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Last updated: 15/10/10


"Moist Morven"
18 November 2007

This meet got off to a cracking start when the Organiser/President’s Party Leader got us lost while still in the bus! Eventually, however, the right set of pylons were sighted, and nearly 20 of us were kicked out into drizzle near Tillypronie Lodge on the Dinnet-Strathdon road, and directed into the surrounding forest en route to the target hill of Morven. Having passed some impressive new fencing (proof, in ascending order, against rabbits, sheep, deer and capercaillie; and no gates for humans in sight), we then almost got lost again in the usual maze of forestry roads. However, after full and frank debate amongst many maps and electronic gizmos of various dates and designs, we emerged triumphantly onto the moor, with a vague glimpse of something higher above us, as we contoured round the north slopes. Having recalled the PPL from yet another attempt to deviate the party from the proper route, we found ourselves at the hut (locked, unfortunately) at Preas Whin (etymology, anyone?) for a welcome coffee under the eye of an impressive metal eagle – presumably an outlier of the healthy population of statuary in the woods below.


Then it was off-road and uphill with a vengeance, choosing between a muddy semi-path and irritatingly high heather, straight up to the main ridge of Morven, where drizzle turned into snow, and the ground was very definitely white. However, with little wind - none of the “buffeting 30-40 mph” promised in the forecast - conditions at the summit cairn – where we surprised/alarmed another group arriving almost simultaneously from the west – were not unpleasant, though viewless and chilly after 20 minutes. Whether anyone signed the visitors’ book is unknown.


At this stage, the time – about 12.30 – was noticed, and the unusual problem of how not to get to the pub too early raised its awkward head. Suggestions that we should walk in circles - not unknown in such misty conditions – were turned down in favour of a gentle descent west towards a remarkably featureless 731m shoulder where the congregation disrupted into no fewer than three groups, one heading south to the main contour path, one west towards Morven Lodge, and a third north-west, intent on the remaining ridge to the west.

Information thereafter is thus unavoidably patchy, but rumours had it that Morven Lodge was never actually reached, and that one group, having descended the pleasant Culsten Burn path, was treated to a guided tour of Tullich graveyard. Even so, many were reduced to pounding the streets of a pretty dreich Ballater, after pounding at the doors of the Alexandra Hotel before the allotted hour of 5pm proved fruitless. The third group succeeded in traversing the shapely peaks of Mullachdubh, Mona Gowan, Cairnagour Hill and Scaulac in relentless mist (passing a “pile of stones”: the 1:25000 map) before descending trackless wastes (past an old car) to the Glengairn road, and heading home via Lary. Their attempts to raise any of the many mobiles owned by members of the other two parties (and the Club) proving fruitless, they got word via Aberdeen of their time and whereabouts, so that at least the bus was able to knock 20 minutes off their walk-in. Their arrival at the Alexandra was met with stony indifference amid the loud munching of bar meals. Cordial relations were however restored after a pint and a chip or two, and at 6:20 precisely we got off back to Aberdeen, thus ending a good day on the hill despite adverse conditions, and thanks to sterling work by the organisers and promoters of the meet.

Author: Ken Thomson