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Lochnagar Sunset

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Lochnagar Sunset

Lochnagar Sunset

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.

Spital of Glen Muick visitor centre

Spital of Glen Muick visitor centre

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.

Red Spout

Red Spout

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.

Campsite toward the Stuic

Campsite toward the Stuic

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.

Stuic and Loch nan Eun

Stuic and Loch nan Eun

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.

Grouse feathers

Grouse feathers

Mountain Hare

Mountain Hare

Dubh Loch

Dubh Loch

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!

If you'd like to join me on a walk get in touch. Our next planned event is 20th May but we welcome bespoke outings too.

Bridge over the Muick

Bridge over the Muick

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A day out hiking with Viewranger

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A day out hiking with Viewranger

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!

Jack working his magic

Jack working his magic

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....).

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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!

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Carnferg - a small hill with large views

It was far too bright and fresh today to sit inside typing emails and doing chores so I headed for a hill nearby. Carnferg up the Fungle road from Aboyne is a great wee walk, with the sun beaming through the trees and crunching iced turf below my feet, a pleasant 3 hours it was!  

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The memorial cairn  

The memorial cairn  

Lochnagar, the Cairngorms and Morven  

Lochnagar, the Cairngorms and Morven  

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