Date: 17th March 2013
Weather: Very cold, snow and sleet.
Route: Click to view on Social Hiking
Out beyond Aboyne the road is rapidly turning white, a layer of slush forming as fat flakes of snow fall from a uniform grey sky. An estate landrover in polished racing green storms past me. At Dinnet the car park is empty, the potholes filled with a soupy slush. I’m soon heading off, the shelter of the forest a welcome respite from the snow. The world is white. At the first lochan, the surface is completely frozen and the trees have a strange and ethereal look as they flicker behind the mist. The track is waymarked and easy. Snow over slush over mud. Loch Kinord comes into sight and I sweep right, following narrow tracks that hug the shore.
I’m warm but a mixture of ice and snow is rapidly covering my outer wear and my pack. The track weaves in and out of trees and reeds, sometimes getting lost in a swampy morass. Eventually it swings away from an increasingly tangled shoreline to rejoin the main path that takes me along past the crannog isle and then up to the Celtic stone.
At this western end of the loch the path runs on a course through the foothills, twisting and turning through groves of Beech. The loch is some way away, occasionally glimpsed through a break in the trees. I pass the Burn o’ Vat car park and decide to head up to the Vat itself. Untrodden paths take me quickly there, my feet squeaking softly in the freshly falling snow. The Vat is empty of people but not of water. I clamber across the stones to reach the falls, the water sluicing down mossy rocks in a noisy torrent.
I follow the upper path back to the visitor centre and rejoin the Loch Kinord circular trail. There is another stretch away from the lochside and now I am following in the tracks of a pair of cyclists. It’s not quite a Winnie the Pooh adventure. Along the southern shore the path heads back to the lochside. I stop for a final time to gaze out across the glassy waters. Things are a bit clearer now and a few waterfowl disturb the waters further out.
With the circuit complete I follow the easy track quickly back to Dinnet. Everywhere in the village is shut but a short drive takes me to Ballater where The Bothy welcomes me with a roaring stove, a fabulous bacon roll, and several large mugs of coffee. I settle down with a good book and while away the rest of my Sunday morning, watching as rain streams down beyond the misted window.