The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

Lochnagar and Glas-Allt-Shiel

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For the third time in four weeks Lochnagar featured on my trek through the hills of Scotland. This time it was to be a relatively short hike from the car park, to the summit of the mountain and then down via Glas Allt to Glas-Allt-Shiel on the banks of Loch Muick. Starting at the car park we had a very pleasant walk across the broad valley of Glen Muick and through the woods to the start of the climb to the col below Meikle Pap. Although the sun wasn’t exactly shining it was pleasantly warm, particularly sheltered from the strong breeze we could see blowing across the tops. Compared to three weeks ago the snow had melted significantly with patches remaining on higher ground or in the shadowy hollows of the burnside. As we got higher it became clear that low cloud was troubling the summit of Lochnagar, and as we left the main estate track to walk up the climb the wind suddenly hit us, buffeting strongly against our backs as we gained height. As we neared our first view of the cliffs a guy came down followed by his two young sons. We felt heartned by this s we came over the first rise and saw the dramatic cliffs rising in front of us, cradling the dark waters of the lochan, spray whipping across it in the wind.

Lochan of Lochnagar

From here we decided the head on up the Ladder although at times it was difficult to stand against the wind. The cloud was constantly rising and falling, occasionally obscuring the cliff tops. The ascent of the Ladder was much easier with a clear path winding up the bouldered slopes and we soon stood on top, heading towards the first of the series of cairns which line the summit. Without any shelter we know felt the full force of the wind and knew it wasn’t going to be much fun heading across to the summit, despite the walk only being a couple of kilometres. Instead we wound around the edge of the cliffs until we struck the path down towards Glas-Allt-Shiel just below Cac Carn Mor.

Mountain Stream

As we now followed this path across a shallow slope of age-old slushy snow the plateau behind us was rapidly veiled by cloud that only got thicker as we left the summit area behind. Instead we walking back into the sunshine as we headed towards Loch Muick, following the strong, snowmelt strengthened flow of the Glas Allt. Descending rapidly at first beside a steep gully it gradually flattened out until the track crossed the stream on a narrow wooden bridge. Now the far wall of Glen Muick could be seen and the stream, still flowing forcefully came to the edge of the escarpment, tumbling over the brink in a forceful fall of white, angry water.

Bottom of the Fall

The path wound its way steeply down besides the fall and gave us great views both of the water and of the final descent to Loch Muick, the sparkling waters of which could now be seen below us.

Woods near Glas Allt Shiel

Coming out at Glas-Allt-Shiel we now only had the gentle walk back along the shores of the Loch. Behind us the clouds thickened and we saw that we had escaped just in time. Now the rain was bothering the far end of the Loch and would soon be sweeping its way across the mountains.

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