Adventure was in the air. We both get this now-familiar rush of excitement, anticipation and sheer joy when we are packing up for a camping trip.

Our first sleep out of the year.

The first trip of the year is always exciting – though after a solid few hours of teaching in the morning, I was in the mood for taking it slowly, packing carefully, and taking naps. 

So we almost didn’t leave that afternoon. And then all of a sudden, we were in the car, packed, ready to go. Driving up the A9, and wondering what we have left behind.

This time, the audio jack. Both of us too thrilled about what lay ahead to care. 

Having set off so late, as we neared Aviemore we knew it was getting to be a bit late for heading up the Ryvoan Bothy.

Neither of us had been before, and it would have been our first experience of bothying. Starting off in the dark.

We decided quickly – the wild card, the back up option.

Wild camping. 

We had packed some food from home – smoothies, sweet potato tacos, and a trusty little 35cl of Laphroaig. (As you do, when you’re camping in March).

Arriving at Loch Morlich at sunset, we leapt out and ran to the waters edge – the loch was perfectly still, perfectly clear, reflecting the mountains, the hues of the heather, the clouds.

Picture perfect. 

I tuned into the wilderness. I breathed deeply, drawing in the stillness.

When we had supped as much sunset as we could, we reluctantly moved on to find our spot for the night, underneath the pines and a stones throw from the beach.

We pitched the tent basked in the moonlight, then set up our evening meal under the trees in the complete darkness, but lit by candlelight, on a picnic bench.

We talked about the day and we wondered about our chances of the full moon passing over us that night. 

After a peaty smoky dram, we made our way up to the Club that serves this remote spot. The Pine Marten Bar.

Packed full of Norwegian memorabilia. It was like being back in Beitostølen – the week before we had just been skiing at Beitostølen Mountains in Norway.

Here, in Scotland,  the local musician Riverman Rod was just starting his set, and we squeaked with delight at the live folk music we had just stumbled in on.

Half listening to the music, to the banjo, the celtic drums – occasionally joining in with the band – we also pledged our commitment to the weekend ahead.

At one point Riverman Rod came over to chat, to share more stories of his music with us, his life, and he told us tales of Ryvoan Bothy.

Our hearts were set. 

Sleeping out in March in the Cairngorms is chilly, but definitely survivable.

I would recommend a three season sleeping bag and some thermals… and making sure you have pitched your tent with a view to wake up to – it makes it all worth it. 

We have a knack of taking down our tent in 3 minutes when we need to, so in the morning we packed up sharp and headed into Aviemore in search of hot coffee and nourishment.

We spent our breakfast (cake for me, divine!) journaling, reflecting, and making plans for the weekend plans.

We had three objectives: 

  1. See a Goshawk.
  2. Stay the night in a bothy.
  3. Activate the Wild Pioneers

An important part of this plan was swinging by the Aviemore Adventure Festival.

We caught a couple of the film sessions – we were particularly blown away by Young Guns. Neither of us had had any prior interest in climbing, so we walked in with a mild curiosity, and left with the rumblings of a gnawing new passion.

Later in the day we sat in on a Q&A with a panel of professional climbers, and it proved no less inspiring.

From tales of tough times, paddles, hikes and bike rides in unforgiving environments and stunning landscapes, to stories of accomplishment, adventure, achievement and sheer joy. 

The seeds were well and truly planted. 

Our weekend proceeded like this – infused with this impending sense of a lifelong adventure ahead.

A transformation had certainly taken place – this decision to embark on a long weekend in the Cairngorms will – with any luck – prove pivotal. 

There is no going back now.  

Did we make it to the Bothy?

Yes. Arriving much earlier in the day, we enjoyed the most beautiful walk in past the Green Loch.

We ran up the hills in a snowstorm, peeking Cairngorm in the near distance. 

We met fellow adventurers, shared wine and stories and celebrated an impromptu birthday party.

That’s the beauty of bothying, I guess. 

Now.

To make this a lifestyle.

Let’s go.