Anyway, our host, Simon, soon arrived and due to a minor glitch with the shopping for food, we found we had far too much for the three of us. So Mick and Gayle, fresh from their afternoon drive from Staffordshire, were co-opted to assist. Extra red wine was found, and masterchef Simon, who did have something to celebrate, produced an impromptu banquet for the five of us.
Thanks Simon, and congratulations.
Today dawned to reveal a relatively benign landscape of snow, speckled with trees, vegetation and habitation - a ski resort under a steely grey sky.
The closest hill to Thornbank Cottage is Morrone, which stands at 859 metres, looming about 550 metres above the fleshpots of Braemar. It looked benign enough when the three of us set off up its northern flanks below gently descending snowflakes, but as we rose up the hillside the conditions became more wintry, albeit there was no need for any winter hardware to be deployed.
Morrone's summit is pretty distinctive, even in a white out. It took us an hour and forty minutes to reach it today, and once there those who hadn't already donned their winteryest layers did so in the shelter of the buildings that accompany the mast.
Our circular route then chose the vehicle track to guide us down in the teeth of a fierce wind. Soon the spindrift obliterated the slippery (I took a tumble) track and although this is Simon's 'easy' local hill, a bearing was needed to continue with any confidence in the white out. We negotiated a rough route in true winter conditions. Without a compass, even this seemingly benign little hill could have caught us out today! This evening our faces are still stinging from the blast of the spindrift. Once we had rediscovered the track lower down, the snowy walk back to Braemar was uneventful.
A late lunch fortified us for an interesting journey to 'The Middle of Nowhere' aka Eddie and Heather's excellent Guest House at The Bridge of Gaur, on the edge of Rannoch Forest.
We do apologise for not helping those folk stuck in a snowdrift on the Glenshee pass who we sailed past without stopping, but we didn't want to get stuck ourselves!
The snow flurries by Loch Rannoch have now turned to rain, so we are enjoying the evening with Eddie and Heather, somewhat below the snow line...
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