The weather looked pretty ferocious from the west, but I noticed that the Moray coast and the tip of the Aberdeenshire "empty quarter" wasn't due to receive any of the arctic stuff. Arriving to pick up Harvey, I found my son suffering from Iranian bird flu ! ( really man-flu) ) Beat a hasty retreat with H & GordonC up the A96 to Keith.
Meikle Balloch Hill
Followed the wriggly road up to the water works and parked up alongside a couple of early risers.
Checked the Forestry route board and decided on the Blue route to the top of Meikle Balloch.
A fine track took us to the top of the trees and a muddy path across the top to the trig & cairn.
There was a muckle heap of topdressing for the paths by the trig point, ready to be spread out over the summit tracks.
At the top we had fine views to Knock Hill - our outing last week.
Ben Rinnes was also visible, although to the west we could see the snow-laden clouds dropping their load on the higher hills.
Just next to the trig was a wee shrine - a bit weatherbeaten - with a wee whisky miniature cooried doon among the stanes obviously in memory to someone. Nice touch.
We didn't tarry in the chill breeze and headed down to the sanctuary of the car.
Bin of Cullen
Back into Keith and up the B9018, turning off at Nether Blairock to park up just before Braidbog at the the start of the track up Bin o Cullen.
Had a piece and coffee for lunch, but I'd forgotten to bring Harvey's pigs lug, so he had to make do with some doggy nibbles supplemented by a bit o GordonC's apple. ( the hazards of being walked by auld fowk ! )
The track up through the Scots pine forest was really uplifting, but without the usual atmspheric scent, as I guess the sap isn't quite running freely yet. The trees were spaced out so that there was growth beneath the trees, unlike the commercial monoculture forestry.
About half way up the Bin , a hail shower spattered down, forcing GordonC to donn his hat. He still has hair, so the wee hailstones nestle into it and then melt causing ice-cold trickles down the face & neck ! No such problems for me as they just ricochete off the baldy heid..........put ma hat on anyway.
We only caught the edge of the shower, as when we reached the top we could see a fairly active squall just to the east that had obviously passed this way a wee while ago.
The last bit up the zig -zaggy path eases the ascent and curls round the top where a wee shortcut took us on to the top.
There was a granite indicator plaque on top of the summit cairn gifted by the local Rotary Club that had unfortunately been vandalised and was in about 4 pieces - really sad after the effort to put it there for everyone's use. We stayed as long as we could to absorb the views along the south Moray Firth coast of Lossie, Buckie, Portknockie and of course Cullen below us.
Gazing at the views from this hill of the Moray coast got me into a reflective mood, recalling the time spent at Kinloss in the '60's and playing golf with my Schlumberger colleages all around this area over the 70's, 80's and 90's. Ah well -happy days !
We took the dirrettissima path down that cut out the zig-zags into that beguiling Scots pine forest and back to the car.
Another fantastic day out with GordonC & Harvey !
We had to rely on GordonC's wee Olympus as I left my phone back at the car at the bottom o the Bin !
Us auld billys make our walks interesting by congratulating ourselves for remembering to bring all the gear, then leaving half of it in the car !
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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.