This weekend saw my first camping trip of the year and a return to one of my favourite spots in Glen Etive; actually that last bit isn’t quite true, as when we arrived the biting easterly wind suggested that continuing further up the Glen to a more sheltered location would make for a quieter night. As it turned out it was a wild night regardless, but by continuing for another mile or so we were afforded the opportunity to observe six fine looking stags grazing close to the road seemingly unbothered by our presence. There was only a few other hardy March campers in evidence but plenty of paddlers enjoying both the river and the heating in their cars afterwards I’d imagine!
After several years enjoyment using my trusty Hilliberg Nallo 2 this was to be the first outing for my new Nallo 2 GT. Anyone that knows and likes the Nallo 2 will love the GT, it’s basically the same tent but with a large enclosed porch and side entrance. This provides useful space protected from the elements for cooking and storage of boots, rucsacs, etc. It is also my intention that this is where the dogs will sleep during summer camping expeditions.
Like its smaller cousin you get what you pay for – it is a lightweight and compact tent which is as easy to put up as it is to take down. I love these tents for their simple design and fantastic build quality but most of all I love the fact that it goes up ‘as one’. This means you avoid fighting with a flysheet in the wind, of which there is often plenty on a March weekend in Scotland! Crucially, this also means the inner doesn’t get wet before you get it fully pitched. As always I pegged the windward end first making the tent much easier to get up shorthanded.
It turned out to be a wild night as the wind strengthened rather than abated and was soon accompanied by rain squalls which continued throughout the night and early hours of Sunday morning. This was a strong first test of my new purchase and it performed as expected. A close inspection in daylight revealed guys still as taught as when pitched 18 hours earlier despite a battering from the unrelenting elements. The bigger porch proved invaluable and a huge improvement as it allowed us to cook in comfort and still have ample space for kit and easy access in and out for water, etc. My only suggested improvement would be additional internal storage pockets but that is a personal thing from someone both renowned and regularly teased by companions for a slightly obsessive approach to camp craft!
As always my MSR pocket rocket behaved impeccably and the Beyond the Beaten Track food proved popular although it does benefit from added seasoning. Between Therm-a-Rest mats and Rab down bags it was a cosy night for the humans but less so for the six month old Pointer who ended up between us! I have obviously become too used to camping with Labradors who are almost impervious to the cold!
As always it was a struggle to find the enthusiasm to pack up and leave – the wind and poor visibility had ruled out a day on the tops but we were blessed with the brief presence of a Golden Eagle soaring over the cliffs above us as we finished our coffee…a real treat and a reminder of how lucky we are to enjoy access to such magnificent wild land and glimpses of the creatures who inhabit it.
As we made our way slowly back to the main road and home I reflected on how quiet the Glen felt and that in only a few weeks it would likely be busy with families enjoying BBQ’s and bracing swims in the many pools dotted along the River Etive. Go now and you will very probably have the place to yourself.