Finally, Scotland has eased its lockdown and I can travel further than 5 miles from home. With a good weather forecast, James and I made use of that last weekend: We decided to make a trip to the Cairngorms National Park and go for a long hike. We had started planning something like that since I’ve moved here, but then the whole Coronavirus and lockdown thing happened before the conditions were good enough to actually go.
Approaching the Scramble
Last weekend, we drove to Braemear and parked just outside of the village. First, we headed through Ballochbuie Forest past some waterfalls and along a little burn, before cutting pathless across the heather. That ended up as a game of “don’t get your feet wet”. We had to cross a few streams and also the rest of the area was quite boggy. Every now and then, we saw a deep hole in the ground and heard water streaming further down.
Despite being early July, the wind was really cold in the open landscape. Eventually, we reached Sandy Loch. From there, we followed a little stream to Loch nan Eun. This is a little lake at the foot of several hills.
From the shore of Loch nan Eun, we started our first ever scramble, the Stuic Buttress. This is a steep ascent gaining about 80m in elevation. We had great fun finding out route to the top between big boulders and steep cliff faces. The route required careful placing of the feet and route picking, but was neihter technically demanding nor exposed.
We really enjoyed our way up and the views over the lochs and open heathland of Balmoral Forest. Once on top of The Stuic, we enjoyed a lunchbreak. Sheltered from the wind by some big rocks, we had sandwiches and tea, enjoyed the beautiful views into every direction and talked about our first scramble. Both of us were proud and felt happy, it was a great experience.
Back via Lochnagar
It was still fairly early in the day and we had done the most time consuming part already, so we decided to take the long route back. On easy trails, we headed to east. Before, we had been all alone, but from there on we met lots of hikers. We walked along the steep slopes of Lochnagar and saw a group of 8 majestic stags, resting on the side of the munro.
We descended across a staircase made of rocks and the hit another gravel track, gently leading through the open landscape and along several hills. After crossing the Gelder Burn, we headed west again along a smaller stream and eventually into the forest again. We made it across two rivers, one hopping from rock to rock and one via a bridge. before merging onto the track we had taken on our way out.
Our legs were already tired and we had been on our feet for a long time. Finally, after over 9:30 hours, we reached the big bridge leading across the River Dee. A few hundred metres further was the car park, and we were happy to have reached it after 33.5km of hiking.
Once back home, we enjoyed home-made lasagne, a cool beer and a well deserved shower. It was an exhausting, but rewarding day that put both of us into a happy mood. We sure will do more scrambling in the future after having such a great time.