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Ben Gulabin - 23rd May 2009

There were five volunteers for the journey run on Saturday. Jim and I misjudged the time it would take us to drive up and arrived half an hour early. As we pulled into the car park at Spittal of Glenshee we realised that John and Shane were right behind us. We all decided to go for coffee in the hotel while we waited for Andy; it was a very civilised start to the day.
We started our run over the old stone bridge then straight up the side of Ben Gulabin. It was a very steep and heathery climb and I was reminded of Pilgrim describing his progress up Hill Difficulty as “somewhat ascending”. As we climbed higher, the views slowly disappeared behind wraiths of mist. Eventually we reached the first cairn at the subsidiary top of the hill. The heather had all been burnt away and someone had laid stones on the ground to spell out a message. It was difficult to read but part of it looked like HELP! We couldn't see anyone in distress and we couldn't see any sign of danger. In fact, we couldn't see anything at all as the mist had become very thick.
We continued along the level top of the hill. The only way we could tell that we had reached the summit was when we started to drop down the far side. We set a new bearing to come off the hill. I knew that there was a track most of the way down but we couldn't find it. It wasn't till we got out of the mist at the bottom of the hill that we could see that we had been running a few hundred yards parallel with the track. We were heading for a ruined wooden hut which had been an old ski building. We could just see the remains of an old ski tow part way up the hillside on Creagan Bheithe. I wondered, “Is this the future of the Scottish ski industry?”
The map shows a track going part way along the western foot of Creagan Bheithe. The track has been considerably extended for two or three miles – up the side of the hill and around onto Carn Mor. It made for an easy ascent and helped us greatly with way finding in the mist. I knew there was a hut beside the track on Carn Mor so asked the others to look out for it. Further on Shane and Andy stopped for the rest of us to catch up. I suddenly realised that we were passing the vague outline of the hut just off to the side of the track. We had nearly missed it! The hut was locked but we could see through an uncovered window that there were table, chairs and heaters inside. The hut gave us shelter from the wind so we stopped for lunch. Shane treated us to some of his excellent home make flapjacks. It was cold and raining a bit so we didn't stop for long.
We continued on the track, which swung round to the west then southwards towards Creag Lamhaich. Beyond the track we had to navigate carefully across the trackless heather until we came to the valley that would lead us down into Gleann Taitneach. We soon got below the mist and had a good run down the hillside to the track along the bottom of the glen. From there it was an easy run for a couple of miles back to the finish. The journey took a good half hour less than I had expected. I think this was partly due to the fact that we didn't hang about in the cold weather and partly due to the boost of our pre-run coffee. When we got back to the hotel we could see Richard's car in the car park. He was away having his own adventures on Carn Ait. We retired to the hotel for a well-earned drink to round off the day.

My reputation for attracting bad weather is still in good stead. Had we gone the following day this is what we would have looked like.

Nigel Rose.

 

 

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