Having initially thought it would be a day for Aberdeen parkrun, I was easily swayed when advised that there was not a breath of wind on the hills. Having checked the forecast last night it was apparent that Lochnagar, a winter favourite, was not the best idea due to the direction we’d be heading up. However, there are plenty of great alternatives!
Snowgate Webcam: Beats the TV!
While waiting for the shower I entertained myself by looking at weather forecasts and the Braemar snow gate camera. The action unfolded minute by minute! I’m not sure this level of excitement is normal; I was just intrigued as to whether the parked car knew something I didn’t (and we all love a tractor, don’t we?)
Dynamic Decision Making: Morrone
Driving out the road towards Ballater we debated where to wind up. Conachcraig featured highly, but we were unsure what condition the road from Ballater to Glen Muick would be in, so the decision was made to head on to Braemar and walk Morrone instead.
Heading Up En Masse!
Leaving the main car park, we quickly came upon a large group of about 20 people apparently headed the same way. We debated whether or not they were hill bound as some of the footwear choices were a little dubious given the snowy conditions; turns out they were the University of Aberdeen Camera Club and they did indeed go all the way to the top.
We passed them by on the road up from the village, they passed us as we stopped to stash layers in the bags, passing back and forth on the way up the hill. This bustle reinforced for me that walking is about the peace and solitude; I find it somewhat annoying to be disturbed by the noise of others! (How antisocial I have become!)
We followed the footsteps of others who had gone before, taking a slightly different route to normal. The snow was soft and had blown around a bit creating some deeper patches that saw our boots sink in and snow reaching just below the knees. Having left my gaiters at home I was glad of my waterproofs to hide my fashion statement – trousers tucked into long socks!
Losing the Crowds, Albeit Briefly
To get the views we cut across the side of the hill to find the rocky cairns. From here one of us was able to name all the mountains in sight – no prizes for guessing which one!
A Busy Summit!
Reaching the summit we came upon even more people! The University of Leeds hill walkers were up; we chatted to them for a bit – I’m quite sociable when meeting people on summits or on route up or down; it’s just prolonged exposure that I dislike.
There were also some cross country skiers with dogs, and a few of the camera group had made it up ahead of us. It’s a big summit, so plenty of room for us all alongside the masts that were picturesque in the snow.
Having realised that I’d left my sit-mat with my gaiters (in my other rucksack) I enjoyed a stand while Bruce sat for a snack. He kindly then allowed me the luxury of a seat while he wandered around to take more photos.
Retracing Our Steps
There’s the option of following the fire road down, but we chose to go back the way we’d come as it was so scenic. The snow drifts were beautiful and we enjoyed a bit more crunch on the return leg. I was in my element! I love the sound of ice breaking on puddles when I pop it with my walking poles and this have a similar sound as the boots crunched the ice.
Lower down the snow was easier to step into and we both had a couple of moments where we were pretty much thigh deep, wriggling around to get out! I also had a particularly joyous moment where my foot went into a wee burn under the snow, filling my boot with water.
Back down to the duck pond, we were just a short walk down the now clear road to get back to Braemar and, of course, The Bothy for coffee.
So glad we went out! One of those rare hill days with sunshine and not a breath of wind. Perfect for the soul!