A couple of weeks ago some old friends were in town and we had the great pleasure of Nell and Martin’s company for a short while. We know each from the Halifax era where Nell and Amelia were colleagues at Dalhousie. They drove up from Hull for a wedding on the Friday, but on Saturday they wanted to go for a walk in the hills. I guess Hull is quite flat and they were both keen to get out into some excellent Scottish wilderness. Amelia and I kicked around a few ideas of where we could take them. There were many options of course, but eventually we settled on taking them into Glen Muick in the hopes that we could walk up to Creag an Dubh Loch which is a big climbing venue that we’d never visited. It all kinda depended on how they were feeling the morning after the wedding. If they weren’t up for a long walk we could just walk around Loch Muick in about 3-4 hours, if they were feeling fit then we could extend the walk to include the higher and wilder Loch Dubh (pronounced Lock Doo).
We drove into town and picked up Nell and Martin and their two friends Igor and Cinzia (sp?). We deftly maneuvered our way through town and up the Deeside without losing Igor, who was following, and found ourselves at the Spittal of Glenmuick in about an hour and 45 minutes. The car park was jammed. It was a beautiful but windy day for a walk. Maybe we’ll see climbers? One can only hope.
We quickly arrived at the easternmost end of Loch Muick in near gale force winds. This didn’t seem to deter the dog walkers or their dogs. We watched the dogs fetch stones from the chilly waters for a bit and then continued on. Note the long pants and jackets in mid-August. Scotland is beautiful, but it is never hot.
The walk around Loch Muick is easiest on the northern side which turned out to be a wide flat land rover track. Good to know. When we return to climb it would be a good idea to cycle in the first bit. Loch Muick is pretty. We walked, and talked and wondered if we could walk back along the high ridge on the far side. One of the great things about walking in Scotland is that you can see everything. The walk passes the impressive Glas-allt Shiel house which was built for Queen Victoria. Unfortunately, we took no photos.
The path becomes quite narrow at this point and climbs higher up the glen. In the distance we can the see the Falls of the Glas-allt which is where we’ve decided to have lunch.
After a short break and a few bites of lunch we continue along the narrow footpath admiring the fine views up and down the glen. The sides of the glen are getting steeper, the heather is in full bloom and the sun is shining. Further along still the impressive cliffs of the Dubh Loch come into view.
The cliff was much larger than expected! Quite impressive actually and getting bigger the closer we got. No one was climbing today, probably because of the wind which was still quite strong. I meant to bring the guidebook to spot some of the easier lines that would be within our ability. I guessed they went up the slabby tongue of rock that reached down almost to the loch itself but I couldn’t be sure. Most of the climbing here is quite hard for us but there are two or three routes that we could do. Our guests seemed quite impressed that we could climb such a thing. It is an intimidating looking cliff and with route lengths around 9 pitches I guessed that even on the easiest route, way-finding would be a good challenge.
Despite a bit of seepage, the crag looked like it was in good condition. We walked until the trail ended on the far side of Loch Dubh where there’s a nice sandy beach and some very good spots for pitching a tent or three. It was clear these areas had been used before. I’m sure we will use them in the future. We contemplated hiking up and around to the top of the crag, but the day was getting on and some of us were a bit on the tired side. Personally, I didn’t want to go up there. Not today anyway, so we retraced our steps so we could walk back via the southern shores of Loch Muick.
On the far side of Loch Muick we encountered another smaller waterfall feeding into the loch. We took some pictures of course.
The rest of our walk was fairly uneventful. Nice light, nice scenery and easy walking. Most of the discussion revolved around what was for dinner. We hatched a plan to get some Indian take-away from a great restaurant we frequent in town and have a feast back in Cove. All in all it was a great day in great company. Hopefully we’ll see you all again soon.