I was on my way to Aberdeen for the weekend and decided to drop in for a half-day on Aberdeen's very own mountain, Lochnagar. Well that was the plan...
Spittal of Glen Muick has changed a bit since I was last here in 1998. I wasn't expecting to have to dig around in my wallet for £3, and I was surprised to see a parking area for coaches, here at the end of several miles of single track road with car-sized passing places. There's a nice little low-key visitor centre too. I'd say the road-end area is managed now rather than developed. It's a hugely popular spot, by association with Balmoral, and offering relatively easy walking in wild scenery, and that remains the draw.
Up to the plateau, around 1,000 metres, and it's getting hard to stay upright in the wind. It's perfectly dry but the clag is impenetrable. Other walkers loom suddenly out of the cloud. Some are turning back; it's really inhospitable up here. I'm dressed for summer, in shorts and a light windbreaker, and pretty soon I make the judgement call.
Across the way, free of cloud and catching the sun, is Conachraig, one of them Corbetts. I've not been there before so at least my peak-bagger self won't go away empty-handed. Actually this Corbett is nameless - at least, the OS map draw a blank on the highest of three tops; Conachraig is the nearest top with a name.
I've never seen such a cloud display, all dry ice, layer on layer of it moving, shifting, interlocking like the parts of some vast machine. At times the gaps align and great shafts of light spear down, rove across the hillsides, and shut off just as suddenly.
A crispy ribbon of granite gravel trickles up to the top. The summit is adorned with great pancake stacks of granite.