The forecast is looking good for Sunday so what do you fancy doing this weekend? You know you are into outdoors activities when you check specialist weather forecast sites almost daily. www.mwis.org.uk is our favorite for the UK, normally giving a pretty good idea of what to expect, tailored for mountain weather in particular. Anyway, we had a good forecast and really wanted to get up some mountains, so thought we might push both our son and Stacey to do their first munro double.
We chose Carn an Tuirc and Cairn of Claise, two hills located to the east of the Glenshee road in the Cairngorms, and aimed for an early start as rain was forecast in the late afternoon.
The mad scramble to find boots, waterproofs, food, maps, compass etc filled our Saturday evening (why is it that even if you do this regularly it is still a mad scramble?) and we eventually headed to bed with an alarm set for just past 6am. I slept like a baby, which is more than can be said for our son and Stacey. The excitement was too much for them!
We got up quickly and got underway, having breakfast in the car on the hour long journey to our start point. The road to Glenshee is quite winding so we knew we were taking a risk here. It is one of the few roads where our son gets car sick, so I actively drove slower than usual trying to help keep breakfast in for the walk ahead.
Soon enough we arrived at the car park and quickly set off with Stacey route finding for the day. The route follows along beside a river, and has the obligatory Scottish bog sections, before the main ascent is reached. It was a hot day – we had all changed into t-shirts which is quite unusual for us, and were sweating hard as we headed steeply up. Normally on the hills as soon as you start heading up you get a good breeze and the ground dries out. Not so today, as we slogged up through deep bog (I actually won the prize for sinking deepest at one point, well over my boots!) This did give us the opportunity to enjoy the view often and also spot quite a few frogs which were as startled by us as we were by them.
We caught up with a couple who had passed us earlier and noticed they were debating what sugary food they had – it turned out that one of them was diabetic and they had forgotten their normal sugary drinks, so we offered a couple of handfuls of our jelly beans (or son was happy to help) and they were then able to carry on their day too.
Eventually the boggy ascent gave way to firm ground and quick progress until the final boulder topped section. Stacey had a bad experience on the rocky top of Schiehallion a few years back, fracturing her wrist, so she is not very keen on this kind of terrain. We carefully picked our way up – our son proving that a low centre of gravity helps on rough ground – and quickly the gradient flattened out and the top of Carn an Tuirc, our first munro of the day came into view.
After a quick sandwich stop we got underway again descending the back of Carn an Tuirc towards Cairn of Claise. This is quite a gentle descent, followed by a steady and open ascent. We played tag on the flat saddle and on some of the ascent and surprisingly quickly the top of our second munro came into view. We dropped the bags a few meters short of the top in some shelter from the wind and headed the last bit to the top, before coming back down and having the rest of our lunch.
After lunch we quickly descended the rocky top and headed along the broad ridge on a slow descent towards the ridge of Sron na Gaoithe that we were going to come down via. As we headed round this plateau section our son was clearly starting to tire a little so we played games like tag, I spy and so on until we got to the top of the descent ridge. From here on we could start to see the end, but both Stacey, whose boots are at the end of their life, and our son, whose Gelert boots we are not very impressed with, were starting to get aching feet.
We kept on down the ridge until near the end where the path starts dropping steeply and the way becomes boggy again. I led the way with our son holding my hand most of the way down. Thankfully the steep descent was relatively short and we could see a stream ahead where we promised our son we would dibble dabble our feet.
We reached the end of our walk, and our dibble dabble spot just as the first drops of the forecast rain started to hit us, and we enjoyed the soothing feeling of cold water on our tired feet. Soon enough the soothing feeling turned into numb feet (the water is still pretty cold) and we plodded the final few steps back to the car to head home.
Our son was asleep within about 5 mins of us setting off, and slept solidly all the way home. We are really proud of him – he walked the whole way without once asking to go in the carrier, despite us having it with us in case. He also did more ascent and more total distance than he has done in a day before, and he did it all with a great big grin on his face.
Since then he has been bugging Stacey during the week for another mountain day, and they have just done Cairnwell, another munro, on a clear morning before the weather came in. Our son has now decided that he is ‘Mega Munro Man’ (some of the time, but most of the time he is just himself – his words!)