Camping on a swamp looking at the stars

Early 2017, three friends and I decided to spend four days in the central cairngorms a mountain range in North East Scotland in February 2017. On our first night in the mountains we got battered in a wind storm which destroyed out tent, one pole had snapped, the pole sleeve ripped and many pegs lost in the snow. We had a little choice other than retreating after this disappointing experience.

Instead of driving back home while two of my friends decided to stay in a B&B in Pitlochry, Shaun and I were still up for a challenge. We dropped my two friends to the B&B and we headed straight to the mountains again with the broken tent with a view to spend our last on a summit. After braving the heavy rain for two continous hours in near zero degree temperatures we finally reached the top plateau which in effect had a lake and was surrounded by a swamp. There was little choice for us to set the tent other than setting it on the spongy ground.

Completely drenched, sat in tent with our feet soaking in the spongy ground we fired up the stove for a warm cup of soup.

As the sun set the weather cleared and we suddenly witnessed an absolutely gorgeous sunset while wild deer came out of the wood to say Hi. As we were getting comfortable in our fluffy winter bags it was quite noticeable that the temperature had dropped significantly.

At about 3am, an acute back pain woke me up, strange enough as we were possibly lying on the softer ground imaginable. By curiosity, I decided to have a sneak peak outside of the tent. At this point I had the strange surprise to find that the zip of the tent door had totally frozen up. With temperatures dropping just below freezing, the tent had virtually turned into an igloo with a crust of ice covering it. Our boots were so wet that they had frozen up too and became blocks of ice. I then grabbed my camera and tripod and ventured out of the tent bear foot, sinking in the freezing spongy ground of the swamp we had set our tent onto. It didn't take long to realise that the sky was perfectly clear and all that could be seen looking up were stars. An unexpected thin layer of snow had also covered the ground. What a sight and such a sense of reward after fighting against the most miserable conditions to get to this place...

I set my camera on tripod and started shooting a few images, lighting up the tent with head torches as well as the beautiful pine trees next to where our tent was stood. As I started loosing any feelings in my feet slowly freezing up, it was time to capture one last image before the clouds curtain off the beautiful milky way. I got back into the tent to try to get a couple more hour sleep without waking Shaun who had been fast asleep all this time, it was 4am. As we woke up to a beautiful crisp morning with a complete blue sky welcoming us, we grabbed a quick porridge for breakfast, slided unpleasantly our dry, warm feet in our frozen boots and packed up the tent. The fabric was so wet and cold that we had to take it in turn to stuff the tent into it's bag as our fingers were freezing within seconds. Packed away and carrying probably an extra two kilos of ice on our backs, we hiked back down the mountain to the car.

Soon after, we drove back to civilisation to pick up our two friends who leisurely enjoyed the comfort of a nice shower and full English breakfast. Another successful weekend, although repairing the tent cost us all a lot of money, we all had a great time and brought home many memories...

#camping #winter #scotland #hilleberg #Keron4gt #Snow #stars #milkyway

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