THE WOODS AT ALVA
It had snowed in the night but not all that deep, the day was a bit frosty and crisp to start with as well so I thought probably a later rather than earlier start was the order of the day, but wanted to be ready for the off as soon as it looked fit.
The view from Thebus window was not quite as good as it looks here as I have cut out the row of caravans parked in front of us, but when the early sun was on the peaks it was beautiful. Unfortunately that early burst of sun didn’t stay with us long and the day soon deteriorated, but it was not so bad as to stop us driving, so off we went.
As we travelled once we were through the initial slushy bit on the roads the morning was okay, and I could look round at the snow white peaks surrounding us, but later the day itself turned so lowering and grey that it made the landscape somewhat forbidding. Then as the day went on the skies looked more and more full of snow, and sure enough as we were going over the higher ground we got it, plus the winds were very strong, probably not as stormy as in the south today where hundred miles an hour and more winds are forecast, but strong enough to buffet Thebus around, and take all my concentration in keeping him on the road and watching for the worst of the build-ups of slush, so I couldn’t have taken in the scenery even if it would have been possible to have seen it.
I had thought I might make the top of Loch Lomond as there is supposed to be a good pub there with a big carpark, but by just gone noon it was so dark and forbidding that I decided it best to settle into a caravan park for the rest of the day as I wasn’t sure how much higher the hills and mountains might rise, and sleety slushy snow in driving wind is one thing – serious snow and wind on a mountain road one doesn’t know is foolhardy, so we headed for a site I had previously googled.
It was, as the reviews on the internet had said, rather cramped, especially for Thebus, and even more so when I missed our allotted space and we had to do the circular tour threading in between caravans and trees, and with an inch or two of snow on the narrow track. The little silver birch spinney in which it is set is charming, but it does make for tight manoeuvring of something over 12 ft tall. But both Thebus and the caravan park survived and I was glad to reverse into our plot hoping it was gravel not grass under the two inches of snow as otherwise I feared for our chances of getting out.
There are no views at all here and the caravans and little holiday chalets are packed in as tightly as they can get them, but I suppose it is very near Aviemore so would be popular in the season. Every plot was already occupied, perhaps skiers, or possibly there are some long term occupants with people visiting at weekends. Everyone I passed on the site spoke and seemed very pleasant, so it would probably be a nice friendly site to stop at and looked to be well set up for children. I noticed, as I did in the other carvan sites, that the wild birds are fearless, and flock about everywhere. I suppose lots of folk put crumbs and feed out for them, and with so many who are into travelling also seeming to be dog owners, I would think all but the most fearless of cats or other predators are kept at bay.
The fact there were no views and we feel as though we are in a dingle may have helped us to escape the storms that seem to have blighted much of the rest of the country during the night, but apart from a bit of buffeting about we were fine.
Someone I had met on the internet through a common interest in chickens who lived locally and had been following my travel journal popped down to help me with my phone problems and we had a good long chickeny chat. He gave me some advice on joining Facebook and how to work Twitter to try and get some action from Orange, and also gave me some advice about the road driving conditions. Earlier in the day someone else had posted a fantastic site for anyone driving in Scotland in the winter. On the weather page http://www.trafficscotland.org/weather/ you can click for weather on the route you are travelling plus there are live cameras showing the actual road, which are updated every quarter of an hour or so.
Maybe it was the copious amount of rain we have had these last weeks and months, but for some reason that night I dreamed I was travelling on a raft, I do hope the weather will improve a bit soon. It would make it so much more pleasant to not have to close the doors and windows all the time
View from Thebus' window but cutting off the
caravans in the foreground
Noon from Thebus' side window in a layby
Theubs next morning in amongst the silver birches at Dalraddy
Lichen covered Silver Birch at Dalraddy