There were two things planned for today. First was a brief photoshoot for The Courier with some of the Brothers, followed by a training hike up Ben Vrackie. The photoshoot went off OK, although we could only muster three Brothers on the day; Garry, Ian and Steve. Not surprising given that over half of us don’t live in Scotland any more.
That didn’t stop the intrepid three from attempting to climb Ben Vrackie. Did they make it? When they set off it was a crisp morning, with beautiful clear skies, and they were following a well-trodden route up the mountain, albeit with a covering of snow.
Those of you who have spent any time hiking in the Highlands will know what that can mean. Those of you who haven’t, well, read on. To quote the Bard of Ayrshire; “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.”
15th February 2022
The original intention today was to meet the Courier photographer, then climb Ben Vrackie. I picked up Steve then headed to get Garry. Our fourth musketeer, Grant, was a late call off.
We arrived in Pitlochry by 10 am. The photographer was waiting for us and after we did our wardrobe and make up the photoshoot was done.
It was a beautiful day, and the Ben, while dusted with snow, was bathed in sunshine. But clouds were gathering.
We bade our happy snapper farewell and started the climb, first through mixed woodland then open moorland.
The ground had a covering of snow which thickened as we gained height.
We reached a junction with the path to Killicrankie bealach where we decided that it was too icy to risk an ascent to the summit.
It was agreed we would continue as far as the lochan, then walk up side of it in the shadow of the mountain before returning to the car park.
The snow fell as we continued to gain height and the top of Vrackie was obscured by low cloud and falling snow.
As agreed, we reached the far bank of the lochan and then followed a path running beside it.
At the end of the water the path turned left and steeply uphill in quite thick snow. Visibility was still fairly poor.
When we reached the shoulder of the hill, conditions suddenly changed. The snow stopped, the cloud lifted and suddenly we had vista across the valley north.
We could see Beinn a’ Ghlò, Schiehallion, the Ben Lawers range and the hills beyond.
It is views such as these which make days on our hills so special.
In the improving weather it seemed silly to go back so quickly and we decided to continue on to Killiecrankie.
It was a path walk through snow, and often quite boggy, but walking was fairly easy, if slippy at times.
It was approaching lunch time as we approached Killiecrankie. We had been tempted to stop on a bench looking north to the snow covered hills, but even as we discussed it the hills became obscured by clouds.
As we sat down to lunch in the shelter provided by the Visitors’ Centre, heavy hail began falling.
Pitlochry & Moulin
We were now off the moors and the next section of our walk took us along the banks of the Garry, then Faskally Loch. The walking was boggy and now dressed in full waterproofs it was quite hot.
It was nearly four and a half miles into Pitlochry with intermittent showers of hail, rain and snow. Never too heavy, but requiring us to stay covered up.
Just short of the Green Hotel the sky lightened and we stowed the waterproofs.
Once in town there only remained a walk up to Moulin where the car was parked; about a mile.
Our reward was a visit to The Moulin Inn where we each enjoyed a freshly brewed pint.
It was a great end to what had been a pretty good day out and another 11 miles under our belts.
It was four o’clock as we left the car park with the snow again falling.