Friday, 11 October 2013

A room with a view at Ryvoan

On a recent visit to Speyside, I walked up from Glenmore Lodge to spend the night at Ryvoan Bothy above the Pass of Ryvoan and its famous Green Lochan.  Ryvoan is fairly well accessible from Glenmore, but on a fiercely windy October evening was deserted.  It's a bothy I've often sheltered in and stayed in a couple of times previously - it sits at a crossroad of routes crossing the Cairngorm range and heading north to Abernethy.

An MBA bothy, Ryvoan has a rather unique feature in that a piece of poetry has by tradition been attached to the inside of the door.  Missed by many casual visitors who look in but don't close the door to see it, the poem was written by a lady called A.M Lawrence in the 1950's.  She lived in Cumbria but spent much of her childhood in Nethy Bridge.  The text of this very evocative piece is here

The view down through the Pass of Ryvoan in the late evening was particularly fine, the only drawback being the gale of wind  blowing through the pass which drew tears from the eyes!

The sleeping platform is conveniently sited under the window.  Settled in with a hot drink, I was quickly asleep and slept well apart from hearing occasional ferocious gusts rattling the roof of the building.

In the pre-dawn light, a glance from the window revealed one of Scotland's more intimate wildlife spectacles.  Below the bothy, across the track,  is a small flat green area which is used as a lek (display) site by Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix).  The main lekking activity is in the Spring when the females attend to observe the males dance and parade before pairing, but there's another less intense lek in Autumn attended only by the males themselves.  There are less than 5000 breeding pairs of Black Grouse in the UK and I felt priveliged to watch about a dozen birds soocialising and displaying just a few metres away - all from the comfort of my sleeping bag and with a cup of tea in my that's a room with a view!

Note: The ground on which Ryvoan Bothy stands is at the edge of two National Nature Reserves and is managed by the RSPB.  A polite and discreet sign near the lek site asks visitors not to camp on this seemingly perfect tent site in order to avoid disturbance or damage- a perfectly reasonable request I think, particularly as an alternative location is suggested on the sign.

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