I hadn’t been out on a trip with Aberdeen Hill Walkers for ages, they’d not been active much during the pandemic and had started up again with some smaller walks earlier in the year. We were dropped off at Millden Lodge and started making our way north first along the road then estate tracks.
I passed a cottage that ,the previous time years ago, had had a caged eagle owl out back. no sign of it now, but many cages of snarling dogs. Perhaps in light of a recent investigation and conviction of a Millden gamekeeper (and evidence of further uncharged crimes) the feral lackeys of Millden have reigned in their regime of animal cruelty while under the spotlight. I’d hazard a guess it’ll not be the last we hear of such loathsome practices here though, there’s something just odd about these glens.
The group climbed the gravelly motorways past lines of butts
We’d stop occasionally to allow the group to come together. While at one of these rests, and scanning the muirburn-scarred hills, my eyes caught some movement breaking the horizon
Although distant, a crop of a fully-zoomed snap tilted my guess towards this being the first eagle I’d seen in a long time. Hopefully it can remain free of the cruel machinations of grouse land-management.
We briefly lost the main track and ambled along a deer path and around some knobbly tors just short of the top
A brief break was taken within the Mount Battock shelter. The trig point is rare in that it still has it’s metal notice plate.
Continuing down we passed some mountain bikers who warned us about an adder on the track
No sign of any activity as yet from the recent buy-out of the land around Clachnaben which is getting used for carbon banking and will at some point see environmental improvement
Drawing closer to Clachnaben we could see it was busy: various parties having lunch and some climbers on the steep side.
I decided heading down that I’d split form the rest to go explore a bit
The main path has a couple forks, the first heads north and was taken the last time I was up here on bike, the second heading north east to the top of the Slack of Dye was new to me.
A thin path heads steeply up Mount Shade, the last ascent of the day. Looking back across there’s a good view of the main path to Clachnaben
There’s a couple paths head off the top of Mount Shade, I headed straight ahead which descends to Threestane hill, and where there are (presumably 3) rocky outcrops.
The path continuing east becomes overgrown and fizzles out a bit, tracking a couple deer paths but eventually making it as planned to the stile over the deer fence around the forest below
The forest here is primarily dense plantation, with channels blasted through what looks like quite recently – possibly for post-storm works, though from higher up it looked like it had escaped mostly unscathed
Conscious that an extra hill had likely put me behind the main party in returning to meet the bus, I got a jog on along the forestry roads down, steaming hot now sheltered from the breeze
The efforts in descending had put me just ahead of the group, 21km done. With all the group back with time to spare we managed a pub stop in Banchory on the way home, a cold beer gratefully supped.