Julie's 40th Birthday
Our journey starts: the hostel at the head of Glen Affric beckons..
We had good weather up to the moment we arrived at the hostel. The weather for our two days there was abysmal!
Walking through Glen Affric was beautiful. This is Affric Lodge: the place to stay if you wish to 'bag a stag'
Carrying 28kg you need the odd rest
As we progressed down the glen the weather gradually worsened
Eventually we reached the hostel, just as the rain began.
We stayed 2 nights at the hostel: the intention being to have one full day to climb more remote Munros. We did climb Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan in low cloud and rain - you have to do something with your day: so we kept telling ourselves!
So we jump to the evening of Julie's birthday: dry and warm (and not doing the cooking or washing) in the Tomich Hotel
(And whilst singing the praises of the Tomich Hotel I would add that they have a very decent wine list and a very extensive collection of whisky!)
We cannot more highly recommend this small friendly hotel: we spent 5 nights here looked after by friendly, attentive, staff.
How does a walrus get on a bike?
We had two glorious days cycling: this is directly from the hotel, 27 miles on deserted, excellent quality, track
Mountain and loch for as far as the eye can see
Glen Affric is gorgeous
Julie REALY likes this place
Another glorious day, and we head off to do a couple of Munros: Tom a'Choinich and Toll Creagach
Ascending to the shoulder of Tom a'Choinich
Lance is near the top-right of this photo taking the image below:
Julie on the shoulder of Tom a'Choinich, and behind her can be seen Glen Affric, and beyond that the Great Glen.
Looking northwest from the summit, the next road is 25 miles into this wilderness.
Julie REALY likes this too!
Dusk over Glen Affric
Cycling along Glen Strathfarrar. Only 25 car permits are issued per day, making this glen a 33-mile joy to cycle.
Ancient Caledonian Forest is plentiful hereabouts.
The glen provides extensive amounts of hydro-electricity - but this doesn't spoil the glen
And can be quite spectacular!
Having had such an extended birthday celebration (a full month from Lance's 50th to Julie's 40th, with a 90th ceilidh party midway) it was not surprising that received some gifts ahead of her 'big day'. With the best will in the world, how do you hide an exercise bike!
Julie on her 'birthday present' two weeks ahead of schedule
However, there was one present that I did manage to keep secret from Julie. I had told her that her birthday was not over with the end of the Glen Affric trip, and that on our return there would be something for her to do. Everyone that knows Julie will know her love of birds, especially birds-of-prey - well Julie was completely unaware that on our doorstep there is a falconry centre.
At this stage Julie still has no notion of where we are going, how long it will take to get there and what it is she'll be doing once there!
The entrance to the deer park - Julie thinks I've taken her to see deer (a nice smile but a little disappointed)
An Eagle Owl flying to Julie's hand
Julie (Harris) and a Harris Hawk
Julie meets the matriarch
And a delightful Merlin - Britain's smallest bird-of-prey
I think Julie was happy with her special birthday present.