This morning I caught the 10:15 Stagecoach bus and finally escaped Aberdeen for the day. Although slightly delayed due to two dozen or so German students trying to buy a group discount ticket, we headed westward up Royal Deeside under beautiful, clear sunny skies and arrived in Banchory just under an hour later.
After a few minutes getting my bearings I headed south, crossing the River Dee and then following it west until I reached the entrance to Scolty, a Forestry Commision area with some very well marked woodland paths. At this time the clear skies had been covered by some grey, rolling cloud, but as I started to climb up on a wide track, through marching rows of pines the sun yet again started to peek out. The colours of autumn were evident further on once I hit some of the less managed woodland.
The well made path soon turned and climbed steeply up Scolty hill, and the way became uneven and slippery with exposed rocks and roots ready to catch out a misplaced feet. Luckily the sun had come out and the views away north, west and east were spectacular, encompassing a great sweep of the Dee valley, and Banchory away behind me.
At the top of the hill, 396m high according to my map, I came to General Burnett's momument, a tall round tower that commanded remarkable views over the rising foothills of the Caingorms. A narrow spiral staircase took me to the top and I spent a few minutes enjoying the sight and breathing in the bright, fresh air.
Back at the bottom I checked out some of the landmarks visible from this height, had a bite of lunch, before heading off over some of the heather-clad moorland which lead off south from the heights. Dropping off the hill I came into a shallow valley between Scolty and the next summit where a broad track took me back around the base of the hill and into the woods. I followed a different track now which took me through some beautiful beech forest, before climbing back up, following the course of a wee burn to the carpark.
On the way back to Banchory I stopped off at the river Feugh, where a narrow stonebridge, and an ugly metal footbridge, crossed high over the falls where at the right time of the year salmon can be seen jumping up the stream. Here again the autumn leaves were showing off their rich, ruddy colours and the falls were loud and swift.
I got back to Banchory just in time to catch the bus back to Aberdeen and reached home just as the sunset, the night falling disconcertingly early after British Summer Time had ended the morning before.