Today’s trip with the Marine Lab starts near Ballater and heads into the hills to the South.
At the car park there’s a notice about a nearby bit of history
Looking across to the hills North West clad in autumn dress
Funcy hoose amongst the trees
We begin making our way up the track
Dalmochie camp is a few hundred metres along. During WW2, volunteers from Newfoundland came over to aid Britain’s war effort in the forest of the area. There’s a small plaque that looks quite recent, commemorating one of the camp’s foremen, Ralph Crocker. The forestry commission have more information on the camps here.
There’s some notice boards also with some history
If you want to read the text on these you can access a higher resolution version here. We continue onwards through the woods
An old disused quarry looks like it’s being propped up by a log
It’s pleasant walking, chilly sharp and sunny
Beechy and mossy
I head off track into the woods, lured by a glimmer in the dark, reaching a brief sun beam path of golden green, lush and deep. None but the native beasts have trod here in many a sun and moon
The spell is broken by an illuminating gap in the foliage, giving first glimpse of distant snowy tops
Near the house of Glenmuick we break free of the deep woods, blue skies beckon
We begin climbing up through pines striped by the low autumn sun
Zooming SW, the crags of Lochnagar.
We pass a small pool with a dam on the Brackley Burn
Looking downstream from the dam. Damn nice view
More tree striped goodness
It was chilly in the woods but warming up out in the sun, no doubt helped by a 20% gradient
Nice cirrocumulus high above
The path follows a number of mans attempts to partition the wilds
Something watches our huffing and puffing up the hill
A beady eye in a dark body, besnared to the drystane
Beyond the wall, is the top of Pannanich Hill, 601m. Looking NE we can see Bennachie 30km distant, and much closer loch Kinord with its crannog on the right
A zoom into the meanders of the Dee as it passes Dinnet House
A small cairn NE of the Pannanich trig, zoomed in to magnify Lochnagar
Up higher now the trail has iced over
At the trig a group on mountain bikes look NE pondering their next descent
Beside them there’s another sculpture, a shepherd bent over backwards, stylistically and materially made by the same person as the hare previously. They don’t know why they’re there, but saw more on their climb up
They head off NE towards Corrienearn and then to cross the rocky slabs of Bellamore Craig, there’s an unmarked trail known to MTBers as ‘Heartbreak ridge’ there that heads back down to the valley floor that is highly rated. Jealous to not be on two wheels today
They gather breath at Corrienearn, before the descent proper begins
We continue South past frozen pools
Heading West we scatter some deer
They continue on their way past the top of the ridge allowing a zoomed in view of Ballater
Looking back towards Morven
Our group waits at the fork near Craig Vallich for some laggards, I pop over and have a look over the back. I can hear stags roaring down in the valley though the rutting season is mostly over. We stop for lunch and take in the view. The clear skies are now gone, but it’s very still so not too cold.
Looking past endless trees deeper into the mountains
A hut on the track at 583. Not a MBA bothy, an estate hunting hut.
It’s unlocked (surprising close to a town, and apparently not usually the case) so I have a peak in.
The crossroads points the correct way to the popular Mount Keen. The fork we follow to Cairn Leuchan, which if following a compass to Keen would seem the right way, doesn’t go much further. No doubt many chose wrong before the sign was up
The last climb up to the top of Cairn Leuchan
This rocky mound is the top
Good view across to Mount Keen
Skies beginning to hue as the sun sets
Time to head on back
Taking a left down to Balintober, another sculpture, that makes it 3 hares 2 fowk
The track joins the road beside a memorial and seat
Some other sculptures nearby in a garden
Along the road for a bit then back into the woods to see ‘Meml Cairn’ as marked on OS, a splendid monument to an estate owner who was well thought of by the local community. It was restored in recent years, more information on this here
Light now fading fast past a pool
You should always take out your headtorch before it gets dark, because afterwards it’s too dark to rummage for it and see it within your bag.. having made this rookie error, I return through the last mile of woods in darkness.
I’m not one to really make a fuss about pub food.. but an exception needs to be made regards Aboyne’s boat inn.. worst meal in years, that I should have sent back, awful. Undercooked Plaice, with a feeble scattering of pickled mushrooms and hazlenuts, a poorly thought out combination, not presented or well cooked and not worth the inflated price. Others in the group were also underwhelmed with various other dishes. A shame as nice staff and a bonny place.