Hills: Ben Rinnes
Date: Monday 24th December 2018
Company: Just myself
Distance: 7.6km, Ascent: 525m

I've been meaning to write-up this trip report for almost a year now and at long last have got round to it .

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve 2018, I was sitting at home bored. The downside to shared child custody meant this year I would not see my daughter until Christmas Night . To cheer myself up, I decided to pack a rucksack and go spend the night at the top of a hill to look out for Santa . The weather forecast was pretty-good albeit it was meant to get cold! As well as taking my DSLR, I also packed a tripod to stand any chance of taking photos in the dark.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I arrived at the Ben Rinnes car park shortly after sunset. My rucksack was far from light but the ascent of Ben Rinnes is relatively short and straight-forward via a good track.

At the base of Ben Rinnes:

Setting off post sunset:

During the initial ascent I met several other walkers who were descending the hill. All laughed at seeing my hat and on seeing the size of my pack enquired as to whether I would be sleeping out. I think most thought I was at least a touch mad .

View during ascent of Ben Rinnes:

Ascent of Ben Rinnes:

It was lovely to walk with a post sunset glow above the distant Cairngorms. I was already feeling the cold as it was below 0C when I set off. It would however feel much colder higher-up due to the wind and windchill.

Ben Rinnes:

Distant Cairngorms:

I made it to the summit in just over an hour and was glad to take off the rucksack. After visiting the summit, I descended a short distance and commenced pitching my tent.

At the summit of Ben Rinnes:

Once my tent was pitched, I took some photos before heading into the tent in an attempt to get warm. My biggest regret was not packing a stove.

Tent pitched a short distance below the summit:

On venturing outside an hour or so later, the tent was already starting to ice up.

On returning to the car in the morning, the temperature was -5C. I suspect therefore the temperature at the summit was around -10C. With added windchill, it was not particularly pleasant standing outside the tent.

Not long before tent was icing-up:

After decorating my tent, I took some photos which I posted-up to Facebook and Twitter. I still can't believe the number of responses I got ranging from "You loon" through to "Have I hung up my stocking".

Tent tinsel:

I ventured outside several times to take photos of surrounding houses and villages and also of stars.

View from the summit of Ben Rinnes:

Camera set up to photograph the moonrise:

The best sight of all, and what made the wee adventure worthwhile, was photographing the moonrise from the summit.

Christmas Eve moonrise from the summit of Ben Rinnes:


The night was long, cold and dark.

Attempting to keep warm:

After some sleep, I awoke around 3am when I decided to pack-up my tent and descend the hill to get back home by 5.30am.

Alas, on falling asleep I missed seeing Santa. It was however an interesting wee adventure.