Mountain days needn’t all be mega-taxing experiences. That epic twelve hour plus day, moving at the speed of light, with very few stops can be an extremely satisfying physical and mental challenge, but it often doesn’t permit the luxury of really engaging with the surroundings. The past few weeks have been about shorter hill days, enjoying the scenery, and really absorbing the beauty of the changing seasons. Observing the change of colour to the hills, as the brown washed out appearance as a legacy from the Autumn changes to the vibrancy of spring colours. Lower down, the trees, as is customary in the North-East of Scotland, hint at spring for weeks and then within five days have developed their full summer leaved appearance. This year it’s very much been a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’: that very pale yet intense spring green mantle of the woods and forests.
‘The Hidden Side to Glenshee’ involved exploring a new route up Creag Leacach. Starting at Spittal of Glenshee, we picked up the Cateran trail and headed up the SSW ridge of Creag Leacach. This is a quiet route as most hill-goers elect to climb this Munro from the Glen Shee ski area. It was a remarkably warm day with plenty of sunshine, fair weather cumulus – in short, that wonderful time of year when you can enjoy both the hills and warmth without fear of the dreaded Scottish midge. We descended into a glen behind the ridge, where we came upon a huge herd of deer, who, as deer tend to do, panicked as soon as they realised we were near: a stampeding herd that size really is a sight to behold . As we re-joined the Cateran trail for the final few kilometers, the warmth of the day (even though it was evening by this point) really intensified. Looking back, our final views…
The next weekend, by contrast, had reverted back to more brooding – and colder – weather. To the north of Braemar, the veils of rain sweeping across the landscape towards Lochnagar offered interesting photographic opportunities.
Morrone (859m) behind Braemar affords wonderful views of the Cairngorms and an easy-going day can be planned around this hill – together with a visit to a coffee shop in the village. Over the top then back by the golf course road is one option if parked at Auchallater, but if in full training mode, returning back over the hill gives about 1000m of ascent. Fuelled by a good feed at the coffee shop, this re-ascent can be quite painless! The cloud came and went yesterday and there was even the odd heavy shower (although not as heavy as further east). On a shorter day like this, there’s always the option for further exploration on the homeward bound journey. I discovered the quiet beauty of Glen Kinord, complete with a long line of geese and goslings crossing my path en route from meadow to loch, and many, many bunnies, adults and babies alike, scampering ahead of me through the meadows. Yes, shorter days have their place in the great scheme of things.