Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Friday, 20 August 2010

Up the Cairngorms

Thursday 19th August Day 231

Tawny owls in the night but up at around 5.30am to a misty scene. Sunrise and distant hills brightened by the sun. Beautiful.

Cycled to the 6 miles from Insh marshes signpost, seeing 6 roe deer and 5 hares on the way. Spiders webs, millions of them, on the heather, on conifers and all looking beautiful in the dew and sunlight.

Left my panniers behind a shed and cycled up to the Ski Centre on Cairngorm. talked with the ranger and set off walking up the hills, ptarmigan on my mind. Cut things short, ptarmigan were still on my mind seven [!] hours later - were they? Had spent the day searching the plateau but no luck. 4 wheatear, a few meadow pipits and a juvenile snow bunting were the only birds.
Highlight of the day was the unfurling of a flag, with accompanying speeches and Gaelic verse and song. A lovely group of people who come up here on this date every year, celebrate the anniversary of John Roy Stuart.

Seamus grant sang, quoted a long poem faultlessly and gave a speech, ably translated into English by his wife, Alison.

David unfurled the flag and held it aloft by the summit cairn and Ann passed me a small [very small!] tot of the hard stuff expecting me to make a toast in Gaelic. I tried but it wasn't easy.

More exploration and searching for the elusive ptarmigan and a lovely meeting with a young girl from San Diego, California; Gazzy. Shared food stuff and appropriated a bottle of water before saying good luck and continuing the search.

Down to the Centre for an early evening ride to Boat of garten where i set up the tent and relaxed over a bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes with banana milk shake.

Early to sleep. Tried not to reflect on another dip.

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