However, things did not go as planned. No sooner had I started up the track on my bike, I realised that something was not right. The chain was stuck. I wheeled the bike up the track to find a discrete place to tinker with it. I thought that perhaps the chain had just slipped off the chainring. However I discovered that the chain had completely seized up with rust... I should have taken more care of it over the winter! There was no quick fix for the bike... it would have to wait until I got home. (I've now liberally sprayed WD40 onto it and left the chain to soak overnight).
So, we decided to 'chain-ge' our plans and ascend Creag nan Gabhar (Goat Crag) on the west side of Glen Callater instead. We returned the bikes to the car and then boshed up the steep, heather covered slope towards Sron Dubh.
Soon the view down Glen Clunie to Braemar, and the hills behind, opened up.
Several hares galloped away as we ascended the heather-clad hillside, and we spotted a herd of deer in the distance.
The terrain became easier as we neared Sron nan Gabhar, and Loch Callater came into view. To the west was a fine view up Glen Clunie.
Continuing along the ridge, we eventually reached the flat top of Creag nan Gabhar, which was flanked by rocky slopes and afforded excellent views in all directions.
We decided that we would continue to Carn Dubh, so headed down the quite steep southerly slopes of 'Goat Crag' and made our way over bog and peat hags, disturbing more hares and grouse as we went.
After some distance I checked our position on my smartphone map and realised that we had been heading further towards the southeast than we had intended, so another change of plan was in order... we had almost reached the main track that passes the edge of Coire Kander, so we decided to head to that viewpoint.
I was hopeful that we would see more mountain hares there, as when I had been up there a few years ago I had been treated to this display...
As luck would have it, there were no hares to be seen up there this time round, but our diversion was made worthwhile by excellent views into the deep corrie and near sightings of two ptarmigan and a golden plover.
After picking up some ptarmigan feathers (to add to my random collection of things from walks - an antler, shells, rocks, pine cones), we headed up to Carn an Tuirc (the 'Rocky Hill of the Wild Boar').
Just as there were no goats to be seen on Creag nan Gabhar, we were slightly disappointed to see not even one boar on Carn an Tuirc. So we returned to the main track and headed down to Loch Callater.
The ground by the loch was surprisingly hummocky - must be some kind of glacial or periglacial feature, not quite sure what though...
To while away the time, we tried to think of a good title for the report of this most enjoyable walk. Amongst the highlights were:
Oil crisis leads to a chain-ge of plan.
The need for flexibility.
A serendipitous chain of events.
A rusty chain of serendipity.
‘Oil be back.
As you can tell, unfortunately we couldn't think of a good title for this walk report, so I've had to make do with the best we could come up with