The boulders on the upper slopes of Bynack More resounded with Ptarmigan calls as we walked. We were lucky enough to spot some of these arctic-alpine dwelling birds. Their feathers looked to have begun to moult into their winter colours, triggered by the shortening daylight hours, but without any snow cover they weren’t yet as well camouflaged as they hopefully will be through the winter, when they will turn almost pure white.
My environmental policy includes a commitment to 'giving back'. Yesterday was spent assisting Lucy, the local Forestry Commission Ranger, with the clearance of the drains on the path from the Sugarbowl Car Park to the Chalamein Gap, helping to preserve this stunning route for years to come. If you want to experience the walk for yourself please get in touch to discuss a guided trip which passes through the awsome boulder strewn, glacial melt water channel of the Chalamein Gap.
I went to find the El Alamein refuge on the NE flank of Cairn Gorm yesterday.
The El Alamein Refuge is the last of the high level shelters which started to be built in the 1950s to accommodate the growing number of mountaineers in the Cairngorms. It was constructed in 1963 and named in honour of the 51st Highland Division (El Alamein being a battle honour).
The other purpose built high level shelters on the Cairngorm plateaux were demolished in the mid 1970s following the recommendations of the Feith Buidhe fatal accident inquiry. The existence of shelters on the plateaux were considered to gave rise to a false sense of security, especially given the potential difficulties in locating them in adverse conditions. However, the El Alamein was never removed. I’ve heard different reasons as to why: perhaps because it fell within a different administrative region, but more likely due to it’s obscure location (a mix up in the grid reference resulted in the shelter being constructed in an unusual position on a boulder strewn slope just off the Northern spur of Cairn Gorm rather than on the plateaux itself).
I tried to capture a sense of the rock covered austere wee refuge in this very short film.