Thursday 30 October
I found myself stuck in a rut last night, although I don’t mean that in any negative sort of a way. The bellowing of the red deer stags started gently at around 6pm, as a large herd made their way down off the hill to graze the land adjacent to Colin. By 8pm they were really going for it, and I got a brief peak at them too, as a truck bearing a big spot-light came up the road. When I happened to wake at 4am, there was still some bellowing and counter-bellowing going on. Whilst I don’t usually like noisy neighbours, I quite liked these.
As dawn approached and (no doubt) the deer sidled away back up the hill, the weather changed. A pitter-pattering was heard and it didn’t seem like it was a good day for a fair-weather-walker. Nevertheless, I donned walking gear and re-positioned Colin into the car park at Kingussie from where, after more tea and a few ‘let the rain stop’ dances, I set off for a quick jaunt up the little hill which is Creag Bheag (my Gaelic isn’t up to much, but that’s ‘Little Rock’ isn’t it? Or am I confusing my Welsh ‘craig’ with an unrelated Gaelic ‘creag’?).
The initial walk through the woodland was nothing short of gloomy, and even out in the open on the summit the day was so dull that it was like it was dusk, rather than a good couple of hours after sunrise. On the plus side, I hadn’t yet been rained on, and the autumn colours (which I have been enjoying immensely during my drive north) were splendid. A lack of ability and adequate equipment meant that I failed to capture a good representation of their true colours, but here’s the best of a bad bunch of snaps:
Looking to the east, there was far more water in view than there should be, with the Spey in flood:
As tempted as I was to call it a very short walk, I reasoned that the weather was at least dry, even if not entirely inspiring, so I dropped off the north side of the hill and headed along the side of Loch Gynack. It was just along there that it started to rain, but I resisted the urge to turn back for a more direct return, and on I went.
Beyond the end of the Loch, the rain got the better of me, and I did decide to cut short, although at this point ‘cutting short’ mean climbing pathlessly over a shoulder, rather than taking a path around the base of the hill, so it’s debateable how much quicker my route was. It did, however, give me more interesting terrain on which to concentrate, and the reality was that it wasn’t hard going.
Almost back at Kingussie, I found myself climbing again (that path definitely didn’t follow the line shown on the map!), such that by the time I arrived (thoroughly dripping) back in the car park, I had walked a very modest 4.75 miles, with a surprising 1500’ of ascent. The second and third lumps on this elevation profile hadn’t featured at all in the intended route:
The day was still very young indeed by the time I arrived back, and after a brief tour of Kingussie in search of some postcards, Colin’s nose was again pointed north and the afternoon was reserved for total laziness. If I wasn’t being so lazy, I would probably go and explore Culloden Woods, adjacent to which I am parked, to go back to where our TGOC route went briefly awry, to see whether selecting the left fork at a particular junction would have made a difference.