Our day started with a close encounter with Morning Prayer on Radio Scotland but sadly, as we trudged along the landrover track towards the foot of Beinn Iutharn Mhor, it became increasingly clear that the rain gods had not been appeased by this.
A fairly uneventful journey, broken only by a diversion through Torphins due to a nasty accident on the A93, brought us to the start of the farm track at Baddoch shortly before 9am on Sunday morning. The clouds had been low all the way, shrouding the higher peaks as we made our way from Ballater through to Braemar and beyond.
From our start point we were initially held up by a contingent of army cadets who struggled to negotiate a kissing gate with full overnight bags. After that it was a quick march down the wide landrover track. About ten minutes after starting the rain kicked into action and a myriad of waterproofs were put on. It didn’t really stop raining for another two or so hours, during which time we had everything from light drizzle through to driving rain. It wasn’t particularly pleasant and our heads were kept down so we couldn’t enjoy the views that were opening out as we got further up the glen.
Following our stop for elevenses next to a grouse grit cache the rain eased but the terrain turned damp as we left the end of landrover track and picked our way through a series of bogs and meandering rivulets that were coming down from the wide slopes around us. Despite a few trips in the heather we arrived safely at the north shore of Loch nan Eun where lunch was taken.
From here the group split, three heading for Beinn Iutharn Beag, directly to the north, and the majority heading towards the Munro of Beinn Iutharn Mhor, not too much further along to the east.
We wound our way around the countours until the final pull up to the summit was marked by a clear path up through boulders and grass. All around us rags of cloud and mist were being blown through by a strong wind. Luckily this was to our backs as we headed up the final part of the climb. In front as I got higher the mist closed in and all I could do was keep on climbing until the eerie silhouette of the cairn appeared some distance in front of me. It was lost again as the mist thickened but keeping on that bearing I soon came to it. Large enough to have a shelter on its lee side we crouched down behind to catch our breath and admire the fine views of thick mist and cloud.
We now turned east-ward, encountering the full force of the wind as we made our way along the broad flat ridge leading down from the summit. In an effort to eascape the wind we ventured onto the north side of the mountain but found a near vertical drop down to the valley which no-one particularly fancied. Instead we carried on down the ridge, the wind gluing eyes shut and forcing any misbalance into an ungraceful stumble. A narrow path was found at the far end of the ridge and this was followed until the shelter of the valley floor was reached.
It was a huge relief to get out of the wind and even the sun was now shining through the moving clouds. Waterproofs at last were removed and the final part of the walk commenced.
We walked through the heather, glorious in its bright purple guise, along a fun track that wound its way besides the swift waters of the the Ey. In a copse of strangled pines we came across the ruins of Altanour Lodge where we paused again for our final mug of tea and a bite to eat. Two other pairs of walkers came off An Socach and headed out to Inverey in front of us.
Our walk out of Glen Ey to Inverey was largely uneventful. We had a further light shower of rain, but no detour was made to the Colonel’s Bed and we reached the coach around about 5pm. After collecting Superman we headed down the road to the Inver Hotel where friendly pints were enjoyed by all and delicious looking chips were enjoyed by one.