When Laura asked, last evening, whether we fancied strolling up a little flowering-heather-clad hill with her today, we didn’t take much persuading, even though the forecast for today didn’t look overly promising. As it turned out, not only was the hill absolutely lovely, but the weather was good too.
It was just before 10.30 when we left Laura’s and headed over the Dee where, after a few minutes of walking down the road, a car stopped for a chat. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Laura who the driver recognised, but Mick & me; it was the endurance-runner-chap who we had met on Carn a Gheoidh yesterday (it turned out that in spite of his tiredness he had managed all eight of his Munros; today he was on his way to the Lochnagar tops).
An access issue saw us having to head past our hill to do a bit of an out-and-back detour to get past a deer fence, before we started first skirting the hill and then heading up it.
As Laura has promised the heather was magnificent in its purpleness (and fragrant too), and it was set off nicely during the many blue-skied intervals.
By-and-by we reached the summit and aside from the stunning 360 degree views, there was also a convenient dip which gave us shelter from the keen breeze for our lunch break (where we enjoyed the flask of tea I had today taken, following yesterday’s unforgivable omission!).
During lunch one aspect of today’s weather forecast did materialise: the wind picked up such that by the time we left our sheltered hollow, we staggered our way off the summit. Suddenly walking the rest of the ridge seemed like it would be unnecessarily hard work.
We didn’t abandon the plan of a circular walk. Instead we took advantage of deer-trods as we skirted the side of the hill, gaining shelter from the forest as we went.
Just as the constant picking the feet up high might have started to get a bit tiresome, we reached the track which was to take us back to civilisation, from where some little roads took us back to our start point. There Laura provided us with lashings of tea, which slipped down nicely after the efforts of the day.
The stats were 9.6 miles walked, with 1400’ of ascent. It may not be an obvious hill to climb with so many other biggies nearby, but if you find yourself in the Braemar or Ballater area on a nice day then I would highly recommend Creag nam Ban as a lovely hill with an excellent view.