The day’s walk with Aberdeen Hill walking was back to the Coyles of Muick, a small hill near Ballater that I’d visited back in 2017.
With stiff legs from a tough race the previous evening, this was definitely going to be a leisurely stroll. The day started off wandering through woods
Past the lovely mirrored calm of Loch Ullachie
A gentle ascent through the woods eventually reaches the edge where the moorland comes into view, with distant more prominent hills
Out from the trees the chilly breeze hit us, and I got out my new ebay purchase – helly hansen polar mitts. They’re a simple pertex/pile mitt that are easier than gloves to on/off a lot (which camera peeps like myself are tended to do)
I took a detour to go and have a look for ‘Coyles cottage’ a small shelter on the shoulder of Meall Dubh
It’s not a well known howff, and leafing back through the visitor’s logbook, I could still see my entry from 2017
As I hustled across the heather to catch up the rest of the group, I noticed a figure standing on top of the cairn at the top of the hill ahead, I presumed it was gamekeepers scoping for deer.
I caught up with the party, and it turned out the folk on top were firefighters from England who were testing out all-terrain vehicles.
There’s some great views around from the top, but it was pretty chilly and was glad I’d taken a thick down jacket to stay warm when having a bit of lunch.
We decided to descend south to the next part of our route
This wasn’t a good choice as heading downhill towards the river was blocked by a deer-fenced enclosure and we had to head back north until the enclosure finished and we could head down through the woods
The club’s plan involved a long return leg through forest fireroad and then busy roads, so a splinter group decided on a route heading across the River Muick to avoid road as much as possible before emerging at Ballater
A track headed into lush woodland at West Lodge and this trail looked to be rarely used, but was a good choice
There’s a dammed pond that appears to be used for fishing (though looks quite small and overgrown). nearby, a real grandfather huge conifer tree.
As we bimbled down the track, an unexpected ruin peeped through the foliage and required investigation. It appears to be the remnant of an old church, the tower only remaining. Update: It was known as St. Nathalan’s and was built in 1875. How it looked originally can be seen on p46 of this PDF.
Nearby what may be an old crypt entrance and a monument.
Ballater came into sight, but we weren’t finished yet, heading along the path beside the road that then climbs through some woods
Hidden in these woods are two small ponds glowing with autumn colours
Down to the bridge and back in to town for a cafe stop to round off a lovely day out