Footprints Across Scotland
Why not make a few of your own!
4th July 2009
Around Loch Muick and Dubh Loch taking in the high peaks of Broad Cairn and Cairn Bannoch.
My last visit to the shores of Loch Muick was back in February and as you can imagine conditions were oh so different. There was plenty of snow on the ground and miniature "ice burgs" were floating in the loch. Today it was much warmer with a nice breeze blowing and just a few white clouds sailing across the sky. Stephan and I headed up toward Loch Muick from the Spittal of Glen Muick car park and after a brief pause at a junction in the path near the loch we decided to go clockwise around our route.
Loch Muick south shore boat house
Some of the heather was now flowering purple and made a nice contrast to the multi shades of green covering the hillsides. Birch and Rowan trees lined sections of the loch shore while pink Foxglove's stood tall above pockets of yellow marsh marigold. Greylag geese normally arrive here in the autumn but there appeared to be flock of them gently paddling around the centre of the loch. The half way point along the loch is marked by a bridge over Black burn which heads down toward a small sandy beach.
Broad Cairn at the head of Loch Muick
From here the main track climbs to the left to zigzag its way up the hillside while the continuation of the loch circuit is indicated by a sign. The path narrowed and became a bit rock strewn but wove its way nicely along the loch shore. We stopped for a while and watched as a slender green Chiff Chaff made numerous visits to the undergrowth along the waters edge in search of grubs and insects for a hungry youngster perched in a tree above. The path eventually leads around to another sandy beach at the head of the loch but we branched off a little way before it got that far. Our way took us steeply up into corrie Chash and onto a broader path at a bealach from were the summit of Broad Cairn looked deceptively near.
Broad Carin (left) from above Corrie Chash
Dense tufts of Deer grass interspersed with other grasses and heather eventually gave way to a more sparse covering of vegetation as we crossed Little Craig before picking up a path that worked its way up through the boulders near the top of Broad Cairn. From the summit we had fine views stretching behind us down the length of loch Muick while ahead a stone topped Cairn Bannoch could be made out as a small pointed rise among the more rounded grassy hill tops.
Cairn Bannoch and Eagles Rock
The lichen covered granite boulders on the western side of Broad Cairn became smaller and fewer in number as we descended eventually leaving them behind when passing onto short turf that cushioned our footsteps as we crossed the rolling hillsides onto Cairn Bannoch. To the north Eagles rock and its waterfall gave interest to the rounded mass of the White Mounth while Lochnagar's craggy tops could be seen in the distance. Finding a grassy seat near the top of Cairn Bannoch we settled back to take in the views and enjoy the very pleasant sunshine.
Eagles Rock from Cairn Bannoch
After lunch we continued north west out towards Carn an t-Sagairt Mor dropping into the lower reaches of Coire Allt an Aitinn, effectively skirting around the crags to the north of Cairn Bannoch.
Carn an t-Sagairt Mor & Beg from Cairn Bannoch
The ground became rougher as we dropped down and crossed Allt an Dubh loch to pick up a line of old metal fence posts that guide the way across this boggy section of moor.
Following Allt an Dubh Loch
The varied terrain around the river course is the habitat of a wide variety of flora; especially those seeking out damp peaty soils. The white tops of Cotton grass waved in the breeze while the delicate flowers of Bog Asphodel provided splashes of yellow to the surrounds. After a while the river began to take a long slide across reddish coloured granite slabs as it coursed its way down the hillside toward Dubh loch.
Eagles Rock and Dubh Loch
We were now passing below the impressive Eagles rock with its waterfall splashing across the patterned multicoloured stone; while further down on the opposite side of the glen the tremendous sheer walls of Creag an Dubh Loch stood almost vertically above its namesake loch.
Dubh Loch and Creag an Dubh Loch
We spotted some climbers high up on the rock face testing their skills in this challenging environment while down on the loch shore their homes for the weekend looked very unsubstantial below the rocky debris emanating from central gully. Trying not to loose a boot in the sticky sections of bog and managing to avoid the occasional frog we made it to the far end of the loch to pick up a better path that would lead us back down to the head of loch Muick. We had only passed a handful of walkers while up on higher ground but now joined a few more enjoying the pleasant circuit of the loch.
Loch Muick from near Loch Buidhe Waterfall
This last leg of the walk back along the length of the loch always appears to take longer than the outward journey; a bit of tiredness creeping in I suppose.
Creag Bhiorach across Loch Muick
Making our way across the bottom of the loch we could see a large number of red deer grazing on the open moor not to far from the paths; seemingly unconcerned with passers by. A few can be seen around here during the winter months but it seemed a little unusual to see so many during the summer. Nearer to us by the loch two stags also seemed untroubled as they ambled along while nibbling the long grass; maybe they too were just enjoying being out and about in the fine surrounding on such a lovely day.
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