The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 21 May 2018

The Coyles of Muick (NO328910; 601m)

Distance (bike): 8.7 miles
Distance (foot): 2 miles (180m ascent)
Weather: Glorious, although with cloud approaching by the time I descended.
Start point: Ballater main car park

Blue = bike; red = foot

Intentions of doing nothing today were quickly modified this morning when I saw the cloudless sky. Options were considered: it was either to be The Coyles of Muick, which I had lightly pencilled in as a possibility whilst I was in Ballater, or Mount Keen. The weather was perfect for the latter, but I also knew it would be busy up there and I had already missed the opportunity for an early start. So, The Coyles of Muick it was.

With the need to have vacated the campsite by 11.30, I relocated Bertie to the town car park, got my bike out and cycled over to the south side of the river, from where I got my first view of my objective:

My intention to cycle to the point where my chosen forest track left the road, then walk from there, was modified when I saw the track and decided to cycle up it a little way. 'A little way' turned into 'right the way to its highest point', leaving me not a great deal of walking to do.

Aerial photos had suggested that there was a clear way through the forest from here, up to the dip between Meall Dubh and The Coyles of Muick. What aerial photos didn't show was that this was an old cleared bit of forest, with a certain number of obstacles still lying on the ground:

There was no clambering and crawling today. The obstacles were easily bypassed or stepped over and there was nothing difficult about the terrain either, so before long I was at the top edge of the forest. There I found two handy reference points to make sure I knew where to re-enter the trees on my way back down:

Two boundary markers, right at the point where I left the trees.

I must have followed the forest edge for over 100m before I noticed that there was a path a few yards to my right. It was a well trodden one...

...that led me all the way to the summit.

More interesting than the highest point was the slightly-lower top bearing two big cairns:

It was over to that top that I headed for elevenses as the wind was blowing too much to pause without shelter.

I'm not sure whether my snaps convey what a really superb hill and viewpoint this was. To one side was Lochnagar, ahead was Loch Muick, to the other side Mount Keen was poking its head over the intervening hill. I was a happy walker as I sat there eating my butteries and admiring the view (albeit, to be out of the wind, my view was in the fourth direction, which contained no notable landmarks, but was still very pleasing).

The descent was as straightforward as the ascent had been, although I did lose concentration about twenty paces before rejoining my bike, resulting in me plunging my right foot down a hole and into a stream. My feet had been completely dry until that point - as they have been for the last few days' walks. The ground certainly has dried out in this ongoing fine spell of weather.

1 comment:

  1. I'm still with you and this flurry of posts, but I've been off all weekend walking the Bronte Way. All these ascents are so reminiscent of similar mini adventures I have had, and the photos underline it all. Keep them coming. Hope Mick is surviving on the TGO.