Walk: Loch Kinord trail
Date: 19th February 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 8.2km, Ascent: 135m
Time: 2Hrs 30Mins

On Sunday morning, I decided to head towards Ballater for a walk around Loch Kinord. The day previous, I saw a post on Twitter showing that adders there were already coming out of hibernation. Thanks to @clareskyfall for sharing the photo and for providing me with details of where they can usually be found.

I parked at the Muir of Dinnet (Burn o' Vat) car park.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the car park, I crossed the road and followed the trail around Loch Kinord in a clockwise direction. I did deviate from the main trail at times looking for wildlife.

Start of Loch Kinord trail:

If you are a fan of bracket fungus, including horse hoof fungus, it is to be found in abundance on numerous dead birch trees. Horse hoof fungus makes good tinder if you ever need to get a fire started.

Birchwood with Loch Kinord in the distance:

Bracket fungus on dead birch:

I was aware of a Pictish Cross Slab located on the trail, so I made sure I did not miss it during the circuit. The Cross Slab is waymarked as a Celtic Cross.

Pictish Cross Slab:

I used my iPhone to take a panoramic picture of Loch Kinord from just above the Cross Slab.

Panorama of Loch Kinord:

While searching around for adders I was somewhat disappointed to find traps set on a Scottish Natural Heritage Nature Reserve. It was a bit upsetting to find a dead weasel inside killed by a snap trap.

I decided to contact Scottish Natural Heritage to establish why they were killing weasel on a nature reserve. Perhaps understandable during nesting season but not during Winter. Scottish Natural Heritage got back to me very quickly advising that they lease the land from Kinord Estate and a requirement of the lease is that the Estate retain all Sporting rights including predator control on the land. If it were up to SNH, such trapping would not be happening on the reserve. They also advised that they were aware of this trap and that the trap is legal. A Google search on the estate brought up a number of alleged historical "issues" as far as gamekeeping is concerned and also alleged issues around the bulldozing of tracks without having planning consent to do so. Thanks to SNH who were very helpful with my enquiries.

Weasel in snap trap:

At the edge of Loch Kinord:

As I walked round the loch it was nice to spot several Mallard and a couple of young Mute Swans.

Mallard and young Mute Swans:

Loch Kinord:

Looking across Loch Kinord:

As I continued around the trail, I met more and more people mostly walking dogs. It is a good dog walk.

On the Loch Kinord trail:

After completing a circuit of the loch, I decided I needed a bit more exercise involving a bit of ascent. I therefore took a wee diversion to Cabrach on the way home. Alas I saw no adders but will definitely return for another adder search.

Hill: The Buck o' Cabrach
Date: 19th February 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 4.3km, Ascent: 290m
Time: 1Hr 40Mins

On arriving at Cabrach, I parked near the road high point. This is a very easy Graham given the road high point is above 400m.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

I last ascended the Buck nine years ago. I recalled considerable wetness and bog in the lower reaches of the hill. I therefore decided to heather bash my way up instead of going through the bog.

Looking back to car from lower slopes of the Buck:

Going up through the heather was hard work, so I eventually made my way across to the track which I then followed to the summit.

Tap o' Noth:

Approaching the summit of the Buck:

On reaching the summit area, I took several photographs of the various hills in the Cairngorm National Park to the south, including Mount Keen and Lochnagar.

Mount Keen (zoom):

Lochnagar (zoom):

Cairngorms (zoom):

On my previous ascent of the Buck, I missed seeing the rock carving on one of the rocks near the summit. I therefore had a look around to find the fishes.

From reading previous hillwalking reports, I had thought the carvings were Pictish. However on doing a bit more research, i.e. looking at an archaeology site, it would appear the carving may only be a couple of hundred years old.

Intertwined fishes on rock:

After visiting the summit, I returned to my car via the hill track. The track, as suspected, was very wet in the lower reaches.

Summit of the Buck:

Looking back to the Buck during descent:

Another good day out.