Feb 08 24
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A cheeky Friday off allowed us to start our weekend a day earlier than usual. Although, strangely enough, I feel no more awake than usual this Monday morning considering the extra days rest. We drove up to Scotland on Thursday night, hoping to camp near the border on Friday night, so that we could reach Cairngorm early on Friday to go skiing.

Reaching Stirling at about half past midnight we realised that it was a little too late to book into a campsite. We also noted that it was raining pretty heavily and that we were rather tired. Therefore we took the decision to drive up an isolated country lane and sleep in the car. Now, we have a Renault Clio, which was packed full of stuff, including a tent, two pairs of skis, poles and boots, walking boots, clothes, running shoes … There wasn’t a lot of space and we made quite a good effort of removing stuff from the boot and from the back seats, putting the seats down, spreading out the thermarests and sleeping bags, almost without getting out of the car. To be honest I have never slept in a car, in this way before, but I was surprised how comfortable it was. Richard was less comfy, being a bit taller than me and wanting to stretch out, especially when he felt like he was going to get cramp in the morning! It was a bit odd though waking up in the middle of the night, opening your eyes and seeing the parcel shelf. Nevertheless, we made it through the very wet night and when we awoke, at 6:30, the stream next to the car was almost a river. Nevertheless, after spending the next 15 mins trying to rid the car of condensation we restarted our journey. It was soon interrupted by a ford, which was rather swollen. We both looked on at the torrent and also some strange white things in the water. I volunteered to go out and paddle, knowing that Richard would instantly oblige, which he did. Seeing him at 6.45 in the morning, paddling in a river with his trousers rolled up was quite a sight. We survived and carried on our journey.

It turned out to be very windy at Cairngorm and so the lifts weren’t working. Nevertheless we went for a walk and then hiked up the mountain with our skis and Richard taught me to snow plough and fall over.

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Saturday night was spent much more comfortably in the warmth of a lovely farmhouse set deep in the Glenlivet countryside. I was lucky enough, in 2002 to work for the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd and still keep in contact with the owners, Alan and Tilly, with whom we stayed this weekend. Their lifestyle is really quite amazing, and going back there is a wonderful reminder of happy summer holidays. Alan, is a top class fell runner and on Saturday morning he took Richard for a run, he was bemused to find Richard beating him on the uphill, but Alan’s flying legs caught him up on the downhill. This was ok for Alan, he had the day to recover, however as the ski lifts were closed again and the wind was really bad, Richard and I decided to go running for the day (or perhaps that was me who decided). We ran through the Chalamain Gap and into the Lharig Ghru, the former of which was exceedingly windy! Our run then took us down to Loch Morlich (partly because we’d forgotten to take the map out of the car) and back to the car. A lovely 4 hours after which I think Richard was truly worn out.

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On Sunday, we managed a spot of reindeer herding on the way to Cairngorm as the reindeer were near the road (where they shouldn’t be) … the memories :-) . The ski lifts were again closed, but the weather was much less windy, so we headed out higher on the mountain and found a nice bit of groomed snow, with no-one around. Richard taught me to turn right and then he taught me how to turn left, although then I forgot how to turn right… and so it continued! Richard enjoyed a few runs down the hill, with me wondering how many years it would take me to learn how to do a similar run… No pictures, we forgot to carry the camera. :-(

We headed back, via a few browsing reindeer, a snowy stream and hot chocolate at the Cairngorm funicular railway cafe, which is exceptionally good.

Richard requested a quiet weekend next weekend. I suggested a 3 hr run on the Long Mynd, he said yes.

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