Hogmanay in the Cairngorms January 2014
Helen Rose Outdoors Diary.
Hogmanay is the New Year’s Even and Ne’er Day celebrations in Scotland. We have dinner on 31 December evening and then a drink at midnight at the ‘Bells’ followed by a party. This year, a group of us went to Cairngorm Lodge to celebrate with some walking of course! The Cairngorms are a group of mountains in the Highlands near Aviemore and are used for skiing in the winter. There can be Arctic conditions there. Our walks were gentle as it is dark at 3.30pm being further north. We were staying in the SYHA www.syha.org.uk hostel known as Cairngorm Lodge where the wardens were very friendly and efficient. Thanks Caroline and David!
Some of us arrived on Monday afternoon and walked on the Tuesday (Hogmanay) to Ryvoan Bothy. We set out in dry weather and walked to the Green Lochan. Simply meaning ‘Green Lochan’ the green colour is reputed to be caused by the local fairies washing their clothes but a more likely reason are the minerals in the lochan. Unfortunately, the rain and wind started up and we made our way up the track to the Bothy. There were some people staying at the bothy and there were Xmas decorations of paper chains. It is the first time I have seen a bothy decorated! It was a welcome dry stop for elevenses and we were soon joined by another group with friendly banter. Alas, we had to brave the elements again and attempted to walk to Bynack stables but gave up halfway there.
Being Hogmanay that night, we had a buffet in the hostel followed by a visit to the local pub ‘The Pine Marten’ which was packed out. At 11.30pm it was back to the hostel for the ‘Bells’ and to have a glass of bubbly to bring in the New Year. This was followed by the Ceilidh dancing. We all enjoyed the Orcadian Strip the Willow in a long line. All of the dances were interspersed with drinks and snacks. It is a great way to bring in the New Year and I hope there are many more like this one.
Despite the late night we were up and about ready for a Ne’er Day walk. Four of us set out in reasonably calm weather to walk through Glenmore Forest along a circular route to Badaguish near the old township of Beglan starting on the Old Logging route to Aviemore. The route was on good forest tracks perfect for a gentle Ne’er Day walk. This is a pine forest and the trees are tall and elegant. There were some icy patches underfoot but the weather was unseasonably mild. We emerged from the forest at Loch Morlich where we started the circuit of the loch. In the back ground we could see the granite hills of the Cairngorm covered in snow. These mountains rise to over 4,000 feet and have Arctic conditions on the plateau in winter.
At the far end of the loch there is a sandy beach, unusual for a fresh water loch. It was back to the Lodge to prepare the traditional Scottish Ne’er Day dinner of steak pie for all of us. After dinner we settled down to the quiz which Kathleen and Alistair had brought back from the Museum at the Mountain Railway. There was a whiteout there and impossible for them to go for a walk. In these high winds, low level walks are better. I was in the losing team for the quiz which was based on mountain knowledge. However, we consoled ourselves with some drinks.
On the second of January, most of us went into Aviemore to the Craigellachie Park to ascend a little hill with good views over the Cairngorm plateau. There were good paths and some snow and ice patches but they were easy to walk around. Looking back from the ascent through woodland, some of the mountains of the Cairngorms appear in the distance. There are no difficulties in route finding although the path is steep in places as it makes its way up through trees and emerges on to open hilllside with a fine view of Aviemore below. The clear path leads all the way to the summit cairn. Three lochs or lochans can be seen from the top, each one further away than the other in a row with Lochan Dubh being the one immediately below. It was back to Aviemore to sample the teashops. We ended the day with sparklers and a toast to a fine trip.
The Hogmanay trip was very successful and enjoyed by all as it gave us the opportunity to get fresh air and walk off the excesses of the evenings of food and drink. What better way to bring in the New Year but in amiable company and a dram or two of the gold stuff! Here’s to next year. You did a fine job organising it Kathleen.
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This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary
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