Friday, 9 January 2015
A Speyside "double" - the first sip
A 45 minute drive from home saw me in Dufftown in the heart of Speyside's whisky country to sample my own "double"; the hills of Meikle Conval and Little Conval which are well seen from the town. The weather was bright and cold but a rapid increase in the strength of the wind to violent storm force was forecast for the evening so I wanted to be well home before it got too wild.
Dufftown sits at the confluence of the Dullan Water and the River Fiddich and is surrounded by well-known distilleries such as Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Mortlach among others. In fact, there are so many distilleries and bond-warehouses that it's claimed Dufftown raises more revenue for the government per head of population than anywhere else in the UK!
Due to the forecast westerly winds I wanted to walk the higher ground from west to east in order to have the push at my back rather than slogging into a gale. This conveniently also meant that I'd have the sun at my back too. A relatively new path, part of the local path network runs alongside the B9009 road for part of the way to the start of the track up Meikle Conval, though in summer the road is quite busy. On the way I passed Dufftown Golf Club, one of the highest in the country. The second of the hills I was aiming for, Little Conval, can be seen above the golf course.
After a few kilometres of road walking into a stiff breeze I approached the base of Meikle Conval (big conical hill). A straightforward climb up a vehicle track gives access to the domed summit area, when I was quite suddenly exposed to a blasting westerly wind which was as cold as it was strong, but also exposed to a great view.....
over to the Corbett of Ben Rinnes , a fine hill visible from a wide swathe of the north east of Scotland. If it was windy at a modest height of 571 metres (Meikle Conval is a "Marilyn"), the cloud banner tearing off the summit of Ben Rinnes indicated that it would be even more windy up there - and that this was definitely not a day for the higher hills.
I didn't linger but headed off over towards Little Conval, having to "lean on the wind" as it was behind but also to my left side as it compressed around the shoulder of Ben Rinnes - but what a fine, wild day it was to be on the hill for a whisky country "double" !