Happy Campers in the Cairngorms

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June 2015; It’s time for a wild camping adventure in the Scottish lands of Cairngorms National Park. Scotland is always a place I want to go to more but feel the pressure of using ever-precious holiday to venture further afield to exotic sounding locations.

Finally now a Scottish bound venture was on the cards; 3 days, 3 nights of wild walking and camping. Having looked at a few photos I knew the landscapes were going to be nothing short of stunning, varied and wild and I was not to be disappointed.

Off we headed in the Caledoninan sleeper train at 9:15pm, a few drinks to celebrate the trip ahead and some snacks to keep us going…

We were the only lone souls to get off at Aviemore. As we loaded our rucksacks off, a fellow passenger wished us luck, and on the train pushed.

And so off we plodded into the Cairngorms.

It really was quite an amazing feeling to be so free, surrounded by the craggy landscapes. An opportunity to escape the frantic pace and over saturation of our usual city existence, allowing time to think and just listen.

As expected I was gleefully unprepared for the mini-venture and while all went to plan, learnings were most definitely noted but firstly a few of the highlights:

  • Landscapes, landscapes, landscapes.
  • An amazing sense of freedom, walk and camp where you like.
  • Falling into a stream in the morning of day 2…wet and cold from the go, I didn’t know whether to laugh of cry, I laughed.
  • Discovering that freeze-dried food tastes amazing after a long day out in the cold.
  • Drinking pure cold water straight from the streams and waterfalls.
  • Deciding to take UHT milk for tea – it kept us warm.
  • The appreciation for a bed and hot shower that a few days out camping gives you.

A few learnings:

  • Believe what they say about the weather…snow in June in Scotland is completely possible!
  • Believe what they say about the weather…the weather is extremely changeable. Sunny one moment and a raging storm with horizontal rain and gales the next.
  • Believe what they say about the weather…it is colder than you think, especially at night.
  • So in light of all the above, I need to imagine the coldest possible outcome as I do not deal well with the cold and pack warner layers and invest in a good sleeping bag.
  • Take waterproof bag covers to keep everything dry.
  • Trainers are not ideal.
  • Always have a range of routes depending on the weather. You don’t want to be up high camping in the snow unless you’re prepared.
  • Depending on how long you’re going for – only take the absolute necessities. I am not sure bottles of beer and cider come under this. Remember you’ll need to carry all your rubbish around with you so minimising on the weight is key.