Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms offers some of the best mountaineering in Northern Europe. There are no less than 24 Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) in the parish of Braemar alone! Famous mountain names such as Lochnagar, Morven, Derry Cairngorm, Beinn a Bhuird and the Lairig Ghru all lie on our patch. Naturally, mountaineering in Scotland requires proper equipment, training and awareness of the dangers of rapidly changing weather conditions.
You’re guaranteed to feel a sense of achievement after you’ve climbed to the peak of one of Royal Deeside’s mountains. Home to five of the six highest mountains in Scotland and the most extensive arctic mountain range in the UK, this region is a hill walker’s paradise.
There are 24 Munros (mountains over 3000 feet) which can be accessed from the Deeside side of the Cairngorms, including the UK’s second highest mountain Ben Macdui. The challenging hike up Ben Macdui can begin from both Deeside and Speyside and is a long route which requires experience and endurance. This Munro is not for the faint hearted, not only is it a long way to the top, the summit is also said to be haunted by an old grey man. Hikers are recommended to check weather conditions before attempting this climb.
A slightly shorter path up the ‘dark’ Lochnagar provides majestic scenery across the Royal Balmoral Estate. Its commanding position cannot be missed as it broods over Loch Muick at a height of 1154 metres. The route to Lochnagar begins with a walk around the beautiful loch where there is a small visitor’s centre along with a telescope to try and catch a glimpse of the red deer roaming on the estate. Winter is the perfect time to see the deer when they feed from lower levels. If the eight hour walk up Lochangar seems too strenuous – or if the weather is not fit - why not enjoy a more leisurely walk around the loch itself which has many variations and can be made longer or shorter to suit walkers of all abilities.
For the beginner munro bagger, Mount Keen is a long but straightforward climb. Set within in Glen Tanar Estate, the most easterly munro in Scotland is also great for cyclists. The 14 mile round trip to the summit is a great way to climb your first Munro and take in the wonderful winter scenery.
Local company, WalkDeeside, offers Mountain Navigation Courses and Map Reading Workshops for novices and intermediary mountaineers. Full details are available at www.walkdeeside.com.
Mountainners of all standards can access a host of information, advice and guidance from The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, www.mcofs.org.uk, and The Scottish Mountaineering Club, www.smc.org.uk.
In winter and snow conditions if you are venturing into the mountains please consult the Scottish Avalanche Information Service homepage for up to date information at www.sais.gov.uk
For a detailed daily weather forecast for the Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms area provided by the Mountain Weather Information Service visit www.mwis.org.uk/eh.php
Hilltrek Outdoor clothing specialists in Aboyne have a wide range of gear and can assist on detailed information and conditions. www.hilltrek.co.uk
7 Bridge street, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, AB35 5QP
Tel: 01339 755467
42-43 Bridge St , Ballater, Aberdeenshire, AB35 5QD
Tel: 013397 53878