Monday, 20 July 2015

Drumochter - Wummer

Has anyone seen summer? It seems to have vanished this year and been replaced by a new season. The new season has some aspects of summer - the nights are light, the landscape is green - but also some aspects of winter like storm force winds, cold and an absence of sunshine. I call it "wummer".

It was certainly wummer at the weekend in the Drumochter hills. The forecast had said the winds would ease in the afternoon. They didn't.  I climbed Geal Charn in blasts that I could barely stand up in and that blew me off route several times. The windchill was pretty severe and I was wrapped up in a wool layer, two fleeces, hat, gloves and my waterproof. In July! I didn't linger over the beautiful view down a shimmering Loch Ericht but dropped down off the top to pitch the tent. Much like me, it was at its limit for staying upright.

The forecast had said Sunday would be dry and bright. It wasn't.  Thick drizzle shrouded A'Mharconaich. Mountain hares were shadowy figures in the gloom and the mist coalesced into water droplets on my eyelashes. It wasn't unpleasant. But it wasn't summer. I guess we'll just have to keep searching for summer.

Meantime, it's worth bearing in mind that wummer has a couple of advantages over summer - there are less midges in the cold and the wind, and the hills are a wee bit quieter. Not a lot of folk like being out in the wummer weather.

Fact File
Start/finish: Dalwhinnie. Glasgow/Edinburgh to Inverness trains stop here and the Inverness Citylink bus.
Map: OS Landranger  42
Route: I cycled south from Dalwhinnie on the cycle route which starts close to the Dalwhinnie junction on the A9. Follow it to Balsporran Cottages,  take the track down to the railway line and cross the level crossing.  I chained up the Brompton here. Continue along the track. Ignore the first track to the right but take the second. Follow it up the northeast ridge of Geal Charn. It eventually becomes a more enjoyable path. From Geal Charn follow the path that continues south to the bealach between it and A'Mharconaich and join a track. Where it drops to the bealach a path leaves to the left. It's boggy at first but quickly improves. It gently climbs onto the ridge of A'Mharconaich and junctions with another path at a small cairn. Turn left and enjoy a level stroll to the top. I returned to the bealach and  followed the track back down to Balsporran Cottages.

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