Some photos from my walks so far this month, I'll add to the blog as we go. Some stunning winter days already, let's hope for more!!
Capturing the moments – wildlife of 2017
As a hillgoer, you soon become familiar with the usual wildlife suspects and where to stumble across them. The Ptarmigan sheltering amongst the rocks, the deer just round the next bend, the dippers following you down a stream and so on. I’ve had a few occasions where I’ll turn a corner to see a perched eagle spot me, take off and soar away before I can take my lens cap off, so frustrating and fantastic at the same time. Capturing the moment for me is mainly luck, not skill, just being in the right place at the right time. I never take a tripod and most of my photos are taken on my phone. Next year I’m planning to take the tripod and have my wee digital camera easily within reach, not tucked away in my bag!
The days of film development are gone for most but I’m definitely developing my camera skills, mainly thanks to a network of superb photographers out there, giving advice and humorous criticism. 2018 will be another year of development and I’ll be taking a larger lens with me too, the extra weight in my bag will hopefully be compensated by some quality wildlife snaps. I’ll just have to reduce weight elsewhere, a new light weight bag perhaps or leave my hipflask at home on those overnight trips….
The photos below are a sample of my wildlife pics from 2017. I’ll be taking more camera clubs out next year, learn from the experts!
This week is our birthday at Hillgoers! I’d like to send a huge thank you to everyone for your support so far! I’ve had a fantastic time over the last year, meeting many of you, hopefully inspiring outdoor adventures and building your love for our beautiful land.
In the last year I’ve also been on a journey, walking over new hills and returning many times to my favourite places. Going into the mountains and observing the changes in the seasons, discovering new things and learning from others. On Sunday I spent the day with Nigel Williams, head of training at Glenmore Lodge for many years. It’s a privilege to learn from the masters of their trade. I also recently had a great hour with Adam Watson, a true Cairngorm legend.
Over the last year I’ve been fortunate to teach some of you navigation skills. Hopefully this has built your confidence and you’re now using those skills when needed. I’d love to know how you’re getting on so please let me know! I’ll be running more courses and ad-hoc sessions throughout the winter and the indoor sessions at Bennachie will start again in April. I’ll also be offering more National Navigation Awards in 2018. These sessions are a great way to embed the learning, stepping through the stages of navigation. See https://nnas.org.uk/
The Lairig Ghru charity walk was very damp but still very enjoyable, we also bumped into the Braemar Mountain Rescue team which was an added bonus. I’m pleased that Hillgoers has been able to support our local Mountain Rescue teams this last year, thanks to all who donated.
Thanks again and I look forward to seeing you all next year, if not before. If you’re heading out over the winter season stay safe! I’m optimistic for some real snow this year.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir
As unpredictable summer in Scotland can be, I've been very fortunate not to have postponed any of my planned walks. Only once did I have to change my route plans due to weather and that was with a Bronze DofE group near Rynie! A small burn crossing turned into a fast-flowing river! This of course was an ideal intervention to teach hazards and dynamic risk assessments. The weather is never a barrier though and mostly, for me anyway, it's been a good summer.
I've had a few DofE groups throughout the summer, volunteering for Banchory, also freelancing for other providers. There's always a story, a drama, a moan and a groan but followed by a sense of achievement as they finish their expedition. These expeditions they'll remember forever, locked in the memory for the good and the bad, mostly for the good. If led correctly the experience will nurture a love and respect for the outdoors. This combined with the other sections of DofE, the participants learn life skills you can't learn in a classroom.
Apart from my own groups qualification, my favourite DofE trip this year was a week over in Arran supervising a gold team. I’d not been to Arran for many years and forgot how stunning it was. Dramatic landscapes and beautiful coastal walks. Walking through Glen Sannox, over to Glen Rosa gives you a intricate view of the ridge walks on the island. I’ll have to go back sometime for a proper look over these.
I’ve continued to run mini introductory hill skills at the Bennachie Visitor Centre and will continue these next year. These give a wee introduction to map reading and navigation. The follow up from this course would be the National Navigation Award Scheme courses, I’ll be running more of these in the next few months too. James in the picture attended a Bennachie session and also achieved the Bronze NNAS award, I’ve no doubt he’ll continue to progress through the stages and soon be better than me!
I’ve also been fortunate to guide some lovely clients (now friends) over the hills this year. The Turriff and District Round Table team continued their quest to find Munro his home. These guys did an excellent job of walking up 17 Munros for local charities, finishing on Ben Nevis last weekend where Munro found his dad… I had great fun walking with those gents. Well done to them!
Another satisfying trip to Glencoe with some repeat clients too.
Painting the Stuic just below Lochnagar summit.
As a family we had some relax time over the school holidays in between my walk, some walking involved obviously… A lovely week with our extended family in Portugal then back to the cooler isle of Harris and Lewis. We also decided to take the leap and get a pooch, Luna will be joining me on the hills next year!
In between clients I've be strolling over the Cairngorms looking for flora and breathtaking views. My wild camp by Loch Etchachan a couple of months ago under the stars, looking north for the aurora, was a special evening. Watching the sun dip her last rays over Beinn Mheadhoin and waking up to the vibrant colours that early morning brings, has to be seen.
As we approach winter please look out for some winter skills training if you intend venturing to the hills in the snow, I can't wait!
Hillgoers can offer guided winter walks when the snow arrives, low level walks also available.
Contact us for any bespoke walks or training :)
A selection of photos and highlights from June, my favourite moment watching my talented daughter Emma play fiddle at An Lochan Uaine, the green lochan. It's such a beautiful place and the slow waltz added to the special atmosphere.
I was fortunate to have a few trips to the hills in June with some lovely clients with a few wanders over the plateau, peering into the corries and lochs.
I also had a couple of visits to Ben Macdui, mixed weather on both occasions!
With a few trips to Lochnagar too....my favourite.
And some lovely woodland walks as well :)
My June outings were a mix of planned events and bespoke requests. If you'd like to join me on a walk get in touch, navigation tuition also available on my outings.
With glorious weather all week I had an itching to get up high for a camp and take in the sunset over the Cairngorms. So after cutting the grass I headed out Thursday afternoon to Loch Muick, via a quick stop in Ballater to drop off some flyers at the library. As usual, Ballater was looking fantastic in the sunshine, a TV crew were out on the village green, probably for voting day, as were many of the locals, taking in the sunshine. The town is so vibrant and the reconstruction of the old railway station is well underway, I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.
The car park at Loch Muick was quite full which was no surprise but folks were starting to return from their walks to head home. Some weary looking but mostly happy! I timed my departure to give me enough time to pitch my tent just down from the top of Lochnagar, over toward the Stuic.
There was a reasonable breeze giving a little wind chill but nothing a hat and warm layer wouldn't fix. On my way up I stopped at foxes for a drink, hearing the noises above, I looked up and watched an eagle and raven in overhead battle. The raven was trying her best to see of the eagle, which flew off calmly in the direction of Conachcraig and didn't seem to be fussed about the raven! After reaching the top, just before 8pm I put on my extra duvet coat and sat watching the clouds and views unfold, with the sun stretching the shadows over the glens, Lochnagar itself completely in shadow.
On my way to pitch my tent I passed a fit trail runner in shorts and t-shirt, a quick run up Lochnagar, a couple of selfies perhaps, then off over the Stuic! I pitched my tent out of the wind best I could, put the kettle on and took in the views until I was in need of my bed.
In the morning I went back up to Lochnagar, then headed back to Loch Muick via Carn a' Choire Bhoidheach and Dubh Loch. I took a break at Dubh Loch as it's such a beautiful place, I was tempted for a swim but resisted, so instead I sat on a rock and watched the swirls in the water and looked for trout rises. On my way down to the loch, I stopped to watch quite a few mountain hare, now in their summer coats, galloping around the hillside. I didn't see any deer or catch sight of a dropped antlers but I did see some interesting remains of what looked to be grouse and a couple raven feathers.
The heather down toward Loch Muick is starting to take colour too, with the odd sprig of yellow flowers which is really cheery. The sundews and butterworts, really shooting up as well, I've a feeling they will be busy this year!
I've uploaded a wee video to YouTube which you can view here, this will hopefully give you an idea of the views, although they never do it justice, you have to be there, breathe and feel it. Apologies it's a little shaky in places. I was getting fed up with the standard backing tracks offered by Apple so I asked my 15yo daughter Emma to lay down a track for me last night, Maggie West's Waltz by Mairearad Green, this could be a new feature on my videos!
I try to get out every other day for a walk and I try and do a long one at least once a week. When I say long, 25km plus, into a remote area where I can look at that conditions and see the seasonal changes.
Last Wednesday I decided to head for Loch Avon via Glen Derry, Loch Etchachan and over Ben Mheadhoin coming off the north east side down to the east side of Loch Avon. A reasonable walk but I also took my bike to Derry Lodge, cutting off 10km in foot, so in total about 34km, with 970m ascent.
With the forecast saying the cloud was to lift through morning and wind really light, I knew I was in for a good day. I was only 10 minutes into my cycle along Glen Lui when I heard the call of an eagle, looking up and stopping my bike it was not that far from me, soaring around the trees just beside the path up to Clais Fhearnaig, confirming it was going to be a good day!
As I walked further up and through Glen Derry the noticeable change that struck me this time was the colour of the juniper, the green shoots seemed to stand out more against the brown of the heather. Passing by I like to pinch a piece in my fingers and smell the gin and tonic!
I stopped at the Hutchison hut for lunch before heading up to the loch and beyond. I could've sat there all day, with the place to myself and taking in the views and sounds in the sun, sheltered from the breeze. The only sounds being the cackle of grouse and the creak in the roof from the warmth of the sun.
Loch Etchachan seems to be a prime spot for ptarmigan and with my 200mm camera in hand I was pleased to pick up a couple of good photos on my way up the hill. As you travel up the hill the views of the loch really open up, as do the views over the whole area. And when you reach the flat spot you can really pick out the mountains far and wide. I passed the barns (granite tors shaped by the wind and ice) and headed over to the north side to get a better view into Loch Avon, enjoying every step.
My walk back took me close to the Fords of Avon refuge, past the Dubh Lochan and through the Lairig an Laoigh, back to Glen Derry. I picked up my bike and nearly rode over an adder on my way back which would've spoilt fantastic day!
I'm out walking most weeks, contact me if you'd like to join one of my longer explorer walks or look at my event calendar.
Bennachie - A long history to be discovered
Each time I go out for a walk I like to learn something new. I've been using field study council publications for a while now, they produce great fold out study guides that fit easily into my rucksack, ranging from lichens to rocks. There's so much diverse flora, fauna and geology in our hills and it changes with the seasons.
I also like to learn about the local history, so if you're ever out for a walk with me please share your knowledge! Prior to going somewhere I read up on the area, sources from books to Wikipedia but you can't cover all of the history or stories.
I've walked on Bennachie for many years knowing roughly the older history of the hill. Bennachie, possibly from the Gaelic, Beinn na Cìche (Hill of the Breast), resulting in Mither Tap, the lesser top of the hill, Oxen Craig stands 11m taller. It's also possible it comes from Hill of the Battle (Beinn a' Chath) as it's been suggested the battle of Mons Graupius, a Roman military victory took place there in AD83. Mither tap also has the remains of the Iron Age fort at the top, being the dominant hill in the area, you can only imagine the stronghold and the significance of the hill. Life must have been hard at the top of the hill! Aberdeenshire is notable for it's number of recumbent stone circles, possibly from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age (c.2700 - 200bc) and I can imagine Bennachie being the epicentre of these circles, although there is a theory Dunnideer near Insch might have been the focal point.
On my navigation session on Monday I was made aware of the air crashes on the hill, somehow this had passed me by previously. We started the session inside the excellent visitor centre classroom, looking at maps and hill kit. Inside the classroom some of the plane remains hang from the ceiling. During the afternoon walk on the hill, two of the local gents were able to share their knowledge of the events. Sadly two young men were the first casualties of WW2 on Bennachie. The Bailies of Bennachie website tells more of the story, you can read it here.
I'll visit the memorial cairn next time I take a walk alone on the hill.
Cairngorm stroll - 2nd April 2017
What fantastic conditions we had for our guided walk on Sunday. A light wind over the tops giving a little wind chill but nothing significant. Snow patches on the north and east slopes receding away and soft to walk on. We headed on a snow free walk, over to look down on the Pools of Dee in the Lairig Ghru, then to look into Loch Avon, stopping for lunch above the corries. We completed our day with a walk up Cairn Gorm to take in the spectacular views with excellent visibility over the Moray Firth and over the Cairngorm National Park.
One of our clients was a keen bird enthusiast and was delighted to see the Ptarmigan, Snow Buntings and a Ring Ouzel on our way down. It was a really special day all round with lots of smiles!
Our views can be seen in the short video.
What are we going to do about litter?
I was up Bennachie last Saturday running a beginners navigation course. From the excellent visitor centre, there are good walks all over the hill, follow the Gordon Way, then up to Oxen Craig or straight up to Mither Tap. For learning navigation it’s ideal because there are plenty of path junctions through the trees and up on the hill enough features to cover the techniques required. Bennachie is what I would call an accessible hill, it’s one of the most popular hill walks for all abilities in Aberdeenshire. You can spend a whole day wandering around or you can head up and down Mither Tap in a couple of hours.
We decided to follow the Gordon way to the south side of Oxen Craig. It’s a pleasant woodland walk for most of the way, with a good variety of trees and habitats. Capercaillie are known to wander in the woods but unfortunately we didn’t spot any.
One we reached the top of Oxen Craig I started to notice the litter. I didn’t see that much going through the forest but that probably because the Visitor Centre recently ran a litter collection with the help of Baker Hughes Aberdeen. They bagged a large collection of rubbish that day, which can be seen on their Facebook post. Another litter pick was done not long after this one with another group of volunteers.
Some of the rubbish was perhaps accidently dropped. Some of it deliberately stashed under a rock as if it would somehow never be seen again. I see this often on my walks, even up some our remotest Munros but thankfully not as much.
Oxen Craig is slightly less accessible than Mither Tap, so the quantity of rubbish escalated significantly by the time we reached the lesser summit (Mither Tap is 11m smaller than Oxen Craig…). Again, it could be that some of this rubbish was accidently dropped or blown out of hands. I picked up a few items and put them in my bag.
Bennachie is one typical example of rubbish dropped on our hills, glens and lochs. I see it all over the place. On Ben Nevis last year a fantastic team of volunteers picked up 267kg of rubbish on one day, 100kgs more than the year before! Do we have a growing litter problem? It’s hard to imagine what 267kgs of rubbish looks like!
In an effort to reduce littering, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park have restricted access to the park (see my earlier post on wild camping). Reactively, Councils across Scotland spend millions picking up litter each year. According to zerowastescotland.org.uk, tax payers spend £53 million pounds each year cleaning up litter. I’d encourage everyone to have a look at their website and resources within, www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/our-work/litter-resources.
Somehow we have to break a cycle that seems to suggest a little bit of littering is ok. It’s not ok, if you think the direct costs of littering above are bad, have a read of this report on indirect costs. http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/content/exploring-indirect-costs-litter-scotland.
As this report explains, it’s not just about the money, it’s also about the impact to our environment and state of mind. If no one cares about a wee bit of litter why should I care? It’s a spiral into the abyss of crap.
For your accidental litter dropper, here are my tips:
- Take a rubbish bag with you on walks and let everyone in your group know about it!
- Open your kid’s sweeties for them, they might give you the main part of the sweetie wrapper but the wee bit they tear off will end up on the path.
- Use less packaging, you can put sandwiches in a reusable bag and give it a clean out.
- Take refillable water bottles, make your own juices.
- Take out everything, banana and orange peel takes months to break down.
- Learn how to go to the toilet responsibly outside - https://www.mountaineering.scot/assets/contentfiles/pdf/where-to-go-leaflet.pdf
Finally, if you see litter, pick it up, litter attracts litter. Teach your kids about the impacts of litter. Tell them about the impact to our wildlife and costs to clean up (which they will eventually pay for). On this blog I’ve not posted any pictures of litter on beautiful Bennachie, let’s keep it beautiful.
Wild Camping in Scotland
We are very lucky in Scotland, not only do we have the most beautiful landscape on this planet but we also have a right of access to most of the land and inland waters, meaning we can go almost everywhere responsibly.
Wild camping in Scotland can be a truly uplifting experience. There’s nothing quite like camping under the stars on a crisp evening, watching the aurora and listening to the silence. Being off the grid, back with nature, contemplating your existence, resetting your priorities, being happy!
I had some amazing camps last year, watching the aurora over An Teallach, in Glen Affric and above the Lairig Ghru to name a few. My favourite probably just down from the Devils Point, watching the sunset on Ben Macdui, it was just stunning.
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 established the framework for our access rights. These rights are based on responsible access with conditions for the user and land owners. These responsibilities are set out in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, know the code before you go! http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/
Last week’s press was full of comment about the introduction of new bylaws for the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. These new bylaws restrict access to some of the areas around the National Park and fines can be imposed should the responsible camper go outside the designated (pay to camp) camping areas. The full details can be found on their website - http://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/.
These restrictions have been put in place in an effort to clean up the loch sides. Unfortunately they penalise the responsible camper instead of the intended irresponsible “party” camper, who does not understand the concept of “leave no trace”. True, they might move these people on but they will just go elsewhere. We should be educating them instead and policing using existing laws to penalise unsocial behaviour. Any erosion into our access rights should be a concern but sustainable access must also be considered. It’s never a black and white answer, the key is consultation and buy in. I wonder where the next restriction will be imposed by land owners watching these developments.
I’ll be taking my trusty tent out again this year, so many places to explore. If you’d like to try a wild camping experience just get in touch!
Mondays don't get much better than this! The good forecast meant I ditched the emails and chores and headed for the hills! Conditions were superb above 850m, nice and crisp, probably -5degC on top, with the wind dropping in the afternoon. A stunning day out!
Morven in the snow
Morven in Aberdeenshire is a Corbett standing at 871m. There are a couple of ways to go up the hill, from Logie Coldstone side. You can also approach from the west, taking in Mona Gowan (749m) or from Ballater.
When going solo, my usual approach is straight up the steep side from the east. I can normally do this hill walk in a matter of hours and it’s a great training hill to get the legs and heart pumping. There’s a path that goes southwest which takes some of the steepness out. It’s also a great walk, with abundant junipers bushes along that path.
Mountain hare are also very active, I’ve never yet failed to see one on this hill. There’s usually plenty of grouse and ptarmigan too nearer the top.
Morven is in an ideal location for me to get up high quickly to check out conditions on the ground. On a good day, you can see clearly over to Lochnagar and into the Cairngorms. On Friday (24th Feb) after storm Doris, I was keen to get up into the snow, having a busy weekend planned Morven was the logical choice.
Being the first one on the hill after the snow I was treated to a wildlife display on the ground, lots of tracks of all kinds, grouse, hare, ptarmigan and fox. I love looking at these tracks, they really show up how busy the hill is, something you only see in the snow.
The snow was deep in places and concealed a few holes that seen me up to my thigh. It was hard going too; snow shoes would’ve been great. The wind had scoured the tops but on the slopes and hidden dips I really had to work to get across it.
Unfortunately, there were no views from the top but on the way up and down the views were good. The sun trying to shine through gave the clouds to the south that orange glow, contrasting the snowy landscape below beautifully.
Caution: Walking in winter requires the correct equipment, knowledge and skills. Please consider a winter skills course before venturing out.
This week I decided to return to an old favourite, Loch Callater. I think the first time I trekked round the loch was probably circa 1995 and there was deep snow all round. I remember me and my pal Ally walking round the loch and crossing Allt an Loch beside Jock’s Road, looking back this was probably a bit daft, with snow up above our knees! We must’ve had cold feet but I can’t remember that, I only remember smiling in the snow.
Before this trip, my previous visit was in May last year during the TGO Challenge, totally unexpected I was greeted to a magnificent reception at the lodge, a night I’ll never forget and it will live with me forever. I’ll return there again this summer with a decent bottle of whisky for Bill, George and Mike, the hosts that evening and caretakers for the Lodge.
Forecast for this walk was ok, although windy. MWIS suggested gusts of 70mph, that’s why I opted for a low-down walk, just in case it was too bad up top.
I stopped off at Callater Stables bothy, maintained by the MBA. The bothy is nice and bright with the roof windows but has no fire place (which is maybe a good thing). There’s also a good but strange toilet set up, installed by the Boys Brigade, it has two seats next to each other with no barrier….I kind of like my privacy when I’m sitting down!
After a quick bite to eat at the window, I went out in the wind and headed up the path. With no snow lying I made quick time on the path and before I knew it was up on the beallach between Creag an Loch and Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr. The wind was gusting and continuous but not 70mph. With my two down jackets and plenty of layers, I decided to push on up to the top of Carn an t-Sagairt Mòr, passing the 1956 Canberra plane wreckage which always puts a shiver up me.
Returning the same route, I walked back to the car park with a lovely couple from Aboyne who were walking up the other side of the loch.
I went up Bennachie last November to take in the sunset, it was one of those days where a warm south westerly wind was bringing over beautiful lenticular clouds, with plenty of visibility, so great for photography. I took a few photos that day, in all directions and I also took one using ViewRanger's new Skyline addition.
Not long after I posted the picture I was contacted about the possibility of ViewRanger doing a story on Hillgoers, which I was delighted to accept. I've been using the app for a few years now but it's not a replacement for good navigation skills (see my previous blog, don't get lost). I use the app every other day, for route planning, marking points of interest, occasionally checking position during navigation practice and I do like the Skyline feature.
I asked Jack from the team what he would like to see during our hike and he said a stag would be nice. Having picked Jack up from the airport, we only had a few hours to film the story and I didn't want to take Jack anywhere too technical, so opted for the trusty Loch Muick where stags are a plenty. And true to form, right in the middle of the dog walking area in the car park, stood a majestic Royal Stag!
We had a leisurely walk round the loch then up to Glas-allt-Shiel and the falls. Walking back the same route apart from going up to the old lodge, then back to the visitor centre to do more of the video (I was pleased it was leisurely as I was nursing a broken rib from a bike fall two weeks before, meaning little sleep, you can see it in my tired face on the video....).
It was a cold December day with a bit of a breeze which made the sound recording difficult but Jack did a great job editing the video. I'm still a little embarrassed looking at it though...I hope you like it!
If you'd like to learn more or join me on a walk get in touch!
"Brave Caledonia dear are thy mountains, I sigh for the valley o' dark Lochnagar".
I've lost count of the times I've been to Lochnagar but I'll never tire of it. There's a reason why so many songs and poems have been sung about the mountain and loch, it's a mysterious place with a stunning landscape that looks different each time I visit.
Prince Charles tells a story of a wee old man with hairy knees living in a cave by the loch and I can almost believe it. I've been there on days with no wind or people and the only noise you pick up is a grouse or ptarmigan. I could imagine the wee old man fishing on by the loch when I headed home!
I've also been there on days like this week when the wind roars through the col. On days like that there’s not much waiting about admiring views down to the loch, the wind saps the temperature from you. There’s plenty of boulders to shelter behind though, which I did whilst I ate my lunch.
Lochnagar hosts some of the rarest wildflowers in Scotland, the soil being slightly richer than that of the neighbouring Cairngorms. The black face of the corrie is not the true colour, when the snow clears you can see fresh rock fall and the true pinkish rock, lichen growing for possibly thousands of years give the black appearance, adding to the dark Lochnagar.
I’ll be visiting Lochnagar on many occasions next year, join me and I can tell you even more about this magical place.
Wishing all our friends and families a wonderful Christmas and all the best for next year. Thanks for all of your support this year. Looking forward to seeing you all again next year.
A video from my walk across Scotland earlier in the year as part of The Great Outdoors Challenge.
I had a great wee wander in Braemar yesterday, the village was looking festive in the frost and the Christmas tree looked fab with it's woollen decorations! A double shot coffee in the Bothy helped warm me up too, minus 8 degC wakes your senses in the morning.
I decided to take advantage of the glorious weather and headed up the hill at the back of the village, Creag Choinnich. It's just a short walk up a good path and it gives fantastic views, down through Glen Clunie, along the Dee, Beinn a' Bhuird and Ben Avon. You can also see right down onto the village, Braemar Castle and Invercauld Estate.
The view was so good at the top with hardly a breath of wind. As I chomped on my snack bar an RAF jet flew below me, what an experience that must be but I still think I'd prefer to be up a hill watching it! After spending far too long at the top, I headed quietly back down and counted 6 red squirrels on my way, delaying me even more as I slowed pace and took in their playing around.
Have a look at this walk the next time you're in Braemar, contact me for more information.