Covid dreams 19: The carefree days

‘Lithgae’ Jim Wright is caught mid-leap. A hill from the daft days. A hill started by walking away and sneaking round the back. A hill climbed by hiding from the views until the last.

If you want to climb Beinn a Chaorainn then follow the route from the Munros books. It’s sensible. Or follow the stravaiger’s way, the way that doesn’t make the sensible choices, the way that makes choices because they’re not sensible.

We went to climb a hill that day, but it wasn’t really about the top, nor yet the view. It was about the laughs and the craic, leaping the burn from bank to bank, scrambling up the ravine we could have avoided, staying for the rocky steps in the stream.

It was the Allt an Aghaidh Mhilis – burn of the sweet face – and we got the tip-off from Ronald Turnbull’s excellent wee Cicerone Guide to walks and scrambles in the Cairngorms.

Daft route up a hill really. Try it someday.


A series of Covid dreams. Just a photo or two from the archives and a few words: memories of the Cairngorms to stay in the heart while we’re kept away from the hills.

This entry was posted in Stravaiging, Topography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Covid dreams 19: The carefree days

  1. That was my ‘new hobby’ all last year – gill exploring. I got bored taking ‘normal’ routes up all the Lakes hills where I live so took to the gills. It was surprising how many appeared to have been frequented before – by people that is and not sheep! Made for some superb exploration and some lovely photos 🙂

  2. john vaughan says:

    Thanks again Neil for your excellent reminiscences. The ‘aghaidh’ you translate as ‘face’ is the same word as in the name Aviemore (An Aghaidh Mhòr) which some like to call the big cleft. Face or cleft, I think we can see the connection. What may be of interest to amateur linguists, perhaps, is how the sounds ‘Aggy Vore’ became the name Aviemore. My hypothesis is that non Gàidhlig speakers, possibly lowland Scots, went from sound to writing and back again many times until the whole thing was mangled. The other classic example that springs to mind is Gleann Èite which most of us know as Glen Etive – what people know as Buachaille Etive Mòr was obviously originally Buachaille Èite Mhòr. Regards – John Vaughan aka The Headingley Bugle.

  3. John D says:

    Many years ago, a failed rucksack meant I needed the quickest route from Beinn a’Chaorainn to Aviemore. I headed down to the river with concern because it was high but lucked out. Some squared off blocks let me across the river without breaking stride. At the Fords, the stepping stones were underwater but no one was interested in going down to the blocks. As they all got across without a ducking, fair enough.

    I have never heard anyone else mention these blocks. Did I dream them into existence? Have they washed away?

    By the way, I’m enjoying this series of tales.

    • Glad you’re enjoying the posts, John. I’m afraid I can’t call the blocks to mind, but it’s a stretch of the river I’m not often at, so they could easily be there. Sounds like a good excuse to go back and check, once we can.

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