Having stayed at the Ballater hostel the night before, l made the 20 minute drive to the Spittal of Muick visitor centre car park.
The weather was fair but the tops were in clag.
I got my day-pack ready and put my boots on. I had a look around the visitor centre and then headed on the level patch heading toward the bridge over river Muick.
Getting closer to the cottage/gatehouse I realised the clag was not lifting much.
There were some nice sights around the level walk and could see the loch and my end descent in the west.
It was a nice place around the gatehouse and the path started to gain a little height as it went through a lovely old pine forest
As I exited the forest, after less than a kilometer, the track continued but gained in height now.
This continued pretty much for 2kms, before the choice of heading left toward the ascent to Lochnagar or right to take the Corbett. I reckoned there would be enough walking today, so skipped the Corbett.
I could see a couple of walkers in front of me in the distance as I steadily caught them up. I reached them just as the rain started and it got a little bit colder.
The open ground made the wind feel colder than it actually was. I was reluctant to put the jacket on as I get too hot in this ascent to the bealach but thought it would be wiser than starting to get cold.
I spoke to the couple for a while and then started to progress on my own. The main part of the height gaining was made much easier by the well constructed path, probably the most definite path and best construction I had seen this far in my Munro career.
As I reached the bealach, there was no real view to Mickel Pap and nothing to the loch. One of the best scenes in Munro bagging and I could see nothing. I did not appreciate this!. I made my way through the boulder field to a plateau. As I did, the clag gor thicker and visibility got subsequently worse.
The flat area was marked with a few cairns.
I decided at this point that I did not want to waste the experience of bagging Lochnagar and seeing nothing and also spoil the circuit of 5 by doing 1 and then having the other 4 at some other time. I would be less inclined to do this if I bagged Lochnagar, so I made my retreat to leave the circuit of 5 for another day.
As I descended the open ground again, I met a 30s couple and her father a couple of hundred meters later. I remember thinking that I would be feeling a bit peeved if I went walking with the younger generation of a day and they plodded on without me.
I descended pretty fast as I got told the road closes for construction work in the middle of the day. I would have to make it through to the Ballater end before 12:00 or wait until after 16:00, so I put the foot down.
I made it in plenty time and even spent a few minute in the visitor centre (it was empty).
I still had time to leave my hat in the car park before I left for ballater and an easy day in the village centre.
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