First Hill of 2020: Pressendye

The original plan for the first hill of the year was to head out on New Year’s Day. However, best laid plans and all that …

The reality of NYD was that we stayed out later than planned on Hogmanay, and when the 8 am alarm clock sounded I felt way too tired to get up. The resulting effect? Waking at 10:55 am, thus missing both the best part of a beautiful hill walking day and the opportunity to do parkrun. A walk along the golf course it was then.

Having not been out for a hill ‘fix’ since Christmas, one of us needed to get out today – it wasn’t me, although I’m glad that we did. The days are all merging into one at present and before I know it we’ll be back to the daily grind.

Due to a very blustery forecast with fog on the high tops we opted for Pressendye, a Graham that’s accessed from Tarland. We’ve done this before and I’ve blogged about it before so I’ll not go into too much detail.

Starting the walk in the main square, it’s a brisk walk along the road for the first wee while before the slog of the day begins, slowly ascending up through the fields and trees.

Pressendye: the first of the gates

Through a few gates – these were sent to try us, and were likened to a Krypton Factor Challenge – we reached the very broad ridge. This was where the wind really picked up and we were glad to be going in the ‘right’ direction, the wind at our backs. Reaching the large windshelter cairn at the summit was a welcome relief and gave a great spot to stop and have some lunch, very much protected from the wind that was howling around us.

Down we then went, dropping out of the wind pretty quickly, following good tracks along the way.

Very randomly, we bumped into a friend of the husband – small world!! After a chat with them we continued, finally descending through the lovely avenue of tall trees.

Tree lined ‘avenue’, Pressendye, Tarland

Coming out just as you approach Tarland from the Aberdeen side there were some very impressive bails, a bail ‘castle’, and a huge white plastic wrapped thing that looked like an enormous slug! Google’s a great thing: I’ve now learned that this is silage wrapped in a Budissa Bag. There are even YouTube videos showing the process, so if you’re bored (or a geek like me) have a watch! I’m well impressed- easy pleased!

Back in Tarland we stopped at Angie’s Cafe for a bacon butty and tea. A perfect end to the first day in the hills. Here’s to many more!

Looking back up to Pressendye

Last Outing of the Year: Pressendye

In an ideal world we’d have finished the year as we started – on a munro. However, the weather had other ideas, and with the prospect of blustery tops and cloud we decided to stay lower instead. The plan was therefore to head for Ballater to do the Seven Bridges Walk. No arrangements had been made with regards to timing and one of us (me!) decided to stay in bed late, the upshot being that we were then left questioning the wisdom of this decision given the journey time and length of walk. Hence, we happened upon Pressendye instead.

Pressendye’s a fine wee hill (a Graham) and is easily accessed on a circular route from Tarland. The initial walk out on the road is about 2 miles and is the least enjoyable part. After that you reach the track that heads upwards, leading to fields, then up towards the summit of the hill. There’s nothing overly strenuous about it, navigation is easy – we’ve done it a few times so didn’t bother with route guides or maps today – and before you know it you’re up, with views to Mount Keen in one direction and Bennachie in the other.

As we walked today we chatted and had our own review of the year, sharing our thoughts on what we felt had been our personal achievements and best moments, alongside our goals for next year – London Marathon for me and quite a number of new munros for Bruce.

Heading up it did get blustery, although with temperatures unseasonably high it was far from unpleasant. Heading off the summit it’s an easy track descent with signposts for the circular route further down to guide you back in the direction of Tarland. There are two routes; admittedly we forgot to check where they go on our return to the village!

One of my favourite parts of the walk is the beautiful tree lined path as you get lower. For old times sake I stopped to hug a tree, then remembered how good this feels so hugged another few on the way down. I think this is on a par with being in the mountains; it makes you realise that you really are just a small part of a much bigger picture!

Hug a tree!

On that note, I hope you’re feeling positive should you be reflecting on the year or thinking about the next one. However small, there’s always something to be grateful for.