently) located near Aviemore, then the destination was determined. Now it was just a matter of when.
So when my friends Annie and Colin at the Glenmorven B&B offered to lend me their time-share appartment near Aviemore, it was just a matter of getting a ticket. The place was the Woodland Club Resort, just outside Carrbridge, approx. 7 miles north-east of Aviemore. After spending saturday night with Annie and Colin in Fort Williams, they kindly drove me up to the resort. The total distance from the appartment to the Cairngorm trailhead was approx. 17 miles, and I was in need for some transportation. Renting a car on a sunday evening wasn't as easy as one could have hoped for. I decided to base the transportation on taxi services. A rough estimate suggested it would cost about the same, and then I would not be restricted to come back to the same trailhead. The fare from the resort to the mountain was about GBP 20,- One way.
The resort was excellent. The cabin offered what a family needs for a vacation. After shopping groceries (bagels, cheese, ham and oranges), I was ready to "go to work". Annie and Colin drove me up to the Cairngorm ski-centre and unleashed me.
After great hikes in the mountains, the evenings were spent in the resort's bar, writing trip reports and post-processing the pictures. The first couple of nights, I noticed people sticking their heads together, pointing my way. The resort habitants were for the most part families with small kids. And everybody seemed to know everybody. I guess I wasn't matching the picture, sitting alone in my corner, with a laptop, a digital camera and a GPS. But after a few days, some brave ones dropped by. There was apparently a curiousity to satisfy. One thing I love about Scotland, is the people. They're friendly and hospital, and by mid-week my choice of beer was on the table before I got around to order.
The resort had various evening activities, like bingo, quiz, karaoke and live music. I wasn't taking part in these activities, but it was impossible not to be affected. I still keep dreaming about the bingo - "Two little ducks, like 22!" The karaoke was quite painful in the beginning. Only kids with no particular vocal training participated for the first hour and a half. But when the whisky finally did what whisky is supposed to do, the adults stepped up. And a few were actually good singers.
The only thing I was missing was a restaurant. I was having bagels with cheese for breakfast, and bagels with cheese for dinner. And by tuesday evening I was all out of food. Adding bad blisters to the picture, it was clear that I needed a shopping- and recovery day. Wednesday morning I took a taxi to Aviemore, bought a couple of books and a train ticket for my departure. Then I stopped by a breakfast place, and bought a huge plate of bacon, eggs, toast, etc. I had been looking forward to this meal for days. But it tasted like ... - and I left the breakfast alone. I stopped by the grocery store and loaded a bag full of bagels, cheese and salami. There's no substitute for quality.
Thursday and friday were good hiking days, and life went by in the same rhythm. Friday was departure time. I had to be out of the appartment at 10:00AM. My train didn't leave until 14:30PM. I could not move around with all my bags, and the lockers at the train station wouldn't fit my backpack. The train station was cold, and I was told it would close 14:00PM, before the train would arrive. It was cold outside as well, and no apparent place to "hang about" for three hours. So I called the taxi. I don't know the distance to Aberdeen, but I assume roughly 100 miles. I had been totally messing up the departure planning, so I had to stay the night in Aberdeen. That gave me some time to read the books I had bought. I plan to return next year. For the Glen Coe mountains. And #10 in Britain - Ben Lawers. The Top 9 doesn't give any meaning...
See also the Scotland 2002 page