Fun and learning in Scotland’s great outdoors
I achieved a host of fabulous things on Saturday.
* I walked in the Scottish hills in glorious sunshine (while my home was apparently drenched in rain.)
* I bagged the Munro, Carn a Gheoidh (near Glenshee Ski Base) for the second time but on this occasion I could see the top (no whiteout this time!) and I hadn’t been guided there by the G-Force!
* I learned how to navigate myself across a hill, to the top of the Munro and back down again. Huge thanks to the women-only beginner’s navigation course run by walking/outdoors company Glentrek.
* I found out just how brilliant it is to spend a day out on the hills in a women-only group. The group of us five women laughed, discussed, enjoyed, collaborated, deferred judgement, learned about navigation (and learned abut each other’s lives) and managed to get from the base of the mountain to the summit and down again without tears, frustration or anger.
* I tested a new rucksack and found that it does everything it claims, including being amazingly lightweight, waterproof and comfortable. Find out more about the GoLite Pinnacle Rucksack in my a forthcoming kit review blog. Check out Loving Outdoors for GoLite products.
* I tested a Berghaus GoreTex Paclite walking jacket in a lovely female fit and in a stunning colour. See picture left. Find out more about the jacket in my forthcoming kit review blog and on SimplyHike.co.uk
* I learned how to navigate from A to B on a very dark hillside at night-time. Thanks again to the very patient mountain guide and instructor Mike of Glentrek.
* I realised that the coach party at the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel were not going to take mobile phone search cheating very well. While dining at the hotel, the G-Force and I suddenly found ourselves cajoled into joining in a quiz organised for the rest of the customers, who had travelled from somewhere in the north-east of England on a coach. The questions were festivity linked and very random. So we searched for a few answers on Google via my mobile phone. Well, who wouldn’t?! Clearly this was not the done thing and we were quickly outed by some hawk-eyed ladies on the neighbouring table! Hee, hee! We decided not to join the next hotel arranged activity, bingo, and made a fast exit so we could continue our evening back at the bunkhouse.
* I discovered a superb four-star bunkhouse that is beautifully presented, clean, fantastically welcoming and ideally located for Munro bagging and skiing at Glenshee. Gulabin Lodge has just achieved four-stars and is one of the best overnight finds I’ve come across. The lodge, which has been undergoing a full refurbishment since being bought in 2004, offers everything you could want in a budget-friendly accommodation. There are nine nicely present bedrooms. (Our room was a family room and included bunkbeds, a single bed and then a double bed on a mezzanine level accessed by a fun ladder.) The kitchen is new and very clean, the toilets and showers were spotless and the two lounges were really cosy and welcoming. In one room a fire had been laid. There is also a new dining room and masses of outdoors space. A night starts from only around £18, which is excellent value for money. Groups can hire the whole lodge or you can stay as a couple, a family a smaller group. The lodge owners also offer ski/board hire and other outdoor activities through Cairnwell Mountain Sports.
* I made many new hill walking and outdoorsy friends in the Glenshee area.
* I came home on the Sunday to find the weather hadn’t been that good – and we’d been very fortunate to enjoy two glorious sunshiney winter days. Fab!