We set off from the Old Bridge of Tilt car park with enormous packs commensurate with the kit you need for a winter night out, the weight saved by having no tent more than replaced by the coal and fire logs we packed to ensure a cosy night. We chose the higher route to relieve the boredom of the traipse along the track, and had some fun practising navigation, especially as the estate had altered various tracks and fence lines since my map was printed. After what seemed a long time plodding through some residual snow fields on the track, we turned the final corner to see the splendid little bothy tucked in its wee valley. Home sweet home.
After a cuppa and some lunch, we dumped our excess gear and struck off for the summit of Beinn Dearg, at 1008m. The route follows a track, then a good stalkers path and finally in this instance a large snow field over what I presume is boulders to the summit. It was hard going, the snow just giving way enough to be toilsome, but Begsy is fit, so we got our heads down and made excellent time to the top.
What views greeted us. A 360 degree panorama of mountains, from Schiehallion, past Glencoe and Lochaber, Ben Alder, Creag Meagaidh, Drumochter to the Cairngorms and Beinn a'Ghlo. Spectacular in the late afternoon light. We stayed on the top 35 mins, thankful of the light wind, as it was only just above freezing.
We made light work of the descent, startling a lovely mountain hare down on the track, and getting a great shot of him running, albeit a little blurred :) Then it was a case of settling down for the night. We had carried 3kg of coal and a fire log in, but we needn't have bothered...the bothy was chockablock with coal, wood, candles, gas and even wine! I have not been a fan of ever-increasing publicity for bothies, but if this is the result, I am all for it. We made use of what was there, and I may even have made rather too much use of the splendid cabernet shiraz alongside our own 'bothy tea' ;)!
In the morning, we tidied up, filled two carriers with rubbish, bottle, gas canisters and used tea lights, and left the grate clean and ready for the next occupants. It always feels most satisfying to have a lovely cosy night, but leave the place better than you found it, and also well stocked with fuel.
The walk out wasn't too bad, given the terrain and endless track, and we saw some very large herds of deer to liven it up, testament to the successful management of the estate. We also had fun spotting the myriad animal and bird prints in the fresh dusting of snow.
Finally, we even resolved our only outstanding problem, as when we got into phone signal, it turned out Begsy's lost iPhone, driving license and credit card, (dropped on the walk-in), had been handed in by some kind folks who had managed to trace my number to let us know. Makes you feel good about us hill-types eh! :)
A great couple of days, see you next time Begsy lad!