Just back from a couple of days away for my birthday. We camped at the Rothiemurchus camp site which is great for car-camping, get a pitch in amongst the pines by the stream. The site itself is halfway between Aviemore and Glenmore with great access to the Lairig Ghru and Loch an Eilein.

Essential birthday beverage

We arrived Thursday afternoon, stopping briefly at Loch Insh to see if we could see the Osprey nested there. No joy, 1 nest, no bird. Onwards to get pitched up and then up to Glenmore Lodge for a pint, but it didn’t open until five, so we headed up to the Ski Centre car park to kill some time. It was wild up there. Back at Glenmore Lodge we checked the forecast to see 100mph winds on the summits for the following day, we’d be staying low then…

Dinner sorted and darkness falling we went for a short walk through the forest. We turned back once the cloud started to clear, the wind had dropped too so we grabbed the telescope and set up in a clearing, however we found ourselves staring up with the naked eye, overwhelmed by the number of stars compared to what we’re used to at home. The telescope got packed away again unused.

The following morning the wind was as expected, so we headed up to the RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten, it was the first day of the season and the female had been back at the nest for about a week. The centre is a superb facility and is set up with high quality binoculars and spotting scopes so you can get a good view of the bird. Sadly my 200mm lens was not long enough to do it justice. The RSPB monitor the nest 24 hours a day to protect the birds from persecution by arseholes. The reason the nest looks so industrial now is due to the essential patch job after someone took a chainsaw to the tree years ago.

In the afternoon we went for a short walk through Abernethy Forest, the estate is owned by the RSPB, in part to ensure the Ospreys at Loch Garten, and Capercaillie have a protected habitat.

I’d been through the forest before in late March 2009, at that time I saw two Osprey circling high above and learned this might be a mating ritual from the staff at the Osprey Centre. We were short of time so only continued to the end of the forest, for the view out toward Ryvoan. Whilst filling my Better Bottle, I met a worker, sub-contracted by the RSPB, clearing heather in order to aid forest regeneration. It reminded me of planting work I carried out in my late teens around Gairloch and Ullapool, part of a wider project to return our hills to natural forest rather than the bare hillsides so prevalent in Scotland.

Back in Aviemore we stopped at the pub for a pint, I checked my phone for messages had one confirming a job offer. I’d been expecting positive news, but it’s always good to get confirmation. I’ll be glad to see the back of my current job, one which was brilliant initially, but for a variety of reasons to tedious to go into, is now horrible. I’ll miss the team at Sun Oracle, but I’m looking forward to moving on. We resisted the temptation to book into a hotel in celebration and headed back for a modest celebration of Golden Rice, Stagg Chilli and a beer.

As much as car camping can be convenient, I find the clutter and jam packed car all a bit too much. Too much food, too much packing and too long to pitch and strike. Next time Margaret and I go camping, I’m hoping to lure her up a quiet glen. No car, no shower block, no cool box.

A couple of archive shots from my 2009 trip to Abernethy:

New Growth

Abernethy Relic