It was our last day in the Cairngorms. The mountain weather report looked bleak: frequent showers and the chances of a cloud free Munro below 20%. We woke in our wild camping spot by Loch Morlich, had breakfast then went for a swim, following the 1.5km route suggested by some swimmers we met the evening before. We entered from the beach by the cafe. At over 300m, this is the highest beach in the UK. The water was refreshing but cooler than the previous evening.In the afternoon we walked locally, following a suggested trail that took us from the loch up Meall a’ Bhuachaille where we were promised one of the best views of the Cairngorms. But in keeping with the day’s weather, we were instead greeted with a deep mist, wind and rain. Somewhere near the summit, we passed a family of four, crouched on the wet, stony path having their picnic in the rain. Steadfast and red-cheeked children, possibly disappointed and confused by their parents choice of a family holiday.
On the descent towards Ryvoan Bothy, we practised pacing distances, partly for fun but also as part of Charlotte’s mountain leader training. Emerging out of the mist we found Ryvoan Bothy, a cosy, well-kept bothy with a fireplace and a troop of Sea Cadets having their lunch. We marched on, taking the Ryvoan Pass that led us past the tropical beaches of An Lochan Uaine. On a warmer day with time to spare, we would have hopped down to its shores. We would have hesitated to swim though, as Charlotte had read somewhere that the loch is full of leeches.
We followed the Allt na Feithe Duibhe further through the woodland with its rain-soaked pines, taking a narrow path that led us on a high pass down the ravine to Glenmore Lodge. This was our last walk in the Cairngorms for now. I took some deep breaths, absorbed all the rich greens and shades of purple heather and thought how I’d love to come back here one day.