Thanks to the vagaries of the Caledonian sleeper timetable, I had a spare Saturday in Scotland.
My lovely mate picked me up from the station (at twenty to eight in the morning), bought me breakfast, and drove us up to Whitewell. From there we walked via Lochan Deo, the Cairngorm Club footbridge and Piccadilly and up to the Lairig Ghru. A right turn joined the route I had taken in May, heading up Sron na Lairig towards Braeriach. We met the cloud before reaching the first top, and by the summit of Braeriach we could barely see ten yards ahead. Some careful navigating took us the shortest way to the falls of Dee (rather than following the coire edges) and up Carn na Criche, a flat 1,265m top with a helpful cairn.
From there we followed the edge round, and up the Angel's Peak - a new hill for me (if only I could have seen the view...) - and down the other side, before we dumped our bags and scrambled up Cairn Toul in strong wind and driving rain (and fog). Having made a late start (we'd been tempted by tea at a friend's house en route to Whitewell), it was now 7pm, still raining hard and with the wind-chill taking the temperature below freezing, we needed to firm up our plans for getting off the plateau.
The headwind and late hour had us deciding on a descent into Glen Einich, via the Coire Dhondail path. At the end of that path, where it meets the landrover track on the valley floor, we found a smashing patch of grass, pitched the tent, cooked, and zonked straight out. We were up at 5.30 the next morning to walk the 9km back to Whitewell, in time to take part in the Bikeathon. The weather was glorious, and we cursed and praised its fickleness in equal measure.
We made the walk out in two-hours, completing the whole 36km hike (+1,350m ascent) in 22 hours. I am happy to say my seventy-quid Craghopper coat kept me completely dry, despite spending the entire first day in constant rain. We reached the Bikeathon start in time, and completed the 26 mile ride - which felt like the easy bit - in a couple of hours (not including lunch...) A massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me. I raised £600+ for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, and the event as a whole raised over £35,000.
If you'd still like to contribute to my sponsorship fund, you can do so here: justgiving.com/leighforbes