In spite of the absence of a certain Calder couple, the Marvellous Hutchinsons (MH) managed to band together a small but perfectly formed group of revellers for the annual weekend away to Loch Ossian YH by dropping the fancy dress clause in the much diminished list of rules. On Friday night, the stumble from the Bridge of Orchy Hotel to train station revealed a clear, starry sky raising hopes for good weather over the following two days. Spirits were lifted and arms lengthened by the weight of the MH’s Tesco shop on the mile walk from Corrour station to the YH, where we were welcomed by new warden, Caroline, who had warmed the lodgings in anticipation of our arrival with a roaring wood fire.

The evening of settling in- which involved eating all the nibbles and realising that karaoke was going to the order of the day as no one had brought batteries for the music station- was rounded off by almost burning down the YH by sending off a few lanterns into the trees which overhang the roof. All agreed it was a respectful farewell to ex-warden Nick, in place of his exciting firework display.

Dawn broke far too early over a frosty Loch Ossian, and a string of sausages lying in the loch were pondered on over a non-sausagy breakfast. Tummies full and bumbags packed, parties dispersed in different directions to explore new hills and trails as well as some old favourites. Clouds stayed on the horizon allowing for a bright morning of autumn colours and whitened hilly skylines, appreciated by our expedition from the hills above Loch Trieg.

Even without Pat’s contribution this year, home baking was plentiful as the weary and damp returned and refuelled, bedding in well in advance of sundown. The usual levels of frivolity and enjoyment ensued, although yours truly hit the sack before the webcam link with Shanghai was established for a rendition of ‘Music Man’ and greatest hits of Simple Minds.

Before many had emerged from their linerson Sunday morning, Cat, with a bag full of rocks, set off for her marathon to Dalwhinnie through the frozen puddled path to the north of the loch. Inspired by her energy, the round the loch challenge began in the bitter cold and long shadows of the morning, and I was chased down by Susie and Chris, making it back to the hostel just as the sun emerged from behind the hills and comfortably within the hour limit. This year, with rules relaxed, there was greater scope for a morning expedition which all took advantage of. Chris, Susie and I bagged the two munros to the north east of the hostel, enjoying the clear vistas from the tops but quickly moving on as the temperature dropped rapidly into the afternoon and clouds from the south closed in.

A very civilised afternoon of eating, drinking and game playing drew in quickly, and we joined some rather blue bothy-ers at the station to await the train home.

Thanks to Fiona and John for organising the weekend so carefully- very smooth indeed.

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