Modest 525m Carnferg above Aboyne was chosen instead of Glenshee Munros for the first DHC walk of 2015 in view of the 80 - 100 mph gales forecast for the higher tops. Even though the forecast for the Sunday was better, a mere 60 mph or so, a few less committed opted out leaving only Ali, Ruth, James and me to face the elements.
We started from the end of the public road near Birse Church, wrapping up well against the cold breeze - no more than that - and appreciated the red early morning skies to the south.
A dusting of snow covered the Land Rover track over the hill to Glencat farm with its barking chained up dogs. We continued NE up a cattle rutted track to the edge of the conifer wood on Lamawhillis where had a quick snack before joining the track leading due west up Carnferg summit with its high pointed cairn, raised in 1911 " to the beloved memory of Joseph Robert Heaven of the Forest of Birse by his heart broken widow". The inscription showed very clearly once James had rubbed the memorial plaque with a snowball!
We escaped the effects of a dark snow storm passing to the north while the view to the west beyond Glentanar showed the higher hills covered by cloud. We were glad we hadn't been more ambitious.
The track continued west & joined the Fungle which we followed south to the shooting hut which, although locked, afforded some shelter from the wind.
Here, we had another break before continuing south, noting the deep valley of The Gwaves below us to the east and Brackenstake Hill beyond. The pattern of years of heather burning showed especially clearly as very white burnt areas amongst the mottled brown longer heather. We were so enjoying ourselves that we chose to leave the Fungle & head off west up the "Hard Shouther" Land Rover track leading to Hill of Duchery. From there, half a mile or so of fairly mild heather bashing and a crossing of the upper valley of the Burn of Corn led us to the N bank of the Burn of Auldmad, its steep banks providing shelter for a line of birches. We now had views back to a seemingly distant Carnferg, and to the east to the fields and lower ground below Birse Castle. We followed the sometimes steep Land Rover track down to the valley , and followed the public footpath leading south away from the castle where we found the bridge over the burn had been damaged in a recent flood. We all managed to safely "climb" the bridge and thereafter the walk back to the car was uneventful.
In the spring this part of the walk would usually be full of birds & I was reflecting that there were none around when we disturbed a small flock of Fieldfares feeding near the track. A total distance of 10 miles covered and a good day out!