Sharing a local hill with friends – and books

Ascent of Meall a’ Bhuachaille (810m)

Translation from Gaelic = ‘hill of the herdsman’
Distance 8.5 km / 5 ¼ miles
Ascent 510 metres / 1666 feet

Meall a' Bhuachaille

I stayed on at my work place at Glenmore for an extra night this weekend, so I could meet up with ‘net acquaintances who were passing through the area. I had not met the fellow bookcrosser, Sujie before, but from our emails before her visit, I learned that she and her husband would be interested in joining me for a walk up a small hill during their stay. I choose to share the delights of Meall a’Bhuachaille with them, as this wee hill gives a lovely view of the Cairngorms mountains.

After the poor forecast of the previous day we were lucky to have a lovely warm, sunny afternoon.

Many of the guide books suggest starting this hill from Ryvoan bothy, but I prefer to walk up through the forest at Glenmore and return by way of the bothy and Ryvoan Pass.

We set off uphill directly behind the Forestry commission information centre through the native and non-native trees lining the edge of the small burn.

Meall a' Bhuachaille

The Forestry Commission is currently in the midst of a 50-year plan to recreate the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest in this area – working to restore 1000 hectares of this. They have felled many of the Sitka and Norway Spruce plantation and are allowing natural regeneration where this is possible, but will have to replant native species on the slopes above the north of Loch Morlich.

Meall a' Bhuachaille

Meall a' Bhuachaille

Once we left the plantations behind, we emerged onto the open moorland which was beginning to appear purple with the blooming heather.

Heather or Ling (Calluna vulgaris)

(Camera problems mean I am using some photos from June)
Meall a' Bhuachaille

My friends were delighted by the unfolding views back down to Loch Morlich and to the Cairngroms behind.

Meall a' Bhuachaille

Once we hit the ridge at the bealach we had lovely views north to Loch Garten in Abernethy Forest and further north to the Moray coast.

Meall a' Bhuachaille

I left a bookcrossing book at the summit cairn and as my friends indulge in the same hobby, for once I did not have to do this discretely. Nor did they wonder about my sanity doing this! In fact, Sujie was cross that she had not thought to bring a book too.

Bookcrossing on Meall a' Bhuachaille

Once we had enjoyed a wee snack on the summit we set off slowly to descend the steep west flank of the hill, enjoying the views down to the Ryvoan Pass.

Meall a' Bhuachaille

Meall a' Bhuachaille

We looked in the Ryvoan bothy, but didn’t stay as the place was heaving with a group of young backpackers on a training exercise for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. Most of these were carrying enormous, heavy packs but were cheerful, and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I almost felt sorry for them carrying such great weight, but then reminded myself that heck they’re young and can do it and I carried similar a weight too when I was that age!

We left the fit young things pitching their tents outside the bothy and we dashed off to try to evade the hoards of midges. The track is a pleasant stroll along the pass to An Lochan Uaine – the green lochan. As ever the water was as brilliant green and the loch looked magical and the haunt of the reputed ‘little people’.

The clumps of Bell heather on the edge of the Scots Pines and Lodgepole pine were brighter the the ling seem earlier on the open moorland.

Bell Heather (Erica cinerea)

We continued along the track past Glenmore Lodge – the Mountain Sports Centre. The original Lodge is now the Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel. During the Second World War the Lodge was used by Kompani Linge (Norwegian Commandos) as a training base for their raids into Norway. These raids were made famous by the movie The Heroes of Telemark filmed in 1965. Evidence of their activities still exist in the form of stone shelters on the plateau. There is a memorial to the Norwegian commandos near the hostel.

After our walk I joined my friends for an evening meal in the Youth hostel and can highly recommend the food, especially the home cooked sticky toffee pudding!

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