Arriving in Aviemore Railway Station
from Stirling at 12.30 pm. the sun was shining - I remember my fellow
adventurer Jim (JJ) Walker remarking that he hoped this was a good omen!.
It wasn't, as just after we'd lunched at the Temperance Hotel and were
half a mile on the way, the rain came down in torrents.
Aviemore, flanked by the swift
running River Spey, consists of two luxurious hotels, a few scattered
shops and villas, a Bank of Scotland, a railway station and has a very
picturesque setting midst wooded slopes about 800 feet above sea level.
Away to the South, the Duke of Gordon's Monument and the Waterloo Cairn
are outstanding landmarks, while to the South-East today the enormous bulk
of the Cairngorms was just visible in the mist.
Finding to our disgust that the
Temperance Hotel didn't stock writing paper and thus forced to use
telegram forms instead, we persuaded the proprietor to post our necessary
arrival correspondence on the Monday despite our lack of stamps. This done
we set out in a South-East direction, across the Spey towards the little
village of Inverdruie where we left the main road and struck South through
At that point the rain abated
leaving everything fresh and sparkling in the consequent bright sunshine.
One could not but experience an exhilarating feeling of joie de vivre',
fitness, and sublime content with the scent of pine wood in one's nostrils
and the fragrance of honeysuckle, bell heather, fox gloves and bracken all
Soon civilization is left behind and
pretty little Loch an Eilein meets our gaze - a peaceful scene, with the
Wolf of Badenoch's ruined castle in its midst. A halt here and three snaps
On again, forking through the
forest, climbing steadily towards the foot of Gleann Einich, and alongside
a rushing stream, Am Beanaidh, remarkable for its brown stones and water.
Another lovely snap here then so on up the glen with the hugh 'pile' of
Braeriach, patched with snow, towering before us in the south.
Soon the forest gives way to
moorland, swept by a refreshing hill wind, which dispels our extraordinary
following of flies - troublesome brutes - and the hills appear to enclose
us more and more - they are inviting today.
And now, within a mile of the lower
bothy we see, high up on Creag Dubh, to the West, the famous Argyll Stone
Hail the bothy and tea! (6 p.m.). It
is a dilapidated shack in two parts. One part is very snug but padlocked,
while the other serves as a stable and has only half a roof.
A shower of rain comes on, so we
make the stable waterproof by means of a piece of corrugated iron and
ground sheets and regale ourselves with sardines, half a loaf, butter and
strawberry jam. After JJ has mistaken salt for sugar and some sardines
have fallen into my tea, we succeed in accomplishing a highly satisfactory
A wash! - first since 7 a.m. - is
indicated in the stream hard-by - an outlet of Coire an Lochain on
Braeriach and the highest loch in Britain (3250 feet).
It's a lovely evening now, about
8.30 p.m., so we decide to walk a bit up the glen to see Loch Einich at
its Southern end. Three hundred yards from the lower bothy we come upon
the cairn built in memory of Thomas Baird, the Glasgow 'Varsity boy - and
pause to pay our silent tributes of respect, admiration and sorrow. What a
tragedy! Only 300 yards from help and life! We place a lovely red granite
block in the centre of the cairn and build it up all round. Up nearer the
Loch, a horse shoe presents itself. So we have a good spit each and heave
it over our shoulders.
On our return we decide to apply
gentle pressure to the steeple which holds the padlocked chain of the
habitable quarter of the bothy (it has been obviously done before) and to
our joy, it gives way very willingly. The time is now 9.45 p.m., so while
waiting for supper, we settle down to our daily task - our diaries!
It has been a glorious afternoon and
evening despite the short sharp showers which are a feature of these hills
and every ridge and peak is now clearly defined against an almost
cloudless darkening sky. One can hardly imagine that this place could ever
be shrouded with mist, blinded by snow or rain, or swept by devastating
Our poor faces are 'peeling' from
exposure but judging by their 'peeling rate' this process won't last long
out here. Tomorrow we go up about 2 miles to Loch Einich at the head of
the glen, then over the shoulder of Braeriach to the South East, thence
visit Angel Peak, Cairn Toul, Wells of Dee and Braeriach before descending
into the Lairig Ghru for the night at Corrour Bothy below Devil's Point.
Fauna have been scarce today but
flora is abundant (even water lilies in Loch an Eilein), while all kinds
of stone are to be found, though granite predominates.
I'm terribly sleepy and needing my
bed - let's hope the porridge oats are good to-morrow after steeping the
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive
While to be young was very heaven.
Monday 25 July, 1932
Wakened at 7.40 a.m. by JJ asking me
to go for water - the porridge are getting too thick. However breakfast
was a great success, as was the following shave using a biscuit tin lid
for a mirror.
About 10.30 a.m., we swept the bothy,
shouldered our rucksacks and set out for the head of the glen. There we
beheld Loch Emich looking dark but transparent and walled in by huge peaks
Our path now rose steeply South-East
over the shoulder of Braeriach and by noon, when we looked back to the
North-West, we were rewarded for our climb by magnificent views of Glen
Einich and Rothiemurchus Forest beyond. Needless to say, the camera was in
As we climbed, our packs became
heavier and our stomachs lighter, until we reached Corrie Garbh about 2
p.m. and 4000 feet above sea level. Here we decided to have lunch. Gosh it
was cold! But hot tomato soup, cold meat and peas and then fruit salad for
dessert soon made things better.
Thereafter we decided to dump our
rucksacks at this point for later collection. So, having tied a white
handkerchief to each of them, we headed off for Angel Peak and Cairn Toul,
3950 and 4241 feet respectively.
Our way lay eastwards, round the
vast Corries which separate Cairn Toul and Braeriach, up Angel Peak, down
the other side and then up Cairn Toul. As we were on a plateau of 4000
feet, the peaks were easy of access but oh! they were stony! Huge boulders
which we had to mount in much the same way as you climb a Stair.
The peaks afforded us with a
glorious view of the Corries, chiefly An Choire Garbh. The mist was rising
out of it like steam from a gigantic cauldron, snow made all sorts of
fanciful shapes in the clefts (including a perfect map of Australia!),
while the water from the Wells of Dee (source of the River Dee) hurtled
down a sheer precipice to a depth of about 1500 feet -the height of Dumyat!
Cairn Toul gave us a magnificent
view of Corrie Bhrochain - another wild, rugged, unscalable mass, carrying
no sign of any life at all. Here also we had a fine view of the Lairig
Ghru being drained by the Dee and containing our target bothy and shelter
for the coming night. Just over the pass to the North-East, and towering
high above it, lay Ben MacDhui (4296 feet) and North-North-East behind it
lay Cairn Gorm (4084 feet) - our objectives of the morrow.
On Cairn Toul we met up with the two
ladies and a gentleman who had been tailing us all day from Glen Einich.
We duly took photographs to record the meeting before descending thence
back to our packs below.
Having secured our rucksacks without
difficulty, we now went round the North-West ridge of Corrie Gharbh,
passed the Wells of Dee and climbed the easy remaining ascent to the Cairn
of Braeriach (4248 feet)... .more, wonderfully rugged, grandeur, tempered
by peaceful vistas... ..... and it was here that we had a gorgeous sight
of a rainbow end in the Lairig far below, while the sight of Loch an Uaine
nestling in the bosom of Cairn Toul and spilling water over the side in
the shape of a waterfall into the glen below was unforgettable.
Really these hills and glens are
gripping with their foregrounds of placid lochs, plunging waterfalls,
rushing torrents and delicate tints adding their influence to the
constantly changing scenic tones caused by the subtle effects of sun, mist
and cloud. All within a background of rugged grandeur - absolutely
By now it was 6 p.m. and tea was
indicated but alas no water in die vicinity. Accordingly, we decided to
scramble down the side of Corrie Bhrochain for 1000 feet by way of loose
sand and very stiff rocks. It was sore work and a bit dangerous, but
thrilling and necessary... and worthwhile too as we startled a dozen red
deer on the way.. .the first we'd seen.
Shortly after 7 p.m. we reached a
convenient pool and drank our fill as we ravenously did justice to tinned
salmon and a loaf of 'Bermaline' malt bread. We had felt dead tired before
eating and drinking but this energising, coupled with a wash, made us
fighting fit again and at about 8.30 pm. we set out on the remainder of
our scramble into the Lairig Ghru 2000 feet far below.
Here we found a network of streams
and boggy ground a real slog and very tiring to our weary limbs. But we
plodded on to reach Corrour Bothy about 10.15 p.m. We were not alone in
our glory as six Dundonians (two parties) were there as well to share the
hikers' haven with us.
After partaking of the usual supper
and exchanging questions and answers with our fellow lodgers, we washed
(feet too!) and settled down to our diaries about 11.30 p.m. with the
lantern hanging in the window above us to guide any other wanderer to safe
harbour. Yes, of course we remembered to steep the meal before retiring...
despite having to scrape half of it off the floor when JJ tripped and
spilled the pot. It's after midnight before I crawl into 'bed' - been a
great day climatically and in so many other ways. I think of Chapman's
Homer - 'Much have I travelled in the realms of .....' Tomorrow we mean to
cross the Lairig and climb Ben MacDhui, thence Northward to Cairn Gorm and
descend by continuing North to rest at a bothy called
It's a great life, full of solitude
and grandeur and sweet content. There are no worries except physical ones
and it is realised here in these mountains, if anywhere, just how frail
man is! Ah, well! Sleep! I wonder if all my loved ones are abed and how
they've fared to-day?
Tuesday 26th July, 1932
Wakened at about 7 a.m. and rose
about 8 a.m., forestalling the Dundonians for use of the communal table
and making a very hearty breakfast of porridge and bacon. However you
learn something new every day ...... the Dundee lads had a novel use for
loaves of pan-bread - they used them as pillows all night! And for once JJ
and JNK had bitten off more than they could chew because when we left at
about 11 a.m. we had to leave at least four slices of brown bread and
butter behind. Before leaving though, we exchanged photos with the
Taysiders, and signed the visitors' book presented by the U.C.D. Cairn
Then it was away and firstly we
forded the Dee and approached the slopes of Cairn a Mhaim, a stepping
stone to MacDhui. It was pretty steep going but, just after Jim had found
some white heather, we struck a deer path which took us up to the summit
in comparative comfort.
On again to the second climb, which
was again steep and also stony - a sure sign that we were getting high.
Ptarmigan were abundant here and JJ had a really fine cross-country race
up and down the hill trying to photograph them. I don't know what he'd do
without that camera of his and what endless amusement we cull from it.
About 2 p.m. we reached the summit
of Ben MacDhui and once more we are provided with an orgy of beauty. In
the South-East, another Loch an Uaine (3142 feet). There are four of these
'green' lochs - one on each of Cairn Toul, MacDhui and Cairn Gorm and the
last one just about a mile West of Ryvoan Bothy, our home for this
evening. North-East of the cairn of MacDhui lay another Loch - Etchachan,
while to the South-East towered Cairn Gorm (3788 feet).
Although MacDhui was found to be
very stony at the top and no gentler than the others, it was very mild
when we got there. Hunger hastened lunch preparation and in a few minutes
we had the stove heating the soup to a nice temperature. The tin-opener
exposed corn beef and baked beans and having consumed this, we finished
off with a dessert of fruit salad and semolina. After lunch was evaluation
time for our respective diaries and on exchange reading we agreed that
both passed muster. However despite the air being wonderfully mild, the
scene pleasant, placid, grand and very congenial to a full stomach, a
glance at the heavy clouds gathering, and a hint of thunder, suggested
that we must soon be on our way.
Not a living soul in sight and we
just remarked on how quickly the cold hard world could fall into obscurity
and oblivion. Thus philosophising we journey on Northward towards the
Shelter Stone at the West end of Loch Avon - but keeping our height. As we
circled the ridge we had a lovely view of both lochs, Loch Etchachan and
Loch Avon. The latter is a particularly 'bonnie' loch.
Meanwhile the clouds were descending
lower and becoming thicker and Cairn Gorm was just visible amidst
overhanging mist. By 5 p.m. the thunder was reverberating through the
hills and we were plodding manfully on, up one slope, down the next,
towards the summit. The last 1000 feet was a real tough climb in driving
rain and clammy mist and, on reaching the top, we had to 'fumble' for the
Cairn. However we stumbled on it eventually at about 6 o'clock, duly
deposited our boulder and set about what had become a very serious task -
to get down from there expeditiously and safely.
The driving rain turned to hail -
huge lumps - but setting our backs to the Cairn and taking a compass
bearing from our map, 1 degree West of North, we struck out hopefully for
the valleys below where we trusted that there'd be better visibility and
Fortunately we had taken an accurate
bearing for soon we found a pile of stones (white) at intervals of 20
yards or so to guide us down in the way we should go. So on we stepped and
slithered down, past the Marquis' Well, down the Coire na Ciste. But oh!
It was miserable going! We were wet through, soaked to the skin as was
everything else around us. The heather was knee deep, the gradient steep
and tea time was being clearly indicated but impossible to execute. Still,
in spite of my own misery, I had time to look for, and find white heather.
In due course - it seemed an
eternity - the rain ceased and about 8 p.m. - 'Squelch! Squelch! Squelch!'
- we reached an 8 foot high fence cutting off the private estate or
preserve of Glenmore. Our path lay this way, and, as no one was likely to
be about, we climbed the obstacle and approached our first trees since
It started to rain again, so we
rigged up a couple of ground sheets between two trees, and, in spite of
wet clothes and terrible flies, had an excellent tea of chicken, ham and
tongue and 'Bee-Zee-Bee' bread with butter and jam.
Cheers! It faired again, so, after a
smoke, a consultation over the map, and a time exposure of Loch Morlich
and the hills to the South-West, we set off once more 'doon the burn' for
2 miles, climbed the 8 foot fence on the North side of the estate and
struck North-East towards Ryvoan Bothy, only two miles away now.
I must not forget to thank JJ here
for saving me from strangling - if he hadn't rescued me, I'd still be
hanging from that 'blessed' fence by my rucksack. Talking of rucksacks,
these ones we have are real friends. Everything was bone dry inside them,
although every item of clothing we were wearing was soaking. I wondered
vaguely what people would think if they could have seen us then or knew of
our condition. And yet we were as happy as crickets, though the word
'tired' could not do justice to describing our aching bodies.
Indeed this valley lying between
Aviemore and Ryvoan, almost East and West, is a lovely sight as was proved
as the weather improved into a fine evening. Nonetheless sighting the
bothy at about 10 p.m. was great - never was 'home' in the hills more
appreciated! Better still! Two 'kilties' from Nethy were there with a huge
pine fire in the grate to welcome us.
An immediate dry down, cold wash and
change was performed, the wet things hung up to dry, and cocoa and
biscuits consumed before settling down, with admirable discipline, I
thought, to our daily task - our diaries. It's 11.45 pm. now as I finish
off this log for today.
The bothy here is wonderful,
relatively speaking. We've had another hard day and trying, but I wouldn't
have missed the experiences for all the comforts and luxuries to be had
elsewhere. To emphasise the point - we've just seen our first newspaper,
'The Bulletin', since last Saturday - but it holds no interest to us in
our present environment and states of mind. Again I repeat, no one can
possibly imagine the power, the majesty and natural beauty of the
surrounds, the variety of scenery and plant life, and the constant,
irresistible and relentless changes brought about by the incessant
fluctuations of the elements.
Tomorrow we walk to Aviemore, a mere
10 miles away, for more food and then return here to sleep - an easy day,
but, by jove, despite being in the 'pink', we're needing it! Our stores
have held out very successfully and everything has worked out according to
plan, almost! That's four peaks over 4000 feet now, and on Friday, from
Deeside, we mean to do the last two of the big 'six' - Ben an Bhuird and
Ben Avon, thence to Ballater and Aberdeen. It's been a dull and overcast
night so far, but we hope and pray for a good day tomorrow. .........
Wednesday 27th July, 1932
Wakened at about 5.30 a.m. by the
Nethy boys making breakfast - roasting 'mealy jerkers'. Later, on becoming
more fully conscious, we found the bothy deserted, so had porridge and
eggs alone in our glory. The porridge is really successful, especially
when you've taken the time to steep the meal overnight. Shave next and a
cold plunge in the nearby stream - both new men - ready for anything!
We leave our stuff in the bothy but
take one empty rucksack and set out with light hearts and burden for
Aviemore about 11 a.m. It's a lovely morning and the walk along the valley
past Glenmore Lodge and the northern shore of Loch Morlich is very
refreshing. Away to the South we scan the now familiar landmarks of the
Caimgorms and our minds are well occupied with many recent associations.
As we get closer to Aviemore, we
have a fine view of the northern entrance to the Lairig Ghru and, further
to the West, of our first day's journey up Glen Einich. We can also follow
quite clearly now, that ghastly descent from Cairn Gorm, 'midst mist and
rain. Soon we reach Coylumbridge, just two miles from Aviemore, and, as
the local 'hold-all' store offers nearly everything we need in the way of
food, we grace the helpful, talkative proprietrix with our order and
promise to return to uplift it at about six in the evening. Before leaving
her we purchase seventeen postcards - views of hills and, while choosing
them, are amused by the way the said woman gleans her information about
the hills and stores it up for the benefit of her many patrons.
Aviemore, drier than when we last
left it, is reached by about 2 p.m. and we lunch well, digesting
concurrently, the heavy mail which awaited us there. After further
necessary shopping was done, we repaired to the Temperance Hotel for tea
and both of us agreed that it was a queer, unnatural feeling to be amongst
houses and people and shops etc. - cramped, confined and bored.
We made a good tea, including honey
we shouldn't have had, before squaring the proprietor. He asked us where
we had been and told us of three young men who'd taken refuge in his
establishment the previous night. On further inquiry we discovered them to
be the same fellows that we'd left at Corrour Bothy on the Tuesday
On our way back to uplift our other
purchases at Coylumbridge we met many of the 'elite', out for their
pre-dinner strolls. They looked at our mud-stained shoes, tanned faces and
heavy pack of provisions with what appeared to be awe and wonderment - and
a tinge of admiration too, we hoped! Good progress was made on our road
'home' to Ryvoan and, it being a beautiful night, we thoroughly enjoyed
the rest of the ten miles tramp. Walking along pine guarded roads, the
wind whispering in the tree-tops, the burn chattering by our side, we
remarked on how one could adapt and settle to such solitude, especially
after our boisterous camp life of the previous three days.
Soon the stream gave way to Loch
Morlich again, still processing its abundance of fine sand - on then, past
Glenmore Lodge, lovely little Lochan Uaine and so to Ryvoan. We were both
tired, a different kind of fatigue compared to the day before, but a cold
tub, rub down and supper of bread, butter, jam and biscuits revived us
somewhat. Preparing for my bed, I see JJ firmly installed before the huge
log fire, dreaming up fine phrases for his diary and my thoughts turn to
the morrow and Deeside. It's raining slightly now - hope it's fair for
Thursday 28th July, 1932
In spite of good resolutions to get
up at 6 a.m., it was 8 o'clock before we dragged our weary limbs without
our sleeping bags. However as the porridge had been cooked the night
before and eggs could be boiled in the tea water, we were seated by 8.30
a.m.- like lords - before a sumptuous repast. Unfortunately, there was a
thick Scotch Mist all around and it didn't look promising for our 17 mile
walk through the hills to the foot of Dubh Gleann. However by 10 o'clock
blinks of sunshine brightened the prospect and we prepared to leave after
duly charcoaling our names on the wall and photographing the bothy.
No sooner had we started than the
rain came on again and, at the end of a mere half mile, our feet had that
cold, damp, clammy, feeling which is bad enough later in a day on the
hills, but more than a trifle demoralising early on. But we just had to
shrug our shoulders and soldier on.
As our way lay over the shoulder of
Bynack Hill after we crossed the Nethy, we became more or less shrouded in
mist and battered by driving rain. It was wretched going but we had a
fairly decent path, albeit streaming with water. It also disappeared at
times but little heaps of stones kept us in the right direction, so we
made good progress over the summit on an easterly bearing, down past the
Barns of Bynack (a huge pile of stones) into Lairig Laoigh The map
indicated a path but it seemed to have been transformed into one of the
many burns which flowed around us.
Then quite suddenly the rain stopped
for a few minutes - the next cloud wasn't all that far off - and in that
blink of sunshine we spotted the Lairig looking South, and soon approached
the East end of Loch Avon - a dismal sight! As the weather looked ominous
and it was almost 1.30 p.m., we decided to try to snatch lunch before the
storm. Alas! 'Davy' was having no mercy today and, just as we settled
behind a hopelessly inadequate rock, he let it rip.
Nevertheless, and nothing daunted,
we 'set to' with a will, consuming soup, corn beef, peas and fruit salad
in the vilest of weather. Never, in all my life, have I eaten under such
cold conditions! Needless to say, we didn't linger, but hastened on to
restore the circulation. Verily, people would have considered us mad had
they seen us and no one ever gave rheumatism or pleurisy a better chance!
Just after wading through the Avon,
which flows East out of Loch Avon, - the ford was in flood but we were wet
through anyway - we struck the semblance of a path once more. It's a great
sensation wading through a stream with your shoes and stockings still on
and knowing that you won't get any wetter!
When the summit of the pass comes
into sight the path becomes very rough and stony. We stumble on, falling
occasionally and feeling our limbs, especially our fingers, becoming
gradually stiffer and numb. What a 'road' - it was supposed to be a
cattle-pass at one time. Well, we thought aloud, 'We can't be quite all
animal yet', for we found it nigh well impassable at places. And still the
clouds came sweeping over us with intent to drown ..... and they nearly
succeeded with monotonous regularity!
About 3.30 p.m., we at length
reached the summit of the pass - a very stony desolate place - and just
opposite in the West, we were able to feast our eyes on the rugged Corrie
Etchachan with a ridge of Ben MacDhui providing a suitable backdrop. This
fleeting look was soon blanketed by mist and thus photography was
prevented in that direction. However, looking North into the Lairig did
provide a view for JJ to snap. Moments later away to the South we just
managed to snatch a glimpse of the Forest of Mar and as our way lay
several miles to the East of the forest and time was precious, we decided
to win two miles away from the track by climbing the hill on our left,
crossing its flat top diagonally, and then going down a steep, dark glen,
known as Dubh Gleann, at the foot of which we hoped lay our bothy for the
night. All that sounds relatively easy, but the going was boggy and the
ground, if that is what it was supposed to be, smelt not in the least like
'Yardley's'! And still the clouds hovered ready to drift down at any
moment, so we had to hustle to be safe.
Despite our worst fears and
predictions, the weather improved dramatically for an hour or so as we
hurried along, giving us some really fine views of Deeside from various
'velvety plateaux en route. Indeed these were the first clear glimpses of
anything we'd had all day.
Soon, but not too soon, we reached
the top of Dubh Gleann and, while scrambling down its fairly steep head,
we were met with a wonderful sight - at least a hundred red deer in two
herds, startled by our advent, making their stately way up the sheer face
of the hill.
The worst of the descent over, we
consulted the map for names etc. and found we'd only about two miles to go
now to our bothy. Were we sorry? Not likely! What a harrowing day it had
been! One doesn't worry for one's own sake - it's the people who worry
Tired, but looking forward to a tin
of 'Skippers' and a 'Youma' loaf for tea, we hurried on, hoping to find a
fire to dry our clothes at. But then, strange cries, high up above us, met
our ears as we plodded down this glen - like a child crying. On looking
up, we were amazed at the multitude of deer to be seen - appearing like
ants to us in the distance. Then the rain came on again; but the bothy
should be somewhere near here! 'Holy smoke!' 'That's not it, is it?' - A
ruin of wood, chairs, glass and masonry lay before us and our hearts sank.
Not one decent bit of cover for having our tea, far less spending a night
We look around and, just beside the
ruin, I find, a little 'box'. It is about 6 feet by 5 feet by 4 feet,
closed on three sides and with a wooden 'roof', almost watertight, or so
it appeared. 'Fair enough, this would have to do, at least until we've had
our tea. Then we'll rig up a better shelter for the night from this
While the kettle is boiling, we doff
our shoes, stockings, shirts etc. and change into dry ones, discussing the
prospect the while. Then we noticed the following on one of the 'walls'
17th July 1932
Wretched with mist and driving rain AND We
sought a bothy and found these ruins
these we built this hut
And were we thankful! And we
blessed our companions in misery for their shed.
Tea was a great success and soon
after 7 p.m. the rain ceased, then to be followed by a fine dry night -
blue sky and high clouds. JJ kindled a lovely pine fire just two feet away
from the open South side of our 'box' and we soon dried four stockings and
two shirts, to say nothing of making ourselves as warm as pies too. There
we were, writing our diaries, poring over the map for names and directions
and looking like real 'old timers' with a certain amount of stubble
further adorning our tanned faces.
Supper and bed early to-night as
to-morrow, God willing, we mean to do Ben an Bhuird and Ben Avon before
going on down to Deeside. It's been tough work today. Hard? Yes, and
miserable sometimes, but then we have that 'something accomplished,
something done feeling'. We've kept to our time-table despite the weather
and, now, gloriously tired, we are enjoying the consequent peace and quiet
of an idyllic evening outdoors before a lovely fire. ............ 'Kings
may be blessed ...............'
Supper is over, the washing all
dried, and, having knocked the knob off the door which serves as floor and
mattress, I have a Craven 'A' until JJ is ready for diary audition and
reflection. In due course we settle down for the night, gazing out at the
'pioneering in the wilds' scene, fitfully lit by the gleam of the log fire
now dying. The night looks calm, and anyway, two ground sheets on the roof
will keep us dry. Oh my! I'm tired!
Friday 29th July, 1932
Wakened at 8 a.m., after a very
sound sleep, I was so stiff and sore that I was almost afraid to rise.
However, porridge and sausages made things better, and, as it was a lovely
morning, we loitered over our departure, taking some photographs and
leaving our card - an acknowledgement of the shelter.
About 10.45 a.m. we set out over
heather and bog, up Glen Quoich for about 3 miles. It was a real toil
getting up that Glen but by 12.30 p.m. we'd reached the path which leads
up to Ben an Bhuird. There we stopped for lunch and a 'pow wow'. It
transpired that we both felt that we were asking too much of ourselves as
the climbs, at best, would take 5 to 6 hours, and even then a resting
place for the night had still to be found. Slugain Lodge was only about 2
miles away but we'd no idea what it was like. So we swithered - would we
admit defeat and make discretion the better part of valour? Our exchange
of looks said it all. It could not be done in safety, especially if we hit
any snags en route. Decision taken!
Thus, at about 1 o'clock, we both
lay down on a heather bed and slept ingloriously and unabashed for almost
3 hours. Great stuff! Fresh again, we set out across the Quoich and the
moor, down Glen Slugain and past a roofless lodge which had been the
planned sleeping place if we'd done the peaks. When, not long after this,
we met four ladies in the glen, we suddenly realised that these were the
first humans we had seen since the Wednesday!
As we swung downhill, Deeside looked
so perfectly natural and did not belie her name of Royal. Then Lochnagar
became visible away in the South-East. After another four or five miles
down the glen, we traversed a private estate and spied the main road
running parallel to the River Dee in the valley to the South, while, about
3 miles to the West, Braemar lay basking in the summer sun.
Several lodges, all empty, and their
grounds were taken in our stride - we hoped they didn't mind - but the
crowning bit of cheek was when we walked into the grounds of Invercauld
House and marched out down its main driveway! What a lovely house in the
Scottish Baronial style, a well kept estate and so thickly wooded too.
Indeed Deeside is remarkable for its abundance of firs, birches etc. Its
grazing sheep look very healthy too. Little wonder with such rich pasture
to nurture them.
Reaching the main road at about
almost 6 o'clock, we were greeted immediately by an Alexander's bus en
route from Ballater to Braemar. But by this time the pangs of hunger were
getting stronger. So we climbed a dyke, sat down by a stream running into
the Dee, and thereby disposed of another tin of salmon. The 'troops' were
in much better fettle after that, and, after a much needed wash, it was
agreed on both sides that we looked almost normal and respectable again.
So, just as the sun was beginning to set in a blaze of glory we stepped
once more onto the 'King's Highway'. It was nearly 9 o'clock, and about 3
miles from Crathie, when we struck an inn. Unanimously we decided to do
ourselves proud and sleep on a soft bed.
Outdoor life somehow loses its charm
when civilisation approaches; and nature is not nature when disturbed by
rattling cars, chimney smoke and milestones! Well we'd reached 'Joumey's
End' and after all 'variety is the spice of life.' And what have we not
had over these last six days? We've walked, climbed, descended, in blazing
sun, mountain sleet, mists - aye, and hail too. We've spoken to not more
that a score of folks and otherwise it's been just we two, absolutely
isolated and self-reliant. Every meal has been satisfying, and nary a
blister between us, and clearly, despite our strong shoes becoming a
delicately lighter shade than when we started out, they've stood the test.
Esprit de corp has been excellent, though perhaps it was due to the fact
that we both had the ability to pity ourselves to a large extent and cast
no blame. There was never a cross word between us and many a bright one.
It has been great, and though
arduous, it is really one form of hard work that is uniquely enjoyable.
....... 'When can their glory fade' ?........ All these unforgettable
My Henderson Blood-line
James Henderson (b.1702, Wemyss, Fife)
& Elspeth Ingles - m. 1731, Wemyss, Fife
Andrew Henderson (b. 1735, Wemyss, Fife)
& Janet Fife - m. 1763, Markinch, Fife
James Henderson (b.1774, Markinch, Fife,
& Janet Patrick - m. 1801, Markinch,
John Henderson (b.1814, Kennoway, Fife,
& Agnes Hunter - m. 1845, Leslie,
James Henderson (b.1850, Leslie,Fife,
& Jessie Nicoll - m. 1879 - Brechin,
John Henderson (b.1885, Newtyle, Angus,
Railway Station Master)
& Janet Kerr m. 1907 - Stirling
James Nicoll Kerr Henderson (b.1908, Dunblane,
& Agnes Telfer - m. 1934 - Falkirk
John Henderson (b.1939, Stirling,
& Olive Margaret Dale - m. 1963 -
Evan John (Stirling,1964)
Lindsay Margaret (Montrose,1970) Robert Kerr (Montrose,1968)