I am not a fan of Christmas !
Everybody comments with Bah Humbug etc but I have my reasons.
I try to avoid the whole thing by getting away but the past 2 years when the snow has fallen and I have been on the beach it just did not feel right !
I wanted to be back in Scotland playing in the snow !
The last post was a lucky gap in the weather and on getting back the Christmas forecast did not look good.
Mild air meant all the snow was melting and high winds meant being high on the hills was not going to be a nice option !
So low-level it was to be as I looked over maps and came up with a plan.
I stopped off in Aberfeldy on Christmas Eve to catch up with a few people, then drove to Dalwhinnie, parked up and slept in the truck as the weather was howling outside.
Christmas morning I brewed up in the truck with my new nifty kettle and set about packing BOB.
Hooked on the back of Leroi Bob carried the weight well, negotiating gates was a bit tricky but after a few miles I got used to having him along.
The wind was blowing into my face, making pedalling interesting even on the smallest of inclines.
I soon hit the track on the North side of Loch Ericht, a light drizzle in the air intensified thanks to the strong winds.
occasionally I would get a bit of shelter from the wind thanks to the trees on the shore.
As I looked along the Loch squals shot clouds of spray along the valley, waterfalls had water leaving them in an upwards direction instead of the way gravity intended.
I was glad I had decided against kayaking into Benalder Cottage !
I stopped for a break to take a layer off as the drizzle had died off, after all what was the rush !
Ben Alder Lodge is a lovely building and really marks the beginning of the climb and leaving civilisation, it also was the last of being sheltered from the high winds !
On the bare hillside I was getting buffeted so badly I ended up getting off and pushing,by the time I had pedaled downhill to Loch Pattack I was getting lashed with massive rain drops as well as 80mph gusts of wind.
There is a small track that cuts directly over the moor to the bothy but I opted for the main track round Loch Pattack, this turned out to be badly flooded and at the “Ford” there was an interesting decision to be made !
The ford was nowhere to be seen so the Indiana Jones style bridge it was, It took 3 journeys to get everything across with the walkway dipping under the water at the lowest point each time !
Between the ford and the track junction the track was non-existent, at some points Leroi, Bob and I swam through murky boggy ditches.
The wind and rain still raged in my face and all I could think about was the bothy a few Km’s away.
I walked and cycled the rest of the way, arriving at Culra Bothy just after one pm.
A sheet of the roof was flapping badly in the wind and as I checked out the various sleeping rooms I came across 4 Guys attempting to walk to Fort William, they too had opted for the shelter of the bothy due to being knackered thanks to carrying packs the size of small houses.
I unpacked in the bigger room and got a brew on.
I sat the SPOT unit on the window sill and sent a ping to say “I have camped here”, the rain still battering of the glass of the window !
Was I glad I wasnt in a tent !
Darkness came early as I ate and drank brews, I finished my book so resorted to playing cards on my Ipod before I slipped into my bag and drowned the noise of the roof banging in the wind with tunes from my I pod.
I drifted in and out of sleep, the sheet of roof banging in the wind and then at 2am all hell broke loose !