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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The 2013 Challenge, day 8: Through the Gaick Forest (1)

The weather on the morning of Friday 17 May looked promising - as the forecast had said it would - and so I determined to get at least one of the Munros on my route card ticked off this crossing. I tried to make an early start, but my stomach was a little unsettled, so it was 9.45 before I finally got away on what was to turn out to be the most wonderful day of any of my crossings to date. The weather forecast had shown a warm front coming in from the East. I hoped it would have spent all its rain over the Cairngorms and have nothing left to drop on the Gaick forest; and so it proved. The cloud base was at a good altitude, and so there was no reason why I should not go high.

I headed South out of Dalwhinnie, pausing just before I reached the junction with the A9 to take this photograph of General Wade's bridge (the name Wade Bridge on the map is a bit of a giveaway) with the snow-covered peaks of the Dalnaspiddal Forest in the background.This part of Scotland is full of forests which have no trees in them, and people sometimes comment upon this. A few years ago, however, I was on a course at the Civil Service College in Sunningdale for a week, and there I got to know the Chief Tourism Officer for the New Forest. (He said that after ten years in post, he still hadn't figured out if he remit was supposed to be to attract tourists or to repel them; but that's a different story). Anyway ... he explained to me that the English word "forest" derives from a Mediaeval French word meaning "hunting ground"; and that there is therefore no reason at all why a forest should have trees. It might have them ... but it doesn't need to have them.

That kinda makes some sort of sense, doesn't it?

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