"Christmas Extravaganza: Day Meet to Glen Callater"
2 December 2007
Thus (above) went the
marketing blurb for this Day Meet, targeted, as usual in
December, on an evening meal and ceilidh dancing at the Braemar
Golf Club. But for once, “organiser’s optimism” seemed
justified, as the Saturday weather map showed the North-East of
Scotland bathed in sunshine while the whole of the rest of the
UK was to suffer under heavy clouds, and high winds in England.
And on Sunday, shortly after the very civilised hour of 8 am,
things looked good as riverside mists cleared away, and even
better past Aboyne when Lochnagar lifted its snow-white head,
face and shoulders above the green trees.
Thus most of us piled
eagerly out of the bus at Auchallater into crisp but not too
cold air, and hoofed it up the track (deer, and a couple of rare
Shirreffses, being sighted above) to the Lodge, where a short
disrobing stop was made before we ascended the nice new path to
land eventually into snow on the shoulders of Carn an t-Sagairt
Mor. At the Munro cairn we were met by Claire and Kenny as well
as a rather surprised local(?) couple and their very inquisitive
dogs, and lunched, with great views all round, except for cloud
obscuring the far west and south. Bennachie – a good 50(?) miles
away – stood out loud and clear, as did most of the high
Cairngorms with only the odd cloud layer here and there.
From the summit, we
descended south over to Fafernie, sometimes in deepish snow,
with good views into impressive Coire Loch Kander. The odd
mountain hare was sighted despite its seasonal colouring. Thence
to the top of Jock’s Road, the ancient right of way from
Callater to Glen Clova. Here, a Decision had to be made, whether
to try for Tolmount, or head straight for home down Glen
Callater. Some were keen to go for the second summit, but time
was beginning to press, with a 5 pm meal due at the clubhouse,
and so we began our descent, initially across almost trackless
bog with only the odd fence post to guide us (if one discounts
Alex Barbour’s Never-Fail GPS, and perfect visibility all
round). A little down the slope of the corrie head, a brief halt
in the last rays of the sun was enjoyed before entering gloom.
Then it was down steepish ground, still with little sign of a
path, and onto flatter ground leading interminably towards
moraines where pathwork was picked up, and a long succession of
grass flats and boulder ditches led to the lochside.
The change of terrain since
the plateau – and perhaps the scent of dinner in the air – had
resulted in the party becoming quite stretched out, and by the
time that the last group - including the President, with her
quality of a “known unknown” well to the fore - had caught up
with the others at the Lodge bothy after 4 pm, Darkness had
From here, an increasingly
starlit march (not enjoyed by those with head torches) took us
back to the roadside, whither the bus had been summoned by the
Presidential mobile, thus saving us the last mile or so. A mad
scramble to get changed as the bus passed through Braemar had us
all at table a mere 45 minutes later than the planned meal-time.
Those already in residence after the rigours of the Braemar
cafés and/or the lower hills of Creag nan Gobhar, Morrone, etc.
(see picture) had wasted neither time nor the musical duo placed
at our disposal, but had practised some of the trickier dances.
And after all had completed their splendid soup and fish/steak
pie/whatever, the proper dancing took place, with Auld Lang Syne
towards 8pm, and then a restful Journey Home.
Author: Ken Thomson