After moving to Keith last year, it was time to tackle to some big hills so what better place to start than Lochnagar? We camped overnight in Ballater and I left the campsite at 7am feeling chuffed with my early start and organisation, although arriving at the Spittal of Glen Muick my smug level fell sharply as I realised I'd left my walking boots in the campervan back in Ballater Not to worry, I had some old trainers in the boot of the car, and the weather looked good.
A steady climb to Lochnagar, and I loved the moment when the corrie rises like a monster over the horizon. What stunning natural architecture!
With the wind blowing hard I took the path a good distance from the cliff edge round to the trig and toposcope. Stunning views across to Munro number 2, Càrn a' Choire Bhòidheach.
No-one around, just a few ptarmigan to keep me company on the climb to The Stuic with its wondrous view down to Lochan nan Eun.
I stayed on the main path and approached Càrn an t-Sagairt Mòr up the track from the SE. Well worth adding a few hundred yards for dry feet. Big views all around, but the weather looked like it was starting to close in from the west.
Onwards over Cairn Bannoch and Broad Cairn - easy summits with the main climb already in the bag - and a sense of anticlimax as I crossed the expanses of peat big. But all would be forgiven when the incredible views down to Loch Muick opened up.
One last rocky descent before a couple of miles of lochside track back to the car. All done in a shade under 7 hours. Not rushing, but maintaining a decent walking pace, with the weather turning for the worse as the day went on. A fabulous day out.
Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.