Forvie Sands (Aberdeenshire)

My dad was through to stay for a couple of weeks in September.  We have been blessed, after one of the worst summers I can remember, with one of the loveliest autumns I can remember, and most of the two weeks he was here was in glorious sunshine.  My dad is no hillwalker but he is a keen birdwatcher and we had some lovely low-level walks while he was here to try and spot some, in Glen Quoich and Abernethy Forest.  We decided on his last weekend to go north and east towards the Ythan Estuary and Forvie Sands National Nature Reserve, which is a famous area for birdwatching in Aberdeenshire.

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Conachcraig (near Ballater)

I had stayed overnight in the van in Braemar after walking Carn an Fhidhleir and An Sgorsach (Ally had headed home as had other plans) and I fancied a wee walk the next day.  I chose this Corbett – the tops looked like a fun circuit from the Glen Muick approach.  The approach from Balmoral is scenic too and I’ll maybe do that another time.

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Carn na Drochaide (Braemar)

Being at home this weekend, I decided to walk the local (ish) Corbett of Carn na Drochaide.  I set off about 10.30am, not worried about the late hour because the best weather was meant to be later in the day anyway.  The traffic along the North Deeside Road heading west was desperately slow though – about 35 mph average.  I realised the Balmoral 10K was on and all the traffic turned off eventually at Crathie for Balmoral Castle.  It was 12.30pm by the time I parked up at Linn of Quoich, 2 hours later.  This would normally have taken me 1 hour 20.

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Kerloch (Banchory)

Sunday was another late start so I thought I’d walk a local Marilyn hill that has eluded me so far – Kerloch, which is south of Banchory.  I had tried to walk up this before in January.  It took forever due to the track being covered in ice, forcing me to walk on the snowy heathery banks.  Once the track went through the trees I had nowhere to walk because the trees took over the banks either side and the ice was too slippery to walk on.  I hadn’t taken crampons, not thinking I would need them for a wee bump in Deeside!  I tentatively tried to walk on it but landed on my backside skidding down the hill so I had to just give up and return.  I’d also started walking it one previous summer’s evening but it was further than I realised and I wanted home for my tea!

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The Coyles of Muick & Alltcailleach Forest (Ballater)

I had planned to walk the Corbett, Carn na Drochaide, along with the Graham, Creag Bhalg, both near Braemar on Saturday.  The forecast was a bit iffy though and I was woken in the early hours by rain lashing against my window pane.  I fumbled for my phone (I got a new phone, yay – see last weekend’s entries) and checked the forecast for Braemar, which was snow all day.  Ugh – I snuggled back under the duvet for another few hours…

When I woke it was quite late and probably not enough time to go to Braemar and walk these hills.  So I settled for the Coyles of Muick – a Marilyn near Ballater I’d had my sights on for a while.  In fact, I’d planned to do this walk last Friday but the day was so dreich I ended up leaving it and doing a very mucky run round Hill of Fare instead.

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Culardoch and Carn Liath

This pair of Corbetts lie north of the Invercauld estate near Braemar.  I’d been to a wedding ceilidh the night before, plus the clocks went forward overnight losing me an hour, so after approximately 4 hours’ snooze I was very tired but still keen to get going.  At 7am I sleepily made my way along the very quiet North Deeside Road to the walker’s carpark at Keiloch.

Bertha the Bongo (the 'vintage' one in the foreground)

Bertha the Bongo (the ‘vintage’ one in the foreground)

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Mona Gowan

It’s been a quiet year so far for walking.  Illness, holidays, family commitments and my job have meant I’ve not been able to get out but finally a free weekend came up recently.  Not wanting to travel too far, Ally and I looked at the quicker local options and decided on a local Graham, Mona Gowan in Donside.

There are several routes up Mona Gowan but we went for the easiest – from the Strathdon side there is a track all the way up.  Why we opted for this way I cannot remember – I don’t think we were particularly looking for an easy outing.

Mona Gowan

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