It was remote – we were the only people to walk on Beinn Odhar that day – even though I got a little excited on the way down to find footprints going up, I quickly realised that they were ours.
Scotland in late February gave me what everyone had promised – lots and lots of the white stuff I was so desperately looking for.
The complete white out came from nowhere and forced us to focus completely and to trust the compass bearing we had taken at the bottom which would get us to the top. It was literally all we had – both iphones were dead due to the cold – so no reassuring sneaky checks on the OS app. My walking partner disappeared out of sight after taking 20 steps. It was too steep to retrace our way back down safely, so the only way was up. Get to the summit and take a bearing from the top was the plan, looking at the map we knew there was a less steep spur we could take down to the valley we just had to get an accurate bearing from the top to it. We knew we could do it and stayed positive.
Stay Calm and Focus in the White Room!
I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being afraid – I was scared. If I had closed my eyes and been spun around I wouldn’t have had a clue where I was. At that point I was clinging on to my sense of direction and memory of where I had been and relating that to the map. I stayed calm and focused on the accuracy of the bearing we were leapfrogging on 20 pace legs. It was a slow process but it felt like the safest thing to do. We were overjoyed when we hit the summit just 2 meters to the left of the cairn. We were so proud that we had trusted the map and compass and our pacing, it had certainly paid off.
On the way down we were able to relate what the land was doing to the map, in conjunction with pacing and timings – which helped reassure us that we were on the right track. This was invaluable in featureless terrain.
Being prepared -planing well helped us know what we expected to see and when –visualising the route before we set off really helped. Trust in our abilities and faith in the map and compass is what kept us calm and positive.
It was an amazing and invigorating experience one which has left me hankering for more Scottish winter days. Watch this space…..
What I packed in my rucksack for a day of winter walking in Scotland.