Time: 5hrs 21mins
Grahams: The Buck (720m)
Weather: Bitterly cold easterly wind and early high cloud. Some clearing but then snow showers on top
Route: Click to view
It was dark and cold on the bus but nevertheless, just after 7am on a Sunday morning, there were 29 determined Stockets heading out for a short day in the hills of the Cabrach. Through the back roads we twisted and turned our way until we were deposited by the side of the Lumsden road under gloomy grey skies.
The bitter cold got everyone moving quickly and we were soon labouring our way through bog and marsh up the lower north-eastern slopes of The Buck. The line of fenceposts we made for offered little in the way of firm ground but eventually a muddy track did appear. At around 500m, as the clouds enveloped us, we climbed above the snowline. As the ground underfoot hardened the going became much easier and we were soon peering in front to find the summit. We paused briefly just short of the trig point to let people catch up before crossing the final few metres to the jumbled summit area.
The snow-swept rocks of the summit were scrambled over and up to reach the trig pillar. The Buck stands at 720m and is classified as a Graham. As we arrived the swirling clouds were blown away by a freshening wind. We enjoyed excellent views across Aberdeenshire and further west to where the higher mountains were still shrouded by cloud. Further investigation revealed the stone carvings which this hill is known for.
On the sheltered western side we paused for our first break of the day where hot drinks revived cold bodies. After this we commenced our long winding trek south-west along the boundary which separates Moray and Aberdeenshire.
For the first part, the descent to Kebbuck Knowe we had views with blue skies above. However, after visiting the delightfully named Hill of Snowy Slack, we turned and crossed a high bealach to climb towards Mount Midden where cloud was streaming up from the glen and blowing over the tops. After this we were wreathed in cloud again and snowflakes began to fall, gentle at first but becoming more serious.
At 11am we paused close to the summit of Mount Midden to observe two minutes silence. With the snowflakes falling onto frozen marsh and the sudden silence cold and oppressive it was a sombre and fitting place to remember the great sacrifice that was made so that we can enjoy our continued freedom.
We continued on, heading now almost due south along the boundary line, circumventing peat hags and semi-frozen pools until we came to the flat summit of Creag nan Euan and dropped down to a boundary post. Here the fence post swung away but we kept our course, descending besides a new electrified fence until we picked up the landrover track at around 387187.
This track we now followed all the way as it dropped us below the snowline and finally out of the cloud, all the way down into Glenbuchat. The pace quickened with a good track beneath our feet and there wasn’t another pause until we stopped just above the farm of Blackhillock in the glen.
From here we followed a slightly overgrown and muddy track that took us to a gate and a final field crossing to reach the road at Easterbuchat. It was then a simple matter of walking down the road to meet the coach at the junction with the Strathdon Road.
Our initial attempts to find a watering hole were thwarted but we eventually found refuge in the Haughton Arms in Alford. A couple of pints were enjoyed in warm surroundings before the Cults Hillwalking Club showed up and we made a strategic withdrawal.