June 27th - 30th:

Muir cottage is owned by the Cairngorm Club and is the most comfortable and best equipped hut we have used in Scotland. It is in a superb position on the banks of the river Dee about a mile before the Linn of Dee. Over the week-end we saw red squirrel feeding at the feeders outside the cottage and young stags in the nearby trees. So one could say a perfect location and the only question remaining was whether the plague of midges that descended on the club members when the leaders took them to Glen Etive three years previously would again become aware of our presence north of the border. Either the midges were busy tormenting poor souls elsewhere or the long cold winter had killed them off but thankfully they did not appear and the weather also co-operated and kept mainly fine and dry throughout.

 

We had a full complement of 18 including three guests, one of whom Sampson, has since become a member. The leaders shared the catering though Pierce who was doing the breakfasts had a senior moment as he left all the bacon and sausages in his fridge at home and had to buy further supplies on route at a very expensive farm shop when he realized. Overall attendees seemed very happy with the provisioning and cost as they were well fed from Thursday evening to Sunday lunch and supplied with copious quantities of beer and wine to top up visits to the local hostelry, the Fife Arms all for a cost including hut fees of £60.

The conviviality of the surroundings and the company did not hinder some excellent mountain activities over the week-end. Some members either brought bikes or hired them from Braemar Sports which greatly facilitated access into the massive glens on this side of the Cairngorms while others relied on traditional foot slogging. Many Munro’s and Corbett’s were climbed.

On the Friday the leaders led a group with bikes up Glen Quoich and Quoich Water where the bikes were left and the south and north summits of Beinn a Bhuird were climbed. The English translation for the name is the Table. There is rather more undulation on the summit plateau than that but this is still a fair description of the huge summit plateau of this high mountain, the 11th highest Munro. The south summit is only a few metres higher than the north summit. A particular feature of the mountain are the beautiful and spectacular corries on the east side looking towards Ben Avon. The plan had been to do a circuit taking in Ben Avon but there is no point being inflexible and slow progress meant a change of plan to return to bikes from the north summit.

In view of this, the feats of the bike-less members who had also come this way were impressive. Jason Vessey did a lone circuit on foot of Beinn a Bhuird and Rob and Mike Peppit with their guest Ed Sampson walked into the far side of Ben Avon with their climbing gear and did a route there. Oh for a pair of good young/youngish legs.

The day started with some rain but this soon cleared and we were blessed with some sun and mainly clear tops. Streams were quite full from recent rain which made fording streams at speed on the bikes interesting and led to some crashes and inundations.

At the same time other members had their own take on the best way to go up, over or around the Cairngorms. Nothing spectacular but everyone having a good day out.

We went for an early doors at the Fife Arms in Braemar. This place could be superb but is a throw back to the bad old days of Scottish pubs, gassy beer, poor service and a menu to die with. But the pool table was good and it is amazing how given the choice of gassy beer or nothing the gassy beer soon becomes the best drink you have ever had and some members could hardly be pried from the bar to return to the hut.

A good dinner, a modest intake of alcohol and the lack of midges found everyone sleeping comfortably. Saturday was another fine day and members set out for mountain activities in all directions so that it was difficult to obtain intelligence on what had been done. Joint leader Pierce turning to his Irish roots decided to find somewhere to watch the final rugby match of the Lions Gallo/Irish tour in Australia. Extraordinarily as no Scottish players had been considered good enough for the team (they were however allowed to have one player sitting on the bench) he did find a distant bar televising the match which he said was packed out. He got the right result as well.

Meanwhile joint leader Cotton went with the mountain bikers to the Linn of Dee, and along Glen Dee to White Lodge and then up to Glen Geusachan from where we could admire the fortress of Devil’s Point. The stone drainage ditches on the path proved difficult to negotiate though coming back we got the idea of how to negotiate them at some speed until overconfidence led to the inevitable fall.

Returning to the hut there seemed to be a minor crisis brewing in that the key was stuck in the key safe and could not be got out to open the door. There was apparently a key holder locally and there was some relief when the Secretary returned and applied some old fashioned nouse and brute force to release the key and we were saved from having to visit all the local cottages.

Again despite complaints about the beer the Fife Arms was enthusiastically visited before dinner. After a good night it seemed on Sunday morning that it was time to head home though Syd and the Peppits talked of visiting a crag on the way home and perhaps we will read more of that and other exploits over the week-end elsewhere.

Many members expressed an enthusiasm to return to Muir Cottage very soon because of the quality of the accommodation and activities available in the area. Some were so enthusiastic that they wanted to come back next year or every year!!!! Scotland offers too many fine mountain areas to return here too often but a visit every 5 years or so would be welcome.

The June Scottish meet is always a popular one and huts that can take 20 people are needed. Catering for 18 people to the level we are doing it is a hard job and it may be time either to have 3 members running a large away meet or move to a minimalist agenda.