The Ramblers away weekend this year was to Ballater on Royal Deeside. Despite the severe flooding the small town had at the end of December, with the devastation of the caravan park and the loss of many shops, Ballater was eager to welcome visitors. The Deeside Inn played host to 25 ramblers and provided comfortable, cosy accomodation with excellent breakfasts and evening meals. The first walk on arrival, was a short but challenging climb up Craigendarroch Hill, an imposing lump of rock easily accessible from the town. The path wound its way through ancient oak woods with scots pine near the top. Views were spectacular, especially the majestic, snow covered Lochnagar. An extra bonus were the close up sightings of beautiful rust coloured Scottish crossbills.
For group 1- the second day of our weekend to Ballater started with a walk around Loch Muick led by Isobel MacDonald.
The drive to the start of the walk followed the River Dee through Glen Muick to a very busy car park where 17 members set out in a clockwise direction. This was helpful since the sleet at the start of the walk came from behind. Soon the Loch came into view, the sleet came to an end and the track continued above the water with views of snowy Lochnagar on the opposite shore. There were a few birds including an eagle overhead and many blaeberry plants although not yet in flower. After passing the path leading to Glen Clova the easy gravel track was replaced by a narrow single rocky track which took some time to negotiate and was further slowed by the landslide debris which was however passable with care. A pause was taken to admire the rushing waters of the Black Burn before continuing round the head of the loch where the replacement bridges cross the sand and gravel deposits of the Allt-an-Dubh loch. From there it was into the woods below the Glas Allt Falls and the deer fences erected to protect new trees for the lunch stop at the Royal Lodge. The wind here was a very cold so soon the group was continuing on a wide gravel path with more deer fences to the boat house and the bridge at the head of the loch leading back to the visitor centre. A successful 8 mile walk despite the poor weather at the start.
Group Two- Led by Brian Henry
7 Ramblers attempted to walk the Glas Maol Circuit which involved climbing 4 Munros in one day a total of 10 miles. Despite battling through wind,sleet and snow we saw quite a lot of wildlife. Ptarmigan, grouse, mountain hare, deer and an eagle. Have a look at the photos in the gallery it says it all!- although it didn't seem as bad as it looks at the time.
Group 1 Led by Andy Nelson
After a gentle start, viewing the falls of Linn Dee, the walkers continued on a path through woodland to reach the bridge over the Lui Water. The route up Glen Luig gave wonderful views of snow capped mountains until the lunch stop was reached at Derry Lodge- the mountain rescue station. Here over looking the Derry Burn oyster catchers were heard. On the return route much mountain rescue activity was observed. This was a search operation for a walker lost since March. The new Rescue Helicopter swept down in the area of Derry Lodge, where earlier three mountain rescue ambulances and one police MR landrover had been parked. This was a grim reminder to everyone of the dangers of the moutains. Fortunately for the Ramblers the weather thar Sunday was almost continuous sunshine with light winds.
Group two- Loch Muick
Sadly due to the weather conditions the day before we were unable to attempt Lochnagar, we could only enjoy the beauty of it covered in snow as we completed the circuit of Loch Muick on a beautiful day. The Loch was very busy with families walking to the Royal Lodge and some completing the circuit. There was also a large herd of deer enjoying the sunshine. A pleasant walk after our exertions the of day before.