Footprints Across Scotland

Why not make a few of your own!

27th June 2015

Lochnagar from Invercauld through Ballochbuie Forest and via the Prince's Stone.





Route Map



There's a white metal suspension bridge at Garbh Allt Shiel, the furthest west of a number along this stretch of the river Dee. The others can be found at Cambus OíMay, Polhollick, Abergeldie Castle and Crathie. Also known as the Invercauld Suspension Bridge and as the Ballochbuie Bridge it looked like a good place to start a walk up Lochnagar. Arriving to find the gate at the bridge locked it probably would have been more prudent to start further down the road at Invercauld. However it wasn't too much of a problem to bypass the gate and access the bridge so I set off and crossed the Dee.

River Dee, near Invercauld












River Dee, near Invercauld

After following the estate track for a short while I made my way alongside the Allt Shiel disturbing some Red deer Stags in the process.

Stags Crossing Garbh Allt












Stags Crossing Garbh Allt

Upon reaching a bridge I turned east along the estate track until I found a gate in the deer fence allowing access to the deeper forest.

Ballochbuie Forest












Ballochbuie Forest

The path looked well maintained and provided easy going for a while until it narrowed and looked like it was going to be choked by the heather. The way continued to rise and I was just starting to think the path might end when the was an almighty commotion in the undergrowth. Bursting out of the vegetation was the huge black body of a male Capercaillie. Once air borne it glided fairly gracefully for a large bird turning through a gap in the trees and disappearing from view. I was a bit stunned but my day was already made, my first proper sighting of a male Capercaillie in the wild. I had previously come across a female at Linn of Dee during a walk up Beinn Bhreac; 'Grouse bagging' in the Cairngorms. A little further on the path suddenly widened and became decent again, the trees thinned a little and allowed fine views beyond Ballochbuie forest to the eastern Cairngorms.

Ballochbuie Forest












Ballochbuie Forest

As the path levelled I turned at a junction to leave the fenced area climbing a gate after being unable to unhook the latch. There was plenty of bird song mainly from tits but also from what appeared to be a redstart. After descending through the trees I crossed then followed Feith an Laoigh east to toward Stob Liath.

Stob Liath & Cnapan Mathraichean












Stob Liath & Cnapan Mathraichean

A small cairn marked the start of the path leading up to The Prince's Stone, it was a bit rough and intermittent to start but was easier to follow as it neared a small waterfall.

The Prince's Stone












The Prince's Stone

There were signs of path, probably deer tracks, as I made my approach across more open country toward Meall Coire na Saobhaid.

Meall Coire na Saobhaid












Meall Coire na Saobhaid after leaving The Prince's Stone

A red grouse skittered away feigning injury, I tread more carefully trying to avoid any nearby young but soon after another grouse burst from the short taking flight. There was then much noisy chirping as a number of yellow fluffy balls dispersed on foot in every direction. It was time to move away more quickly and allow chicks and parents to regroup. A short climb soon had me on top of Meall Coire na Saobhaid seeking shelter from an approaching shower and the strong wind.

Lochnagar and the Stuic












Lochnagar and the Stuic

It was a good time to have some lunch so I got my stove out for a brew while waiting for conditions to improve.

Lochnagar (with Meikle Pap left)












Lochnagar (with Meikle Pap left)

The sun was soon out again as I dropped down from my lunch spot, from the bealach it was then a fairly sharp climb up and onto Lochnagar.

The Stuic from Lochnagar












The Stuic from Lochnagar

I didnít linger too long at the top and was soon heading back down, initially along my line of ascent before turning toward Meall an Tionail.

Meall Coire na Saobhaid from Lochnagar












Meall Coire na Saobhaid from Lochnagar

There are some fine views to be had during the crossing from Lochnagar to Meall an Tionail, especially across to the Stuic.

Lochnagar and the Stuic












Lochnagar and the Stuic

One of my options for return was to drop down to Sandy loch and then pick up the normal approach route to The Stuic down over Druim Odhar to meet the track by the Feindallacher Burn, in retrospect this would have been the better option.

The Stuic












The Stuic

Lochnagar and the Stuic from Meall an Tionail












Lochnagar and the Stuic from Meall an Tionail

From the top of Meall an Tionail it was a steep drop down awkward heathery slopes before a boggy crossing of the Blacksheil Burn and then more rough ground to follow while traversing the hillside below Cnapan Nathraichean. By now I was also regretting wearing shorts as my lower legs were getting sore after picking up numerous scratches while walking through the coarse vegetation.

Ballochbuie Forest












Ballochbuie Forest

I eventually made my outward path in the forest and followed it back to the junction just inside the fenced area before heading for the Falls of Garbh Allt. Estate tracks provided an easier walk way for the final stretch before taking a short section through the trees to see me back at the suspension bridge.

Ballochbuie Forest












Ballochbuie Forest

It had been a fine walk that I would certainly repeat but would most certainly modify the return and maybe even come back above The Stuic before heading down from Carn an t-Sagairt Beag.



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