DAY 3: Walking in Cairngorm National Park 

Woke up at 6am having slept fitfully in the tent.Absolutely starving.Made tea for us both then realised I had forgotten my little Pot of Porridge which just needed water added. Drats. It’s great fuel before a walk.

Got ourselves up and the tent down etc then packed everything into the car, only 2 mins walk away and headed for the Ski Centre car park in Glenshee.

Such a place,  when the snow has all gone, always looks very forlorn.Ski paraphernalia everywhere; churned up moorland; mucky paths.But we would soon leave it behind us.There was quite a bit of low cloud swirling over the land too and I hoped it would clear.

I knew as soon as I got out of the car , that I just didn’t feel up to this hike.Feeling exhausted suddenly and also nauseous, I scowled at the bitterly cold wind which seared through my fleece jacket and made me shiver. I was ‘hangry’  – that deep irritation that comes from basically not having had enough to eat. It seems now to be a recognised condition, a defence mechanism where the mind drives you to find food  – and fast.Not much of that around  as we were a bit short on supplies and as it was only 7.45am, the Ski Centre cafe was still shut! A big  bacon roll would have done me fine, smothered in ketchup! Two preferably! Instead,  I scoffed big handfuls of chocolate raisins, hoping they’d give me an energy boost. I felt so weak and lethargic.Being quite slightly built with not much, as Chris says,  in the way of ‘padding’, I have only myself to blame for getting into this sort of situation, not uncommon, but I never learn.Chris, in contrast,  always tells me he has an extra ‘hump’ which keeps him going energy-wise, when rations are short.

But I was determined to get this hill under our belts.It wasn’t a difficult walk and we were already at over 600m (2,000 feet) – how hard was it going to be to slog up a mere 300m (1,000 feet) ? Get a grip, I told myself and stop being such a wimp.

So off we set, a faint drizzle in the air – joy oh joys – and the tops already wreathed in cloud.

The Ski Centre below

In barely 30 mins of steady walking on decent if mucky tracks, we were up on the ridge and got our first sight of the hill which was our objective today – Carn a Gheoidh. I still felt exhausted and felt even worse when I realised how far away it was.

‘Oh for God’s sake, you’ve got to be kidding,’ I moaned.’That’s flippin’ miles away.’


We were standing together both looking at the distant rounded plateau rising out of the gloom.From a distance, we must have looked like a couple chatting amiably, enjoying our time on the hill, full of enthusiasm.Up close, it would have been apparent that we were both feeling pretty miserable;Chris, because I was in such poor form; me, because I just wanted to sit in a cafe somewhere and stuff my face with a few thousand calories of anything faintly edible.I honestly could have wept seeing how far we had to walk.

Our summit is way right – off the photo

But I knew I would have felt worse if we’d given up.So, onward we headed, across a rough boggyish bit then up onto a minor top.The path was actually pretty clear and decent, easy walking.Grouse fluttered up around us again – kek – kek –  kek -kek  – and I cheered up a little.The raisins were now doing their bit and I could feel some energy coming back.Enough at least, to get me out to that distant hill and able, at last, to enjoy the wild empty surroundings.


Looking back along the ridge – halfway there



The mast of the Ski Centre in the far distance

An hour later and we arrived on the huge, flat summit, the wind absolutely Baltic and making us coorie for shelter inside the cairn.Always a thrill to ‘make it’ and do what you set out to achieve!

Summit views

Demolished some crisps and some oranges and downed a lot of water.Got some photos , though everything had a  threatening look about it, the light flat under the heavy cloud.Occasionally a shaft of light lit up the mountainsides and in fact, as we headed back, the light improved for a time, raising our spirits further again.

Heading back

Now WE were the folks who, as on yesterday’s walk, had set off super early and were meeting ‘normal’ walkers heading out the way we’d come! We waved hello to two groups, trudging their way out along the path,everyone with hoods up now as the rain began to fall in earnest.The dry spell we had been fortunate enough to have, had ended.

There are another 2 Munros , easily won, on this walk but we had bagged them a few years ago and with the weather worsening, I was now focused on enjoying a good cafe stop further down the glen. 5 new Munros for the weekend seemed pretty reasonable ; tea and scones were now the order of the day!

We were back at the car just over 3 hours after we’d set off. Success had raised our spirits and we were very buoyed up by having done what we set out to do.It had been pouring down on that last 30 mins of descent and our waterproofs were running with water – oh those poor folk way out on that distant hill! (Chris said that if it had been like that when we’d arrived earlier, the walk was ‘AFF’ as far as he was concerned.)

Next stop – the Pottery Cafe in lovely Glenshee, where they serve tea in old china cups, very pretty and have a delicious array of home baking.

What a great weekend it had been overall – very memorable and I was very glad that we were still in reasonable enough shape to sustain 3 days of (albeit fairly benign) hiking.




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