Most of them live locally... "Not a day for a walk" they agreed, "we'll go straight home." Others had come from further afield - Guido from Scandinavia, Peter from London, for example, and had flights to catch, families to attend to, or both.
I caught sight of a patch of blue through the deluge. So after bidding farewell to old friends until next time, I took the short but very splashy journey to a hamlet north of Dinnet. The River Dee foamed furiously beside the A93, nearly breaking its banks, but as I'd surmised the storm eased and mutated into short wintry showers with vibrant rainbows.
It's a short 660 metre ascent to reach the summit of Morven. There are two paths. I took the wrong one. It struck up the hill by way of a pleasantly rising contour for a couple of hundred metres before heading off in the wrong direction. The subsequent 200 metre thrutch through steep deep heather reminded me of yesterday's walk. Except that today the mountain hares, resplendent in their winter finery, were rather more sedate than yesterday's flying variety.
It was still windy though, with wintry squalls whitening the hillside above 700 metres. But no crawling was required today.
Surprisingly, I wasn't alone on the hill. A group of eight or so was plodding up ahead of me, on the correct path. They were still on the summit when I arrived, but they didn't stay for long. They turned out to be a miscellany of folk in training for an attempt on Kilimanjaro next year. "Ideal training conditions!" shouted their leader, in between mouthfuls of hail.
After moving off the summit (pictured - but there will be a slide show that gives a different impression of this overridingly sunny day) a sheltered spot was found for lunch. Then I attempted to fill a memory card whilst being blown down the steep but direct path, past fluttering buzzards and other birds of prey, and back to the car.
8.5km, 660 metres ascent, 3 hours - a fine little excursion.
The short drive to Drumoak, punctuated by Radio 5 eulogies to Gary Speed, delivered me to Bill and Alison's welcoming hospitality and a lovely evening.
Much better than driving back to Manchester - that can wait until tomorrow.