Thursday 2 January 2020

Farewell to 2019 with a favourite walk on Meall a'Bhuachaille

View west from the descent

The last day of the year. After a week of rain, clouds and hidden hills,  a frost and sunshine. A New Year's Eve walk. Wanting time to think and reflect a familiar favourite seemed wise. Meall a'Bhuachaille beckoned.

Frost and sun and a returning forest

Setting out I took little footpaths through the woods rather than the main track. After a very wet year the ground was sodden, the paths often deep in water, the forest floor soft and muddy, though the surface was crisp with frost. I soon retreated and joined the masses on the path from Glenmore to Ryvoan Bothy. Dogs, bicycles, children, buggies, families - the woods were alive with people, all happy, smiling, enjoying the beauty of nature. It was good to see.

Lochan Uaine

A wind rippled the surface of Lochan Uaine but in the woods it was still, the frosty air only felt when I paused. Looking up the slopes on either side I relished the regenerating forest. For thirty years I've watched the trees climb the slopes, returning the forest to its rightful place. It's one of the most heartening sights I know. I remember when there was a just a scattering of tiny saplings dotting the moorland above the old woods. Now it's a young forest. 


The bothy seemed the main destination, with many people stopping outside to eat, drink, chat and play. Once I set off up Meall a'Bhuachaille the numbers fell away. For most of the ascent I was alone. Across the gash of the Ryvoan Pass, Lochan Uaine shining far below, the brown Cairngorms rose, bereft of snow.
Cairn Gorm across the Ryvoan Pass

There were three others on the summit, sheltering from the now strong and bitter wind. Out to the west the sun was sinking, the sky turning gold and orange. I didn't linger, soon setting off down to escape the wind. My descent was slow though, due to the spectacular sunset that slowly developed in front of me.

Loch Morlich

Once the sun dropped below the Sgorans ridge the western sky became a sheet of bright colour, the distant hills etched sharp.

After sunset

I was walking in shadow, the magical world of gold and orange out of reach, always ahead, never touched. But that didn't matter. The beauty was all. Entranced I descended into the dark woods. Through the silhouettes of the trees the brilliant sky shone. A crescent moon hunger above Cairn Gorm. The world felt renewed. I felt renewed, optimistic, hopeful. A new time is beginning.

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