IT’S often said there no bad hills, just good ones and not so good ones. I bet the people who live by that adage have never been up Carn nan Tri-tighearnan.
I suppose even calling it a hill is debatable. It’s basically a high, rolling plateau which happens to have a couple of higher points about a mile apart.
The hill of the three lairds lies deep in the heart of Strathspey and is just over 2,000 feet. It’s one of the smaller hills in the Grahams list and if it were a few feet shorter the little traffic it sees would likely dry up altogether.
It tends to be a couple of hours’ distraction for tickers on their way up the A9 to bigger things. But although it doesn’t take long to nip up and down, getting to the start of the walk is more of an adventure, especially in winter.
A somewhat convoluted route takes you from the main road via the A938, the B9007 and then all manner of twists and turns along the River Findhorn towards the end of the public road at Daless.
It felt like I was under heavy artillery fire as fusilades of snow pelted the car roof from laden trees which were bent over as if trying to reach each other from either side of the road. Then just as you think the hard part is done, you come to the final narrow stretch down to the lodge.
Be warned - unless you are driving a tank this is going to be uncomfortable. Not so much potholes, more giant craters, cover the road. At times I had to virtually come to a complete stop to bounce the car down and then out of these monster holes.
And there’s not much room to manouevre. On one side is a drop down to the river and on the other a steep hillside. The relief at reaching even ground is only tempered by the realisation you will have to reverse this whole process after the walk is over.
The initial views down the glen are stunning but they soon disappear as you turn right and head up a track which leads swiftly to higher ground and the top of Carn an Uillt Bhric. The main summit wasn’t far away but the rise over that mile or so is only about 50 feet and the ground is covered with some of the deepest peat hags I had ever seen.
The deep, soft snow made finding the easiest line a laborious task and I found myself descending into hags which made the rest of the land temporarily invisible. My main aim was to avoid dropping into one filled with six or seven feet of snow. I didn’t want to be dug up thousands of years from now by some archaeologist thinking they had found Berghaus Man.
It was one of the longest miles I’ve ever walked, and I wasn’t looking forward to recrossing it. But just then I found a saviour - a mountain hare. It may have been March but this little white-coated Olympian certainly wasn’t mad. He was darting in and out of the hags, finding the best line down. Hare sea rescue at its best.
I followed in his footsteps and, apart from taking one fall when I was deceived by the terrain appearing to be a much smaller step than it actually was, I made it safely through the maze in about half the time.
That just left the drive back up out of trenches and running the gauntlet of trees. What a pity hares can’t drive.