Monday, 5 July 2010

Cairngorms: Carn A'Mhaim from Lin of Dee

The southern approaches to the Cairngorms have a charm all of their own, the crunch of granite gravel under the mountain bike tyre, camping amid great stands of Scots pine. All in all a more leisurely and dignified experience than rushing towards the ski infrastructure from the Coire Cas car park to the north.

A fresh perspective on a familiar hill. Ben Macdui from Carn A'Mhaim.

Heading east was the only sensible option given the weekend's weather forecast and what a treat it was, a chance to spend time on some previously unseen country and to catch up with some old friends at the same time. A pleasant change from last weekend's solo trip, and my first visit to the Cairngorms since the last ski trip of the year in May - it seemed incredible in the cooler days of spring that such as vast quantity of snow would simply melt away, but melt it has in this particularly warm and dry summer. 

Campsite in Glen Derry, more reminiscent of North America than of Scotland 

There is something wonderfully subversive about drinking in the great outdoors, free from the roving eyes of CCTV cameras and the influence of authority figures. When you strip away the commercialism and regulation of city fleshpots – the queues, the curfews, the dress codes, the cover charges - all that remains is a raw, primal drinking experience. 

Or so we thought. Imagine our surprise when our camp was visited not once but twice by just such an authority figure, a representative of the National Trust for Scotland, owners of the Mar Lodge Estate. On his first round of the various campsites scattered round the glen he passed on his employer's objection to campfires. On his second visit, an hour or so later, he was armed - almost unbelievably - with a bright yellow bucket full of special ember-dousing water. It must have been special water for it to have been worth his effort to carry his full bucket several hundred metres from his Landrover, rather than using the water from the burn adjacent to our camp.


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3 Comments:

Blogger Martin Rye said...

Fire rings seem hardly to fit in with leave no trace. As for drinking in the hills I am all for it, along with packing out the empties which some folks seem to find too heavy after carrying them in the hills to carry out. Looked a good time with your mates despite the concerns of the trust worker.

6 July 2010 at 18:54  
Blogger Gavin Macfie said...

Fires are always a controversial topic. We used an existing fire spot. The stones were added by our party to ensure we didn't enlarge it, then dutifully re-scattered next morning. Seems a bit futile when someone else will probably come along next weekend and arrange the same stones round the same fire spot!

In honeypot destinations like that I think there is a case to be made for formalising the camping arrangements and providing permanent fire pits. Obviously that wouldn't fit with the NTS's 'no fires' policy.

6 July 2010 at 23:05  
Blogger Stephen said...

What's the National Trusts view on outdoor parties? :) I'm in the planning stages of a party for 30-40 people where there will be a fire and more significantly a 1000W PA.....these authority figures make me nervous.

I feel particularly on edge over this issue having just been lectured (on Facebook) by a hillwalking friend who considers such activities inappropriate in the countryside. I've seen hints of this kind of attitude from other metropolitan professionals who want to preserve the freedom/access of the highlands but only for their specific needs.

But getting back to your post...i'm fully supportive of your right to make a fie and have a good bevvy...looks like a fun time you had :)

10 July 2010 at 10:55  

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