(Left click images to zoom in, use browser return arrow to go back)
May 2019 – we arrived just after midday at Glenmore near Aviemore, with several options lined up. I had plans on a trip out over the Northern Cairngorm plateau in a couple of days (see post #253) and I’d promised Chris a walk out to the wild corrie of Coire an t-Sneachda. What was needed was a short walk out into the mountains to get a bit of the ‘vibe’.
No competition really, it had to be the Ryvoan Pass – we would be following in the footsteps of the cattle thieves and drovers of times gone by, through a setting of ancient Caledonian pines. The cherry on the cake was to be a visit to an iconic bothy – Ryvoan.
Soon after starting out from Loch Morlich, we passed Glenmore Lodge, one of the premier Outdoor Training Centres in the UK, the other one being Plas y Brenin in North wales. The original aim of the centre was “to help an individual discover their own physical, mental and spiritual potential” and for the past seventy years, ‘The Lodge’ has done just that, being the start point of hundreds of thousands of outdoor adventures in mountaineering, skiing, climbing, canoeing, etc. Many ex-students have themselves gone on to be instructors in those activities.
Glenmore Lodge was originally a shooting lodge, part of a local estate. During WW2 it was taken under government control as a military training centre and is best known as the base of the Norwegian Kompani Linge who trained there as commandos. Named after Captain Martin Linge, who was killed on an early raid in a raid on Måløy in Norway, the Company was best known for the raid on the heavy water plant in Rjukan, later immortalised in the film ‘Heroes of Telemark’.
We didn’t have any heroic plans on this trip out, and carried on past ‘The Lodge’ towards Ryvoan Pass, passing an unusual seat by the side of the trail. A little further on we came to An Lochan Uaine which translates as ‘the Green Loch’, for reasons which become obvious from certain angles. The water has a green hue, which could be down to particles of minerals in the water, though another answer offered by the locals is that the colour comes from the fairy folk washing their clothes in it. Obvious really!
From the ‘fairy laundrette’, we carried on along the track to the bothy at Ryvoan. A photo taken in 1932 by John Henderson shows the bothy still in use as a dwelling – a long way out for a quick trip to Tesco though! As with many similar buildings in the Highlands, Ryvoan would probably have deteriorated into a state of collapse but was instead taken over by the Mountain Bothies Association who, with the permission of the landowner, maintain the bothy to allow hikers to use the building free of charge (see post #223).
Inside the bothy, we found two hikers who were passing through the area and spending the night at Ryvoan. We weren’t staying overnight, but lunch seemed like a good idea and as usual Border Collie ‘Mist’ agreed in a flash. As with many bothies, there is plenty to read on the walls or in the ‘Hut Book’, but Ryvoan is best known for a poem written by A.M. Lawrence in the 1940’s – she was clearly deeply affected by the magnificent mountains of the Cairngorms. By tradition, a copy is pinned to the door.
I shall leave tonight from Euston
By the seven-thirty train,
And from Perth in the early morning
I shall see the hills again.
From the top of Ben Macdhui
I shall watch the gathering storm,
And see the crisp snow lying
At the back of Cairngorm.
I shall feel the mist from Bhrotain
And the pass by Lairig Ghru
To look on dark Loch Einich
From the heights of Sgoran Dubh.
From the broken Barns of Bynack
I shall see the sunrise gleam
On the forehead of Ben Rinnes
And Strathspey awake from dream.
And again in the dusk of evening
I shall find once more alone
The dark water of the Green Loch,
And the pass beyond Ryvoan.
For tonight I leave from Euston
And leave the world behind;
Who has the hills as a lover,
Will find them wondrous kind.
Having read the poem, we left the new occupants of the bothy in peace and set off back to Glenmore, with ‘Mist’ yet again disturbing the fairies of the Green Loch.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock with the exception of images tagged GR (Graham Robson) and John Henderson, which are taken from the Geograph Project and are reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence plus the images tagged RT (Reuben Tabner) and AR (Amanda Ruggeri)