Today’s plan was Aberdeen parkrun, then probably a local walk and a coffee somewhere. However, in the wee small hours the plan changed to Hazlehead parkrun allowing me an extra bit of time in bed; I’ve become quite accustomed to getting up around 9 am or later! The last change to the plan came when Bruce mentioned that it looked like a great hill day – clear skies and very little wind.
Too Good To Miss!
We’d contemplated heading ‘out the road’ for a Hogmanay walk as we made our plans yesterday evening, but with Bruce’s new hip (and another awaited) it’s a question of balance, particularly in wintry conditions. Despite this a little voice in my head had kept up the chatter and I was happy to bin the run in favour of some time in the big outdoors.
We opted for Ballater and Loch Muick as it’s relatively close and gives lots of options, even with a far later start than we’d ordinarily have gone for. The road out to Loch Muick car park was in pretty good condition given that temperatures were hovering around -2C, and it was only the car park itself that was very icy. Oh, and the path as we then discovered.
We’d packed all the winter gear (crampons, ice axes, lots of clothing) but opted for the Kahtoola microspikes as the decision was made to stay low. We were the envy of many walkers as the path was covered in thick, lumpy ice giving cause for them tentatively clinging to the verge or going very slowly with great trepidation. Meanwhile, I was in my element, strolling along and having fun ‘popping’ the puddles. I love the sound that the cracking ice makes!
Along the path we chatted to various people, usually as we overtook them. We took pleasure in seeing a few handsome stags hanging out on the crest of the hillside, keeping a watchful eye on us all.
Up The Zig Zags
We stayed on the left side of the loch, rather than heading towards Lochnagar, following the path all the way along to the zig zags.
Here we headed up to gain beautiful views of the surrounding hills and the loch below. It was well worth the wee climb and the underfoot conditions were so much better with the snow covering the path here.
Options then included a walk along the top to come back down the streak of lightning which is what we’d originally hoped to do, but not wishing to return by torch light we opted just to retrace our steps.
It was so good to be out, not least because the new hip appears to have settled in well. The big outdoors is so great for the soul and we were both very happy to have been among the hills for a change. We look forward to 2023 when all being well we’ll be out and about (pain free) for summer!