Staff Bivvy Night at Feith Buidhe
We’re pretty fortunate to live somewhere so beautiful and special as the Cairngorms National Park. And working at Glenmore Lodge means the hills are right on our doorstep. With the weather forecast showing a whole week of sunshine and warm weather, it was the perfect opportunity to really make the most of that easy access to the mountains for a mid-week adventure.
A message to the office team Whatsapp group was followed by a few brief plan-forming chats. Then at just after five on Tuesday and we were getting ready to head up to the Cairngorm Mountain carpark. We set off for Coire an t-Sneachda where most of us took the goat track up onto the hill. A couple of folks had Pygmy Ridge in their sights as part of their training for an upcoming trip to the Alps, so we parted ways and would be reunited later in the evening.
As we wandered across the plateau, we had a fortunate encounter with our work neighbours, the Cairngorm reindeer herd! They were unbothered by our approach as they were grazing, and we couldn’t help but stop for a few photos.
Knowing fine well how wild and hostile the Cairngorms can be at any time of year, we enjoyed our peaceful surroundings with particular appreciation for the clear blue skies and warm sun on our faces. Despite the summer conditions, snow patches remained (and some should continue to do so for a good while yet) as a reminder of the previous season; some with scattered snowholes likely from Glenmore Lodge courses and others who were out enjoying winter earlier in the year.
Less than 2 hours since leaving the office, we had arrived at Feith Buidhe, a stream that lies near Ben MacDui and runs into Loch A’an. Looking out, we could see climbers approaching the top of the 9 pitch route The Needle on the Shelter Stone crag.
With the sound of the fresh water running beside us and gas camping stoves cooking our dinners, we settled down to enjoy the stunning evening and take the moment in. We were in agreement that it felt like nothing less than a privilege to have access to somewhere so special, and it was especially great to be out enjoying it on a weekday evening in such fantastic weather! After some food we got to setting up our various accommodations for the night, which of course included inevitable comparisons of kit, with no small amount of envy in some instances (who hasn’t considered trying to ‘accidentally’ pack their friend or colleague’s kit into their own bag the next morning?). The time of year and a slight breeze also meant it was a relatively bug-free evening, and during the Highland summer a respite from midges is never taken for granted!
The sun continued its descent, and the climbers we’d seen top out had made their way in our direction. There was a brief catch up when we realised that they were familiar faces who had worked at the Lodge in recent years. They continued their walk out and we enjoyed some card games and banter over a few drinks, before our friends who had completed their own route in Coire an t-Sneachda joined us.
With the sun no longer shining on our campsite but still casting a beautiful pink glow on the distinctive granite tors of Beinn Mheadhoin, it was beginning to get cooler. We all bedded down in our cosy sleeping bags, though somewhat reluctant to fall asleep as the sky gradually changed and the stars began to come out. There had been plenty of warmth in the sun through the day, but at the end of May we still needed warm layers to keep away the chill. Usually on a weekday night it’d be frustrating to be awake through the wee hours, but it was hard to be too grumpy about it when we were somewhere so beautiful. The reindeer herd even made a silent reappearance at half four, quietly making their way over Feith Bhuidhe in the gentle pre-dawn light and past some of our sleeping colleagues.
Some of our group had to be back by 8 to oversee another day of goings-on at Glenmore Lodge. They were up and on their way relatively early. The rest of us took a moment longer for sleep or to enjoy the clear blue sky and views before heading off. We packed our kit, had a quick warm drink and a bite to eat. Then after making sure we had left nothing behind us, we headed to the goat track for our descent and enjoyed fantastic views of the inversion. Eventually we made it back to the Lodge for some breakfast and a shower in time for work (or maybe just a wee bit late…)
As ways of starting your workday go, waking up on the Cairngorm plateau felt like a pretty special one. We know how wild and changeable the conditions can be here. So we’re always determined to make the most of it when we have a rare spell of sunny weather! And after such a successful outing we’ll be keeping an eye on the forecast to try and squeeze in some more opportunistic mid-week adventures between work days at Glenmore Lodge.