For our third “Mystery Walk” this season we settled for “The Coyles of Muick”, the highest point of a low ridge just south west of Ballater . Although only 601 metres high it is a great viewpoint. Our party comprised Anna, Ruth, Susan, Robert, Gillie & Alan, only returned the previous evening from their latest tour, and Linda & Paddy. As a fairly short day we were able to meet at a civilised hour , and after a little car shuffling to place cars at Littlemill at the foot of Glen Girnock , we set off from the B976 South Deeside Road just west of Loch Ullachie.
The first kilometre follows a Land Rover track, rising through mature conifers, emerging on more open hillside just short of Tom an Lagain, from where a pleasant track led us almost due south to the Coyles. We soon had views of distant Lochnagar, part snow covered, and its highest ridge almost always catching the cloud base. Generally the views were good, looking west over Glen Girnock, and following the high ground beyond to Creag nam Ban above Abergeldie – a possible return route.
Keeping the conifers to our left we followed the easy, albeit sometimes soggy path for some three kilometres before stopping for our “first lunch” in the shelter of a rocky outcrop just short of the final steep plug of the Coyles summit.
Refreshed, we quickly climbed to the top where we lingered in the stiff breeze to take in the 360 degree views – identifying Glen & Loch Muick and Lochnagar to the south, Geallaig Hill and Morven to the north and the Dee valley to the east.
Susan posed on top of the large cairn....
.....and after the customary “summit group photo” we set off west on the long, slightly boggy, trackless and sometimes tedious slog to the Girnock Burn.
Thankfully fording it presented no difficulties........
.....and led straight on to a track leading from the west bank from where we could appreciate a splendid rainbow.
We agreed that we’d all go up to Bovaglie, a now abandoned farm house and steading which was a working farm served by the Tarland veterinary practice when I worked there in the mid 1970s. While having our “second lunch” there the weather closed in. Lochnagar disappeared and a diffuse grey cloud drifted our way. The prospect of battling against the wind on the exposed higher ground from Sgor an h-lolaire to Creag nam Ban persuaded us all to abandon that idea, despite the promised views, and we headed back down Glen Girnock.
By the time we detoured by the abandoned croft of Camlet, where Robert was able to identify details in the ruins of an earlier Township, the sun had reappeared, but the decision to head down the valley was irreversible!
An easy walk out completed a good 9 mile winter walk and gave us time to finish the day with a coffee stop at the Bothy in Ballater.