It was like driving into a large, empty car park – I never know which space to pick. This was no expanse of tarmac though, but an amazing example of a glaciated valley. Views to take the breath away and a huge, flat valley bottom. I felt miniscule and could not decide where to pitch the tent.
We’d arrived in Braemar a few days before and Geoff had already taken Islay up to the Corrour Bothy to camp out for a night. My original plan for Pebbles and I had been to spend a night at Geldie Lodge but, ever the indecisive, I was wondering if there might be a better spot to head for.
An exchange of messages with James and he came up with Glen Ey as a suggestion. He’d not actually been there, but had heard of it by reputation and had long fancied a wild camp in the area himself.
So, Glen Ey it was.
Geoff had dropped us off at Inverey in the morning and we’d set off up the land rover track. It certainly wasn’t a difficult route in – track all the way – and it wasn’t far. Just 5 miles to the ruins of Altanour Lodge, right at the head of the Glen.
The first half of the route shadowing the Ey Burn is as pretty a valley as you’d find anywhere and, yet again, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Heat and sun.
A couple of miles in, an atmoshperic ruin is passed. I’m a real sucker for ruins, imagining the people that once lived there and the life they might have lived.
We had a break by the river, just before a bridge. Pebbles had a paddle to help cool her down. She likes to dunk her head under the water and look for stones. I’ve not yet given her the opportunity to swim anywhere – Boxers are not generally known for being good swimmers – but she likes water and you never know, she may turn into a bit of a water baby.
Setting off again, we crossed the bridge and followed the valley round to the right. The Glen pretty much does a 90 degree turn here and this is where the scenery changes dramatically. You don’t notice at first, a few drumlins in the way break up the view, but as you pass them it suddenly hits you. And this is where I first felt tiny and inconsequential.
We followed the track snaking off into the distance. The far end of the Glen looked miles away but was in fact not much more than a mile.
Another bridge was then crossed and a short climb took us maybe another half a mile to the ruins of Altanour Lodge. I had thought that this would be the place to pitch up for the night, but the modern wire fence around the old buildings did rather spoil the atmosphere. And anyway, the jaw-dropping views were back in the valley. We backtracked a way and I eventually settled on a spot for the tent.
We spent the afternoon chilling in the sunshine. This was certainly slackpacking at its best!
Just before dinner time, a guy appeared from the direction of the ruins. He’d been out a few days and was now hurrying back home before the weather turned. Sure enough, a half hour later, the rain started. It went on for a couple of hours and I began to think that – despite the forecast I had seen – it was set in for the rest of our little trip. It didn’t last though and the next morning saw cloud hanging below the tops, which the sun burnt off within a couple of hours.
Packing up was done very leisurely as was wandering back, savouring the scenery once more on the way out. This night had definitely been a highlight of our trip.