With a mixed forecast for the day, it was bright and breezy as Donald and I left Dunfermline early for Spittal of Glenshee. The overnight showers had cleared away but some residual cloud was hanging over the hills as we approached our destination and took the road up to the Dalmunzie Hotel where we planned to park the car.
There were already a few hill walkers cars parked as we reached the hotel a little after 8.00am, popped into reception to pay our £2.50 to park (well worth it) the car and then assembled our kit for the day. The weather was mild, with only a gentle breeze but with a lot of cloud around.
On leaving the hotel grounds we skirted round the farm and cottages following the signs through a field and then onto the path/route of the old railway line up Glen Lochsie.
Although the river looked fairly low, it seemed unlikely that we could get across without getting our feet wet so we decided to keep on the North side of the river and head up onto the old railway line for our journey up the valley. This made for fairly easy walking but was very wet, muddy in places.
However, at the first bridge where a few trees were clinging to the steep sides of the gulley we were rewarded by a noisy female Ring Ouzel alarming at us. With a beak full of food, this was a sure sign of a nest with young nearby that it was keen to protect.
The ruins of Glenlochsie lodge came into view along with the hill track heading upwards behind it disappearing into the mist. We took a quick break at the lodge for a cup of tea, bite to eat and review of the map, there were also a couple of Ring Ouzels in and around the trees here as well. After scanning the surrounding hillsides with binoculars, a couple of groups of Red Deer could be seen high up on the slopes of Meall Ruigh/Carn Dearg just below the cloud base.
The track up the hillside from this point is very good, steep in places but solid underfoot and height is quickly gained. Unfortunately at this point the cloud got a bit thicker and the drizzle came on meaning another quick stop to get out the waterproofs before heading onwards and upwards again. At this point we got a glimpse of a walking party below us coming up the line of the old railway towards the lodge as we had done earlier.
With the visibility now very poor, we walked on into the unknown heading upwards the only observation from the track was a quick glimpse of a Mountain Hare watching us tramp past. Finally approaching the summit, where the track veers off round the side of the hill we took to a faint track alongside an old fence, past a cairn before the grassy plateau of the Summit was reached. Just beyond the Trig Point on the summit the steep Western face dropped into the gloom of the swirling mist.
Once on the top it was necessary to get out the gloves and hats, the wind had picked up and it was feeling quite chilly – this was also overcome with a dram of Highland Park to toast our achievement. At this point we were joined on the summit by the party we had seen following us earlier in the day
With little prospect of the cloud lifting, we decided against heading onto Carn an Righ and instead opted to return down the track from whence we came. Dropping back down off the summit we also caught sight of a pair of Ptarmigan and started hearing the haunting call of Golden Plover close by. After a bit of searching and good luck we managed to catch a brief look at these fine birds in their Summer plumage high up on the hill.
Once we got back down to around 750m we emerged out of the mist and started to dry off as we headed down towards the lodge below us. In an effort to hasten our journey back down the valley we decided to cross over the river and use the better land rover track down Glen Lochsie. This track was much better than the route we had taken this morning and the last few kilometres down to the hotel passed quickly. On arrival back at the river crossing we looked up and downstream for a place to cross, in the end we decided that seeing as we were almost back at the starting point wading across provided the most straightforward way across the river.
It was then just a quick Squelch to the car and a change of footwear which brought the day to an end, which even with restricted visibility and had been nonetheless enjoyable.
The plan on returning to the car was to have enjoyed a quick refreshment in the hotel before we headed off back down to Dunfermline. However, the girl we spoke to at the start of the day when we paid for our parking had informed us that there was a private function on all day and the bar was closed. Not deterred, we jumped in the car and headed for an alternative watering hole down the road at Bridge of Cally. As we parked the car in the crowded car park, even the Sun came out as we crossed the road and headed inside for a well deserved pint.
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