Thursday, 27 October 2011

Scotland Day 6 - Cairngorm

Today we got up early and had breakfast at 7.30am, which is the earliest you can have breakfast at the B&B, and normally they only do breakfast from 8.30am.

After breakfast we headed out to Cairngorm mountain, via Tesco in Inverness. There was a really nice sunrise with golden coloured clouds, but I couldn't take any photos as we were driving through Inverness at the time. When we got to Tesco we bought some food, but when it was time to pay they said it was more than we thought it should be.

We had 2 packets of Walkers Sensations crisps, which were meant to be 2 for £3, but one of the packets Mauser had chosen wasn't going through like that. So I went back to get a replacement packet, which was at the opposite end of the shop. I checked, and the packet Mauser had got was the only one that wasn't in the promotion, all the rest were. So I got a different packet and went back to the tills.

Then when I got there I found a member of staff had taken the other packet (which was in the promotion) away, so we then had to wait for them to come back before we could pay and take our shopping away. So although it was meant to be a quick stop, it actually took quite a while.

Mauser then drove us to the car park on the Cairngorm mountain. As soon as we got out of the car, it was really windy, and the wind was quite cold. At Mauser's behest I didn't take my tripod or most of my other photography stuff because it obviously makes hill climbing easier the less stuff you carry. I pulled most of the dividers out of my bag, to make room for storing my coat etc. in my bag when I got too hot.

But as it turned out, the wind was so strong that I didn't need to take any of my clothes off at all. I wore Jeans, T-shirt, a fleece, a thin waterproof jacket, a scarf, gloves, and one of my Russian ushanka hats. This kept me not too hot and not too cold, apart from it was quite cold when standing still in the wind and not moving.

The wind was really strong, around 60mph according to the person in the base station that Mauser spoke to. It made it really hard going, even on the flat bits, and I nearly fell over a few times when caught by a strong gust.

We detoured off our intended route by about a mile because the route we were meant to take was not a marked footpath. So we had to just walk across part of the mountain to get to where we were meant to be. Thankfully for this bit the wind was more at our backs, pushing us along, which made it easier.

If it wasn't windy most of the route we took would have been quite easy going. We didn't see anyone else along most of the route, though saw one group, and one person along the cliff edge area. When we got to the top, there wasn't anyone else there. We ate some crisps, then started down the mountain as the wind was too cold to do much eating.

Going back down, we walked past a line of cairns from the top, and then came to a cobbled path, which led down to the top funicular railway station. This route was probably easier than clambering up the side we went up, though it was reasonably steep and would have still been a hard workout for the thighs I suspect.

When we got to the funicular railway station, we decided that rather than pay £7.20 each for the railway back down, we'd just walk it as it looked on the map like it was only a couple of miles. So we walked down, probably the easy route up. It was a large track, it seemed a lot shorter than the route we had come up, and there was comparitively little wind (though it was still windy). Since it was downhill with no obstacles (like rocks) it was easy going for us back down to the car park.

Back at the bottom, we went into the shop, Mauser bought some postcards, and I bought a pencil for Laddie. We went into the cafe, and Mauser asked if they did tea and coffee to go, as we wanted 2 large teas to take away. But the woman answered Mauser's question by going off and making a (small) tea and a (small) coffee to go. So I had a tea and Mauser had a coffee.

We took the drinks back to the car, then Mauser drove back along the road and we stopped at a nearby Loch. Someone leaving the car park gave us their parking ticket, which was lucky as we didn't even realise it was a pay & display car park. We had our drinks and the rest of our crisps sitting on some tree roots on the edge of the beach around the loch, which was very nice. We also had some Boosts, which we had eaten a bit of on the mountain. It was quite strange as even though the Boosts were in Mauser's bag, they seemed to have become frozen while we were on the mountain. The caramel was really hard to bite through, and it would crack rather than being soft. The normally soft biscuit stuff was also solid as well. Very strange and different to eating a normal Boost.

The sun was setting at the Loch, so we didn't spend too much time there, but rather started back to the B&B while it was still light.

We got back to the B&B, and then checked out what the weather was like and the route for Ben Nevis, which we were planning to walk tomorrow. Amazingly, there is a website specifically for what the weather on Ben Nevis is like. The wind there was listed as something like 55 / 75 mph, so stronger than it was on Cairngorm mountain. The route also was about the same length as the Cairngorm one, but was described as being one long steep route, which sounded like it would be very difficult in the wind.

So we decided not to go up Ben Nevis, and spent quite a bit of the evening trying to decide what other walk(s) to do instead. I also looked up Urquart castle, which is nearby, to see if was worth visiting. From what we had seen from the car park when we checked it out before, it didn't look like there was much to it really. Most of the reviews were very positive, but only mentioned that the opening video was really good and informative. The positive reviews didn't seem to say much about the actual ruins. There was also one negative review, and they did talk about the ruins, and said they weren't that great really, and there are better castles in Scotland you can visit for free. So we decided not to visit there.

After sorting out a couple of walks to do tomorrow (problem is there is too much choice), I went on Civ IV for the rest of the evening.

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