A few days ago I took my two sons for a hike around Loch Muick in the south east part of the Cairngorms National Park in North East Scotland.
The walk around the loch is just under 8 miles and at our leisurely pace it took around 3 1/2 hours to complete. The route rarely gets more than 20 or 30 metres away from the shore of the loch, at one point actually walking on the beach. It is a low level walk, at it's highest point only reaching 170m. Most of the route is on landrover trails (dirt roads), however there is a stretch that get narrow and needs some careful negotiation as it is fairly rocky and can be treacherous.
The day we chose was not particularly bright, with a fair bit of rain on the hour and half drive out from Aberdeen. By the time we reached the car park the rain had eased off and we were hopeful of a dry walk, if a bit chilly for a summer hike. The wind soon dropped though and by the end of the hike we were stripped down to our t-shirts...
From a photographers perspective, the weather was not great. It was dull and there was very low cloud for the whole day. Most of the hills around us were topped with clouds, with no sign of the sun at all.
About 15 minutes into our walk we encountered the some deer. Unfortunately, they were well up the hill from us and even with my Nikon 70-300mm lens (on my crop sensor camera gives about 450mm) these were the best shots I got.
The area is usually well known for it's deer, but these were the only ones we saw all day, so we moved on and tried to cover some decent ground as the morning progressed.
While moving through the area approaching the loch there were quite a few Meadow Pipits around us. These are small birds (about the size of a sparrow) and they kept their distance, however, a few did pose long enough for me to get a couple of decent photos.
As we continued around the lochside we saw less wildlife, but could experience the ever changing views. Looking back the way we had come we had this view.
Behind us was one of the many tributaries that flow into the loch.
Looking forward on our route we could just see Glas-allt Shiel, the hunting lodge built by Queen Victoria, amongst the trees on the other side.
Time to push on. This next stretch is the most difficult as in places we are almost scrambling over damp rocks.
Finally, we make it to the far end of the loch and stop for a bite to eat. The path, at this point runs on the small beach, right at the lochs edge.
After refreshing ourselves with some lunch and giving out legs a rest we decide to push on. The weather has brightened up a little by this time and I managed to get what I feel is my best photo of the day. The one I have used at the top of this article.
There are many small burns running into the loch at this point and we have to cross several crude bridges.
As we turn the corner and start heading east again we encounter a few midges, they are, fortunately, not biting, so that is a relief.
As we walk through the trees we pass right by the front door of Glas-allt Shiel, shutters on the windows and ghostly quiet. There is a small round island in the loch at this point and my amateur eye wonders if it was a crannog.
We don't linger long in the trees, as we are getting tired now and really want to get back to the car and get our boots off, but I do manage to take this next photo.
The next part of the walk is a bit of a slog. Our feet are getting sore and the lochside is somewhat obscured by a deer fence, so we push on back towards the eastern end of the loch. Just as we pass this corner of the loch we pass a boathouse. I took a couple of decent photos, but I feel that if I had been fresh I could have done a lot more with this location.
We finally got back to the car park, and with great relief got our boots off. A very enjoyable day, even though the weather wasn't the best for taking photos...