This week we went to Aviemore for a short break away. Yesterday I booked us in for a walk with reindeer at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre in Glenmore, which was such a nice experience. I was surprised how many people were in our group for mid-November. I was expecting less than 10 but there must have been 25 or 30.
The reindeer are up in a field 20 minutes from the car park and get visited daily so are totally chilled around humans. The field is totally unsheltered from the weather – it was freezing up there with some strong winds. The Cairngorm mountains had a dusting of snow above us. I actually wore my facemask during as it kept my cheeks and nose nice and warm!
Once all in the field, the rangers made some noises and the reindeer came running over. Well, one reindeer, named Kipling, came running over whilst the others sauntered across the boggy ground. Kipling is apparently “very food motivated”; and modelled patiently for the ranger as he explained about the padded feet, fur, antlers and how they communicate mostly via a clicking noise in their back legs and not their mouths. Kipling was utterly adorable. Reindeer are a lot smaller than I expected and so cute looking. They have bug-eyes, and their lips look like they’re almost smiling. You can tell there’s not a lot going on between their ears, but they all have unique personalities and the ranger knew them all by name. We weren’t allowed to touch them (so tempting – they look so soft) but got given some food which we could hand feed them with. Reindeer have no upper teeth, and they don’t really eat the food; more like inhale in a ravenous frenzy. Its super tickly and cute. You get to stay with them as long as you want and then head down the hill back to the car park. Theres also a small paddock next to the centre with a few reindeer which get swapped around every few weeks. Really enjoyable and worth visiting if you’re in the area!
In the afternoon we went for a peaceful walk around Loch Morlich starting at the Glenmore Visitor Centre (Took us 1 hour 42 minutes). We followed the red markers for most of the way but did a little detour following white markers which took us really close to the waters edge. Really beautiful walk – flat and wide paths and mostly in the forest. When we were nearly back, we walked across a small beach which had a raft of ducks waiting to swarm any humans for the chance of food. Someone there had an entire loaf of bread which caused a hysteria of quacking. As we walked past I think they thought we had more and we got chased by the ducks up the beach!
Meall a Bhuachaille – 810m
Today we did the corbett Meall a Bhuachaille which despite the Walk Highlands website saying it would take 3.5 to 4.5 hours, took us only 3 hours. I think this is because it included a detour to a smaller hill called Creagan Gorm and added that to the overall time. The walk was absolutely brilliant and really easy to follow. It started at the Reindeer Centre and followed a wide and well gravelled path up with blue markers. The undulating path went through a forest and then descended into a valley to a small turquoise loch. After turning left the path went gently upwards to a bothy at 398m. The final part was a left turn at the bothy up the mountain – a 412m climb to get to 810m. This bit was steep and exposed to the elements. The wind picked up and the further we climbed the more it felt like we were in a hurricane. Luckily we were prepared with lots of layers of clothes (in fact I over heated several times) and the wind itself was actually quite warm given it was mid November. At the top I could barely move a foot forward as the wind was so powerful. I thought I was going to be swept off the mountain! Unfortunately we were in a cloud at the top, so no views of the surroundings, however the walk itself was invigorating and exhilarating. I’m sure if I was badly dressed, it was colder or that wind had a bite from the north I would be telling a different story!
The walk down the other side was similar, the wind died down as we descended back into glorious pine forest. Much further down the forest became dark and magic-like.
We took a small break to leave the path to go into the untouched forest – so quiet and still. The ground was so soft made of layers of bouncy bright green moss. My idyllic place. After taking in the calmness, soon we were back at the Glenmore Visitor Centre for well-earned cake. Highly recommended corbett – but make sure you are well dressed for the winds.