3 March 2017
With another fine weather forecast ahead of us, we dithered at great length yesterday afternoon in deciding which hill(s) to visit today. It was Mick who eventually came over all decisive, and thus our previously unbagged Cromdale Hill became our target, to be tackled from Glen Avon (the same start point as we used for its neighbour, Creagan a’Chaise in August 2015).
A good track took us almost the whole way up to the ridge, and we were soon overheating as we went up it, but after a cold night the great sheets of ice were a feature of the lower reaches.
With the track eventually petering out, off-piste we went onto a hillside littered with white animals. At first my mind suggested that they must be sheep, which was rapidly followed by the thought that it was odd to see sheep this high at this time of year. It turned out that they were mountain hares, in startlingly white winter coats, no doubt thinking they were well hidden when actually they stood out like beacons.
Completing the bulk of our climb, it was a joy to see what a wonderful place the ridge was on such a calm, blue-skied day:
The objective is within sight
Behind us the Cairngorms were looking fine too…
…and I was just admiring them as Mick snapped the summit shot:
And for completeness, here’s one of the two of us, enjoying the summit:
A few minutes away from the trig point, lies a prominent cairn and whilst we knew the trig was at the true summit, we thought we may as well visit the cairn, hoping that we could get a bit of shelter there to pause for tea and butteries (I said it was a calm day, and it was, but the miniscule amount of breeze was really cold!).
I’d not long sat down when half a dozen reindeer sensed that there was food around, and wandered over:
Those aren’t zoomed shots, they really were that close; look:
We had to push away the muzzle of that one just behind me as it kept coming in for some overly intimate contact.
It was already looking unlikely that we were going to get to eat our butteries, when the rest of the herd realised there was something exciting going on and came trotting on over too:
That’s not the whole of the rest of the herd. I couldn’t get them all in one shot.
Time to move on, we thought, whereupon we realised how unfortunate it was that my packliner is a rubble sack, which, in the act of packing stuff back away, sounds very much like an animal feed sack being shaken. The reindeer got quite animated. We gave our apologies and scurried off:
Rather than retracing our steps, a more direct line was taken for our return, taking advantage of the fact that descending rough ground is a lot easier than climbing it. It was a bit rough, though, and only a few hundred metres in, my left leg fell into snow-filled hole and I pitched forward. A fortunate manoeuvre, as it turned out, as in falling I catapulted my Garmin Gadget out of its place on the top of my pack, to land right in front of me, reminding me nicely that, in our hurry to leave the reindeer, I had forgotten to re-start it.
The stats were 6.6 miles walked with 1600’ (ish) of ascent. Thanks to the hares and the reindeer, not to mention the superb weather, I’m sure it will prove to be a memorable walk.