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Last updated: 15/10/10


"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.

Ben Macdui from Carn an t-Saigart Mor

Summit of Carn an t-Saigart Mor

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.

Fafernie snow


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 truly Fallen.

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