With 2016 in full swing and the excesses of Christmas and New Year a distant memory, it was time to dust down the hiking gear and blow away the cobwebs. Winter in Edinburgh has been depressing – it’s been wind, rain and grey skies all the way. We were desperate to swap cityscape for mountain – and if we were lucky, snowy mountain. Consulting the weekend weather forecast it looked like Strathyre would tick all the boxes.
A wintry hike – Beinn an t-Sidhein
I selected a suitable trail for a winter walk from the Walk Highlands website (my go to, source of inspiration for hiking in Scotland). We’d be tackling a modest wee mountain called Beinn an t-Sidhein. The hill looms majestically over the village of Strathyre in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.
We arrived in Strathyre and discovered freshly fallen snow – woo hoo. Setting off from the village car park, we climbed up through Narnia-esque woodland (no lampposts or talking fawns spotted though). After a while we emerged from the trees. No longer sheltered, it was clear that more snow (as in MUCH more snow) was approaching.
The hill was steep, and as the snow fell it became increasingly slippery. A nagging voice in my head told me I was going to slide down the hill and do myself an injury. Then I remembered I had a parcel in my rucksack that I’d collected from the post office earlier that morning. Inside, were a pair of Kahtoola Microspikes (grippers for walking in snow). Ripping open the parcel, I popped them over my boots. Et voila – I was as sure-footed as a mountain goat. I struggled to hide how smug I felt. I could see Mr G was impressed (and envious) by my well-timed new purchase. Pretending not to notice him slipping around like Bambi on ice required a gargantuan effort on my part.
When it snows, make snow angels
We continued uphill, gaining height quickly despite the snow. After a while we reached a stunning viewpoint. As we stood admiring the view, the snow closed in and the landscape below slowly disappeared. I love snow – the muffled sound, beautiful light and stillness that it brings delights me. The crunch of fresh snow underfoot is unbelievably satisfying too.
The Wee White Dug was in his element, as snow isn’t something he sees much of. He charged around the hillside like a lunatic, stopping frequently to roll around with his legs in the air.
We continued until hunger got the better of us. With rumbling stomachs we turned a short distance from the summit to follow our footprints back downhill.
Snow always brings out my inner child and transports me back to the snowy winters of my childhood. It was too tempting for me to resist. On the way down I stopped to make snow angels, as a bemused Mr G looked on. Apparently, his inner child wasn’t fixated by snow like mine. I was appalled to discover he’d never made a snow angel before – as in ever. I tried to coax him into joining me, but he was having none of it.
A husband who never learns
I must confess, I’m a terrible wife. It hadn’t escaped my attention that Mr G’s descent from the hill wasn’t proving to be quite as easy as mine (thanks to my fabby new purchase). I secretly enjoyed watching him slipping and sliding, as I struggled to hide my sniggers.
We play this game in our marriage where I suggest he buys himself useful things, like microspikes for example. Things that will make life easier, even safer for him. The game generally pans out with me benefitted greatly from my new purchase, while he insists he doesn’t need said item.
Past examples of this are when he didn’t need hiking boots for a holiday on the Isle of Mull. On our first day there he slipped in a muddy puddle full of tadpoles whilst wearing unsuitable footwear. You’ve no idea how delighted I was to witness that slip – it was comedy gold.
Come to think of it, there seems to be a footwear theme. Another example springs to mind from a holiday to Nice. I’d bought myself a cheap pair of beach shoes called Skippers as the beach in Nice consisted of lots of pebbles and no sand. Mr G said he didn’t need Skippers as he could walk fine on pebbles. Watching him hobble to his sun-bed with a pained look on his face, before flouncing off to the Skipper shop was a holiday highlight.
I’m guessing it won’t be long before he owns a shiny new pair of microspikes.
Hot soup and a roaring fire
It’d been a really enjoyable and scenic hike, and the perfect escape from dreich city weather. It’s definitely a hike I’d like to do again in summer for a whole new perspective.
We finished our wintry day out with lunch at the dog friendly Lade Inn at Kilmahog. Homemade soup, warm toasted baguettes and a roaring log fire were just what we needed after our snowy adventure. The Wee White Dug snoozed by the fire, as we tucked into lunch. The highlight of lunch were some delicious chocolates (made by the chef), which came with our coffees – to die for.
Later that evening, while relaxing with a glass or two of wine we decided that one snowy day trip simply wasn’t enough. Plans were hatched to track down more snow the following day.
I didn’t think we’d be able to top the beauty of our snowy hike up Beinn an t-Sidhein. I was wrong, but that’s another story which I’ll share soon.
Until next time ……….