One of the more productive things that I managed to do when I was stuck in the isolation of the lockdown in New Delhi was actually, over the period of five months, write a first draft of a novel I had been thinking about for sometime. Was pretty pleased with myself – you know when you have lots of ideas but they don’t connect? Well, I managed to work out how to bring them together within a nice structure and the writing just kept on flowing. The reason I mention this is that one of the chapters is based up in the Highlands, and specifically the Angels Ridge and the second highest mountain in Scotland, Braeriach. One of the reasons I wanted to train in the Cairngorms, and more specifically, start from Aviemore, was that Braeriach is less than a day’s hike from the town, and I wanted to see how accurate my descriptions were considering I had never been there and had been relying on the photographs of others and Google Maps to try and gauge what it might be like.
It didn’t disappoint and was a tremendous start to the next few days of hiking. My rucksack was ridiculously heavy, laden with plenty of supplies, though part of the whole challenge was also to cope with the weight on my back! The first 10km were pretty flat, easy and again in perfect clear conditions. Walking along a forested path that gradually opened out to just heather and to reveal the mountains of the Lairig Ghru, including Braeriach, before me. Even had more chance to mess around with the drone. But once the ascent started… wow! The next 5km up from 600m to almost 1,300m. Tiring and, on the steeper parts, painful! Plenty of other hikers passed me on the trail as I just slowly made my way up, and there were so many false summits before finally making it.
I had originally aimed to go around 25km to get to the bottom of the Angel’s Ridge, near Devil’s Point, but by the time I got to the summit, after around 16-17km, I was getting a bit tired and it was getting a little late so decided to pitch the tent just a little further along next to the Wells of Dee – the source of the River Dee, which flows through to the sea at Aberdeen, where I was born. Thought there was some nice poetry there! Nice to finally be out in the tent as well, and it definitely was worth it just for the chapter.