Coyles of Muick 2019

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

Pine-needled trails
Possibly oyster mushrooms, there were loads of them on a fallen tree

Past the lovely mirrored calm of Loch Ullachie

Surrounded by trees, always mirror calm
Island and reflections

A gentle ascent through the woods eventually reaches the edge where the moorland comes into view, with distant more prominent hills

Out on to the moor, chilly now not sheltered by the trees.

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)

Looks nice down towards Glen Girnock, somwhere to explore in the future
Looking back along the forest edge we’ve followed. Rainbows everywhere today

I took a detour to go and have a look for ‘Coyles cottage’ a small shelter on the shoulder of Meall Dubh

Easy enough to spot approaching Meall Dubh from the NE. It’s on the east flank of the hill halfway up, about 100m off the nearest path
Inside. Maybe room for 3 or 4 folk sitting at a push. I think it may have had roof sheeting replaced since last time I was here

It’s not a well known howff, and leafing back through the visitor’s logbook, I could still see my entry from 2017

Today’s entry added
Previous entry
View outside
Light streaming through the plastic sheets in the roof

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.

Mount keen in the distance
A sprinkling o sna on Lochnagar
The coyles cairn ahead, not a normal place to see a vehicle, gamekeepers perhaps?

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.

All terrain buggies
The path loops round the natural calaminarian grasslands to the cairn

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.

Looking across from the cairn to the nearby top, highest point of the day 601m
There’s another ruined cairn, looking around it’s edge
Colour front and rear: The low sun picks out a larch on the steep side of the Coyles, while a rainbow lands on Creag nam Ban
Wide view
The round cairn
The not-so-round cairn beside it
The party heads over the summit
Heading down, waves of hill between here and Lochnagar

We decided to descend south to the next part of our route

Serpentine rocks of the Coyles

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

Down through the woods
Oh suns out for a bit
Along fire roads

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

Craigendarroch “Hill of the oaks” lit up, above Ballater
Making our way to the river
Crossing the River Muick

A track headed into lush woodland at West Lodge and this trail looked to be rarely used, but was a good choice

Mossy woodlands

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.

Fishing pond has cctv, it would appear it’s been ‘poached’ too many times
Big old pine

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.

Old kirk tower ruin
Inside
Looking up
Old iron bolt

Nearby what may be an old crypt entrance and a monument.

Bricked up crypt entrance
Memorial to Sir James Mackenzie and family members

Ballater came into sight, but we weren’t finished yet, heading along the path beside the road that then climbs through some woods

Ballater below Craigendarroch

Hidden in these woods are two small ponds glowing with autumn colours

The northern pond lies beside the path
the southern one requires hacking through the undergrowth a bit. It’s got a platform on the west side
memorial to Sir Allan Mackenzie, son of James who created the old kirk ruin visited earlier

Down to the bridge and back in to town for a cafe stop to round off a lovely day out

Bridge over the Dee
Into toon
Time for cake n tea

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