After a leisurely start on a sunny morning I made my way past red deer and red squirrels to Dalwhinnie to dispose of package number five and test the new café that has emerged from the shell of the old hotel. Passable, but the bunkhouse café on the road to the station is much better.
Today's hill was another easy one, conveniently accessed from the aqueduct reached from Cuaich - a short way from Dalwhinnie on the Newtonmore road.
After an easy stroll with the breeze behind me to the small power station at the end of a big green pipeline, I skipped across Allt Cuaich and up the gentle slopes to the north east, reaching the 658 metre summit at the same time as a wintry squall.
Lapwings, golden plovers and wheatears had monitored my progress whilst grouse with bright red combs strolled boldly in front of me and piebald hares scooted off into the distance. I've heard no evidence of cuckoos though others have spotted them.
As on my last two outings, I saw no other walkers today - just a couple of estate workers.
After lounging on the summit in a snow storm I continued ENE along the broad ridge above Coire Riabhach, gently descending 100 metres before dropping sharply down another 200 metres to the track beside Loch Cuaich, avoiding some rather nasty looking boulder fields.
From there it was an easy 6km walk (despite a squally headwind) along the track back to the car, the whole walk being a shade over 12km and taking a little under three hours.
Coffee in Ralia café whilst I composed this entry and watched the snow fall outside preceded a visit to Newtonmore Hostel and the pleasure of an evening with Ali and Adrian and Ellen.
Top picture: Creag Ruadh summit
Lower picture: Schiehallion from Loch Rannoch