“England! thy beauties are tame and domestic
To one who has roved o’er the mountains afar
Oh for the crags that are wild and majestic!
The steep frowning glories of dark Lochnagar!”
Well that’s where I was yesterday with the Ancrum Mountaineering Club and what a day it was. There were 9 of us in our group (4 club members and 5 guests). After meeting up in Blairgowrie we headed up to Royal Deeside which took longer than expected due to a cycle event and a lot of fit cyclists out on the Braemar road. Rather them than me cycling up that road!
It was after 11am before we got started on the walk, but well worth the delay. The weather just could not have been better for us. Although very warm at the start, once we go up a bit higher there was a welcome breeze that kept us cool. We went up the “standard” way which most people use past Alt-na-giubhsaich from the Spittal of Glenmuick car park (which was overflowing). Of course this weekend is a bank holiday so what with the good weather and the general popularity of this hill, it was very busy. And I mean very busy, a bit like being in the Lake District. Such a shame as this is a fantastic hill and deserves to stay on the wild side. Unfortunately nowadays due to all this foot traffic, the hill has “manufactured paths”. I would much rather have more natural paths or off path walking though of course going uphill off path is always harder work! Parts of the path felt like walking up a staircase which is not really my idea of a Scottish hill but I guess it has to be this way. It’s still a fine hill though but I think next time it is a bank holiday we should find somewhere a bit more obscure.
From the summit we could see rain clouds over in the Cairngorms to our west which were heading our way. Fortunately although they did come close, they must have gone down the Dee Valley and missed us!
Our return route was via the Glas-alt-Shiel waterfall and then about an hour’s walk out alongside Loch Muick. Both routes are great in different ways. The ascent route which goes up to the col between the Lochnagar ridge and Meikle Pap provides views across the corrie with its lochan, to the cliffs. The descent route has a lovely burn and of course the waterfall in a wooded glen in its lower reaches. By now it was clouding over a bit and looking back to the hill we could see that it was now shrouded in cloud.
In total it took us about 7 hours which I guess is pretty reasonable but it was quite a late return as we had had the late start. Fortunately no cyclists were out on the road back, so the journey home was a lot quicker.
Interested in joining the Ancrum Mountaineering Club? We are always looking for new members and you are very welcome to join us as a guest for a couple of meets before joining. We have regular day meets on the last Sunday of the month and weekend meets usually on the second weekend in the month. It is our 40th anniversary this year and the September meet at Kintail (staying at the Morvich Centre) is going to be a celebration. Either check us out on our meetup website or get in touch for more info.