Last Saturday, I woke up with a plan...
I'd been having the desire to go for a decent hill-walk/hike somewhere for a while. The weather forecast was promising for Deeside, and around Balmoral (where the Queens stays in summer) so I thought that would fit the bill, make my other-half happy, and perhaps I could get some pictures whilst there !
Starting out early, we decided to head for the Loch Muick area - somewhere I know pretty well - and take the walking circuit around the lochs perimeter, a decent, but not too rugged, 12-13km walk. Shortly after we started our route, the sun began to break through the clouds, and warm things up. This continued, and soon it was a lovely sunny day, with fluffy clouds, but with a fresh breeze blowing up the valley.
We arrived at the stone wall entrance to Glas-Allt-Sheil, the old hunting lodge built for Queen Victoria in 1868. Here we stopped for a sandwich and a seat on the grass frontage facing the loch. We then climbed up behind the lodge to follow the stream that runs to the loch, up to a couple of waterfalls further up the hill.
After that, we descended to head towards the western end of the loch, and stopped there to enjoy the sandy 'beach' and beautiful sunshine. I also snuck in a few photographs on the glens and mountains to the west, before we moved on round to the south side of the loch.
Rapidly becoming too warm from the rising temperature, and the now unnecessary gloves, hats and jackets that we were wearing earlier, we made our way along the south path, which is quite a bit narrower and more rocky than the other side of the loch. Some care needed in parts, and with a recent rock slide that had re-arranged the path somewhat in one section, appropriate footwear was definitely needed.
Our next stop was down beside the loch below a stream falling through a gulley that ends up at a small grassy and sandy 'beach' on the loch side. With great views up and down the loch, this is a great place to take a few moments.
Climbing down to this spot is a little tricky though, and care is needed when descending through the thick heather and gorse bushes.
On the way back to the car-park at the end of the walk, we spotted lots of deer down by the waters in the sunshine. There were even several close down beside the car park area when we arrived back at the visitor centre!
All in all, it was a lovely walk, on a fantastic day, in a stunning location!