It’s been another great weekend of winter hillwalking, this time in the Loch Muick, Lochnagar area. Our base was Glas Allt Shiel bothy, which occupies a room in the ‘Widow’s Lodge’, a big granite hunting lodge built by Queen Victoria in 1864.

A light dusting of snow, icy winds and sunshine were the conditions we enjoyed on Saturday and Sunday. On the way up Lochnagar, swirling winds picked up the dry snow and spun it around like a snow tornado. Underfoot we walked through small drifts of snow and grasses rimed up with ice.

To the north the Cairngorms, where I was last weekend – Winter days in Coire Etchachan – were really clear, all white with snow. To the east we could see Mount Keen, the most easterly munro in Scotland, and to the south we could see steep-sided Glen Clova. Over the two days we did five munros: Lochnagar, Carn a’Choire Bhoidheach, Carn an t’Sagairt Mor, Cairn Bannoch and Broad Cairn. Much of the walking was easy over high rolling mountain plateaus. The trickiet part of the day was descending to Loch Muick on Saturday afternoon via Dubh loch where the rough, icy path made for slow going.

Throughout the weekend we saw lots of mountain hares, Ptarmigan and red grouse and on the snow, tracks left by mice, fox and maybe a stoat. It was also nice to see some Cowberry in flower.

The forecast over the next week continues to be cold with below freezing temperatures on the summits and snow fall most days. Will be back to the Cairngorms next weekend.

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