Crannach Hillhike, trail running

Today’s trip was heading from Ballater to Dinnet, taking in a bit of exploration and heading up some small hills before heading through to the lochs of Dinnet. Getting off the bus in Ballater there was a mist and low lying cloud but thought the sun would burn that off soon enough.

Heading up through the birches and oaks of Craigendarroch
Heading past from rocky bits
To the west side the path gets steep and bouldery
Through an area of birches festooned with lichen
Birch and rowan in autumn colours

Reaching the top of this small hill there are views through gaps in the trees to the surrounding hills and of the town below

Lochnagar to the south west
The Dee down below and patchwork of valley fields
Cairn and rock-slabby top

I headed down and around to the back of the hill to cross the pass of Ballater and then on to a farm track

Steep north side of the hill
Crossed over the road and heading up again
Golden birches alight with autumn sun

As I climbed up further I could see shards of the morning’s low-lying clouds, like spindles of cotton wool, persisting where the low morning sun hadn’t warmed yet

Heading up past Balmenach, looking back to a great view of Lochnagar
Looking down Glen Bardy with Carn Dearg behind and Geallaig Hill further and higher
Old remnants of shielings

Rather than continuing past Peter’s Hill I took a right to cross moorland and would approach the next target, Crannach Hill, from the north side

Morven distant across moorland. Not going that high up today
Track below Peter’s Hill
An unexpected hut, over for a look
Looks like it only provides shelter to sheep nowadays
Would have once been a cosy bothy
The other room still has a bit of windowframe

Approaching Crannach Hill, there is a marked difference in terrain; grassy to the left and heather/ young conifers to the right. A trace of a track heads onwards past the foot of the hill towards Morven

Division in the terrain
Making my way down to the burn, Mount Keen in the distance
The other side of Tullich burn, a scattering of young trees

I can see why the difference in vegetation – Crannach Hill is behind a deer fence so is able to regenerate without being stripped bare by sheep and deer. There’s a fine band of autumn hued trees on the far side of the fence

Behind the fence trees thriving at Tullich Burn
Across Tullich Burn

Fortunately there’s a stile close to hand (wish OS maps marked them)

Small plaque indicates what’s going on

After the trip I had a look to see about “Upper Tullich Glen pinewood” but couldn’t find much. There’s a bit more info on the 14th page of this PDF from 1995. (also more on Dinnet tree regeneration on 17).

I started making my way uphill; there’s no path on this side and the heather is quite deep, but nice to weave in and out the young trees, compared with the barren stretches opposite.

The years of being enclosed have seen a gradual
In the micro world below a blob of pink
And tiny translucent mushrooms
Looking towards Morven now under a cloud
The blobs on the moor below are juniper bushes
Up near the top slabby rocks poke through the heather

I crossed another fence, it appears only the rear of the hill is enclosed. I reached a small cairn, from here (the highest point at 602m) south there was a rounded ridge of sorts, with a scrape of a path and more cairns leading the way

And a small cairn near 602 height
Looking south
Mount Keen and cairn
Lichen with another speckled one on top
More tree growth on the ridge
Looking west to Creagan Riabhach
South east to the Culsten burn

Heading down the ridge the trees get thicker and it gets steeper and bouldery; I decide to head left down into the glen but it’s all tough going, and not runnable: care taken as hidden holes await my ankles

The trees change from sparse to dense
A steep jumble of heather-covered rocks
The next barrier of dense bracken
Munching some heather
There’s a few steep slabby bits
The slope levels off

Eventually I hacked through to a trail and got running again, first I’d head down to check out a pool on the Culsten burn then continue east.

Back on a trail
Along the brackened path the pool comes into view

I’m glad I decided to check this out; autumn has blazed it’s wand kindly here creating an oasis of golden hues

Greens and golds
Looking to the north end
Towards the south end

In the surrounds there appear to be some old pits or small quarries (could be natural too I guess) one of them has an old shelter

I make my way to the outflow end. There’s brickwork and either a wall or dam of sorts. It looks pretty old n rickety; not sure I’d like to stay in a house downstream of this. Water is springing through in rivulets in various places.

View across from the outflow is nice
Pool outflow of the ‘dam’

I made my way back round the pool and then across the Culsten Burn at a ford on the path where there’s a nice tumble of water.

Culsten Burn

After 2km of trails through the woods of Cambus O’May, I entered into the Vat burn gorge.

Into the gorge
Occasional bright red rowan standing out
Past the old oak in the cliff face
A nook below
Glowing leaves above
Tiny flower surprised to see me
Tiny toad amongst the undergrowth
Falling leaves and damp rocks abound
These curved crags appear to have had a recent chunk fall off
Quite a lot of log debris from recent heavy rain. I imagine you can get a fair torrent here when it flash floods down off the hills above
Picking my way downstream. Quite slippery today
Rock faces climbing above as the Vat is reached
A quick snap of the waterfall, tourists just out of view

Rather than head directly to Dinnet I thought I’d peruse the north side of Loch Kinord. First passing the ruins of Old Kinord then having a peak at Loch Davan

Old Kinord ruin
Old Kinord information board
Loch Davan very still. Culblean hill left, Morven right
Autumn shores
Track heading east
Through birch wood
There are older settlements barely visible, just a few rocks and lumps

I decided to head back along a bit of the Loch Kinord shore to see the cross and the cranog islands surrounded by autumn colours. This web site has some great info on the various islands.

Next past the Cross Slab beside Loch Kinord
Kinord cross information board
Loch Kinord
Island with yonder hills, Pannanich and Corrienearn I think

A section of mud/rocky path is littered with beetles, hundreds of them, some sort of mass swarm. Being a path with a fair bit of footfall, there’s loads had been crushed unfortunately by bumbling strollers oblivious to what’s going on underfoot.

Past the pool near Dinnet
Outflow stream
Curling pond

I’d never paid much attention to the shed by the pond but the door was ajar so had a nosey. Clearly the pond was a curling pond from the stuff left behind

Curling shed
Assorted old curling bits n bobs

A shame it’s no longer used but I guess with warmer winters there wouldn’t be much play most years. I’d arrived at Dinnet but had some time to kill before the bus arrived so continued onwards for a short wander. 30+ km today all told, and some interesting new places explored.

Old train station
Along the Deeside way
There’s a graveyard just off of it in woods
I think this may be for an old nearby kirk
It was mostly older graves but with a few up until more recent times

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