If you’ve read some of our previous blogs, you’ll know that we try to include our son in the decision making of our weekend adventures whenever we can. So, feeling the need to strap on our boots and get a good walk and wildcamp under our belts, we asked him what he’d fancy doing. “I want to go up a mountain!” was his immediate reply. So after an initial yay from Keith and a slight intake of breath from me (I did my first munro of the year last week, and wasn’t sure I was mentally prepared for another quite so soon!) we asked him if he was sure. “Yes!” So, off we took to the maps to do a bit of research.
We decided on a circular route in Glen Ey, taking in Carn Bhac, a munro of 946m but nice and rounded with nothing too steep. We’d been to the area a few weeks before on a smaller walk to Colonels Bed after a morning sledging but what a difference a couple of weeks made! While it was still a bit chilly initially, the sun shone all day and we got a bit of colour on our cheeks.
We started out on the great big landrover track along past the Colonels Bed to the Auchelie ruins, before the turning up towards Carn nan Seileach (675m). The path made for good progress and once we started uphill, it was any excuse to stop and admire the view. Once we reached the first summit cairn, we found a sheltered bit for a quick bite to eat and a refill of some sweets to get us on our way again.
The path ended and the terrain got a bit more trickier for our son who then got into the back carrier. We were lucky that it’s been so warm lately, as it wasn’t too boggy so made for easier going for us as we contoured our way along to the bealach before heading straight up towards to final summit. A path soon appeared on this bit and our son got out again as we slowly trudged our way up.
Suddenly we were at the top and made our way along the flat plateau to the summit cairn, being careful to pick our way along the rockier terrain. Of course the camera came out, as this was our son’s third munro! And what a way to kick this year off for him, those views were great! Once again, he was right with his choice for the weekend, it was definitely a winner!
The route down to the camp spot we’d eyed on the map took us south off the mountain. Again, thankfully the terrain was so dry as we tracked across the crisp peat bog. A path soon appeared and we were making good progress, playing about as we went and finding a deer antler! Awesome!
We’d thought about getting to the ruins by Altanour Lodge for the night, but there were so many beautiful looking spots that we’d decided to set up early, only about 1km before the ruins. And oddly enough, there wasn’t any firescars that we could see! It’s strange to say that, but we’ve seen so many in other campspots and it was so great to see none! It really was a pristine beautiful place to spend the night.
We set up the tent, airbeds and let the duvet out before getting a bit of food in us, before playing tag and playing by the river. It struck my mind, as our son was running about exploring the area that this is what it’s all about. A great day on the mountains with nothing more to do but have fun with the people you’re with, freedom to explore and run about carefree.
Our son slept that night straight through before waking up at about 6am and excitedly asking about the deer antler. He couldn’t wait to show his friends. Knowing we still had about 9km to walk out back to the car, we packed up and were under way by 9am following a big breakfast. The path was good again once we were past the ruins and downhill too which made it very easy going. Our son was able to take his time a bit more and explore the surroundings.
Keith spotted a sea eagle flying above us, being chased by a few smaller birds and our son found a little duckling on the path that hadn’t made it. He wanted to bring it home with us and make it better, but we explained that there wasn’t anything we could do for it anymore. That’s another factor of being out in nature. Everything is real. We carried him a few steps past it and he wriggled to get down so he could run back and say goodbye to it. It was something that he needed to do, following on from something that raised more questions than answers, so we let him.
We were quickly back at Auchelie ruins where we stopped and had some lunch, knowing we’d be back at the car too soon. By this point, it’s fair to say we were all starting to ache a bit. Big tracks are great for making easy progress, but they really can make your feet ache! Our son was definitely looking forward to stopping off in Braemar for an ice cream! We all were!
It was a great experience and one we’re looking to build on. Our son is amazing with his willingness to explore and adventure. We’ve unpacked now and looked through our gear at what we didn’t use, but it turns out we used most of it so we’re happy with that! Our son is so eager to get to Ben Macdui this year after we told him that it’s meant to be haunted with tales of the grey man. Following on from this weekend, it’s definitely looking do-able on a long weekend trip and while he’s still happy to go, we’ll be right there with him taking him by the hand when he needs it, and letting him lead where he can.