Distance: 21.25 miles
Weather: snow/hail showers, with some sunny intervals
The field of tents was coming fully to life this morning as Mick and I finished packing and set off down the road. I'd realised last night that today's mileage as I'd written it on our itinerary was understated (even though I'd put the right number of kilometres on the official route sheet - but my mind doesn't work in km). That meant that we had over 21 miles to walk today, rather than the expected 19.5. Add in a hill to go over, and we decided that an early start was required.
Having left the road after Errogie, we made far less of a meal than previously of getting ourselves to Dunmaglass Lodge. In fact, we didn't make any meal of it at all and must have been three times faster in covering the distance than last year.
Just after Dunmaglass we left our previous route as this time we were headed on a 5.5 mile gentle ascent of Carn na Saobhaidhe. As Corbett bagging goes, this one feels like something of a cheat, what with a track leading the whole way to the summit. But, even though it felt like it was too straightforward, it was still a good place to stand on a clear day. We were up in the snow and in every direction there were more snowy tops to be seen.
The cross-country yomp down the other side, through peat hags and generally waterlogged terrain (hopping back and forth from one side of a stream to the other to pick the better ground) was friendly, as these things go, too, so it wasn't long before we were joining another track, which would lead us down to the River Findhorn.
About a mile down that track I took the photo at the top of this post, looking back up the Allt Odhar. That blue sky is deceptive. Even as I took the photo snow was starting to fall. Until that point all of the showers had been of hail (and even they were gentle hail showers - no stinging impact, just hail falling gently down on us in the absence of strong wind), but this one was snow. It was prolonged too as a mile and a half later it was still falling.
Being 2pm by this time, we were eager for lunch, and having now reached the Findhorn valley we were less than eager to start our walk along it with the snow blowing into our faces. Instead, we took shelter in the lee of a building (Dalbeg) and tucked into lunch. About half way through, the snow really started to come down - it was like a Christmas movie - but it was just the last hoorah of the shower as minutes later we were bathed in sunshine as we watched the wall of white work up the valley.
Everything I've seen of this area has been spectacular, and the Findhorn valley is no exception. We said last year that we'd like to see more of it, and today we walked about 6 miles of its length. Six miles of loveliness.
Arriving at our night stop at just 1615, we were surprised to have arrived so early (21 miles covered in 8 hours of walking, including a hill)- testament to what a comparatively straightforward day of walking it was. I certainly expected it to be much more arduous.
So, another excellent day, with the added bonus that with all of the showers being of the frozen variety today, we didn't even get wet (well, apart from the feet during the bog wading - maybe I should have put my waterproof socks on!)
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