October holidays are always a risk. The weather can be anything from below freezing in the morning to late teens by the afternoon. For years we have camped, hill-walked and motor-biked at this time of year, often with amazing results.
This year the weather on our first week was certainly a challenge. I had always had a hankering to go to Northumberland to visit Hadrian’s Wall. As the weather was cold and windy we settled for taking the car, this gave us the chance to take a few more luxuries when we camp. Mats to put on the ground at the front of the tent have proven to be invaluable as our tent is small and low you have to crawl to get in, not trailing mud everywhere is a simple joy.
Arriving at the campsite I had booked it was soon apparent that we were in for a long night. The wind was screaming over the high exposed moor. We were given a pitch on one of the highest point of the site (the view was great) placed behind some planting, but even then the tent was taking a great battering. Having faith in my tent (it was designed for the Scottish Mountains) I knew that it would stand. Having camped in high winds I knew that there would not be much sleep due to the noise.
A tent shouldn’t be able to bang, but it did on several occasions as the fabric snapped tight. At first light I stumbled out the tent to find a bank of rain moving towards us. Kicking my husband out his sleeping bag we struck camp in jig time. It is unheard of that I didn’t make tea but using a meths burner where we were was not worth the hassle. We made a bolt for it. My only memory of visiting Hadrian’s Wall was a few blocks of stone as we drove home.
I will return though.
Our next camping trip was more of what I wanted. The weather gods (all of them) were on form. How perfect…a walk in the Cairngorms. Not looking for a high level walk we walked into where there used to be a bothy as the foot of a ridge on the edge of a lochan. This is a fairly short walk but not to be underestimated as there are boulder fields to cross. These are great fun but tricky and if the weather is against you incredibly easy to lose your direction and injure yourself. I have been doing this walk since I was a very young child and often see Ptarmigan here. This year was outstanding. Every so often it was apparent that there were large flocks of over 30 watching us. This was a great time to see them as the birds were changing from their summer to their white winter plumage. They can be hard to see at the best of times but trying to take their photo proved nearly impossible as you could see them with the eye but they hardly show up on the camera. (Spot the birds, there are plenty of them in this image)
After our Ptarmigan hunt we descended back to the car and it was only then that the rain came. The rain lasted all night but there is something soothing about lying in a tent at night listening to the rain on the canvas. This is not such a nice sound when you wake to hear the same thing, however the next morning the rain was only forecast for an hour. The weather turned and we spent a fab day walking through one of the oldest native woods in Britain where the Red Squirrels were out in force. Not only were the foraging to store food for the winter but were very content to sit and eat some of their food right in front of you.
(Sorry it is a bit blurry but the zoom on my phone is not great).
Returning home we actually managed to fit in a day’s ride out on the bike. In another article I mentioned a ride to Drummond Castle where the drive way in to visit their formal gardens was worth seeing on its own. If you have the patience here is the drive.
Sorry I was about 2 weeks early to get the trees in full colour but it’s still really braw.