Showing posts from February, 2013

Walk: Meall a' Bhuachaille - reindeer on the shepherd's ridge

Highland | Glenmore Forest Park | Full day walk | ★★★★

Set apart from other high ground, the isolated position of Meall a' Bhuachaille (Hill of the shepherd) is one of the best viewpoints for Glenmore and the northern Cairngorms. The broad ridge is often free of snow or cloud when full winter conditions prevail on the main Cairngorm plateau, making it an viable option when others are open only to more experienced walkers. On the outward route, An Lochan Uaine (the green lochan) indeed takes on this unusual hue (especially during sunshine, and not when it's frozen solid!) and makes for a lovely destination in itself. Keep your eyes peeled for reindeer higher up, and red squirrels both in the forest and by the visitor centre.

📌 Walk: Meall a' Bhuachaille - reindeer on the shepherd's ridge ★★★★
Start / finish at Glenmore Visitor Centre car park (charge), minor road 5 mi east of Aviemore, G.R.: NH 977098 ///comical.objective.dinosaur

▶ 16 km / 10 mi | ▲ 990 m | ⌚ Full day …

Glenmore Forest Park

Highland | Coylumbridge | Forest Park | ★★★

Reached by a good road from Aviemore, Glenmore Forest Park is the main gateway to the northern Cairngorms National Park. Swathes of wildlife-rich ancient Caledonian pinewood stretch over a sheltered bowl, bordered by the main bulk of the Cairngorms to the south and the Meall a' Bhuachaille ridge to the north. A central visitor centre serves as a good introduction to the park, but you need to immerse yourself in the landscape, on foot, to do justice to the area. The jewel in the crown must be Loch Morlich, with the 4 mile walk around the shore recommended. For many though, the highlight of a visit here will be their first sight of a red squirrel: the feeders outside the visitor centre are probably the best place in the whole country to spot them. Or even a sighting of reindeer, as Britain's only herd reside here in the park.

Location & info

📌 Glenmore Forest Park★★★
Minor road 5 mi east of Aviemore. Visitor centre is at G.R.: NH 97…

Walk: A litter-free approach to the Bin of Cullen

Moray | Cullen | Half day walk | ★★★

It'd be easy to make to make a throwaway disparaging comment about a hill with a name like Bin of Cullen, but the truth is that this hill's prominence amongst pancake-flat surroundings makes it one of Moray's best viewpoints, overlooking the firth of the same name and (on a clear day) Ben Wyvis beyond, 101 km distant. Ben Rinnes and the Cairngorms crown the views southwards. Crisp packets and other rubbish on our visit spoilt the sections where this route joins the "tourist" route; fortunately 80% of this circuit is little trodden. The contours gathering around the Glen Burn look enticing on OS maps and deliver, with valley sides gradually narrowing while the track remains pleasantly level. This is a hill walk though, and on this one the ascent all comes at the last minute, although optional zig-zags ease the pain. Maps promise a choice of tracks for the return route: in reality, most are overgrown so a detour north towards Mo…

Walk: Randolph's Leap - foray along the Findhorn

Moray | Logie | Short walk | ★★★

Danger! Hazardous Cliffs - Risk of Flash Flooding! warns the foreboding sign as you leave the comfort of the visitor centre and excellent café at Logie Steading. Don't worry, the paths are perfectly safe, but the River Findhorn is a wild beast - as a height marker stone marking the unbelievably high peak of the 1829 Muckle Spate confirms when you pass it beyond the Bridge of Logie. Whether or not your visit coincides with the amazing autumn colours, spate conditions on the rivers or a serene bluebird day, it'd be difficult to pick a bad time for this walk. As for Randolph: he was a 15th century local earl. Embroiled in a battle with the neighboring Comyn family, a number of men jumped across the Findhorn here to escape an ambush. Don't try it...

📌 Walk: Randolph's Leap - foray along the Findhorn ★★★
Start / finish at car park off B9007 at Logie Steading, G.R.: NJ 007505 ///relies.fires.obviously

▶ 4 km / 2 mi | ▲ 60 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy

Walk: An ice day at Loch Kinord

Aberdeenshire | Dinnet | Short walk | ★★★

The tranquil lochs of Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve are easily accessible from the A93 in the  heart of Deeside. Loch Kinord forms the centrepiece, perfect for a varied walk with varied wildlife year-round. The whole route is clearly waymarked, starting at the visitor centre for nearby Burn o' Vat (itself well worth a visit) with plenty of views into the Cairngorms throughout: this is more than just a shoreline walk. A private chapel and a 9th century Pictish cross slab (the Kinord Stone) add historical interest, as well as the remains of a crannog out in the loch.

📌 Walk: An ice day at Loch Kinord ★★★
Start / finish at Burn o' Vat car park, B9119 2 mi northwest of Dinnet, G.R.: NO 429997 ///hunt.lots.decisions

▶ 6 km / 4 mi | ▲ 40 m | ⌚ Short | ⬤ Easy
Features: Burn o' Vat Visitor Centre; Loch Kinord; Muir of Dinnet NNR; Meikle Kinord Chapel; Kinord Stone
Terrain: Clear, mostly level paths.

Route & map

Circuit in either direction …