At the start of December I was co-tutoring a UKCC L2 course for aspirant orienteering coaches. Paul signed up for a first aid course at the Slochd so we decided to take another break at The Old Stable near to Boat of Garten.
The days leading up to Friday 3rd December were spent watching the weather and looking at the roadside webcams. I was interviewing in Glasgow on the Friday and elected to travel there by train. After a very cold 20 minutes spent on the platform at Gourock (because the train which links with the ferry was cancelled) the train arrived and the journey to Glasgow was uneventful. The interviews were taking place at sportscotland and a bit of déjà vu here as it was the same room as the one I had been interviewed in the previous week!
I was able to have a lift from Glasgow to Boat of Garten after the interviews. This meant that Paul could travel in daylight, leaving after a few calls from me “I’ve forgotten . . .” My journey in the dark was quite interesting. The road between Dunblane and Perth varied between dual carriageway and single carriageway (where one of the carriageways had not been cleared). Donald delivered me to the end of the drive and I walked the 200m up to The Old Stable. Excellent timing, Paul had just unloaded the Caddy having spent about an hour and a half shovelling snow to make the parking place and path to the door.
The Old Stable was cosy and warm, once we had remembered to turn up the thermostat on the wall! It was a relief to be there. Paul took me to Aviemore on Saturday morning where Hilary collected me. Christine was with her, having travelled up by coach the previous evening. We went out to Glenmore Lodge, transferred the material to the classroom and waited to hear from the other participants. Two were stuck at Dunfermline as the coach had broken down and the replacement coach also broke down. Another was waiting at Perth for the coach coming through from Dunfermline. Eventually we said “Enough is enough” and took Christine back to Aviemore and a coach south. Hilary reunited me with the Caddy at the Slochd and I returned to The Old Stable to shovel more snow! My efforts were a little wasted when Paul returned and asked why I had shovelled the snow onto the path. What had actually happened was the snow had slipped off the roof onto the path!
Paul was still doing the first aid course on the Sunday so I cleared the path before he left and then had a relaxing morning until deciding that I should try out my skis in Loch Vaa. Would I remember how to wax? Thermometer into the snow outside and at -4C decided on a blue wax. Good exercise for the arms ‘corking’ it in.
The sun was out, the snow was white and squeaking. It was just wonderful. I skied from The Old Stable down to the road, along beside the road on the cycle path and then into Loch Vaa. People had walked along some of the paths and tracks but there were also ski tracks. I managed an 8km circuit, some on tracks, some on paths and some through the wood as the snow cover was really good. One or two icy places on the tracks which meant that the wax had to be replaced to get a good kick. Paul received a photo and a text message “You will have to learn to ski!”
The rest of the week did see us cross-country skiing. We hired skis (non-waxing) from the shop at Glenmore for a couple of days and then tried another type (much skinnier and so lively!) for the Wednesday and Thursday. The shop at Glenmore has bought a loipe making machine and they had cut about 30km of tracks in the Loch Morlich and Badaguish areas. It was just great, really cold snow, cut tracks and blue skies. On the Wednesday we persuaded Hilary Quick to join us (just so she could laugh as we both crashed on a corner at the bottom of a hill!). We went ‘off loipe’ for a bit on the Thursday and this was ‘interesting’. Friday was damp and much milder so we just went for a walk. As we left on Saturday we noticed that the fields on either side of the drive up to The Old Stable were green again.
A great week, wonderful to be in the right place to take advantage of some of the best December conditions for many years. Now Paul is really keen to progress his skiing. Better buy some kit.
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